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Ready for Our Cadets’ Safe Return to Campus

We are looking forward to welcoming young men back to our campus for the 2020-2021 Academic Year!

On this page you will find all of the information you need regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as we get ready to open our campus to students this fall. Please check this page frequently as we will keep it updated as necessary and add new content as needed. 


Message from Our President

We encourage you to read the message from our President, Col. David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.), regarding our overall plans for the fall opening of classes on campus.

 

Our COVID-19 Mitigation Plans

 

Please download our 2-page information sheet titled How is Fork Union Dealing with COVID-19 Concerns? to learn more about our plans.

You can also read our more detailed Mitigation Plan for COVID-19 Concerns at this link.

 


Recommendations and Guidelines from Our Infirmary

Our Infirmary offers the following guidance for staff, students, and day student families regarding COVID-19 prevention and mitigation.

 


Academic Calendar

As we prepare for a return to school this fall, we have made some important adjustments to our Academic Calendar to help prevent and mitigate any challenges that might be presented by COVID-19 infections in the United States and the wider global community.


Frequently Asked Questions

As we add and update questions and answers in this FAQ, we will mark which items have been added or updated within the past 7 days to make it easier for you to spot the newest content. Just look for the items marked NEW or UPDATED.
 

General

There is a lot in the news right now about how schools are going to be in the fall. Is it as bad as some people are making it sound?

 
New guidance and recommendations are coming out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other local, state, and federal health professionals as knowledge and understanding about the COVID-19 virus continues to improve. At Fork Union Military Academy, we are processing all this information and preparing a comprehensive plan to return boys to a meaningful educational experience on our campus.

Remember that Fork Union Military Academy is blessed with a large, beautiful campus surrounded by rural countryside far from the dense population centers so adversely impacted by the pandemic. We feature small class sizes, and, with our unique One Subject Plan, our cadets are not changing classes throughout the day.

While there is no doubt that, for at least some period, there will be adjustments we will make in light of COVID-19, we firmly believe that Fork Union Military Academy is better positioned than many other schools to manage, throughout this crisis, to best serve the young men who join our Corps of Cadets.

 

I am new to FUMA, and have not even been able to visit, so a lot of this is really unclear to me? Is there anything I can do before school opens to get a better understanding?

 
Yes. We have opened our campus for family visits. Appointments are required and we have specific protocols in place to make your visit to our campus as safe as possible. You may contact our Admissions Office by phone at 434-842-4205 or by email to admissions@fuma.org and schedule your campus visit, or simply ask any questions you may have.

 

Will the Academic Calendar and other policies still be subject to more change in the future due to COVID-19?

 
Yes. One thing this global pandemic has taught us is that we must remain flexible and prepared for any eventuality.

This Academic Calendar represents our best plan for the upcoming school year while also mitigating the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus. This plan is based on all the information currently available. As new information arises and conditions change, we will make necessary changes to our plans and policies before or during the school year.

Our mutual success in this upcoming school year will rest upon all of us practicing individual responsibility, patience, and flexibility. We promise to keep you as well-informed as we can regarding any necessary changes to this plan.

 

Check-In and Registration

When do cadets report to campus?

 

Your check-in day depends on whether your cadet is coming back as a cadet leader, an athlete, a new student, or a returning cadet.

  • Monday, August 3 - Cadet Leadership Training

This first check-in date is for our cadets returning for Cadet Leadership Training by invitation of the Commandant. If you have questions about Cadet Leadership Training, please contact COL Tony Moss, Commandant, or our Deputy Commandant, GySgt Charlie Coulter, by email.

  • Friday, August 7 - Soccer Players

Our soccer players will arrive next, on August 7th. If you have questions as to whether or not you should report on this date, please contact our head soccer coach, MAJ Bob Burger, by email.

  • Monday, August 10 - New Cadets / Football Players

This will be our biggest check-in day as we welcome our NEW cadets to campus, as well as our high school and postgraduate football players. Football players who have questions about checking in on that day should contact either our head prep football coach, CPT Mark Shuman, or our head postgraduate football coach, MAJ Frank Arritt

  • Tuesday, August 11 - Returning Cadets

Cadets who were enrolled in the 2019-2020 academic year will return to campus on our final check-in day of the new year.
 

 

What time do cadets report to campus on their check-in day?

 
We are scheduling specific check-in time periods for each family. Our check-in days will be separated into "time zones" of 90 minutes each in which we will check-in up to 25 families.

You will receive a digital check-in reservation form by email.

