Coronavirus Preparedness

Coronavirus

 

As this situation evolves, our primary concern is for the welfare of our students and employees.

Continue to monitor this page for updates.

 

Coronavirus Updates

  • Coronavirus Update – March 27, 2020

    Dear Beacon Community:

    This message begins first and foremost with the glorious news that no Beacon student has reported testing positive for COVID-19. We pray that our collegians, their families, and all associated with the Beacon community remain beyond the reach of this unprecedented worldwide scourge.

    When students, faculty, and our support professionals departed campus earlier this month for spring break, the College’s paramount responsibility was assuring that everyone without delay returned home safely. Between March 11-13, faculty, learning specialists, and other support practitioners integral to the holistic nature of Beacon’s academic and developmental experience prepared to deliver instruction and services remotely. Our decisions, then and now, squarely focus on ensuring that our students’ progress aligns closely with the learning experience they would have enjoyed had no emergency occurred.

    Many capable and determined Beacon educators have been digesting new and rapidly evolving information and weighing the best course the College should negotiate in fulfilling our unique mission.  Always these decisions begin with our students squarely in mind. What we have learned over the past several days as our remote instruction and services commenced is that our collegians want to return to their community, as do our faculty and staff. Not surprisingly, the imprecise calculus required to accommodate this goal involves balancing many forces and considerations. Having weighed the myriad circumstances to render as conclusive a blueprint as possible, the College announces the following decisions — contingent certainly on the federal and state mandates related to COVID-19 at the time of our intended implementation:

    Academic Calendar

    • Students tentatively can return to campus during the weekend of May 16-17. On Monday, May 18 students will resume classes as “capstones” for each course they have pursued remotely (you will receive by April 17 further information from Provost Chandler about your time on campus).
    • “Capstone” classes conclude Thursday, May 28;
    • Commencement shifts to Saturday, May 30 at 2 p.m. at our customary location, Lake Receptions in Mount Dora, Fla.;
    • Students must vacate the residences no later than Sunday, May 31;
    • The summer session scheduled for May moves to a four-week session in July, likely beginning July 8 (some courses may be offered remotely, although the College expects that residences will be available and open to support on-campus learning);
    • The College’s Summer for Success program for high schoolers begins Sunday, July 12;
    • The Fall 2020 semester will be pushed back two weeks. Freshmen orientation now runs September 2-7. Returning students move-in from September 5-7, and classes begin September 8 (the day after Labor Day);
    • The College’s “Beacon in Tuscany” fall semester abroad program has been deferred to fall 2021 (please contact Erin Chambers in the Provost’s Office for further direction); and
    • Because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, the Beacon “Study Abroad Travel” to Australia is rescheduled to June 2022.

    Important Changes for Currently Enrolled Students

    • Students can select a pass/fail option instead of a letter grade for the spring 2020 semester (although the traditional letter grade option remains available). We believe this alternative may reduce student stress as the pass/fail option will not impact GPA;
    • Collegians can withdraw from a spring 2020 course any time before the last day of class (just prior to final exams);  and
    • Undergraduates currently on academic warning will not face suspension for the fall 2020 semester. Students with this status will be granted the opportunity to improve their academic standing in the next semester.

    For students unable to return to campus in May due to illness, regional quarantines, or other issues, the College will attempt to arrange a remote learning experience during the May 18-28 “capstone” period.

    While recent media stories have lamented American higher education’s fragility in the age of COVID-19, Beacon College over the past five years has established a sound business and financial model that will allow the Institution to weather the current economic buffeting and likely fiscal hangover. That does not mean that the College can ignore implementing expense-cutting measures for the short term, as any prudent institution must. These steps will help sustain the level and quality of instructional and support services demanded both during the remote learning period and for several months afterward.

    Once the College and other private institutions understand the breadth and impact of the stimulus package Congress is deliberating, we will have a better handle on matters of interest to both our families and employees. Until then, the College is not prepared to respond to inquiries on matters such as rebate policies on room and board plans.

