Dear students, faculty and staff,
As we return to campus from spring break, I wanted to be in touch and reassure you Longwood officials have been meeting regularly and carefully monitoring the global coronavirus situation. We have been in regular – usually daily – contact with state and federal public health officials. We are keeping close track of the guidance they are providing, particularly to college campuses.
This is an occasion for precaution and care, and certainly not an overreaction that might do more harm than good. Like almost any college, we are accustomed here at Longwood to having communicable diseases like flu in our community. Hopefully by now we’re also used to the kinds of precautions like hand-washing that are an effective defense. It’s also important to remember it appears with this new virus that young people generally develop only a mild strain.
That said, we are taking the matter seriously. While there have not yet been cases anywhere in Virginia, we are operating on the assumption they will appear. If we do have cases at Longwood, we will respond in a careful way that shows responsibility for the common health of our community and compassion for anyone involved – in short we will act as the responsible citizens we are.
Here are a few takeaways I want to be sure to communicate clearly to the Longwood community:
- Current status on campus. We do not have any indications of students, faculty or staff having recently traveled internationally in areas under State Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Advisory Zones. If we learn of any, there are careful protocols we would follow in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to ensure proper monitoring and testing. If by chance you have recently traveled to any current “Level 3 advisory” countries under CDC guidelines, which includes China, Italy, Iran and South Korea, please contact the University Health Center at 434-395-2102 before returning to campus.
- Preparations. In the event we do have any cases here in the campus community, we are prepared to respond appropriately. We would follow protocols these agencies have provided and which are similar to what Virginia public universities like Longwood not uncommonly do when we have cases of the flu or other communicable diseases like mumps. These could include working with students to ensure proper care, and adjusting accommodations to try to limit possible exposure to other students. If we were to have a case involving a student or employee, we would follow VDH guidance and ensure any student who has tested positive does not attend class and any employee stays home from work. We would continue to consult expert guidance and evaluate whether any further steps are necessary. In the meantime, be assured housekeeping staff have increased their cleaning routines across campus.
- If You Have Flu Symptoms. It’s important to remember the “regular” flu has been extremely prevalent around Farmville this year and affected many students. The guidance for flu-like symptoms remains the same – minimize your contact with others, and communicate with professors about missed classes. If you have severe symptoms, and especially if you have any reason to suspect you might have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, we encourage you to call the University Health Center at 434-395-2102 and come in. The Health Center is working closely with Centra and health officials, and has a careful process to screen you and provide for prompt testing and next steps if necessary. In any genuine medical emergency call 911.
- Continued Communication. We will continue to closely track the guidance of the public health community. We’ve been in contact with our study abroad students (none of whom are studying in countries where the State Department currently advises travelers to avoid). We’re also continuing to monitor as cases emerge around the United States. There are currently no travel advisory restrictions within the United States. But if guidance evolves in ways that are relevant to the Longwood community, we will convey that to campus.
In the meantime, for the most up-to-date and reliable public health information, I encourage you to consult these official online resources:
My thanks to everyone for working together to meet this challenge responsibly and safely.