March 13, 2020 Update

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Special message from Dr. Briggs

This morning the college announced a change in plans consistent with Governor Kemp’s recommendation yesterday.  The college is extending spring break for students by a week (March 15th to March 22nd).  After that, the college will provide remote instruction for all students for an additional two weeks (March 23-27 and March 30-April 3).  We will reassess the situation as we approach Monday, March 30th, and make decisions regarding the remainder of the semester.

Let me provide a few words of context. 

Yesterday, shortly after the college announced its decision to allow students to return for classes following this week of Spring Break, Governor Kemp held a press conference to indicate a change of direction for the state.  The Governor “issued a call for action” and recommended that schools in Georgia consider closing for two weeks.

That recommendation was not mandatory, but it dovetails with a larger national consensus, an organic movement if you will, that is aimed at curbing the spread of covid-19 virus at this critical juncture.  Organizations of every kind across the nation are joining in this movement.  That number swelled remarkably yesterday. 

With that larger context in mind, Berry is pivoting as well.  Our decisions to date have been guided by two principles:  the health and safety of our campus community and the integrity and quality of our core educational programs.  Given the relatively low incidence of confirmed cases to date in GA, our hope had been to provide faculty with an important window of opportunity to work with students to design creative and flexible approaches for completing the primary learning outcomes of courses. 

We continue to hope that students may be able to return to campus sometime in April to have the opportunity to complete experiential aspects of their education that can’t be offered remotely.  At this point, that opportunity is uncertain.  We will have a small number of students on campus to meet special needs in the next few weeks, but the campus will otherwise be closed to students and visitors.  We will provide scheduled opportunities for students to retrieve any belonging or books they might need during this period.  Details to follow.

Campus teams are currently working on a variety of logistical details for the next few weeks, and we will provide updated FAQs later this afternoon and following.

In the meantime, for students who return home, the intent of the national “shut down” is to reduce the spread of the covid-19 virus, especially by those who show no symptoms in its early stages.  Many experts believe the virus is already far more prevalent than we realize.  Many people will experience only minor or moderate symptoms, but for vulnerable populations, especially those over 60 and with underlying medical conditions, the virus is far more dangerous.  All of this broad effort will be of little effect unless people, young and old, choose to restrict their normal social activities and limit contact with others.  The need to prevent the spread of the virus is as critical in your home community as it is here at Berry.

Wherever you are, please act in ways that promote personal and collective health in this period of crisis.

Additional details to follow later today, likely this afternoon.

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