    We strive to keep students and families well informed — anticipating your informational needs and questions. Early next week, we will debut a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on our “Coronavirus Information” webpage. This should clarify our decisions and better serve the community’s needs. We encourage you to visit this site. Also, parents and students have confirmed that having our College leaders connect through informational meetings via our Zoom platform is helpful and appreciated. Please monitor your email for news of future sessions.  Of course, general updates, such as the message here, will be regularly placed on our website, social media sites and, when appropriate, through our email distribution lists.

    We wish you all peace, safety, and good health amid this unprecedented moment.

  • Coronavirus Update – March 20, 2020

    We want to provide continuing updates on the College’s response to the COVID-19 emergency.

    Resumed instruction

    • As of today, the College has put into place the essential components of a remote learning experience, including instruction, academic support, and counseling intended to allow students to continue making progress in their academic work.
    • Course instruction formally will begin Tuesday, March 24, although some professors may have already begun with their assignments.  For students, please make sure that you regularly check your emails for any updates from your professors or the College.

    Semester calendar

    • Next week, no later than Friday, March 27, the College will announce its full calendar for the remainder of the spring semester and commencement exercises. As you might know, the systems upon which higher education has relied for close to a half-century are being reconsidered and altered. We will make the best decision possible for the safety and wellbeing of our students and families.
  • Coronavirus Update – March 18, 2020

    The College, through its Critical Response Team, has over the past three weeks monitored, assessed and taken the actions necessary to safeguard our students and employees while maintaining the institution’s academic integrity amid an unprecedented national health emergency.

    We are glad to share that students and faculty participating in the Anthrozoology program in Puerto Rico returned safely to their homes earlier this week.

    As promised, we have several updates to share with you:

    Beacon’s Campus

    • Students will NOT return to campus any earlier than April 5.
    • Future decisions on a return date will be announced no later than Friday, March 27 and will be guided by national and Florida policies and recommendations.
    • Unless precluded by state officials, all administrative, academic, and professional support offices will be open as usual at 9 a.m., Monday, March 23.
    • Food service will be available only at the Navigator Café, which will likely extend its hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week of March 23rd.

    Remote Learning

    • The College plans to begin remote classes and activities on Tuesday, March 24.
    • Professors will contact students by email (or other electronic means as discussed in individual classes) to launch the remote delivery of assigned coursework in all registered classes.
    • Faculty and learning specialists will utilize Monday, March 23, to organize final details for online course delivery and support services.

    Support Services

    • Beacon’s Center for Student Success will be open and learning specialists will reach out to students to maintain as many services remotely as might be possible.
    • The College’s Writing Center will be open, and students will receive assistance via email.
    • The Career Development Center will be available for email or telephone consultations.
    • Beacon’s Counseling Center will be open and professional staff available by phone or other electronic media to support students. Group counseling sessions will also continue; students should regularly check their emails for details on how to connect for group sessions.

    We are indebted to Beacon’s students, families, and personnel, all of whom have aided in the College’s response to the COVID-19 threat with extraordinary flexibility and understanding. Please do look for a further update regarding the weeks ahead on Friday afternoon.

  • Coronavirus Update – March 13, 2020

    As the Spring Break is now upon us, we wanted to keep you updated on the College’s continued planning and actions with respect to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Beacon’s operations.  Today, President Hagerty met with key personnel who will be responsible for managing the many elements based upon the best interests of our community, especially our students and employees.

    Here is what we know now:  Spring Break will continue as scheduled through March 23.  On or before Wednesday, March 18, the College will announce its decisions regarding the prospect of extending Spring Break. An elongated Spring Break would trigger the implementation of remote instruction to allow students to continue to progress in their coursework.  At this time — considering the national landscape — it is likely that students will not be allowed to return to campus until a later date.  Once the decision is made, course instructors and Learning Specialists will notify students directly about academic expectations.

    • Campus Cleaning and Security: on Monday, March 16, all common areas and surfaces on campus (including residences) thoroughly will be cleaned and disinfected to mitigate the presence of any latent microbes or viruses.  After the cleaning, Campus Safety will ensure that all buildings are secured and monitored.   Director Elyas Malik and his officers will remain on duty throughout Spring Break.
    • Dining Services: For students and employees who will remain in Leesburg during the break, the Navigator Café will be open tomorrow (Saturday), March 14 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during Spring Break.
    • Office Staffing during Spring Break: As is customary, most faculty will be off campus and the academic support services offices will be closed.  Most administrative offices will be staffed to conduct College business.  It is important to note, if the college must extend Spring Break, faculty and staff will be available after March 23 irrespective of a modified arrival calendar for students.

