Williams Baptist University administration and staff are very active this summer making preparations for the fall semester in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Planning remains fluid as the COVID-19 situation unfolds, but here are some important plans and developments related to the launch of the new school year:

WBU plans to operate on its standard calendar for the fall semester. Classes will begin on August 18, as originally planned, and we will observe the Labor Day holiday, fall break, and Thanksgiving break as scheduled. We will return to campus following Thanksgiving, and finals are scheduled to be taken in-person starting Dec. 4.

Williams is planning on in-person instruction this fall. We will make adjustments as necessary to keep our campus community safe, but having students and faculty in the classroom is the baseline of our planning.

Safety will be paramount. All students and faculty will be given “COVID kits” containing thermometers, masks, and disinfectant. Plexiglas shields will be in classrooms, placed between faculty and students. Common areas will be subject to frequent sanitizing. All classrooms and residence hall rooms are being thoroughly sanitized before students arrive this fall.

There will be changes from the norm. We are developing specific protocols to guide safety in public spaces and classrooms, and these will require all of us to make some temporary adjustments. Social distancing guidelines are likely to impact how we function in class and around campus, although we are awaiting further guidance from the state on these matters.

International students will arrive early. The CDC recommends 14 days of isolation following international travel, so students coming to WBU from international locales have been asked to arrive on campus from July 25 to 31. This will allow for the requisite two weeks in isolation before the start of the fall semester.

The NAIA has given its approval for fall sports to proceed. Athletic contests will be delayed by a couple of weeks, but most games and meets will take place as scheduled. Spectator guidelines will be announced as we receive further guidance.

We are awaiting a report from the governor on June 30. Gov. Hutchinson’s task force will make its recommendations for schools known at the end of the month. We expect this to give us clarity on several important matters as we continue with our planning.

Many more details remain to be worked out as we await important guidance, but the points listed above are meant to help our campus family sense the direction in which we are heading.

In spite of the disruptions this pandemic has brought to our society and to WBU, we are anticipating a great fall semester. Enrollment indicators at this point remain very encouraging, and there is a palpable sense of excitement about having everyone back on campus. God is good!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:4-6