President’s Update: For the safety of the Clemson community fall semester to begin online; in-person classes to begin Sept. 21

July 22, 2020

Dear Clemson Family:

From the earliest days following the emergence of COVID-19 as a global health threat, Clemson’s focus has been on continuing to fulfill our vital land-grant mission to our students and home state. We remain deeply committed to providing in-person instruction and the type of on-campus environment that make Clemson the special place we all love.

We strive every day to create an environment where world-class teaching and research opportunities combine with a rich on-campus experience to provide a uniquely valuable Clemson experience designed to set our students on a path toward a life of significance.

That responsibility also includes safeguarding the health of our students, faculty, staff and communities. Toward that end, we have taken decisive action at a number of key points in the pandemic to maintain the quality of the educational experience we provide, while also protecting the health and safety of Clemson Family members.

We have made great progress toward that goal and I am enormously proud of the work our faculty and staff have done. Let me be clear: We remain committed to a return to in-person instruction and activities in the fall.

Unfortunately, the progression of COVID-19, particularly in South Carolina and the Upstate region, continues to create a great deal of uncertainty around bringing students back to our campuses and beginning in-person instruction in August.

As a result, today I am announcing Clemson University will begin the fall semester online and will delay in-person instruction until Sept. 21. The semester will begin as scheduled on Aug. 19 with online instruction. No other changes to the academic calendar will be made at this time.

Move-in for students living on campus is now scheduled to begin Sept. 13 and all current restrictions on campus gatherings and events will remain in place until further notice.

I know this is disappointing news for many of our students, especially our first-year students who are looking forward to beginning their on-campus Clemson experience. However, we feel this modified approach is in the best interest of the Clemson Family at this time.

After extensive analysis by our internal and external public health experts and lengthy discussions among the leadership team, we simply don’t see the situation improving enough over the next few weeks to safely bring students and employees back to our locations in large numbers in August as originally planned.

We believe that by delaying the resumption of on-campus activities for another four weeks, and by strictly following the recommended health precautions, the disease will be reduced to a point where we can safely return to something approximating a normal learning environment. We also will use the time to execute a previously announced plan to test all our students in order to provide a better means to predict infection rates in our community.

As has been the case from the start of the pandemic, our decision-making will continue to be guided by our public health experts, and by the data and science. We know that strict adherence to preventative measures such as wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing and frequent hand-washing play a vital role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

I would encourage everyone – but especially our students living in and around Clemson: Wear a mask and keep your distance from others whenever possible. Remember, we’re “All In” this together and only by being united as Tigers can we slow the spread of COVID-19 in our area.

We realize this decision will lead to questions from many of our students, parents and employees. We are already hard at work preparing communications to various stakeholders and will endeavor to provide as many answers as quickly as possible. Additional information can be found at our COVID-19 web site, which will be updated regularly.

Additionally, I will continue to communicate with the Clemson Family on a regular basis. Please know that our focus remains on providing an outstanding education for our students in a manner that safeguards our employees, students and communities to the greatest extent possible.

We feel this is the safest course of action for our Clemson community. And I want to reiterate that Clemson remains fully committed to providing an in-person experience for all our students this fall – especially our new students whom I know are anxious to begin creating their own Clemson memories and our students who will be graduating in December.

To our students and parents, we very much appreciate your flexibility and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters. To our amazing faculty and staff, my sincere thanks for the outstanding planning and work you continue to do every day on behalf of Clemson.

Go Tigers!

Jim Clements


Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements