In an email to students earlier today, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher offered new details on the University’s plans for classes for the Fall 2020 semester. Fisher announced May 12 that Belmont’s intent was to return to on campus learning, though he made clear it would involve “many conditions,” noting, “For us to be successful in our return we will have to do some things very differently to minimize the risk to ourselves and each other.”
Today’s communication, which can be found in its entirety on Belmont’s COVID-19 Response website, shedded additional light on changes that will be implemented this fall as a means to provide the safest possible return to learning:
Our “Return to Learn” team—led by our Provost, Dr. Thomas Burns, and VP for Institutional Effectiveness, Dr. Paula Gill—has made remarkable progress in outlining several options from which our students can choose how to approach fall learning.
One option will be for students to return to Belmont for on-campus classes that may have a mix of in-person and online features. This approach will allow us to manage the number of students physically together in the classroom at any given time. We are also planning to stagger start and end times for classes as another measure of density control. For students who are not comfortable or able to come back to the physical campus in the fall but wish to begin or continue pursuing a Belmont education, there will be options to enroll in a semester of fully remote learning. More details about both of these options are forthcoming, but for now we want you to know that we’re seeking to accommodate as many different needs as possible.
Another important component of the Return to Learning plan is to shorten the Academic Calendar for Fall. The adjustment has us still beginning classes on August 19, but completing final exams by Friday, November 20 so everyone is home for the winter break before Thanksgiving. To allow this, we will hold classes on Labor Day, cancel Fall Break and make other adjustments to class duration and the amount of outside-of-class engagement to ensure we are delivering the full content of course work. All of this is being done to minimize student travel in the fall.
These decisions were made (and future decisions will be assessed) with the goal of continuing to offer you the opportunity to “Be Belmont” – and be AT Belmont – while minimizing risk to students, faculty and staff. Toward that end, we will also implement changes that include modified processes for campus dining, new residence life protocols and enhanced health services offerings, among others.
I’ve often said that Belmont is “a small town in a big city.” Our commitment is to do our very best to make Belmont the safest small town in the United States. Please be looking for more information soon about our return plans.