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Dear Berry students and families,

The weather has warmed and we are now enjoying beautiful summer days on campus. It has been a delight to welcome the first wave of 219 students back to Berry. The process has gone smoothly and students are working in areas all across campus. Their presence has us looking forward to fall and welcoming all of you back to Berry. Berry is a residential campus at heart and we are keenly aware of how the pandemic has complicated the experiences and relationships we value so deeply.

In my May 26th letter to campus, I affirmed that our aim is to resume on-campus instruction this fall. We continue to work to this end. Our planning is grounded on three priorities: the health and safety of our students and employees, the quality of our academic and educational programs, and the integrity of our residential campus experience. As we anticipated in that letter, we have decided to move our fall semester calendar earlier by one week. Several models suggest it is prudent to finish the on-campus portion of our semester by Thanksgiving.  

We will begin classes on Monday, August 17th. Students will finish their on-campus classwork no later than Tuesday, November 24th. Final assignments and examinations will be completed remotely the week after Thanksgiving. This new academic calendar includes classes on Labor Day and a fall break limited to a day off on a weekday during the semester. This schedule allows and encourages students to stay on campus as much as possible after your arrival in August as part of keeping you and others in our campus community safe.

We anticipate student-athletes returning on Monday, August 10th and new students arriving on August 12-13th for Viking Venture on Friday, August 14th.

There are many details that continue to evolve in our planning. We will share a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for Return to Campus by the end of next week with information about the full fall calendar, move-in details, campus events, and safety measures that may be required in residence halls, academic classrooms and buildings, and other campus facilities. The document will be updated through the remainder of the summer as local, state and federal guidance changes and as we gain a better perspective on the conditions that will affect our August opening.

Although we hope the FAQs will answer the majority of your questions, we will also host Zoom webinars for students and parents the week of July 13th to answer remaining questions you may have. We will schedule multiple days and times to provide flexibility for you to participate in a session.

In the meantime, stay safe and stay well.  


Steve Briggs

Dear Berry community:

We are committed to sharing timely information about any COVID-19 cases that may impact our campus community.  A short while ago, I received information that a Berry College employee has received a positive test for the coronavirus. 

The employee was first alerted to symptoms through the screening process at the front gate.  The employee then alerted Human Resources, was tested, is following local health department protocols and is in self-isolation at home.  The director of human resources, Wayne Phipps, is in regular contact and the employee is doing well.  Our thoughts and prayers are for a quick and routine recovery. 

The employee works in Memorial Library.  Acting with an abundance of caution, and while awaiting the test results, we immediately implemented special cleaning procedures in the employee’s work space and other places as indicated. Given the circumstances, the risk to the broader campus community is believed to be low.  Memorial Library is already closed for the week and will remain closed until Monday. 

Wayne Phipps, using local public health guidelines, has been in touch with anyone who has been in close, sustained contact with this individual.  As a result, one other employee will quarantine for 14 days. 

We continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep our community healthy.  The rate of confirmed COVID-19 infection remains low in Floyd County, but even so we all recognize that there will be occasional or sporadic cases in our area.  It is important that all of us take to heart the precautions presented on Berry’s COVID-19 webpage and the links provided by the CDC. It is within our capacity to impede the spread of the coronavirus with simple and caring actions.


IMPORTANT - If you develop a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 please contact your health care provider immediately.  During this period, it is also critical that you avoid contact with other people until advised otherwise by your health care provider. Do not come to work.  We request that you self-isolate pending further instructions from medical professionals.

Your attention to the CDC guidelines is crucial.  Please be careful and protect your health and those around you. I appreciate the goodwill of the Berry Community as we work together during this unprecedented time.  We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as warranted.

Be safe and stay well,

Steve Briggs

Dear students and parents:

As we look back over the last ten weeks, perhaps we can allow ourselves to smile and acknowledge that we did well under circumstances we would not have imagined possible. Berry students, faculty and staff worked together mid-semester to pivot abruptly and then continue with determination and good will to complete their courses and the semester. Congratulations on your resolve and hard work. Certainly, there has been disappointment and frustration along the way, but what you learned about yourselves these last weeks may well be as important as any of the subject material you studied. I am proud of our community.

With the conclusion of the academic year, we now look forward to the next. I know you have questions about what will happen this fall. The beginning of the fall term is three months away, and with continuing uncertainty as to the spread of COVID-19, any plans we prepare must be adaptable and responsive to changing circumstances.

Our aim is to resume on-campus instruction this fall. We are working deliberately toward this end. Our planning is grounded on three priorities: the health and safety of our students and employees, the quality of our academic and educational programs, and the integrity of our residential campus experience.

We believe that Berry has a number of advantages that make this aspiration realistic and sound: the college’s location in a small town with modest density, the campus’ natural perimeter with limited and managed entry points, the expanse of the campus relative to the number of students, the relatively low rate of infection in this area, and the excellence of medical care available in Rome, surpassing that of most cities its size. At present, no one can promise an opening with zero-risk, but risk can be reduced, as one expert put it, with attention to “time, space, people, and place.”

In preparing for the coming months, we are using an assessment framework that evaluates risk at any point in time based on the prevalence of cases in surrounding communities (Floyd County and northwest Georgia) as well as any incidents within the campus community itself. At each level (green, lime, yellow, orange and red), different actions can be implemented to manage the risk. These include: restricting access to campus, screening protocols, testing and tracing protocols, social distancing, use of masks and other protective equipment, limiting public gatherings, limiting movement within campus, and so on.

How we open campus or operate at any particular time will vary based on the risk level. For example, last weekend we welcomed back 100 students who are working on campus this summer. In our judgment, affirmed by the district health director for northwest Georgia, Berry and its surrounding communities are at a risk level of yellow, meaning there are only sporadic cases of household transmission in Floyd County, with no evidence of cases on campus. Accordingly, we allowed these students to return along with a partial number of employees, restricting other visitors, and screening all people entering campus every day. We have recommended the wearing of masks and allowed some work areas to require masks at the inhabitants’ request. For now, we are limiting gatherings and have implemented changes in the residence halls, dining hall and fitness center, and in the frequency and level of cleaning in residence halls and other campus buildings.

We have developed similar action templates for other risk levels and specific scenarios, and will continue to revise these templates based on feedback from local public health officials and medical leaders. We are also collaborating with an international environmental engineering firm to strengthen our processes and provide digital technology support to enhance our screening, testing and content tracing capabilities.

These planning activities will continue throughout the summer, and we will keep you updated along the way. We will be able to provide more detailed answers once we have a better sense of potential risk levels in August. I anticipate offering a webinar update later in June.

Please be aware that we are also actively exploring the possibility of starting classes one week earlier than scheduled in the month of August. Some models of the COVID-19 virus suggest that it may be prudent for students to remain home after the Thanksgiving break, until the beginning of the spring semester. If we make a calendar change, it may well involve Labor Day and Fall break as well. We will announce any calendar change by June 15th. Thank you for your patience.

