In a campuswide email on Tuesday that followed Q&A sessions with students, faculty, and staff on Monday, President Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar announced that the University of Lynchburg would remain in Alert Level 2 for another week. Classes will stay online through Wednesday, Sept. 2.
Morrison-Shetlar said the virtual sessions made it clear that everyone is working hard to remain on campus.
“We listened closely to your wishes and concerns,” she said. “I am inspired by your commitment to our continued success, your passion for doing the right thing, and your commitment to getting us back to face-to-face and hybrid teaching and learning as soon as possible.
“I am especially moved by your commitment to our staff who face layoffs and furloughs should we make the move to Level 3 and take all classes online for the remainder of the semester. Being on campus will keep everyone working and ensure that our Hornet family, and their families, will not be negatively impacted.”
The one-week extension of online classes will “allow us to focus on both the physical and mental well-being of our students while continuing to deliver a quality educational experience,” Morrison-Shetlar said.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 35 positive COVID-19 tests among the student population, including 22 on and 13 off campus. Most students are “exhibiting only mild symptoms,” Morrison-Shetlar noted.
The University is managing an additional 76 students in quarantine and isolation — 61 on and 15 off campus. In addition, 31 cases that have presented since students returned to campus have been resolved, meaning these students have received medical clearance to return to classes and activities. The health center and dining services are providing care and meals to students in isolation and quarantine.
Case numbers will be updated each weekday morning on the COVID-19 webpage.
“Despite the increase in numbers, we are seeing that increased vigilance among our students is having an impact and that transmission on campus could be more widespread,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “Our hope is that with continued vigilance, these numbers will flatten to a point where we may consider a move back to Alert Level 1 and return to in-person and hybrid classes.”
Transmission of the virus is occurring mostly in campus residences and most often in a single room, among roommates, Morrison-Shetlar said. There seems to be limited transmission in the classroom setting or outside, she added. “Why? Because we are wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, washing our hands, and maintaining appropriate physical distancing.”
All of that’s encouraging news, Morrison-Shetlar said. “Over the coming week, we will continue our efforts to safely engage students outside of the virtual classroom,” she said. “The data shows that we can beat this virus. If New York City can do it, if entire countries can do it, certainly we can do it! And we will!”
As was announced last week, the following changes are in effect while the University is in Level 2:
- Campus dining options remain takeout only.
- Indoor recreation facilities — Drysdale fitness, Turner fitness, and Turner gym — will remain open with safety guidelines in place as outlined in the COVID-19 Reopening Plan.
- In-person campus programming is permitted under the supervision of non-student staff as outlined in the COVID-19 Reopening Plan.
- Students are encouraged to be outside, with face coverings and following physical distancing guidelines.
- Masks or face coverings must be worn inside any University building and outdoors. Exceptions are permitted only for exercise, eating, and when a student is in their own residence room.
- Student gatherings of any size are prohibited and will be cause for disciplinary action, including possible removal from campus.
- Residential facilities remain open, but guests are prohibited.
- Students are urged to stay on campus.
- Outside guests to campus are prohibited.
The University will continue to monitor the situation both on campus and in the City of Lynchburg. Questions can be directed via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is on the COVID-19 webpage, where a daily status report of cases on campus is posted.