As we anticipate the new year, I’m passing along an email about the spring semester that was sent to your student on Wednesday, Dec. 30, by Matthew McWilliams, assistant vice president for communications.
It contains important information about
—Covid-19 precautions for students to take prior to returning to campus and guidelines for students who should delay their return
—Guidelines for move in, set for Jan. 9-11, including the limiting of helpers to 2 per student
—Continued vigilance in combatting Covid-19 this semester
—The extension of the fall visitor policy into the spring semester
… and more
I hope you can take a minute between now and your student’s return to campus to read through this update.
By working together and taking precautions seriously, the entire Longwood community—and especially students—made Longwood’s successful fall semester possible. By continuing that commitment, the coming semester can be just as successful.
Happy New Year!
Full text of email sent to Longwood students on Dec. 30, 2020
I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday season. I’m reaching out about 10 days before most students return to campus with some information about your return and the upcoming semester. The semester will begin as scheduled, with graduate classes beginning Jan. 8 and undergraduate classes beginning Jan. 13.
While the news about vaccines is a source of great hope for 2021, we continue to see substantial Covid-19 cases across the country and here in the Commonwealth. We must assume the virus will be present in our community during the spring semester. That means the precautions that served us well in the fall will remain in place as we return to campus. I urge every member of the campus community to review the Shared Commitment that was foundational in our success in the fall and pledge yourself to those principles again.
As in the fall, we are prepared to handle Covid-19 cases in the university community. It is up to all of us to do the things we know work—wear masks, keep socially distanced, and wash hands regularly—to make the spring successful.
Prior to Returning to Campus
Our collective steps to ensure a successful semester must begin now, ahead of our return to campus. Please exercise great care these next two weeks— wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.
If you are experiencing any potential Covid-19 symptoms or have been contact exposed, or are awaiting test results, do NOT return to campus. Please call the University Health Center at 434-395-2102 and email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can work with you on academic considerations if you need to delay your return.
Per our consultations with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), our plan for repopulating campus this spring will mirror our successful approach in the fall. In general, a test is not required before returning to campus. However, if you have visited with family or friends over the holidays, testing options have expanded and can help ensure you are not an asymptomatic carrier. If you have visited with others, we encourage you to seek out one of these tests a few days before returning to campus. VDH’s testing site map may be a helpful resource. If you are near Farmville, you can arrange for a test at the University Health Center, which opens Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. To make an appointment, call 434-395-2102.
Daily Health Screening
Ten days before you return to campus, you should resume asking yourself the daily health questions:
—Are you currently experiencing a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)?—Are you currently experiencing a new cough?
—Are you currently experiencing a new shortness of breath?
—Are you currently experiencing new chills?
—Are you currently experiencing a new sore throat?
—Are you currently experiencing new muscle aches?
—Have you had a loss of taste or smell?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should contact a health care provider and not return to campus until cleared following a negative test.
Students can begin moving back into their on-campus residence halls on Jan. 9. Spring move-back is different from the fall—there are fewer belongings to move, and the return is naturally more staggered over several days, so we will not assign specific move-in times. However, please exercise caution. Remember that when you are in on-campus buildings, including residence halls and university-managed apartments, you must wear a proper face covering. This includes family members who are helping you move back in. Please limit the number of family members who assist you with move-in to two. Face coverings are also required outside when you cannot maintain consistent 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
The visitor guidelines put in place for the fall semester are still in effect. These will continue to be reviewed regularly in consultation with student leadership.
Testing, Quarantine and Contact Tracing
As during the fall semester, we will engage in prompt testing of those with symptoms or who are contact exposed, as well as contact tracing, and provide support services for students who may need to isolate or quarantine. The Health Center expects to be able to continue offering “peace of mind” testing to students who are not symptomatic or contact exposed but would like to be tested. VDH is strongly supportive of our approach this past fall and has not recommended random surveillance testing of the campus community. However, over the course of the semester we may engage in targeted surveillance testing — for example of a broader group of people around a cluster of positive cases.
We are looking forward to having you back on campus this spring. Thank you for continuing to take these individual actions that will be key to a successful spring semester.
Assistant Vice President for Communications