Plans for the fall semester
Dear Coker Community,
Students will be back on campus in just a few short weeks! I’m grateful to our faculty and staff for their commitment to welcoming our students back to campus next month and I’m grateful to our students for their support and patience as we continue to work toward what I know will be a great academic year.
I know there are lots of questions about what the fall semester will look like––some things we know for certain and others will be determined closer to early August. We’ve added a helpful FAQ section to our coker.edu/covid-19 webpage and we’re continuing to update it with new information as it becomes available. Please keep in mind that all of Coker’s plans and protocols surrounding COVID-19 are subject to change as this is an ever-evolving situation.
Our highest priority is the health and safety of our campus community, and we continue to use guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to inform our decisions. We’ve incorporated new campus-wide protocols, including wearing masks, limiting occupancy and practicing social distancing in spaces, and intensive sanitizing. We’re welcoming employees back to campus in phases and we will stagger our residential student move-in across days and times to limit contact and crowds. Seating in our dining hall has been reduced and all meals will be available for dine in or takeout. Coker athletics is following all guidelines from the CDC, NCAA, and the South Atlantic Conference regarding a return to play.
We’ve adjusted our traditional undergraduate academic calendar so that the fall semester begins as scheduled on August 17-18, but the university will be open and classes will be held on Labor Day and through Fall Break. In-person instruction will end on November 24 and any remaining coursework and exams will be delivered online through December 8. The residence halls will close December 9 at 5pm. We’re moving traditional in-person instruction to a hybrid model where we’ll stagger in-person instruction with online learning in an effort to limit the number of students in classrooms and incorporate proper social distancing measures. There may be additional class changes that will need to be made; you will be notified if any pertain to your specific schedule.
It’s important to note that Coker is a “Wear a Mask Campus.” All employees, students, visitors, and vendors are required to wear masks or cloth face coverings. Masks or cloth face coverings must cover your nose and mouth. You must wear a mask when you are on campus, including in classrooms and outdoors. You do not have to wear a mask when you are alone in a private office or in your residence hall room with or without your roommate(s).
Before the start of the fall semester, we will ask all residential students to sign an updated housing agreement and all students, faculty, and staff to sign The Coker Pledge, which will acknowledge our individual commitments to protecting the health of our campus and greater Hartsville community.
Following DHEC’s guidance and out of consideration for our community’s healthcare infrastructure and the demand for testing kits, at this time, we do not expect to test every student and employee before in-person classes start. Our Center for Health and Wellness has partnered with local medical providers to provide on-campus COVID-19 testing for symptomatic patients.
For the fall, large events are looking unlikely. CobraQuest, our new student orientation, will be a combination of small group activities and virtual learning experiences. We’re having to reschedule the Cobras in the Capital trip for a time when it is safer to travel. Homecoming 2020 (September 25-26) will be a virtual celebration this year.
I will be hosting two virtual town halls on Friday, July 24––one for parents/guardians from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. EST and one for students from 6:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. EST––where my executive team and I will be able to answer any questions you might have about the upcoming semester. If you’re interested in attending, please fill out this registration form; you can submit your questions for the event via the registration form.
We’re excited to be fully reopened on August 10 and even more excited to see our students return to campus.
Dr. Natalie Harder, President of Coker University
A message from Dr. Harder to the Campus Community
Dear Coker University Family,
First and foremost, let me express my continued excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to lead Coker University. Yesterday was my “first day” as president and it was a day full of inspiration and meaningful conversations. Many of you have shared ideas, challenges, and big hopes for our future. I will continue to listen intently and know that together we will undertake the important and exciting work of building the dreams we have for Coker.
As much as yesterday marked the beginning of what I know will be a rewarding year ahead for our campus community, I come to this role at a time when our world is hurting. COVID19 turned spring semester into a story unlike any we could have imagined writing. We’ve missed the companionship of our campus community and along with the rest of the world, we’ve struggled to find connectedness during this difficult time.
Now our nation faces even greater challenges as we also confront the continued painful realities of prejudice. And while our university works to achieve our dreams, we must continue to ensure that injustice and inequality have no place on our campus or in the Coker University family. Not in our programs. Not in our athletic contests. Not in our residences, or classrooms, or in our relationships across the region. Not in how we treat and take care of each other. Indeed – the Coker University tenets demand that one pledge to “Conduct myself with integrity and be responsible for my actions and their consequences and respect the rights, property, culture, and beliefs of others.”
As president of Coker University, let me be very clear that I and Coker University will never tolerate discrimination, or acts of hate and violence, on our campus or within our community. Instead, let the Coker community draw strength from our diversity, and live the values of integrity and respect such that we are the model for supporting everyone in achieving their potential regardless of the color of their skin.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as Coker University’s 17th president. These are indeed challenging times, and I know that together we will create a better and more just world.
Dr. Natalie Harder, President of Coker University
Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.