Students trickle back to FMU ahead of in-person classes starting

Pee Dee

FLORENCE AREA, SC (WBTW) — More and more students are moving in to Francis Marion University’s campus ahead of face-to-face instruction starting.

As of Wednesday, university administration said 927 students have moved in.

The university began its three weeks of online-only instruction last Monday, which will continue through Sept. 7. The next day, face-to-face classes will begin.

“We’re moving them in a few at a time,” university president Dr. Fred Carter said. “At most they’ll come in 18 an hour. So they’ll actually come in over the three weeks. So we build up our dorm population. At the same time that we look at the other indicators relative to health and safety around the institution.”

Dr. Carter said the delay in physical classes helps to make sure everything is in place. Some classes will remain online or use a blend of methods after Sept. 8.

“That extra three weeks just gave us more time to get everything prepared, to get everything ready,” he said.

FMU had to move its classes online back in March when the pandemic was heating up.

Returning this fall, the university will have many new policies in place. That includes rules about masks, reducing occupancy in classrooms and residential halls, as well as daily health checks for students.

“It’s definitely a harder transition than doing in person classes, I think for both students and professors,” senior Ceason Faircloth said. “Class sizes are small so you usually work together and close with everyone. It’s kind of hard to do that when you can’t see people.”

Junior Lindsey Roof was ready to get back in the classroom.

“I’m so ready to have like a set schedule,” she said. “Like I wake up at 10:30, go to class by 10:40, go to the next class.”

Dr. Carter said the school is prepared to pivot if the need arises.

“If we’re required at some time of the course of the semester to go back online, the platform, the virtual platforms are already in place for every class to switch very quickly back online if they have to do so,” Dr. Carter said. “I hope that won’t be the case.”

He added that preparations for Sept. 8 have been in the making all summer, but are picking up as the day draws nearer. He mentioned the many physical safety efforts that have been done- like installing plexiglass in some spaces, spacing out desks and continued cleaning.

“It’s hard to sit here and say, ‘Oh, this is going to happen,’ because I frankly I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I do know we’ve prepared as extensively as we could to prepare for this. I know our students take this very, very seriously and they’ll work with us in that process. We’ll just see how the fall goes.”

Classes are scheduled to end Nov. 25.

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