As part of our preparation for the fall, a group of faculty and staff, led by Dr. Casey Dexter, are evaluating the teaching and learning efforts we employed remotely this spring. We hope not to be in this situation again, but we want to benefit from and make improvements based on this experience.

Students recently received a short (5-minute) survey about their experience with the unexpected mid-semester pivot to remote learning. If you’ve not already done so, please click on the link and fill out the survey.

Berry College Remote Learning Student Survey

Your answers are important to us. We are evaluating all of our classrooms and improving available technology so that we have increased flexibility to teach on campus in a variety of scenarios and allow medically vulnerable members of our community to participate in a way that facilitates a quality experience.

As things begin to look more optimistic regionally and nationally, please remember that our health and that of our communities is more fragile than we like to believe. Please be careful and protect the health of those around you. It’s one way to live out what it means to Be Berry.

The campus is beautiful. It awaits your return.

Warm regards,

Steve Briggs

Dear staff,

Such is the rhythm of our work that we finish one year only to begin immediately to think about the next. In that way, at least, this year is no different than others. Of course, we would normally have met today for our end of year celebration. Although I am not able to say it in person, I want you to know I am deeply grateful for all that you have accomplished under the most trying of circumstances.

In recent days, many of you have inquired about summer and fall. We are a residential college at heart, and it is our planning priority to open in the fall – with a commitment to the safety of all members of the community as well as an emphasis on quality education and the continued success of our students.

We are actively planning for fall contingencies. Provost Boyd has created an Academic Affairs Reopening Committee that begins its work today. Dean Taylor is working with many of you as she and her team plan a virtual SOAR. Our emergency planning team continues its work in looking at the various scenarios we could be facing this fall.

Beginning next Monday, May 18th, we will begin a phased reopening of campus. Employees returning to campus should be attentive to any symptoms (self or household members). Do not return to work if you exhibit symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. The college will have a screening protocol for returning employees beginning Monday; copies of the protocol will be distributed by Friday of this week.

While on campus, employees are encouraged to wear masks outside of their immediate work area, and to maintain six feet of social distancing inside and outside of their work areas. Some work areas / offices on campus may require masks for entry as a protective practice. Public areas of campus will be cleaned regularly.

Employees whose work by its nature needs to be conducted on campus should plan to return to campus. Employees who can fully complete their work from a remote location should seek approval from their supervisor and discuss appropriate measures of productivity as well as a cycle of rotation through their office. Employees whose normal works activities have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis should initiate a conversation with their supervisor regarding alternate work assignments at Berry during this period. Employees whose home responsibilities, including child care, have been complicated by COVID-19 should contact your Vice President and Wayne Phipps, Director of Human Resources.

It is important that all employees engage in meaningful work so that the college and its employees can continue to thrive. If employees would prefer to reduce their work hours during this summer in response to the unusual circumstances, please contact your Vice President and Wayne Phipps, Director of Human Resources.

The Berry Board of Trustees meets virtually this Wednesday and Thursday. Later that day, Thursday the 14th, several members of the cabinet and I will host a town hall similar to the one we had in March that will focus on our phased reopening beginning Monday, May 18th and our planning for fall semester. You’ll receive an Outlook invitation for a Zoom Town Hall for staff for 2 p.m. on May 14th. We’ll provide information and you’ll be able to ask questions in advance or via Chat during the call.

I look forward to talking with you on Thursday when we can turn our attention to the 2020-2021 academic year, having finished this semester with strength and good spirit and a sense of worthwhile work done well.

Steve Briggs

Dear Graduating Seniors:

Tomorrow was to be the long-awaited day, May 9th, Commencement Day 2020.

However, it would not be a true Commencement celebration unless we could all be gathered together on the Berry campus. We look forward to the day when gatherings of that scope are once again allowed, and we hope that is some day reasonably soon.

Yet, we did not want Saturday, May 9th to pass by unnoticed. It is a day for celebration because all of your hard work as an undergraduate is finished and your degree requirements are complete. Tomorrow your degrees will be certified and your transcripts available on Monday.

So, let’s CELEBRATE this moment in anticipation of the formal Commencement celebration to come.

  • Connect to the Berry website at 9am tomorrow morning (preferably with your family) for an official recognition of the day and also to see variety of videos commemorating the Class of 2020:
  • Review the list of honors and awards for 2020:
  • Watch your social feeds for Berry posts throughout the day
  • Encourage your friends to share their photos and memories using hashtag #CelebrateBerryGrads
  • Look for a special gift package in the mail

Please stay in touch. We love to hear about where you are headed and what you are doing.

Steve Briggs

Dear faculty and staff,

We continue to monitor state and federal messages related to COVID-19. Based on this week’s directives and notices from the Governor, we want to clarify and communicate several items related to the current and early summer status of the college. At this time, we will continue with our current approach with the campus closed for normal business. We request that you continue to operate as you have been, working remotely when feasible, as approved by your supervisor, until May 18th. Prior to May 18th, we will provide additional information regarding how and when we will re-open campus and what that will mean in regards to working from home.

While campus remains closed for most purposes, we will begin working with students to move out of their residence halls in a phased approach. This process will begin Saturday, April 25 and will continue through May 17. We are limiting the number of students moving out at any given time, and no move-outs will occur during the week of finals. Students will be checking out as they exit the main entrance of the college. There will be two exit lanes so you should be able to pass by the student check-out lane easily. If you would like to volunteer to help with the move out process, we would be grateful for your help. You can volunteer by clicking this link: https://signup.com/go/MThhfMz.

We have coordinated with the Library so that students can return materials. We are also providing a way for students to return student work keys at check out.

We believe it is best to limit student access to academic buildings out of caution for the health and safety of those still working on-campus. Students have been asked to complete a special circumstance form if they need to retrieve belongings that may be in their work space or in a faculty office or laboratory/studio. We will work individually with faculty and/or staff to return any such items to students.

As we approach the beginning of our summer sessions, it is time to consider opportunities for summer student work. As you likely know, it will not be business as usual even after we are able to begin the re-opening process.

Please send your requests for summer student work to Debbie Heida, dheida@berry.edu, identifying your summer needs and a rationale for your request. You may request positions that meet a significant (meaningful) need for the college, either with regard to work needed to be accomplished this summer or projects that require significant summer planning to be ready for fall implementation. We will also consider positions that create significant opportunities in keeping with our educational mission. Debbie will work with the vice presidents to review and approve summer work requests based on the college’s priorities. A LifeWorks Frequently Asked Questions follows and will provide guidance for your summer and fall planning. To enable students to plan, please submit your summer requests by no later than Thursday, April 30th.