Using this form, you will reserve your desired check-in time zone. Note that these times are reserved on a first come, first serve basis. Each time zone has 25 slots. Should your requested time zone be at capacity, someone from the Admission Office will reach out to you so that you may choose a different time zone.

Will arriving cadets receive health screenings or be quarantined on campus for a period?

 
In the 14 days prior to your check-in date, we strongly recommend and request that students be especially careful to prevent possible exposure to COVID-19. Please follow social distance guidelines, wear a mask or cloth face covering when recommended, and avoid traveling in areas that are seeing increased infection rates.

We will have health screening protocols in place, to include temperature testing and symptom checks, before allowing any persons to enter our campus during check-in days. We currently do not have plans to individually quarantine cadets on campus upon their arrival.

There may be specific travel restrictions put in place by the United States government that could affect some of our international cadets. Currently, foreign nationals who have been in certain specific countries (such as China, Brazil, United Kingdom, and others) during the previous 14 days may not travel directly to the United States. They must show that they have spent the previous 14 days in a country not affected by these travel restrictions to be allowed entry into the United States.

These protocols and restrictions are, of course, subject to change at any time based on conditions.

Please watch these restrictions closely if your family is considering international summer travel.

 

Academics

What is changed with this new Academic Calendar for the 2020-2021 school year?

 
There are two major adjustments to the Academic Calendar:

  • Classes are now scheduled to begin on August 13, one week earlier than previously.
     
  • When cadets return home for Thanksgiving Leave, they will remain at home through the first week of January. They will continue their Term 3 class by distance education in the first three weeks of December. Cadets will return to campus January 10 and continue their Term 3 class in person beginning January 11.
     
How is this modified Academic Calendar going to help?

 
Once a student is on the campus of Fork Union Military Academy, he is relatively removed and isolated from the various infectious diseases that can be spread from person to person in the larger community beyond our campus. It is the movement of students leaving and returning to campus that provides the greatest opportunity for infectious diseases to be brought to campus.

By eliminating the back-and-forth movement of cadets during that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we eliminate the risk of illnesses being brought onto our campus by cadets returning from Thanksgiving Leave, during the time of year when the typical cold and flu season is getting underway.

 

Why are classes beginning a week earlier than in previous years?

 
By starting school one week earlier, we will be able to complete Terms 1 and 2 and get started with Term 3 prior to our Thanksgiving Leave.

In past years, we typically start Term 3 in December when cadets return from Thanksgiving Leave. So, by starting one week earlier, cadets can take Term 2 exams on campus and spend the first two days of Term 3 classes with their teachers prior to departing campus on leave.

 

How will classes for Term 3 be taught?

 
We will begin Term 3 in our campus classrooms and cadets will spend two days of class with their teachers for in-person instruction.

Starting on November 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving, we will transition to distance education for Term 3 classes. These virtual classes will continue for the first three weeks of December, until Christmas Leave begins on Saturday, December 19th.

After Christmas Leave, cadets will return to campus and resume in-person instruction in our classrooms on January 11, 2021 for the final four weeks of Term 3.

 

What if my son is not well-suited to distance education? What if he needs the structure of the classroom to perform well?

 
First, it is important to note that more than half of the days for each Term 3 class will be taught in a traditional in-person classroom setting. Cadets will start their Term 3 classes on campus in the classroom with their instructor for the first two days. After the three weeks of distance education in December, cadets will return to the on-campus classroom for the final four weeks of Term 3.

Learning via distance education is one of the critical 21st-century skills that students need to develop as more and more colleges and universities are delivering course content through technology. Gaining effective experience in learning independently via these virtual methods is an important part of college preparation today.

Our teachers will work with cadets throughout the academic year to help develop this skill, which will also help to prepare them for the distance education component of Term 3.

 

How will Fork Union help cadets develop distance education skills during this school year?

 
Many school systems struggled to implement effective education by distance technology this spring when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fork Union Military Academy succeeded in effectively delivering fully graded classes by distance education this spring, primarily because of our One Subject Plan. Under the One Subject Plan, our cadets only have one class to deal with at a time, and our teachers only have one class of usually with less than twelve students to teach. This offers the opportunity for our teachers to provide tremendous individual attention to each student, and this advantage really helped us overcome some of the challenges presented by distance education.

The experience this past academic year demonstrated, however, the importance of helping our cadets develop their individual distance education skills. For that reason, we will practice virtual learning each Friday afternoon during Terms 1 and 2. Cadets will not attend class in their classroom on Friday afternoons but will engage in distance education exercises from their barracks room or other designated space.

