As we continue the preparations for welcoming back our students to campus in a new era of safety and precautions, it is not lost on me the recent attention given to the rise in Florida’s COVID cases. While others debate the nature of the rise whether from overcrowded public places, a lack of commitment to responsible social distancing practices, or the availability of increased testing, we at Beacon have been focused on what is transpiring in our region and how it impacts the reopening of the campus for students.
Understandably, there is no greater priority for us at Beacon than the health and wellbeing of our collegians and employees. And we are grateful that our Leesburg campus is situated in Lake County, which has registered a fraction of the state’s cases — less than one percent of Florida’s nearly 114,000 diagnoses.
We continue to work closely with local and state health officials to monitor the situation so that we can proactively update and adjust our Covid-19 policies to shield the College community.
I sincerely thank you for the confidence and faith that many parents have expressed in us regarding our efforts to safeguard the best interests of our students both in terms of their education and their personal health.
As president, I am proud to say that over the long weeks of this national health crisis that this trust has been earned.
Trust that bonded us together as the College pivoted from our traditional in-person teaching model to a novel distance learning and service platform.
Trust that deepened with the advent of online support to ensure that our students — in spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances — continued advancing scholastically.
Trust that we intend will endure and grow as the College invests in preparing to welcome our most enduring legacy — our students — back to campus for our summer and fall offerings.
From the start, our Critical Response Team has been monitoring the situation, and in early April, a separate special Beacon task force formed to examine the issues, concerns, and remedies from all angles to produce a comprehensive Covid-19 policy. This policy will be announced on Tuesday, June 30. It will detail the full span of standards and requirements encompassing sanitation, personal hygiene, social distancing, screening and testing, and environmental protocols. In its work, the task force has dedicated its energies to meeting or exceeding each of the state’s guidelines for colleges and universities.
Be assured that our student policies enforce the social distancing and personal protection guidelines abandoned by many younger Floridians and which may now be fueling the uptick in reported cases.
Certainly, we cannot predict the future. We can, however, plan and act on the basis of what we do know, and that is this — our undergraduates are best served when embraced by an on-campus community that has taken every precaution that will allow our collegians to move beyond the necessary but limiting educational and life circumstances of the past four months. It is for this reason that we will move forward with what we believe is an obligation to our students and families to open campus for learning and the richness of sustained exposure to our distinct culture of community.
Over the course of the next 10 days (beginning the week of June 29), we will reach out to you in myriad ways with respect to Beacon’s plans for re-opening the campus for students. This information will help prepare for one or all four purposes: 1) Summer session (starting July 26), 2) Career immersion (beginning August 4), 3) New student orientation (Navigator Prep arrival: August 15 and all other new students on August 16), and 4) Beacon’s first day of fall classes (August 20). Please anticipate the following:
- The publication on June 30 on the Beacon Covid-19 Information Center of the updated COVID-19 policies that go into effect at Beacon College on July 1, 2020;
- The availability on July 1 on the Covid-19 Information Center of recently expanded frequently asked questions (FAQs);
- The scheduling of an informational Zoom forum (details will be available on the Covid-19 Information Center and the Beacon Facebook page) for students and families attending summer session and the career immersion program on Wednesday, July 1 at 4 p.m. (EDT); and
- An informational Zoom forum (details will be available on the Covid-19 Information Center and the Beacon Facebook page) for new students and their families on Tuesday, July 7 at 6 p.m. (EDT).
I thought it important to communicate at this time, especially as media reports have the capacity to both frame and muddy the perspective on the ground. We continue on with the important work of making an on-campus presence for our students a reality beginning in late July. The hours that we are devoting to this cause and the protection of our students and employees are unmatched. While Beacon cannot promise to be an oasis from all that surrounds us, we can contemplate every contingency that the outside world may bring to bear on a campus whose singular mission is fulfilled by the healthy daily interactions of students and those entrusted with their education.