Our on-line SOAR program has given us additional flexibility in the work placement process for new students. We do need your help in posting your fall positions, particularly the level 1 (or 2) positions that will be available to incoming students. Please post these positions as soon as possible and fill out the form linked in the following FAQ to identify fall jobs for entering students. Please make this a priority.

Thank you for your on-going flexibility as we end an academic year and plan a summer like no other at Berry College. Your mentoring and support of our students through the work program is vital to their success at Berry. This time-tested approach helps set us apart in this time of crisis and disruption.

Warm regards,
Steve Briggs

LifeWorks FAQ

What are the current plans for summer student work?
Until May 18th, we will continue our current practice of limiting student work to positions deemed critical, as has been happening since spring break. We will ask Gate Scholars to return to work on May 18th and allow others in a phased approach after that. Summer work requests should be sent to Debbie Heida at dheida@berry.edu by Thursday, April 30th.

Will summer research assistants be permitted to work?
Yes, please include summer research assistants in your requests for summer work. Please indicate if they are able to work remotely or will need summer housing.

Will students be allowed to work remotely?
Yes, but all work, including remote work, will need to be approved. When you make your summer work request, please indicate if the student will be working on campus or remotely.

When Gate Scholars return, will they return to the same positions they held in the spring?
Not necessarily. We anticipate a very different summer at Berry and some Gate Scholars may be assigned to positions for the summer (temporarily) based on the operational needs of the college. In many cases, Gates scholars who are reassigned for the summer will be able to return to their regular assignments for fall semester. We will work with LifeWorks supervisors to determine the most effective use of returning Gate Scholars this summer.

Will students be able to stay on campus with free housing this summer?
Yes, if they are working full-time or a combination of classes and work equivalent to full-time. We will also have summer dining plans available for those living on campus this summer.

Should we begin updating/creating summer jobs in JobX in anticipation of student workers returning?
The LifeWorks Office will e-mail instructions for creating new or updating previous summer jobs ASAP. We will first ask those supervisors with approved work positions (see above) to submit summer jobs for LifeWorks approval. When this process is complete, and summer campus-wide decisions have been made, all other supervisors will be able to submit jobs for approval.

For positions approved for summer, when should we submit hires in TimesheetX?
You can submit hires for approved critical work positions starting May 11. You need to wait until this date so that the JobX/TimesheetX vendor, NextGen, can update hourly wages to the new rates for each level ($9.00 for Levels 1-2, $9.25 for Level 3, and $9.50 for Levels 4-5).

Will incoming students be placed into positions for the fall?
Yes, first year students will be placed into ‘good fit’ campus work positions, but using a process that will be modified from that used in previous years. Details about this process are being developed and will be shared as soon as they are ready.

Will we meet placed students at SOAR?
No. Since SOAR will be held virtually this year, the timeline for making initial LifeWorks assignments for incoming students will be extended through July. All incoming students will be placed in campus work positions before the start of the fall term. The placement process is evolving but we will provide supervisors with other ways to connect with their new student workers.

When will supervisors be asked to provide requirements for incoming student workers?
You can submit your requirements now. Please complete the required survey form.

Is the LifeWorks Renewal still planned to begin this fall?
Yes. Starting in the fall, incoming students will be limited to 10 hours per week, returning students will normally be limited to 12 hours per week, and returning Gate Scholars will be limited to 16 hours per week. All departments should work on meeting their hours targets from the plans they submitted to their vice presidents this spring.

Will we have any new / automated tools in place to help us manage our wage and hours budgets?
Yes, we will. Your suggestions and concerns through the renewal process enabled us to work with NextGen to request some enhanced features for the JobX/TimesheetX systems. The LifeWorks Office will develop training materials to teach supervisors how to use effectively the following new features / tools:

  • A new budget tracking feature that shows expenditures in your departments based on paid timesheets and the balance remaining for the year (available in July).
  • The ability to view student academic schedules.
  • Built-in procedures which block hiring a student into a position requiring more weekly hours than the student has available.
  • Built-in procedures which will warn you if a hire has the potential to cause your department to be over budget.
  • Built-in warnings which will notify you if a student is attempting to enter more hours in a timesheet than a student has available for that week.

Will we need to evaluate our student workers for the 2019-2020 academic year?
No, not using the forms normally distributed through the LifeWorks office. However, many of you have evaluation tools you have developed and use in your areas and we encourage you to use them as appropriate and helpful. The Center for Personal and Professional Development will introduce new methods to evaluate students next year.

April 10, 2020

Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear Berry employees: 

Thank you for your continued patience as we respond to updated directives from state, local and federal officials. 

Governor Kemp has now extended state guidance about sheltering in place through April 30th.   Therefore, Berry College employees should continue to work from home until at least April 30, unless an exception has either been requested or approved by their Vice President.  

We’ve received a number of questions regarding specific aspects of these guidelines. The FAQs listed below address these questions and provide links to wellness and financial resources available to you during these challenging times.

This is a season of hope and faith in many of our faith traditions. These past weeks have reminded us of our fragility and the many things we take for granted. I pray that you have time in the coming days to reflect on how much we have been given, to remember these gifts with grateful hearts, and to extend that generosity to others by serving them well. 

Thank you for Being Berry.

Steve Briggs 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Governor’s order to shelter in place prohibit me from coming to campus if I am scheduled to work that day?

While the college continues to direct employees to work from home, for those employees who need to come onto campus (as approved by their vice president) the shelter in place order does not prohibit that.  Social distancing of at least 6 feet should still be practiced and employees should wash hands regularly when on campus. Employees should refrain from using another employee’s phone, desk, tools, etc. unless those have been appropriately sanitized. 

If I need to come to campus, do I need a letter to prove that I can keep working?

No.  The governor’s statewide shelter in place executive order addresses this question specifically and states that employees do not need a letter from their employer or the government.

If I am currently working from home, when should I use a vacation or sick day?

Employees should use vacation and sick time as they would if they were not working from home.  If there is a day where you are unable to perform the functions of your job because you are not feeling well or need to take care of someone in your home who is not feeling well, use a sick day.  If you want to take a day off to celebrate an event or spend time on personal things, use a vacation day. Employees should record sick and vacation days on their leave card or time sheets accordingly. 

Employees may also use portions of vacation and sick time. For example, if an employee works 4 hours in the morning but wishes to take the afternoon off, the employee can use 4 hours of vacation time or sick time (depending on the reason) to cover the afternoon. 

Working from home may bring a level of flexibility that an employee may or may not have when coming onto campus.  Be mindful of this and work with your supervisor to make your schedule fit the needs of the students and colleagues we engage with most.  This new normal should not add extra stress; the college does not expect employees to now be available 24/7. But during this time employees should continue to perform the tasks essential to the success of their department and the college, our worthwhile work done well. 

