Student and Family Decision

[Last updated February 2] 

Franklin & Marshall will return to a hybrid model of instruction and our de-densifying plan for spring 2021.

In order to prepare effectively for the start of Module 3, we need to collect feedback from all students about their spring plans. Please fill out this Spring 2021 Commitment Form to share with us your planned status by Dec. 2, 2020.

Having an accurate count of students who intend to return in the spring will help us prepare sufficient housing to welcome you back to campus.

Although we may need to adjust elements of the College’s planning in response to the pandemic, F&M will continue to be guided by four priorities: the public health of our campus, the integrity of our academic program, the safety and quality of the campus life experience, and equity and inclusion for all members of the community. 

Please carefully review your options for spring 2021 with your family to make an informed decision based on your personal health and education needs. Students who wish to take a leave of absence in the spring should submit their request using the Leave of Absence form (available on the Office of Student Affairs website). You will need to log in to access the form.

Spring 2021 options are as follows: 

College-Owned Housing

College Houses; Thomas, Dietz, and College-owned properties, including Sustainability House, Harbaugh House, Wellness, Phi Kappa Psi, 534 W. James St., 729, 731, 733 College Ave. Students living on campus will participate in College COVID-19 testing programs, abide by the Franklin & Marshall Pledge, and have access to campus facilities. Students selecting this option plan to return to campus housing or to be included in the spring housing placement process. 

College-approved Landlord Properties

College Row, College Hill, James Street Properties (JSP,) Kappa Sigma, Alpha Phi. Students living in College-approved properties will participate in all College COVID-19 testing programs, abide by the Franklin & Marshall Pledge, and have access to campus facilities. Students selecting this option have already committed to leases or have arranged for leases in these properties. 


Students who will live with an adult family member or guardian in a permanent residence within 75 miles of the College and drive to campus to attend classes. Registration with the Housing Office is required. Commuting students will participate in all College  COVID-19 testing programs, abide by the Franklin & Marshall Pledge, and have access to campus facilities. 

Remote Learner

Students who will take all of their classes online and can engage in the virtual programming offered by the College. Remote learners will not have access to college residences and facilities and will only be able to participate virtually in college activities. Students studying remotely from international locations should choose the "Study Remotely Outside of the US" option.


See below for answers to the following questions:


What should students consider when deciding whether or not to return to campus?

Return to campus should not be a given. This is a decision you should make in partnership with your family and primary healthcare provider based on your own health and judgment of the risks, your ability to pledge your commitment to the health protocols in place not just for yourself but for the safety of our community, and your capacity and willingness to adapt quickly to shifting circumstances and regulations beyond our control, which may include the need for a rapid closure of and departure from campus.

You may also find information on our fall 2020 approach to de-densifying campusacademics, living on campus, and student experience helpful in making your decision.

What will be expected of students should they choose to return to campus?

We are excited that students are able to be on campus this year, but it will work only if everyone – students and College employees alike – are taking individual and collective responsibility for their health, and abiding by the conduct measures that make a real difference. That means masks, physical distancing, a lot of hand-washing, and limiting gatherings. Community health is a shared responsibility. All of us on campus need to be diligent in adhering to best practices. As a community, we agree to protocols and guidelines that reflect our commitment to the health and safety of our fellow Diplomats and of our neighbors in Lancaster.

Are there health risks to returning to campus?

Reopening campus does present risks amid a pandemic, and F&M does not suggest otherwise. We are dealing with a highly transmissible disease that may be dormant or present asymptomatically. In the present circumstances, F&M cannot and does not guarantee a COVID-19-free environment on our campus. If you chose to return to campus, you understood and accepted this reality and the related risk.

How do students notify the College that they wish to pursue a gap year, leave of absence, remote learning status, commuter status, or return to campus for the spring semester?

Students seeking to change their residential status from On-campus or Commuter to Remote may petition to do so by using this form.

The Leave of Absence form can be found on the Student Affairs website. You will need to log in to access the form.

If you have questions about what these different statues mean, please see the top of this page for an outline.

Can first-year students take a gap semester or year? Would they be allowed to re-enroll later without needing to reapply?

Yes, first-year students can elect to take a gap semester until the following academic year 2021-2022. First-year students will be able to enroll in the fall 2021 term without needing to reapply as long as they do not attend another institution.

Can a student who chooses remote learning status in the fall choose to live on campus in the spring? If so, will housing be available?

Yes, any student (except for first-years) who decided to take a leave of absence, or to commute or study remotely, in fall 2020 can choose to live on campus in spring 2021. Get more information on campus housing.

Read more about our decision to de-densify campus and how this affects sophomores and first-year students’ spring semester.

Can a student who chooses to return to campus change their mind?

While we encourage students to take their decision and commitment seriously, returning to campus is not binding. Students can decide at any time to leave campus and instead pursue commuter or remote learning status. However, in order for the College to plan for housing, once a student chooses to not live on campus, that decision is final for the duration of the term.

If a student wishes to change their enrollment status for the spring semester (from enrolled to not enrolled), they need to submit a Change of Status form. If, because of circumstances beyond a student's control, they need to make that request before the Feb. 1 start of classes, they should complete the form and speak with their College House Dean.

Can a student who chooses commuter or remote learning status choose to live on campus at a later date to complete the semester?

No. If a student decided to not live on campus (whether taking a leave of absence or studying remotely), the decision is final until the next semester.  Get more information on campus housing.

Can a student who chooses to take a leave of absence later decide to enroll in the semester?

No. The decision to take a leave of absence will be final until the next semester.

Will commuters have access to the same facilities, activities, and privileges as those living in residence?

Commuters have all the same privileges as those living on campus, except for access to residential housing. Commuters are able to attend the in-person components of their classes and any activities outside of class. Since commuters are part of the F&M on-campus community, they will also be tested on first arrival to campus and are required to partake in daily self-screenings, ongoing testing protocols, and adhere to the F&M Pledge.

Where can F&M faculty and professional staff find more information on expectations and preparation for a return to work on campus?

A Return to Work manual and COVID-19 Employee Resource site is available on InsideF&M for all employees of the College.

Who is at increased risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19?

We recommend that individuals review the CDC’s latest information on “people who need extra precautions” which includes a list of certain medical conditions that cause, or may cause, an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.