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Furman Focused website provides guidance for fall return

Photo of a statue bust wearing a mask.
The bust of former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley ’54 is displayed in Johns Hall.

In preparation for returning to in-person instruction for the Fall 2020 semester, Furman University announced today a new website, Furman Focused: Fall 2020, that lists policies and procedures put in place to increase safety and decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The website will also include regular updates as they become available.

Read the June 9 announcement about returning for the fall semester.

“Universities across the country are dealing with unprecedented challenges,” said Ken Peterson, vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our goal with the Furman Focused website is to provide a resource for our community, offer a glimpse into how very seriously we are addressing these challenges from a community and campus perspective, and show how we are adapting to the conditions while staying focused on providing a thoroughly Furman education.”

Peterson and Vice President for Student Life Connie Carson have led a steering committee that has guided Furman’s plans to return in the fall. The steering committee also includes the associate vice president for Student Life and dean of students, the dean of the faculty, the associate vice president for Enrollment Services and the chief of the Furman Police Department. Subcommittees composed of faculty and staff from across the university have informed the group’s work. Furman has also extensively engaged health care expertise through its partnership with Prisma Health, which operates the university’s Earle Student Health Center.

Furman Focused provides details about the fall schedule, health resources, healthy habits, social responsibilities, academics and classrooms, housing and dining, returning to work and an explanation of the principles that guide the university’s decisions.

The “Health and Safety” section provides information about what to do if someone feels ill, screening information and how everyone is expected to adhere to personal and community health measures, while a “Healthy Habits” section is an easy-to-use resource about hand washing, cleaning shared surfaces and social distancing, with graphics the community will see around campus as reminders.

A “Social Responsibilities” section acknowledges that each person in the Furman community has a role to play in staying healthy, with students and employees expected to commit to The Paladin Promise, a pledge to follow guidelines for health and social distancing before coming to campus and while there.

A section about “Academics and Classrooms” describes what students can expect to see in labs, classrooms and studios, while ensuring that students who need special accommodations will have them.

The website explains how custodial crews are thoroughly cleaning residence halls and apartments using approved disinfectants on shared surfaces, and how housing is adjusting its check-in process and adjusting shared common areas to decrease density. It also details how the Dining Hall, a center of social activity, is preparing for social distancing, and how self-service food stations will be replaced by freshly packaged foods on demand.

For employees, a “Returning to Work” section details what’s expected of faculty and staff before they return to work, information about personal protective equipment, alternative schedules departments might want to consider to decrease exposure to COVID in the workplace, and a list of the phases in which employees will return to campus.

Finally, the “How We’re Preparing” section of the website describes the guiding principles followed by everyone involved with planning the Fall 2020 semester.

“Our first priority is to safely teach students in-person, and we feel that it’s important to be transparent with our community about our process, the topics we’re addressing and our goals,” Peterson said.

“Our faculty and staff have spent countless hours preparing for the Fall 2020 semester, and we will continue to work as long as necessary to make sure our students, employees and visitors have peace of mind when they’re on campus,” Carson said. “We hope the website reflects this effort.”

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