Dear Beacon Community and Families:
Along with each of you, the College has been tracking the course of Hurricane Irma in expectation of it making landfall in Florida. Our planning has been guided by the regular updates of the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the various responsible agencies of the Florida government. This has kept us well apprised of the range of possibilities confronting us and our neighbors – from relatively little impact to the possibility of 100-mph winds and heavy rain. I want to assure you that our preparations have assumed all circumstances and, I believe, Beacon is prepared to weather the storm, likely on Sunday and into the day on Monday.
We are a proud residential academic community and, as such, recognize that our highest duty involves ensuring educational quality and safety for our students. The best colleges and universities prepare and act decisively to protect the well-being of students during crises. These institutions, however, like Beacon, endeavor to maintain as normal a schedule and operation as possible until a weather event, such as Hurricane Irma, compromises student and community safety. This said, I believe it important for you to know the following information:
Regularly scheduled academic classes are cancelled through Tuesday, September 12. This action was taken to both ensure that our preparations for the storm could be completed in a timely manner, but also to allow those students who decided to depart the campus to do so safely and return once weather conditions allow. On the latter point, we do recognize that those returning to campus via air travel may find getting flight reservations difficult until Wednesday or thereafter. In these circumstances, we are flexible with the class attendance policy, but students are expected to complete assigned work by arrangement with the professor.
The College has endeavored to keep close track of our students and their whereabouts, requiring all students to report their plans to depart or stay on campus to their assigned Learning Specialists. From this information, the College is maintaining and updating, as necessary, a log on the status of each matriculated student.
In addition to student residences, three buildings will remain open for regular student use: the Student Center, the Stoer Building (Center for Student Success), and the Chopping Block. Beacon Hall will also remain as a center for administrative coordination and overflow in the event that all students are directed to shelter in place under the direct supervision of College staff (due to mandatory transfer from residences).
The Chopping Block and its dining services will be open for all regularly scheduled meals unless storm conditions demand closing the facility and those on campus move to the Student Center as a weather-related precaution.
Although College transportation will be limited to the Beacon campus, we do expect that the Beacon shuttle will honor its regular schedule unless the severity of weather conditions demands otherwise.
We are dedicated to keeping the academic and support services that define the Beacon Experience beyond the classroom available to our undergraduates in all but the most inclement of weather. Thus, the Stoer Building will be open all day on Friday, September 8, and Tuesday, September 12, for Learning Specialist support, with several Learning Specialists being available at the Center on Saturday. Even with classes suspended, students are encouraged to avail themselves of this service, as well as help from Writing Center and Counseling personnel that will be housed in the Stoer Building.
As is the case for all Floridians, Beacon is hoping for the best, but preparing for a very difficult storm. As this message is being prepared, College personnel are taking prudent steps in advance of a potential strong hurricane, including securing the College’s physical facilities and storing all outdoor campus equipment and furniture.
We do know that a number of our students hail from South Florida and along the coast up to Jacksonville. Current weather reports suggest these likely will be the areas of the State most vulnerable to severe impact from Hurricane Irma. If, for those families, Beacon College appears to be the safest location for your protection, we invite you to call Dr. Kerry Greenstein at 352-638-9796, so that we may make arrangements for your arrival, security, lodging, and food. You too are a concern of the Beacon community.
Our preparations continue fast apace with purpose and care. We pray for the safety and quick recovery for all confronting the prospects of this significant hurricane.
Remember, as well that the College will keep the most updated information with respect to Beacon’s planning and status on our website: www.beaconcollege.edu.
President, Beacon College