This time on Friday afternoons will not be simply a time for doing homework. We provide time for homework during our CQ period in the evenings. These Friday afternoons will be spent in active learning via distance education methods. This will give our cadets the opportunity to engage in virtual learning experiences, while still having the on-campus support of their instructor. We are excited about this opportunity to help our cadets build these 21st-century technology skills.

 

What will be the family's responsibility during the distance education process in December? Will I be homeschooling my cadet?

 
No, you will not be responsible for homeschooling your cadet. Our teachers and staff will handle that process completely. Your cadet will be held responsible for doing the work that is required and his teacher will be supervising his progress and interacting with him throughout that process.

 

What if we don't have a computer at home that can handle distance education? How will my son be able to participate?

 
If you do not have a computer at home capable of distance education use, we will provide a laptop computer for your cadet to use at home. Our staff in the Perkins Technology Center is well-equipped and prepared to respond to any technology needs your cadet may have in this regard.

 

Will my son still be able to earn all the necessary credit hours?

 
Yes. This Academic Calendar has been carefully developed to provide all the hours of instruction required for our students to receive full credit for the classes they complete successfully.

 

Will any of these changes affect the scheduling of classes my son wants to take?

 
As always, while scheduling is always a complex process, we will work closely with each cadet at the beginning of the academic year to build the best class schedule to meet his needs.

While we have always boasted very small class sizes, parents and cadets both should be aware, however, that physical distancing requirements will limit the number of students who can be placed in each class space. Where appropriate, we are taking opportunities to reconfigure or repurpose spaces to provide maximum options.

The consideration of physical distancing requirements may mean that we have less flexibility in changing class schedules once they have been established . While we will do our best to make schedule changes for a cadet who makes such a request, we can only move the cadet into a different class if there is available space in that class as well the other classes that are indirectly impacted.

 

Athletics and Residential Life

What about athletics and physical training activities?

 
We are scheduling full seasons for each of our athletics teams and expect to have as normal an athletics schedule as possible. Of course, we cannot control the decisions that other schools may make that could impact the teams that we play.

Specific guidelines regarding physical distancing and other protocols to maintain the health and well-being of our athletes may be implemented as required. Athletic activities may be subject to modification as conditions require and we encourage parents to remain flexible and informed as event schedules may be subject to change.

We understand the importance of physical health, both generally and to maximize academic performance. Physical activity will remain a requirement for all cadets. The options at various points in the year may be impacted by consideration of the then applicable recommendations.

 

How will chapel services be conducted, and the spiritual development of cadets be fostered?

 
We are committed to providing chapel services as a part of our regular schedule, but there may be restrictions on the size of group events that may have an impact on holding chapel services with the entire Corps of Cadets in Wicker Chapel. Whether it be in Wicker Chapel, done in our classrooms (virtually or otherwise), or by technology during our distance education portion of Term 3, the spiritual development of cadets remains a valued part of our mission and practices this year, whatever the circumstances.

 

I am concerned about my son rooming with another cadet and would prefer that he have a single-occupancy room in the barracks. Is that possible?

 
Jacobson Hall, our barracks building housing boarding students, has 250 rooms on three floors in five separate company wings. These rooms are designed to house two cadets each and are set up to allow for appropriate social distancing. The desks are spaced so that cadets will remain at least six feet apart when seated at their desks. Bunk beds provide a natural physical barrier between beds, and students will be required to follow head to toe guidelines to increase distancing while sleeping.

We reserved 75 of the rooms for single occupancy by one cadet for families who returned their enrollment contract and paid their registration fee, on a first come, first served basis. Those rooms have now all been reserved.

Depending on our number of enrolling students, we may be able to open up more rooms to single-occupancy status. We will add the names of those now requesting a single-occupancy room to a waiting list. Any additional single-occupancy rooms that are made available will be assigned to cadets based on their placement on the waiting list.

To request that your name be added to the waiting list for a single-occupancy room, please submit your enrollment contract and pay your registration fee first, and then send an email to admissions@fuma.org requesting that your name be added to the waiting list for a single-occupancy room.

 

Leaves and Day Passes

Will there be weekend leaves this fall? What about day passes?

 
At this time, we are not publishing any planned weekend leaves. Any weekend leaves or day passes will be dependent on conditions at that time, so we are deferring any decisions regarding weekend leaves and day passes until later this year when we have more information.

 

Will Parents Weekend be held as normal in October?

