This has been a whirlwind of a week — exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
Think about what we all did together these past several days:
We successfully moved in all of our residential students while maintaining physical distancing and managing traffic flow to keep everyone safe. Timed entry is a keeper for future move-ins. Graduate students and commuters are all checked in.
Faculty and staff enjoyed the first-ever virtual Opening Breakfast together. The success of the Sewcial Hornets mask-making project meant we got a T-Shirt AND a mask made with love by our own community.
We welcomed the Class of 2024 in another virtual event, Opening Convocation, that was every bit as meaningful as if we had been together on the Dell.
On Wednesday, in-person, hybrid, and online classes began, thanks to the efforts of our outstanding faculty and the planning they did throughout the spring and summer.
Now, I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture.
Yes, I’m thrilled by the success of our first week back. And, yes, I know our students and their families are excited to be back. We certainly have reason to celebrate.
Still, there is much anxiety over the pandemic. We worry that members of our community will test positive, that the University will not be able to handle an outbreak, and that we may have to move online.
These are valid concerns that we all share and that we all can address as we fall back into our new routines and rhythms on campus. We are continually monitoring our four trigger statements and are keeping in touch with Centra to ensure they are able to deal with the community cases that arise.
As I’ve said countless times: Wear your mask; take your temperature and monitor your symptoms with the LiveSafe app every day; follow physical distancing, inside and out; wash your hands; and avoid gatherings of people.
But there’s one more important thing I ask of everyone: Take responsibility. If you see a classmate or colleague without a mask or wearing it incorrectly, remind them that masks are required and should be worn over the mouth and nose. If someone gets too close or you see a small group gathering, speak up.
I’ve been heartened these past few days to see members of our community reminding one another of the safety protocols we must take and to be vigilant together.
It took hard work on everyone’s part to bring us all back together. I thank everyone for their dedication and input to the success of the reopening plan.
Please, keep it up so we can stay together safely through the end of the semester.
Stay safe and remember to speak up.
Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar is the 11th president of the University of Lynchburg. She began her term on Aug. 1, 2020. Red Chair Reflections lets her share her thoughts on what it’s like to serve the Lynchburg community — both on and off campus.