Planning for the Fall – May 22, 2020

Dear FSU Community,

I know many of you are anxiously awaiting word on the University's plan for the fall semester and how we plan to operate during the COVID19 pandemic. The University has six continuity teams representing every aspect of our operation working through the logistics of multiple possible scenarios, including having students and faculty return to campus in the fall. We are also closely collaborating with our sister institutions. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is central to these planning efforts.

In-person vs. remote instruction decisions

We will not cancel the fall semester. We are working closely with local and state public health officials to determine when we will resume in-person instruction. At this time, it is our plan and hope to resume some level of on-campus classes in the fall. We will be following the Baker Administration's guidance on reopening Massachusetts in order to reopen in the safest manner possible. This includes developing a comprehensive COVID-19 control plan for the University that lays out safety protocols for social distancing, facemasks, testing, contact tracing, and more.

While it is our intention to reopen campus to students in the fall, please be aware that this decision relies on the continued downward trajectory of COVID19 cases in Massachusetts. Should a new surge of cases occur in the fall, we will have to adjust our plans to ensure the safety of our community. This may include a transition to fully remote course offerings.

Tuition and student fees for fall 2020

Tuition and fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year. We are focused on ensuring that the resources student fees cover remain available in a remote environment, should we need to transition to one. This includes our library, e-tutoring, our Blackboard license, health and wellness services, maintenance and IT support, career services, student engagement and much more. Transitioning to remote courses does not reduce the University's overhead in any substantial way, as savings in certain areas are offset by increased expenses in other areas. We remain committed to ensuring that, regardless of instruction format, students receive the highest-quality liberal arts education that enables them to think critically and creatively and positions them for a satisfying and successful career.

Student housing for fall 2020 

While It is not possible at this time to fully know the degree to which COVID-19 pandemic will impact normal operations in student housing and residential life during Academic Year 2020-2021, we are committed to supporting students if they want to live on or near campus.  At this time, we are planning to keep the residential halls open to as many students as we safely can, unless we are compelled by the directives or guidance of public health authorities to limit occupancy or close halls.  The Residence Life and Housing staff continue to prepare for the 2020-2021 academic year. We do expect there will be adaptations needed in both residence hall operations and policies to support the health and safety of the community and will communicate more with resident students as plans evolve.

We do want to empower you to make the best decision for you and your family and to consider all the factors related to this decision important to your best interests.  

Students who selected a room during the Room 2020-2021 Room Selection Process during the spring term, but who wish to withdraw from housing for any COVID-19 related reason, may do so through the myResLife portal. If withdrawal is completed by July 1st there is no penalty and the student will not be responsible for the $150 reservation deposit cancellation charge.

Students pursuing off-campus housing should pay close attention to the terms of their lease. Most off-campus leases will not provide prorated refunds if students leave mid-lease. Consider trying to negotiate with the landlord for a month-to-month lease to give you more flexibility. Given the circumstances, some landlords may be more willing to negotiate. 

Thank You

I continue to be inspired by all the work our faculty and staff have put into preparing for the fall, as well as the resilience our students. I recognize that many faculty and staff are committing immense time and energy to our emergency response efforts, whether they are serving on our special continuity and planning groups, on committees within our governance structure, or working within their department, program and office in order to plan for the future. I am so grateful to all of you.

For the latest information on the University's response to the pandemic, visit our COVID19 webpage.