 
We have published the dates of Parents Weekend (October 16-18, 2020) in our new Academic Calendar, but we are not making any determination at this time as to how Parents Weekend will be conducted and whether or not we will have on-campus events for parents. We are deferring those decisions until later this year when we have more information. We encourage you to keep any plans flexible.

 

Will cadets be able to go home for Winter Weekend?

 
We have scheduled Winter Weekend in the Academic Calendar for February 6-8, 2021, but whether cadets will be going home for that weekend cannot be determined at this time. We hope that conditions will be favorable at that time, but we are deferring those decisions until closer to that time when we have more information. We encourage you to keep any plans flexible.

 

What about Spring Leave?

 
We have scheduled our Spring Leave for March 26, 2021 through April 4, 2021, but whether cadets will be going home for that period cannot be determined at this time. We hope that conditions will be favorable at that time, but we are deferring those decisions until closer to that time when we have more information. We encourage you to keep any plans flexible.

 

It sounds like I may not see my son for months? Is that possible?

 
We simply don't know how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the safety of travel during the upcoming school year. If our young men are safe and healthy in Fork Union, then we must consider the risk to them and the entire community for them to leave and go into other geographic areas and come back. We know that the uncertainty created by this global health crisis in very difficult for everyone. We pray that conditions will permit our cadets to travel home for weekend and major leaves, and that parents will be able to visit campus and take their cadets out on day passes. At this time, however, we cannot predict definitively the circumstances we will be facing at the relevant time.

Remember though, you will stay connected to your son through several means-your communication directly with him, communications from teachers and coaches, pictures and videos that are uploaded, to name a few.

We understand you are entrusting us to educate your son in "Body, Mind and Spirit." Our commitment to you is that we will work every day towards this objective, while always considering your son's safety, and the safety of the community, with respect to COVID-19 and otherwise. We will educate him, care for him, and protect him, endeavoring to keep our campus a safe and healthy sanctuary for learning.

We know that you miss your son when he is away from home. While there are always some of our families who, even in normal times, cannot regularly see their sons because of distance or work issues, we understand that this possibility is new to many families. We always work to keep you connected to your son, even in non-COVID times. There will be many options to connect directly with your son, such as by email, phone calls, virtual visits via Skype, ZOOM, or other technology platforms, or even old-fashioned letter writing by mail. We also regularly upload pictures and videos so that you can have a window into our activities. We will do our best to help you and your son stay connected throughout this school year, whatever circumstances we may face.

 

Other COVID-19 Measures

Is Fork Union Military Academy taking other steps to protect students from the health risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic?

 
Yes. The safety, health, and well-being of our cadets and staff is always our highest priority. The current Yes. The safety, health, and well-being of our cadets and staff is always our highest priority. The current COVID-19 pandemic has been scary for many families and is probably still a concern for you as you think about sending your son back to school. We are fortunate that COVID-19 has essentially spared young people, especially where there are no underlying health conditions.

We are considering carefully the COVID-19 recommendations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as from our local, state, and federal health professionals.

At Fork Union Military Academy, we have a terrific infirmary on campus that is staffed 24 hours a day during the school year with experienced Registered Nurses. Our RNs, who know and understand the FUMA schedule and activities, are providing valuable and tailored input as we prepare to bring young men back to campus for the fall.

We have handled outbreaks of infectious disease throughout our 120-plus years, and our nurses and staff are well-prepared and trained to handle this one. We take this responsibility seriously and you can count on us.

 

Will you be announcing other measures that Fork Union Military Academy expects to take in the upcoming academic year specifically in response to COVID-19?

 
Yes. We have always been focused on safety and continuing to learn and improve processes in all areas. COVID does present some unique considerations. We are building a comprehensive plan that includes specific COVID protocols and procedures to help keep our campus safe and healthy.

As you know, this is a dynamic situation. There are some measures such as hand sanitizer stations and physical distancing guidelines that are ready examples. We continue to review guidelines, best practices, and recommendations from a variety of sources as we develop and revise our processes.

We will have modified procedures in place during our check-in days. We are taking a close look at our dining hall policies and protocols to determine how we can effectively mitigate any risks related to COVID-19, as well as in all other aspects of residential life on campus. Note that the rooms in Jacobsen Hall (barracks) are sufficiently large to permit social distancing. Remember that families who prefer a single room may request one so long as they have paid the deposit (as long as supplies last).

We will provide additional details on these measures to families in mid-July. We will share with you our comprehensive plan that will cover everything from academics to dining to day students.

