The University of Lynchburg completed the fall semester just prior to Thanksgiving. Thanks to the planning and diligence of all members of our community — students, faculty, and staff — the University successfully managed and mitigated the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
For Spring 2021, the University will continue to operate under Alert Level 2 with classes offered in face-to-face, hybrid, and online formats. Lessons learned in the fall have informed the work of the COVID-19 Task Force in developing plans for the spring semester.
In an effort to begin as safely as possible, we are requiring all residential undergraduate students to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to their return to campus. We are strongly recommending that all graduate students also be tested.
During the first two weeks of the spring semester, students will be required to take part in random testing. For the remainder of the semester, Student Health, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, will conduct targeted testing. Students must report if called for testing.
Our success last fall in mitigating the spread of the virus was due in great part to our request that students avoid traveling away from campus. For the spring, we strongly urge our student population to avoid leaving campus and going out into the community, where the risk of contracting the virus is greater. If you must leave campus, please maintain physical distancing and always wear a face covering.
The COVID-19 Task Force is currently developing a plan to administer the vaccine to members of our community as it becomes available. We will be following VDH and CDC guidelines in establishing priorities within our community.
The plans outlined on this page focus on three key areas: academic calendar, class scheduling, and course delivery; public health and safety; and residential life and extracurricular activities. The ongoing planning effort involves multiple working groups from various campus departments, guided by information from the Centers for Disease Control, the governor’s office, the American College Health Association, and the Virginia Department of Health.
The plan offers detailed safety measures and protocols in all areas, but also a great degree of flexibility should the University experience coronavirus cases on campus or a surge in cases in the state or region.
The University’s plans have been reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education and have been found to be compliant in containing the required components of the “Higher Education Reopening Guidance,” which was developed in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health.
The Spring 2021 Academic Calendar has been revised with classes set to begin on Jan. 25. This calendar seeks to minimize travel and mitigate the possibility of students transmitting the virus traveling to and from campusSpring break has been eliminated to mitigate the spread of the virus by discouraging travel. There will be a series of Wellness Daysthroughout the semester instead of a formal break. The last day of classes is May 10. Reading day is scheduled for May 11 and final exams begin May 12 and conclude May 18. Commencement is scheduled for May 22.
The academic calendar does not apply to graduate health sciences programs that operate on a 12-month cycle, or to graduate programs that are normally offered online. Some students — those involved with clinical placements, student-teaching, internships, and athletics — will be permitted to return to campus prior to Jan. 25.
Spring courses will be delivered both in class and online. All classes will be designed with a contingency to move online quickly should the University need to curtail normal operations due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Faculty have developed hybrid models to suit the needs of different types of classes, with the nature of the class and pedagogy driving the hybrid format chosen for course delivery.
Best practices for opening and sustaining a safe residential campus model are laid out in a plan developed by the University’s public health planning group. This plan has been developed in conjunction with Centra, the regional health care system, and has been certified by the Virginia Department of Health and the governor’s office. These best practices will be updated and communicated as information becomes available.
Key points include:
- Each department is responsible for developing and implementing an opening plan following the University-wide public health plan to mitigate risk of infection.
- The health and safety plan outlines monitoring protocols that include the completion of COVID-19 screening by all students, faculty, and staff; daily symptom screening and temperature checks; and mitigation strategies. The plan also allows for employees to continue to work remotely and ensures that adequate supplies are readily available for sanitizing wok areas and equipment.
- The plan also includes protocols for containment and surveillance, as well as recommendations for managing a local rebound of COVID-19.
The behavior of individuals will be critical to our safe reopening, and modifications to student interactions and the student experience are important concerns.
The Office of Student Development followed the higher education guidelines outlined by the CDC and ACHA to formulate a plan that addresses residential spaces, the possibility of quarantine and isolation, common spaces, access to campus facilities, guests and gatherings, extracurricular activities, and programming.
The safety of students residing on campus is of vital importance. As such, housing assignments have been examined and additional opportunities for single-room occupancy were created across campus.
Quarantine and isolation spaces are critical in the event of an infection on campus. Several areas have been designated as temporary housing locations for students who have contracted the virus.
- Twelve Southside locations (University-owned houses) and the first floor of Hundley Hall have been reserved for quarantine and isolation spaces. Additionally, two rooms on the third floor of Hundley Hall have been reserved for quarantine and isolation spaces.
- Nine of the Southside locations are multi-bedroom houses with at least one bathroom and kitchen.
- The reserved Hundley Hall rooms consist of three individual bedrooms with a private bathroom and numerous suite-style rooms. The first floor of Hundley also is in close proximity to the Health and Counseling Center and Office of the Dean of Students.
- With guidance from Student Health Services and the VDH, students may also be able to quarantine in their assigned campus residence. Students are only considered for that option if they are assigned to a Southside location or a suite-style bedroom.
Other modifications to residence and campus life include:
- Maximum capacity for common spaces, masks or face coverings, social distancing, and the removal of lounge furniture to discourage gatherings.
- Access and egress modifications in accordance to CDC guidelines, with doorways identified as entry- or exit-only.
- Elevators will be limited in use and residential students will only be permitted access to their individual residences.
- Guidelines regarding guests and gatherings to reduce the potential for congregation include: no more than 10 people gathered in one place and a limit of one guest per resident at any given time. No outside visitors are permitted to enter any campus residential facility.
- Modified extracurricular activities and programs: reservations of spaces for small-group gatherings, social distancing for all gatherings, additional livestream options for meetings and gatherings, and limited use of larger spaces. Guidelines for intramural sports, fitness activities, and outdoor leadership have been developed in collaboration with athletics.