March 18, 2020 Update

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Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear Berry Students:

Each new day brings updated information and evolving federal guidelines regarding the nation’s efforts to curtail the COVID-19 virus.  In a time of uncertainty, these guidelines provide a measure of clarity as to how we should proceed in coming weeks. 

We have received a variety of questions the last several days, and we will continue to post answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Berry website.

Listed below are some recent FAQs now posted.

Has Berry decided to remain closed to students for the remainder of the semester?
No, at this time we will continue with our plan to reassess the situation at the end of March.  We learn more on a daily basis, and we will keep our options open as long as we can.  

However, we also are asking faculty and students to prepare for the very real possibility that courses need to be taught remotely for the remainder of the semester.  That is the prudent approach at this point.  As much as we want and hope to reopen campus, even for just the final weeks of the term, it seems unlikely based on what we know today.  It would require a much-desired medical breakthrough of some kind. 

Why did the college extend spring break a week? 
It was important to provide faculty an opportunity to plan carefully how best to transition your courses to distance learning while still retaining the quality and integrity of the educational experience.  One helpful advantage we have is that your class is already an established community of learners.  You know your professor and each other.  We encourage you to be in conversation with your professor.  Faculty will be reaching out to you through your Berry email or Canvas; it is important that you be responsive even this week so that classes can resume smoothly starting Monday.

How will my classes change?
In general, your classes will have the same learning goals.  Some classes will need to change direction more than others, but your professors will be as flexible and fair as possible in devising new ways to cover the important topics.  Making this transition in these circumstances will work best if all of us can consider it an intriguing learning opportunity – a moment when we can demonstrate a “can-do” resiliency and a willingness to be gracious (that is, generous) as we embrace change and create opportunity out of unexpected disruption.

When will my class meet?
If your class resumes some form of real-time, face-to-face or web-based interaction (synchronous learning), those sessions will occur during your regularly scheduled time (Eastern Time Zone).  If your class chooses to use forms of learning that do not require class members all to be “tuned-in” at the same time, then you have some flexibility although your professors may establish guidelines regarding the timeliness and frequency of your participations. 

What if I have arranged to work at home and my classes conflict with my work schedule?
Please remember that (most of) you remain as full-time students at Berry.  You will need to plan any other activities (work or pleasure) around your class schedule as you would on campus.  It would be unfair to expect other students to adapt your personal schedule.

You may have more discretionary time while at home, particularly given the current situation and need to avoid public places, but time management may still require your attention.  You may have an established practice for study at Berry that you will have to re-create at home.

In this moment, please do not use another public venue (e.g., coffee shop) as your preferred study location.  Berry and many other organizations have closed as part of a national effort to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The effort will be defeated, and the cycle of the virus made more vicious, if young people do not participate actively in this “social distancing” effort by staying home.  Embrace Berry’s motto:  “Not to be served, but to serve” – and protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. 

What if I need tutoring support or have specific learning concerns?
Please contact Anna Sharpe ( or Katrina Meehan ( at the Academic Success Center.  We are also establishing resource areas on Viking Web to meet many of your needs while working from home.  Up-to-date information for online services is available at

When will I be able to register for classes and room assignments for the fall semester?
Advising will be delayed one week (this extended week of spring break).  It will then occur virtually beginning next week.  Registration and room selection will each begin a week later than originally scheduled.

What if I have questions about withdrawing from a course or other major academic concerns.
Please contact the Registrar’s Office or David Slade, Dean of Academic Services, at 706-236-2229 or   

We are establishing ways that you can accomplish anything online that you would normally accomplish at the Registrar’s Office. The best way to contact the Registrar’s Office is  The phone is 706-236-2282.

With spring break extended a week, when will the semester end?
At this time, we plan to end the term on May 9, the scheduled date of commencement.  We will need to ensure that we offer the standard number of class periods during the spring term, so we may have to add several unscheduled days back into the calendar (e.g., perhaps April 7, 10 and 28-30. 

Will we hold Commencement as scheduled?
We certainly hope to hold Commencement on its scheduled date.  However, we cannot commit to that now with any certainty; the decision may not even be at the college’s discretion. 

If not on May 9, then we will find another time and memorable way for our graduating seniors to gather together and celebrate the accomplishments and friendships of their years here at Berry.  That would be a priority.

Is Berry going to refund room and board fees for the weeks that the college is closed?
Yes, Berry will provide some form of refund.  The amount will likely be determined sometime in May. 

Please understand that this question is more complicated than it might seem.  Many students receive some form of financial aid and that aid is funded in different ways and governed by different policies.  Some of it covers a portion of room and board expenses.  Thus, each student’s account will have to evaluated separately based on their particular situation.  We will also need to wait for guidance from federal and state agencies and until we know for certain how many weeks the campus remains closed.  We ask for your patience as we study this issue.

How will students retrieve their belongings if the campus does not open again this semester?
The college will determine an appropriate schedule by which students can return to retrieve their belongings, once a decision has been made that the campus will not reopen.  That schedule will also depend also on any state or national travel restrictions.  If students are unable to return to campus because of distance or some other factor, we will work with them to establish an appropriate way to secure and store their belongings.

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