What if I don’t have enough sick or vacation time to cover time away?

Employees should contact the Human Resources department to work through that scenario.

How does the shelter in place order affect the rollover of unused vacation or sick time hours?

Unused vacation and sick time hours will rollover to the next year according to our normal policy.  Employees should plan to use vacation time within the normal timeframe, whether working at home or on campus. If you have a question in this regard, please contact the Human Resources department.

What should I do if I have a child at home during the closure of daycare facilities and the local schools?

The closure of the schools creates challenges for anyone with school age children. The college will be flexible for anyone requiring time off to care for children. Employees are still encouraged to work from home during this time and should work with their supervisor directly for alternate scheduling needs and to use vacation and sick time where appropriate.   

How do the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act relate to Berry?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) became law on April 1, 2020. One of the things the law did was expand FMLA coverage for employers with fewer than 500 employees.  Because Berry College employs more than 500 employees, the act does not directly impact our employees.  However, with the FMLA coverage that is currently available for Berry employees, remote work options, and vacation and sick time plans, Berry has already incorporated the items for our employees that the act was intended to address.   

Financial & Wellness Resources

Berry employees have free access to Enrich, a financial wellness site that can be found on myapps.berry.edu.  There is a great section of resources on financial topics entitled “Coronavirus and Your Financial Health” that employees are encouraged to review. That information can be found specifically at https://berry.enrich.org/landing/coronavirus-and-your-financial-health.  

Berry employees who may need help with feelings of stress or anxiety during this unprecedented time are encouraged to utilize our Employee Assistance Program through Unum. Details about that program can be found at https://www.unum.com/employees/services/life-balance or by calling 800.854.1446. 

The Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line provides 24/7 free and confidential assistance to callers needing emotional support or resource information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emotional Support Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling. The phone number to call is 866.399.8938.

Anthem (formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield) continues to send information to those enrolled in our medical plan. One partnership they have announced that may be of benefit during this time is with Aunt Bertha, which provides help with food, housing, transportation and other social support.  Employees can find services such as help with food, housing and transportation by visiting their website and entering your ZIP code at https://anthembcbs.auntbertha.com/.

Dear Berry Students:

We are now entering the third week of remote teaching and learning. It has been a challenging adjustment for all of us, and I am heartened by the way that our community has embraced this unfortunate but necessary accommodation. 

A crisis of this magnitude can put us on edge, and we need to be particularly attentive to how we deal with pent-up frustrations. It is important to find balance:  nourish your whole self – mind, body and spirit – in ways that are deliberate and consistent during this period of separation. It is equally important to be attentive to the needs and well-being of those around you and those who are at some distance. Be careful on social media: what’s done in a careless moment can cause lasting harm and damage relationships. Embrace what it means to Be Berry:  not to be served, but to serve. Stay connected in imaginative and upbeat ways.

On Friday (April 3rd), Governor Kemp issued a shelter in place order for all of Georgia until April 13th. We anticipate that local government officials in Rome and Floyd County may extend similar ordinances through the end of April. Those decisions, along with the latest models regarding the spread and peak of the COVID infection in Georgia and other parts of the nation, make it clear that this wave of the virus is not likely to wane before the end of May and could potentially carry into June. 

With that in mind, the college’s leadership team is developing multiple planning tracks for the months of May, June and July and looking out also to August and the fall semester. We will continue to keep our options open as much as possible, while also providing you with information about these options so that you can plan ahead as well. With this in mind, we ask for your patience, flexibility and support as we work carefully through our decision-making process.

Here are the latest updates from Berry:

Does the Governor’s executive order cause any changes to Berry’s courses or academic calendar?
No, we are still operating based on the calendar that was amended and announced last week. The revised Academic Calendar and Final Exam Schedule for Spring 2020 are posted at:


Has a decision been made about Commencement on May 9th?
Yes. Despite our fervent hopes, there is no realistic possibility of an on-campus Commencement ceremony on May 9th. We are looking at several other options for a possible on-campus ceremony. Tomorrow we will send all graduating seniors a brief survey to ascertain your preferences. Given the uncertainty, we will likely plan on more than one option – the one most preferred by graduates as well as a back-up plan.

Seniors, please look tomorrow for an e-mail from Provost Boyd.

When will graduates be able to receive a final transcript?
Graduating seniors will have their undergraduate degrees conferred, as scheduled, on May 9th.  Regardless of when we are able to have an in-person ceremony, your final transcripts will be available the week after May 9th.

When can I return to campus to retrieve my belongings and move out of my room?
The Governor of Georgia has issued a statewide ordinance to shelter in your place of residence. That ordinance continues until at least April 13 with the expectation of continued social distancing with no more than 10 people until April 30. It seems likely, therefore, that the process for retrieving belongings will begin no earlier than the week of May 3rd.

Once it is safe for students to return to campus, we will provide details about how to schedule a time. Please do not make arrangements to return to campus until you have received information on how to do so.

Please know that the Residence Life team has made sure all doors to rooms and halls are locked and your possessions are secure. Campus Police are walking residence halls daily to ensure security in the buildings. In the meantime, if you need essential academic items shipped to you, please complete the Request to Ship Academic Belongings form.

What is the process for reimbursement of unused room and board fees?
The college will reimburse students for 50% of the room & board fees from spring 2020 (the unused portion) that were paid using student funds. The exact amount of reimbursement a student is eligible for depends on the student’s room and board plan and the nature of their financial aid package. Commuter students who purchased a 980 FlexBucks meal plan will receive a credit for the unused balance in their FlexBucks account.

For most students, the cost of a Berry education is shared by the family and by the college. Berry College provides significant funding through scholarships and grants. Students will be reimbursed for the proportion of charges that they or their family funded. To maximize the student reimbursement, the college will consider all funds as family funded except funds from Berry scholarships and grants and funds from the State of Georgia (HOPE/TEG). State regulations require that TEG and HOPE funds be applied only to the cost of tuition and fees.  Thus, for Georgia students, these funds will be subtracted first, before computing the proportion of charges funded by the student separate from that funded by Berry directly.

For example, assume the total cost of tuition & fees plus room & board for the spring semester for a student was $25,158. If the student received $2,627 in HOPE and TEG funding, that amount is subtracted from the cost of tuition and fees. The spring total is now $22,531. If Berry scholarships and grants amounted to $10,000 for the semester, then the student-funded amount including other external sources is $12,531, or 56% of the revised total. The student would receive credit for 56% of the cost of their unused spring room and board plan. 

Berry will provide an itemized calculation to each student based on their specific charges and aid.  This information will be sent to students by May 1st. The reimbursement will be credited to each student’s account and will be first applied to any balances owed to the college. Students may use their remaining credit to cover the costs of summer school courses (online or in residence), to cover fall semester charges, or to request a refund. Credits may also be donated to the student emergency or Save a Student fund.  (These donations are tax-deductible and a student may donate all or a portion of their credit).

