If you are a parent, sending your son or daughter across the globe to attend university can be a bit anxiety-producing. That’s in normal times. Layer a global pandemic onto that reality and the anxiety can be exponential.

In this strange and difficult season, Franklin has done our best to assure parents that their students are safe and cared for. When we took the bold step to bring students back to campus, we knew our success would depend on everyone’s participation. Our students and staff have been resilient and responsible and have weathered the roller coaster of different stages of lockdown. We’ve completed a semester, we’ve had academic travel with some tweaks, we’ve had students with us through the holiday break, and we’ve had almost nothing in terms of Covid-19 cases.

We also wanted to assure parents regularly that their students would not only be safe but that their academic experience would continue to be on par with their expectations. We emailed updates weekly to keep parents in the loop and apprised of any changes or concerns. President Warden did a series of parent forums via Zoom to listen as well as share information. Often there were as many as 60 parents on the calls. Knowing there were well-thought-out plans and individuals who cared deeply for those entrusted with their loved ones, deflated anxiety, and built trust. One parent told us:

“Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would experience a global pandemic during our son's university years, but here we are. With every email update, social media post, video, and Zoom connection between the school and the parents, we knew keeping him at Franklin was the right thing to do and felt better about it as time went on. Franklin has been and continues to be "home" to him. I knew the Franklin community would care for him, keep him safe and treat him like a family member.” 

This was the first time that Franklin has ever had students on campus during the holiday break, so we had to come up with a plan that met all of their needs. As many as forty students stayed on campus during the holiday break, being unable to travel safely. To give them a holiday experience like home, a generous gift from the Alumni Council and the Office of Student Life (OSL) enabled us to deliver gift cards to students on campus. The OSL organized sledding events, virtual trivia nights, and other special activities.  The J term program allowed students to earn extra credits with two sessions of one-week classes. Though families were apart, students had an incredible home away from home experience and parents were grateful for FUS making this accommodation.

For FUS, this is what we do. We are family, and caring for our students and staff is just living our values. One incredibly grateful parent shared their reflections of this time with us. We think it sums up what many of our families have been feeling.

“FUS is where the people on that Zoom call know my daughter and me by name. They know we have not seen her for 11 months. They are a college that has bent over backward to ensure that our students not only continued learning successfully, but stayed open while following Swiss mandates all the while supporting them and us during the most unscripted time of our history. This is Franklin University-Switzerland. This is FUS. Undeniably student and family-centric because we are family. We are FUS.”