We greet you with the continuing good news that no member of the Beacon community has reported being stricken with COVID-19. The campus remains eerily quiet for this time of year, its stillness only occasionally interrupted by a small staff of “regulars” who perform the essential function of keeping the College well-maintained, clean, and operating. Whenever our collegians and personnel return, the campus will be ready, waiting, and welcoming.
We have greatly appreciated the support and patience from students, parents, faculty and staff as the College works through the many complex first-time issues. Issues that often are interrelated and informed by changing external influences and mandates that confront America’s 3,600 colleges and universities. As you understand, COVID-19 so rapidly and broadly swept the nation with an unprecedented scope and immediacy that left little time for action and long-studied strategic emergency interventions. The crisis roadmaps that previously had served organizations well were inadequate to this new test. Colleges and universities across America were compelled in real-time to rewrite and think anew about the “new normal” for the months ahead and longer term.
As promised, this announcement outlines the prospective calendar and actions distilled from the past two weeks’ analysis and planning — with a disclaimer. We believe the best information and projections currently available to Beacon inform these moves and timelines. Measures that conservatively balance the well-being of each member of our community with the institutional integrity merited by our unique undergraduate mission. Yet and still, every facet of this national emergency teaches us that the evolving pandemic and state and federal responses can scuttle the best projections and plans. If necessary, we will notify the community as soon as possible of any revisions.
Significant Dates for the New College Calendar
April 17 through October 12, 2020
- Last day of spring 2020 semester: May 7;
- Final grades due by noon: May 8;
- Anticipated time frame for move-out from residences: Friday, May 22 to Sunday, June 21. Students and families have one month to return to campus to move out of residences and retrieve their vehicles. We will announce move-out details — designed to ensure both safety and convenience for our students and their families — the week of April 27. The College recognizes that individual circumstances, especially related to continuing quarantine or stay-at-home orders, may preclude a customary move-out. The Student Affairs’ division and housing staff are prepared to work as flexibly as possible with residents unable to move out during this period.
- An expanded three-and-a-half-week Summer Session will run from Sunday, July 26 through Wednesday, August 19. Since the pandemic rendered unfeasible the traditional Summer Session, Beacon will provide a July/August Summer Session on campus, with the possibility of remote learning for students who are unable to travel. The schedule of Summer Session courses will be sent to students by Tuesday, April 21;
- New student orientation: Wednesday, September 2 through Sunday, September 6;
- Returning Student Move-in: Saturday, September 5 through Monday, September 7;
- Fall semester 2020: Classes commence Tuesday, September 8 with students departing for Winter Break by December 19;
- Commencement activities for the Class of 2020: Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10. The traditional campus Reception for Students, Parents, and Grandparents is scheduled for Friday, October 9 at 5 p.m. The Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 is slated for 11 a.m. at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora; and
- Parents’ Weekend: Saturday afternoon, October 10 through Monday morning, October 12. Please refer to the updated Parents’ Weekend schedule that will be available no later than Tuesday, June 30.
The Capstone Period
Culminating the semester’s final two weeks, the Capstone period is an initiative that does not require students to complete additional work. The College recognizes the spring semester — impacted by the COVID-19 emergency — was a moment of disruption and transition for all, especially our students.
Accepting this reality, we created an interval to gauge students’ grasp of course material and their socio-emotional development relevant to Beacon’s holistic undergraduate program. This period gears up students for either the fall semester or their career to come by helping them finish strong academically or closing out this year’s work with learning specialists, counselors, or career development professionals.
We believe the College must ensure the maximum opportunity for students to transcend scholastically the pandemic emergency.
Housing for the Fall of 2020
Next week, the Department of Housing and Residence Life will send students two important forms. The first is the Intent to Vacate form. This allows students to notify the College, if and when, during the move-out period, they will visit campus. The second is the Housing Preference form. This allows students to submit their preferences for living arrangements next year — including meal plans, single requests, and roommates. As always, finding compatible roommates is paramount. We strongly encourage students to sound out friends to find good matches. The forms will be dispatched Wednesday, April 22. During the following week, housing staff will host Zoom sessions to discuss with students their options. Student responses on these two forms will guide housing staff decision-making regarding personal belongings and assignments for next year.
As discussed in Thursday’s Parents’ Zoom forums, the College plans to refund students for certain room and board expenses. We appreciate both the patience and understanding of our families, as we await direction on allocating the College’s resources in tandem with federal monies. Rest assured that the College is working through these complex issues and awaiting regulatory guidance before calculating allocations.