My family’s employment situation has just changed.  How will this affect my financial aid?  How can Berry help?
We have heard from students about challenges you are facing and we wanted to make available to students a way you can "raise your hand" if you need help or support of any kind. Support may well look different for each student: some of you may need academic support, others may need guidance on financial aid for next year, and others still may need financial assistance for immediate needs. Whatever your need, we want to help.

A simple form has been created for you to let us know how we can help:  Raise Your Hand

Will Berry students benefit from the federal legislation known as CARES?
Yes, in some cases. This legislation includes provisions to help students at independent colleges such as Berry. We are awaiting guidance from the federal Department of Education as to how and when funds will be distributed as well as the amount awarded to the college. We do know that half of all awarded funds are meant to provide direct support to students with exceptional need.  These federal funds are separate from the refund the college is providing based on unused room and board. We will provide updates as additional information becomes available.

How can Berry help me with job opportunities or career exploration while I’m home?
An important new career exploration and job/internship search tool will be available for Berry students in about two weeks (stay tuned for more details). For now, here are two approaches for finding job or internship opportunities:

  1. Start with your own network. Remember the “Hidden Job Market” (80% of jobs are never listed publicly) and know that your best bet for finding a job or internship is to start with your own personal and professional connections. Ask your friends and family, as well as Berry faculty, supervisors, and alumni about potential opportunities they know of. If you need help getting started, Berry Career Advisors are here to help you. (Click here to schedule a Virtual Viking Career Advising appointment)
  2. As you network, you should also search these popular job and internship boards: Internships.com, LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Berry’s College Central Network.

Berry’s Center for Personal and Professional Development has also created a “Next Steps Toolkit” which is filled with useful tools and resources (e.g., FAQs/tips, timely articles/advice, curated LinkedIn Learning courses, etc) to help you successfully navigate your next steps during this time of COVID-19. This toolkit will be updated regularly, and additional virtual personal and professional development initiatives will be announced in coming weeks. 

Are there opportunities for internships this summer?
Yes. A recent (April 3rd) national survey of employers showed that summer internships appear to be holding up amidst this pandemic, with two-thirds of companies indicating they are proceeding with their internship plans Most of these companies have also indicated that they will likely convert internships into remote work arrangements for the summer (visit the “Next Steps Toolkit” and see the Job & Internship FAQ sheet to learn more).

That said, there are also many unknowns right now. The news and national responses to COVID-19 are changing daily, and so much about hiring depends much on the specific industry.  To get regular updates from companies about their hiring plans, you can bookmark these websites: GitHub (Internship updates) and Candor (LIVE updates from hundreds of companies). You can also access a number of additional related articles/websites via Berry’s “Next Steps Toolkit”.

What is the plan for summer school?
All Block A courses, and at least the beginning of Block C courses, will be delivered online. Special arrangements have been made for science courses with labs. ANS 105 (lecture and lab) will be fully online, and the enrollment cap on ANS 105 has increased. FIN 301 has also added seats.  BIO 108 and 111, CHM 108 and 109, and EVS 104 courses will be divided into a 3-hour lecture that will be delivered online. The corresponding 1-hour lab will be offered on-campus during the 2020-21 academic year.

We hope to be able to hold some Block B courses on campus.

Are there opportunities for students to work on campus this summer?
When the college is able to return to more normal functioning, we will need students working in many areas. Please check with your supervisor or check the summer positions listed on JobX to learn of summer opportunities. We will have a smaller number of positions in May, but hope to expand in June-July.

The new minimum wage for on-campus work will go into effect as of May.  Students in level 1 and 2 positions will be paid $9.00 an hour, level 3 at $9.25, and levels 4 and 5 at $9.50. In addition, if you are working full time on campus this summer, taking classes full-time, or combining work and class equivalent to full-time, there will be no charge for on-campus housing. We are also making plans for a meal plan option for students. 

Dear Berry employees:

Last week I asked Berry employees to work from home until April 6th, consistent with the city and county directives for citizens to shelter in their place of residences. Yesterday, Governor Kemp extended state guidance about sheltering in place through April 13th. Local (city and county) ordinances now are subsumed by the Governor’s orders, but we anticipate that local government officials may extend their ordinances beyond April 13th even if the Governor does not.

In keeping with our plan to follow local, state and federal guidance, I am extending our current guidance to Berry faculty and staff through the April 13th, but with the understanding that it may well continue through the end of April.

All employees of Berry College should continue to work from home until at least April 13, unless an exception has either been requested or approved by their Vice President.

As shared last week, employees who need to work on campus in an area that is included on the list of exceptions should consult directly with their supervisor. Faculty may come to campus to facilitate their distance learning responsibilities or maintain the essential functions of their laboratories as needed, as long as they remain attentive to social distancing requirements. If you have questions, please contact your Vice President.

Last week, the spring academic calendar was revised based on changes that needed to be made to ensure the appropriate number of teaching days. As part of that change, the college will officially be open on Friday, April 10. That day will not count as a holiday in 2020. You may work at home as usual, or you may choose to use vacation time and take the day off as a personal holiday.

In that regard, the Human Resources Office is reviewing our policy for vacation and sick leave during this extended period when most employees are working from home. More information will be provided next week.

I hope you and your families are staying well as you continue to serve Berry from your homes. The months of April and May are always among the busiest of the year with the various events and rituals that mark the end of the academic year, and this year is busy and challenging for many of us in its own way. Yet the absence of the familiar celebrations of our students is disappointing and highlights our sense of loss. Our work is still demanding but the joy that comes from learning and working together is missing. It takes a toll on us just as it does our students.

Thank you for all you are doing to enable the work of the college to continue as our students attend to their coursework near and far. These are not easy times and while we all feel restless and unsettled, our willingness to prioritize the health and safety of our community resonates with Berry’s motto.

Stay well and help those in your community stay healthy also.

Steve Briggs

Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear Berry employees:

Last evening the City of Rome issued an ordinance related to COVID-19 directing citizens to shelter in their place of residence from 5pm today, March 24th, until Monday April 6th. The college itself is located in Floyd County, and County Commissioners will consider a similar directive this evening.  Yesterday, Governor Kemp also asked education and non-profit organizations to encourage their employees to work from home for the same time period. It is important for the college to support our local and state health and government leaders as our communities confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 illness. 

Effective at 5pm today, March 24th, all employees of Berry College are directed to work from home, unless an exception is approved by their Vice President, consistent with the City’s ordinance for citizens to shelter in their places of residence. We encourage employees who reside in Floyd County or surrounding municipalities to participate in this shelter in place directive as well.

The City of Rome’s ordinance allows for certain exceptions to the directive to shelter in place.

