President Dr. Kenneth R. Garren announced in a campuswide email on Friday that the University of Lynchburg plans to resume on-campus classes this fall.
“Just six weeks ago, I made the difficult decision to close the University campus,” Garren said. “Today I wish to inform you that the University plans to resume in-person teaching, learning, and residential life for the Fall 2020 semester.
“As this semester comes to a close and we plan for the future, I want to again offer my thanks for your patience, flexibility, and resilience,” Garren wrote further. “I know that this time has not been easy. As we anticipate the opening of our state and the country, we must prepare for another stage of transition with faculty and staff returning to campus, and — most importantly — the return of students for the fall semester.”
A task force charged with drawing up various reopening scenarios and procedures is meeting regularly to discuss how campus can be reopened safely in the fall. The group has been monitoring the curve of the pandemic in Virginia and nationwide, Garren said, and its members are working with local and state health officials, as well as Lynchburg’s crisis management team. They will also consult with faculty and staff from all areas of the University.
“As experts across the nation and around the world pursue treatments and vaccines in the fight against COVID-19, we must keep the health and safety of our community as our top priority,” Garren added. “We are fortunate that Central Virginia has not been hit as hard as other parts of the state, and we remain hopeful that this trend continues.”
However, Garren noted, uncertainty remains a major theme, and life on campus won’t resume as ‘normal.’
“We are now preparing to adapt all academic, residential, and on-campus activities to protect our community, while continuing to provide the Lynchburg experience for which we are known,” Garren said. “The campus we return to for the fall semester will be different by design as we implement critical health and safety protocols.”
Those protocols may include:
- continued social distancing for academic settings, residence halls, dining, offices, and events;
- screening, testing, and tracing protocols;
- student health and counseling services;
- continued deep-cleaning of all facilities; and
- COVID-19 kits for students, faculty, and staff that would include masks, hand sanitizer, and other supplies.
Garren added that the University continues to “explore various contingencies” as the fall semester approaches, including alternate scheduling of classes, hybrid options, and opportunities for remote teaching and learning.
“This scenario planning will allow for flexibility should the virus resurge in the coming months,” Garren said.