    Of course, we will keep you informed next week should public health and safety officials impose restrictions.

  • Coronavirus Update – March 11, 2020

    As you know, over the past three weeks, the College has monitored, prepared, and taken action steps with respect to the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak. Certainly, federal, state and local health officials have made it clear that COVID-19 is a serious public health matter as it spreads through the general population.

    To date, the College has been indeed fortunate that no student or employee personally has been impacted by the virus. Yet, students — as on the vast majority of college and university campuses — soon will depart for the traditional spring break. That reality has prompted the College to take the following actions:

    • Although classes and activities through Friday, March 13 will continue as scheduled, Faculty and Learning Specialists are preparing contingencies that will be discussed with students prior to their departure for Spring Break to allow them to continue progressing in their coursework;
    • Therefore, we are advising departing students to bring home class materials that may support the continuation of their studies should the situation demand that for as much as two weeks their courses be taught remotely;
    • As the spread and response to the virus nationwide remains fluid, we are asking that students and families regularly check their email, Beacon’s website, and Facebook for updates on the College’s decisions regarding the timing of a return to campus at the close of Spring Break;
    • In particular, the College will decide whether a delay on returning to campus for classes that are scheduled to commence on Monday, March 23 is necessary based on recommendations from Florida public health officials. The College will issue a statement on the decision by email, the website, and Facebook no later than Wednesday evening, March 18;
    • At this time, the College anticipates that students will return as scheduled at the close of Break Week, but are making this announcement out of an abundance of caution. When students do return, we ask them to bring a supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for their personal use in their rooms and other personal spaces.

    Meanwhile, it is important to note that Beacon is taking every precaution to protect students and employees prior to Spring Break. Our facilities and grounds staff have taken particular care to ensure that all hand sanitizer stations are refilled regularly and that common surfaces are disinfected.

    Similarly, the College’s food service in the final days before Spring Break has suspended self-serve stations. Pre-packaged salads, fruits, and other items are now available. Students who are traveling Friday and Saturday are welcome to pre-order sandwiches and snacks for the travel home. Students may contact Dining Services directly tomorrow (Thursday), March 12 to place their order.

    As always, as this situation evolves, our primary concern is for the welfare of our students and employees.

  • Coronavirus Update – March 6, 2020

    Today the Critical Response Team convened. As a best practice, and out of an abundance of caution, the CRT has recommended a protocol to be implemented Monday, March 9, 2020 through which the college’s learning specialists and residential life coordinators will survey Beacon’s students about their travel plans for the upcoming spring break. Students will be asked where they will be spending spring break and the college will document the data to use to inform decision-making should the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) become more significant.

    Meanwhile, the Central Florida Health Alliance issued an information sheet on coughs, runny nose, and the common cold that Beacon staffers will be providing to students to educate and empower them in the days ahead.

    Continue to monitor this page for updates.

  • Coronavirus Update – March 3, 2020

    You likely have heard that Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have confirmed the first two cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Sunshine State.

    The patients, a woman in her 20s and a man in his 60s, are from Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide public health emergency on Sunday. He directed state health officials to take “any action necessary to protect the public health.”

    That too is the playbook that the Beacon Critical Response Team is following.

    The focus remains on emphasizing handwashing to students and staffers and regularly sanitizing public spaces around campus.

    In consultation with school nurse Monica Rankin, internal protocols are primed to mitigate and minimize the spread of the illness should the campus experience an outbreak.

    That includes:

    • Students who experience flu-like symptoms or other complaints that mirror symptoms ascribed to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should report immediately to the Beacon Student Health Clinic.
    • Employees who experience these symptoms should contact his or her supervisor and arrange to stay home.

    State officials report the threat to the public remains low. Meanwhile, the CRT team continues to monitor the evolving nature of the virus across the country and throughout the state.

    In the meantime, a new critical resource for information on COVID-19 is available at the state health department website: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/