  • educational institutions – including private colleges – for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions
  • minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
  • water, sewer, gas, electrical, solid waste collection and removal, internet and telecommunication systems, business infrastructure.
  • law enforcement, dispatchers
  • all health care services provided to animals; food cultivation, including farming, livestock
  • plumbers, electricians, contractors and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to constructing and maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences …
  • mailing and shipping services
  • facilities that prepare and serve food:  food can be provided to students on a pick-up and take-away basis. Schools shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is prepared, or at any other gathering site.
  • minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions

Employees who need to work on campus in an area that is included on this list of exceptions should consult directly with their supervisor. Faculty may come to campus to facilitate their distance learning responsibilities or maintain the essential functions of their laboratories as needed, but remaining attentive to social distancing requirements. If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact your Vice President. 

Routine access to Memorial Library’s print and DVD collections, as well as print interlibrary loan services, will be discontinued. Faculty with critical needs for materials in the print collection may email library@berry.edu to discuss options for access. All remote library services, including access to and acquisition of electronic resources, chat and online reference services, and interlibrary loan of articles will continue. Refer to the Library’s Remote Services Guide for details (https://libguides.berry.edu/remoteservices).

Many employees are able to conduct a significant portion of their daily work from home. Others, however, are less able to do so. As I shared on Friday, we do not anticipate the need to lay off staff at this time. We will continue to pay our staff. We may call on staff members to help in other departments to meet the critical needs of the college. Your willingness to do so last week enabled us to send out financial aid packages to continue the work of recruiting our fall class.

Later today, I will be sending our students an e-mail extending the remote instruction period until the end of the semester. I’ll share that e-mail with faculty and staff so that you have the same information our students receive.

Certainly, many of us at Berry, staff and faculty alike, have had our work routines upended. We have had to pivot abruptly to meet the challenge of a closed campus, the absence of students, and providing an education remotely. We have maintained our core functions as a college while focusing on social distancing and cleaning precautions. It has been a difficult and demanding period.

The strength of Berry has never been more evident than in the resilience and flexibility you have shown through this experience to date. While it would be foolish to predict how the weeks and months ahead will unfold, your on-going care of Berry, our students, and each other will enable us to persevere and thrive as a college.

Thank you. And best wishes for your weeks at home.

Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear Berry students:

It has now been eleven (long) days since we made the decision to extend spring break by a week and begin remote instruction for all classes.  At that point (Friday, March 13th), we hoped there might be a possibility of reopening campus sometime later in April so that students and professors could meet together before the conclusion of the academic term.  Sadly, that almost certainly will not happen.

Therefore, I am formally announcing that the Berry campus will remain closed for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.  All courses for the term will be completed by way of remote instruction. 

As part of that decision, we want to provide information about a number of related matters.

Before that, however, I want you to know how much we regret having to make this decision.  For many of you, especially our graduating seniors, this is an occasion of real loss.  I know it is disappointing and difficult.  The warmth of our community is at the core of the Berry experience.  It is evident in the ways you connect with teachers and mentors in class and at work.  Our student community thrives because you care about each other and this remarkable place.  We recognize that it is disorienting to be learning remotely and disheartening to be separated physically from those you care about.  Who knew how much we would miss the “Berry bubble?” 

As we embrace the challenge of learning in new and unexpected ways, I encourage you to engage fully with your professors and classmates.  The coming weeks may seem formidable, but difficult challenges can truly bring out the best in us.  Martha Berry often said:  "The pursuit of easy things makes us weak.  It is the pursuit of difficult things that makes us strong."

I wish you every success as you work at home and as we participate in this national effort to keep our families, communities and selves safe and healthy. 

What does this mean about my courses this semester?

You will complete your courses at home.  Faculty have been preparing how students can fulfill all course requirements this semester using teaching methods and assignments appropriate to the learning outcomes of specific courses.  Questions about specific courses should be directed to the course professor. 

Questions about academic matters more generally should be directed to your advisor or to Dr. David Slade, Dean of Academic Services (dslade@berry.edu or 706-236-2229). 

A comprehensive list of student resources, including the Academic Success Center and Writing Center, is available at: student resources as well as on VikingWeb.

What about labs, clinical, and internship hours?

All lab and clinical courses will be completed this semester via remote teaching and learning. Students should contact their Academic Internship Advisor for specific information regarding their internships.

Will the academic calendar remain the same?

Because we extended spring break by a week, we will need to add five additional days to the class schedule.  Those days will be:   Tuesday, April 7, Friday, April 10, Wednesday, April 29, Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1.

Final exams will begin on Monday, May 4 and end on Friday, May 8. All final exam dates are pushed forward by 2 days. Exam times remain the same.

The revised Academic Calendar and Final Exam Schedule for Spring 2020 will be posted by Friday, March 27 at: https://vikingweb.berry.edu/ICS/Course_Registration/

Will Berry have a Commencement this year?

Yes, but the format is not yet determined.  Although it seems unlikely that the COVID-19 situation will improve markedly six weeks from now, we do want to leave open the possibility that our graduating seniors could gather on campus for a celebration and ceremony as scheduled for Saturday, May 9th, (or perhaps at a date later in May.)   We will make a decision in that regard several weeks in advance, by Friday, April 17th

Should we be unable to proceed with Commencement on campus on May 9th (or an alternate May date), we will recognize the accomplishments of our graduates and confer their degrees virtually on that date.  We will also invite all graduates to return to campus for a special time of celebration, perhaps hosting a festive ceremony on the weekend of Mountain Day 2020.

When will I be able to retrieve my belongings from my residence hall room?

We understand that most students will need to retrieve their belongings from campus.  We plan to use a process similar to the one used after spring break.  Students will schedule a time to return to campus, and we will manage the number of students returning to campus at any one time to ensure appropriate social distancing and an efficient process.

However, as of 5pm today, March 24th, the City of Rome is under an ordinance to shelter in your place of residence.  That ordinance continues until at least April 6th, which is the same time frame established yesterday by Governor Kemp, who asked colleges to have their employees work from home.  We expect Floyd County commissioners to pass a similar directive at its called meeting later today.

Thus, the process for retrieving belongings will not begin until after April 6th.  Once it is safe for students to return to campus, we will provide details about how to schedule a time.

In the meantime, please know that the Residence Life team has ensured all doors to rooms and halls are locked and your possessions are secure. Campus Police are walking residence halls daily to ensure security in the buildings.  If you have specific concerns, please call Residence Life at (706) 236-2209

What if I am unable to come back to get my belongings once campus reopens?

We understand that students are located across the nation, and we will work with students individually to retrieve their belongings once it is safe and healthy to reopen campus. For students unable to travel back to campus, we will work to store their items in a secure manner until they are able to return.

What if I’m currently on campus; do I need to leave immediately?