It is important to remember that, almost assuredly, guidance and protocols will continue to change, but we understand it is our responsibility to provide as much information as we can to the families who are entrusting us with their young men. We all must be patient and flexible during this process.

 

Is there still a chance that my son will be sent home at some point in the year unexpectedly because of COVID-19?

 
It's impossible to say for sure. All we can promise it that we have no intention of doing so.

In March of this year, Governor Ralph Northam ordered all school campuses, both public and private, be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to deliver our entire Term 5 by distance education, which we did very successfully, unlike many other schools. We do not expect that to happen again based on current circumstances. We hope and pray it will not happen in the future.

While distance education skills are important to develop and will serve our cadets well in college, we are very aware that it is best for our cadets to spend their time on campus and in our classrooms. We provide an environment on campus with the structure, discipline, socialization and support that young men need.

We are planning for, working towards, and committed to doing everything in our power to keep our cadets on campus as planned for in our Academic Calendar.

 

Tuition and Enrollment

Will any of these changes affect the amount tuition or fees we will pay?

 
No. We announced earlier this year that we would freeze tuition for boarding students at the 2019-2020 level and would not increase tuition for the 2020-2021 year. We also announced a reset of our day student tuition. We intend to honor those commitments and not increase our tuition for any students, even though some measures we are taking due to the COVID-19 pandemic have certainly increased our expenses for the upcoming school year.

We also recognize that you, too, may have some additional costs for those days in December when your cadet is being housed and fed at home instead of on campus. However, families will benefit from reduced costs to travel at peak times back after Thanksgiving and in anticipation of Christmas.

This COVID-19 pandemic has placed unexpected burdens on all of us this year, but we are committed to partnering with you in the education of your cadet at the tuition rate we promised earlier this year.

 

What if our family already made plans based on the originally published calendar and we cannot change them at this point?

 
We understand that families may have relied on the original calendar in making their plans. Please contact our Admissions Office as soon as possible to discuss your situation. We will work to accommodate the needs of your son to the best of our ability, on an individual basis.

 

What if we change our mind about enrolling?

 
We recognize that, due to the extraordinary conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, your circumstances may have changed since you first submitted your contract and paid your registration fee. For this reason, we have established a new "Right to Cancel" policy this year.

We are guaranteeing families the right to cancel enrollment contracts and receive full refunds of any registration fees and tuition paid, so long as you notify us in writing by August 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM. Your written notice may be provided by email to COL Tripp Billingsley in our Admissions Office at billingsleyt@fuma.org, or by fax to 434-842-4300.

What happens if the 2020-2021 school year is disrupted by COVID-19?

 
Fork Union Military Academy's intention is for our cadets to have a quality Fork Union experience this year. Our commitment is to do everything we can to remain open and serve our Cadets as best we can. However, in doing so, we are taking into consideration mitigation guidance and recommendations from the CDC, VDH and other appropriate individuals. Our intention is for our Boarding students is to remain on campus for the duration of the school year as reflected in our academic calendar, even in the event that we are restricted from meeting in a group setting, or if a Cadet is required to individually quarantine for some period of time. While we hope this does not become a reality, we have ample space to allow for distance education in Jacobson Hall for extended periods of time.

In the event that any academic term is significantly and substantially interrupted by pandemic effects, government orders or natural disasters, and we have no alternative but for our students to leave campus for an unplanned and extended period of time, as we did in the spring of last year, FUMA will work hard to deliver, as much as possible, an experience that nurtures Body, Mind and Spirit. Unlike many other schools, FUMA was able to deliver meaningful, graded instruction remotely. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the circumstances we may face in the future.

It is important to understand that the vast majority of Fork Union's costs are fixed costs. In fact, very little of what we must cover for operation is truly variable; further, the variable costs cannot generally be adjusted without sufficient lead time. It is important to note that virtually all of our operating expenses are covered by tuition, room and board. Added to the complexity is that FUMA has already incurred significant additional cost to account for COVID preparedness so that we can welcome our students back to an environment that will be as safe as possible. Given the nature of some of the items we will require, we have purchased supplies well in advance to do our best to ensure an ample inventory of what we need. This is not a cost we have passed on to our enrolling families with any increase in tuition, room and board. For these reasons, families should expect that in the event of any disruption, whether the cadets remain on campus or not, FUMA will deliver as complete an experience as is possible under the circumstances, and families will not receive any reduction in or refund of tuition, room and board or the like.

Further, once enrolled and in attendance for any period of time, should a family decide to disenroll their child for any reason, related to COVID-19 or otherwise, the family will remain fully liable as provided in the Enrollment Agreement.