Students who have been permitted to remain on campus will be able to stay on campus.  They will shelter in this place of residence for the time being.  Currently, only international students and a limited number of other students reside on campus. 

Can I visit or return to campus?

No.  The Berry campus is currently closed to everyone except essential employees of the college, including a small number of students who are approved to work in special areas.  In addition, the college is complying with directives that local residents shelter in their place of residence until April 6th

At this time, most faculty and staff are working remotely, except for a limited number of exceptions who must be present to ensure the necessary operations of the college and to facilitate distance learning.  For these employees, we are asking them to conduct their work separated from others.  Having a diminished number of people on campus helps keep these employees healthy and allows the college to participate in the national effort to “flatten the curve.”  If you have an essential item that you need from your residence hall room, please complete this link for Residence Life to mail it to you.

Will there be a refund or credit for room and board for the weeks that campus is closed?

Yes.  We expect to reimburse unused room and board fees that were paid with student funds.  The reimbursement will be proportional based on approximately one-half of the spring semester’s room and board fees.  The exact amount of reimbursement each student receives will depend on a student’s room and board plan, their financial aid awards, and federal requirements.  We plan to provide options for reimbursement that may include a credit toward the fall semester, summer courses, or a refund check to the student.

Although the campus is closed for the remainder of the spring semester, the college nevertheless incurs costs related to dining services.  The cost of food will be negligible, but the college still has an obligation to a number of professionals who manage the college’s dining service operations.  In preparing its refund plan, the college has opted not to pass these expenses on to Berry students.

Because each student’s reimbursement will need to be calculated separately, refunds will likely be distributed sometime in early May. 

Can I still get my mail forwarded?

If you have already completed a form with April 3, 2020 as the end date, you do NOT need to complete another form. If you have not completed the form, please submit your mail forwarding request immediately so we may begin forwarding your mail and packages. Please use August 21, 2020 as the ending date. https://vikingweb.berry.edu/ICS/Students/Forms_and_Reports.jnz

Upon receipt of this form, we will forward Berry paychecks, mail, and all packages that are currently here.  Your mail and packages will then be forwarded each day as they are received. It would be helpful if packages you order during this time period be sent directly to your home address instead of Berry. Should you return to Berry for summer, you will be able to cancel the mail forwarding at that time.

What is the plan for summer school?

At this time, we expect to offer an extended set of courses using a remote/online option. Several new online classes have been added. Once the campus reopens for normal use, we also anticipate additional on-campus offerings, including experience-focused opportunities such as laboratories, clinicals and studios.  

Should we be unable to offer classes on-campus this summer, ANS 105 (lecture and lab) will move to an online format. BIO 111, CHM 108, CHM 109 and EVS 104 will move to a remote format for lecture, with in-person labs offered during the 2020-21 academic year. For rising seniors, NUR 410 and EDU 222 have been moved to remote teaching and learning for this summer.

Will there be opportunity for students to work on campus this summer?

When campus reopens for normal use, we anticipate resuming student work opportunities.

Gate of Opportunity Scholars who normally work during the summer months as part of their scholarship program should plan to resume their work when campus reopens.  We will keep Gate students informed in the months to come.

What is the plan for students interested in studying abroad in the fall semester?

We will continue to monitor study abroad locations and use recommendations from the CDC and State Department to inform whether students will be able to participate in study abroad.

Thank you again for your patience and flexibility, and for your willingness to put others first as we make the health and safety of our communities a priority.  What a vivid reminder of how connected we are to others around us. 

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 (asharpe@berry.edu) or Katrina Meehan (kmeehan@berry.edu) 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 www.berry.edu/ASC.

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 dslade@berry.edu.   

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 registrar@berry.edu.  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.

Floyd County public health officials have notified Floyd County Schools (FCS) that an employee who visited Krannert Center on March 10 is confirmed to have COVID-19 and is currently in self-quarantine. The FCS educator had no known contact with any employees at the college while in attendance at the FCS Quiz Bowl event.

Out of an abundance of caution, housekeeping has taken extra measures in cleaning the building.

As we have continued to share with our community, your health is important and there are basic precautions you can take to reduce risk:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Take your temperature twice a day and remain alert for fever, coughs, or difficulty breathing.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • If you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, call and speak with a medical professional before arriving at the health care facility. If you do not feel well, please stay home.

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.

Dear Berry Community,

It certainly has been a memorable Spring Break week as our nation grapples with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19).

As you probably know, in an effort to curtail the spread of the virus, a number of colleges and universities have decided this week to close their residential campuses for the foreseeable future.

Berry’s situation is different from many others in that our campus is relatively self-contained, with an option for restricted access, and in a location that is less densely populated. For the time being we will opt to remain open, keeping two principles in mind: How do we best ensure the health and safety of our campus community, and how do we best ensure the continuity of our core educational programs?

As you plan your return to campus, please understand that it will not be business as usual. We are implementing strong safeguards for the health and safety of our community, and will limit access to campus beginning this weekend. For the safety of our community, we will screen all returning students for symptoms as they arrive to campus.

Let me provide some important details:

  1. Students should plan to return to campus on Sunday, March 15th, between noon and 8pm. You will be directed to the Cage Center parking lot where there will be a brief screening process related to symptoms and recent travel. If you are unable to return to campus on Sunday between noon and 8pm, please email the Dean of students. It will be necessary for you to check in at the Welcome Center.
  2. It is vital that you be alert to your own health. If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, please do not return to campus. Instead, contact your health care provider immediately and isolate yourself at home until cleared by a medical professional.
  3. If you traveled to locations where the CDC has issued a Level 3 Warning against nonessential travel or to any location with sustained community spread, you should also choose to self-isolate at home. The CDC recommends you stay home for 14 days from the time you left a high-risk area.
  4. In coming weeks, our priority will be our core educational mission: that is, completing course requirements for the semester. To that end, faculty will prepare options to ensure course completion should students or faculty be unable to participate in regular class sessions. Faculty will develop various remote or on-line learning options.
  5. Meanwhile, all large public events will be cancelled through the end of March, and public access to campus through the main entrance will be limited.
  6. On-campus events for the college community will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. As much as possible, events and functions will incorporate measures that encourage “social distancing” and limit person-to-person contact.
  7. Athletic events and participation are scheduled to continue for now, but there may be restrictions related to attendance.
  8. The dining hall will implement changes that restrict self-serve options to minimize use of common utensils. Extra cleaning protocols have been implemented across the campus.

The college’s campus planning group continues to monitor the local and national situation on a daily basis and is attentive to guidance from our local and state health departments as well as the CDC. As of today, there are a small number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Floyd County.

Since the virus is present in our community, it is important for all of us to be vigilant. We will share information in a timely manner, and we ask for your flexibility in the event we need to act quickly.

Additional information and FAQs will be posted on this website on a regular basis.  https://www.berry.edu/healthupdates

Thanks for your cooperation and good will as we enter uncharted territory.

Stay safe and be healthy.

The college has been notified that a visitor to an event at Krannert yesterday, March 10, is currently being monitored for possible exposure to the coronavirus. The visitor had no apparent contact with any employees at the college. Out of an abundance of caution, housekeeping has taken extra measures in cleaning the building.

As we have continued to share with our community, your health is important and there are basic precautions you can take to reduce risk:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Take your temperature twice a day and remain alert for fever, coughs, or difficulty breathing.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • If you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, call and speak with a medical professional before arriving at the health care facility. If you do not feel well, please stay home.

Dear Berry community:

We have just received information regarding a probable confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus in Floyd County. To our knowledge, this individual is not member of the Berry College community. Here is the notice provided by Floyd Medical Center.

BREAKING: Floyd Statement Regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 Exposure


Late Thursday evening (3/5/20) Floyd received notification from Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) that a patient in our hospital has preliminarily tested positive for Coronavirus COVID-19. 

A 46-year-old female presented to Floyd’s Emergency Care Center with flu-like symptoms on the afternoon of Saturday, February 29, 2020.  The patient was screened according to CDC and GDPH screening guidelines and was subsequently treated and released. She did not meet the testing criteria for COVID-19 or warrant hospitalization. 

The patient returned to Floyd’s Emergency Care Center on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 with worsening symptoms. Further tests were completed, GDPH was notified and subsequently authorized her release. Despite the patient, again, not meeting COVID-19 screening criteria, Floyd clinicians made the determination to admit her to the hospital due to her condition. 

The patient was placed in isolation and further screening was conducted. At the adamant urging of the attending physician and District Health Director Dr. Gary Voccio, CDC and GDPH authorized COVID-19 testing for the patient. The preliminary test result was deemed positive. Additional confirmatory testing is being performed and results from CDC are anticipated in the coming days. 

While we await final confirmation, Floyd has been advised by GDPH to notify caregivers who treated this patient prior to isolation on Tuesday. In addition, although the risk of exposure is low, Floyd has made the decision to proactively notify all patients who may have had contact with any of these caregivers or who may have been in the ER at the time the patient was present in order to instruct them on next steps and address concerns. 
The public can be assured that it is safe to seek care at Floyd. We have the facilities and the expertise to care for those patients while protecting the safety of all of our patients, visitors and employees.  Floyd has negative pressure isolation rooms with specialized ventilation systems. Our staff participates in drills and training routinely to maintain a state of continual readiness, and our caregivers use personal protective equipment when caring for any patient suspected of having an infectious disease.

Now that COVID-19 has spread to our area, it is important for all of us take to heart the precautions that are presented on Berry’s COVID-19 webpage and the links provided by the CDC.


IMPORTANT - If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 please contact your health care provider immediately. It is also critical that you avoid contact with other people until advised otherwise by your health care provider.

      • Students: Contact Student Health right away: 706-236-2267
      • Faculty and Staff: Contact your primary care physician via telephone.
      • We request that you self-isolate pending further instructions from medical professionals.

Steve Briggs

Dear Berry community:

Each day brings new reports regarding the spread of the COVID–19 virus nationally and internationally. In order to provide timely updates and answers to frequently asked questions, the college has established a webpage with relevant information and FAQs (also accessible from the college homepage.).  https://www.berry.edu/healthupdates

IMPORTANT - If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or who has recently traveled to an area with ongoing transmission, contact your health care provider immediately. While on campus, students should contact the Ladd Center. Employees (and students traveling away from campus) should first call their health care provider.

At this time, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, both in Fulton County. The two individuals reside in the same household, and one had recently travelled to Italy. 

If you are traveling over spring break, please be alert to travel warnings, advisories, and health notices posted for the areas you visit.

  • If you choose to travel outside of the U.S., be sure to check entry and exit requirements for the U.S. and your intended destination before your departure and return. Travel restrictions may change on short notice and airlines may change or cancel flights in response.
  • There are currently no travel restrictions within the U.S., but this also could change.
  • Remember that the essentials of illness prevention are especially important in areas where large numbers of people in transit, such as airline, train, and bus terminals. Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth, and avoid others who appear ill. ·
  • While the risk of you contracting COVID-19 remains low; it is important that you not return to campus if you are ill. 

IMPORTANT:  Should you travel to an area that is currently listed by the CDC as a level 3 risk (an area with ongoing transmission), you must be evaluated by a health care provider prior to returning to campus and you will be subject to a 14-day quarantine at your own expense. If you travel to an area that is added to the restricted travel list within 14 days of your return, you may also be required to self-quarantine.

IMPORTANT:  Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about any recent travel and your symptoms. If you are sick, you should not return to campus until you are cleared by a health care provider.

Many thanks for your continued attentiveness and cooperation as we strive to ensure the health and well-being of our community.

Steve Briggs

Dear Berry community,

The spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID – 19) is a major concern throughout the world.  Given its sudden appearance, there is still much that public health experts need to learn in order to understand how best to diagnose and treat the infection and limit its transmission. We all hope that medical scientists are quickly able to understand the nature of this virus. 

Because the situation is still evolving rapidly, I have convened a campus planning group to ensure that we are monitoring the situation carefully and continually, in concert with our local and state health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Remaining attentive to emerging guidelines from these public health officials will enable us to make the best decisions for Berry as the situation continues to unfold. The health, safety, and well-being of the Berry College community is always our top priority and will guide our responses as we learn more about COVID – 19 in coming weeks.

Provost Boyd has been in close contact with our students who are studying abroad and is working with students in countries where the alert status warrants their returning home. We are also reviewing Berry’s summer international programs and will decide on an appropriate course of action as we learn more. Our planning includes preparing alternative academic programs in the event they are needed.

As you pursue travel plans over spring break or during the semester, please be attentive to the status of your destination and any governmental precautions at the State Department and CDC:



If you choose to travel abroad, we ask that you provide the college with information about your travel itinerary so that we can be alert to any issues that might unfold in coming weeks. A simple form can be completed here:  https://berry.presence.io/form/spring-break-plans.

The best prevention for the spread of any sickness or virus is to follow public health professional recommendations. We all know these steps but do not always take time to follow them in everyday life.  We tend to take our health for granted. These recommendations include:

  • thorough hand-washing with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing the ABC song twice)
  • use of hand sanitizer (with 60% alcohol or greater)
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • minimizing contact with other people when you are sick

If you have individual health concerns, the Berry Health Center is your best resource. 

The amount of news circulating, some factual and some speculative, can be disconcerting. The link below is your best and most up-to-date resource for information about COVID-19.

CDC:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf

We will also have links on our Berry Health Center web page: https://www.berry.edu/healthcenter

We will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds.

Steve Briggs

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