Longwood has put into place important public health precautions for in-person learning and residential life on campus this fall, including mandatory face coverings in public buildings, social distancing guidelines, and reworked classroom space. As we move forward together, some aspects of campus life look and feel different. The following information gives an overall picture of how campus has changed this fall.


Learning at Longwood

Gov. Northam and the Commonwealth have been eager for Virginia’s universities to reopen carefully and worked closely with us on how to do so. In-person learning is hugely important.

But while typical college-age students are generally at low risk from severe complications of COVID-19, we know some in our community are at higher risk. ​With our mission to teach citizen leadership, it’s our particular responsibility at Longwood to advance that mission in a way that contributes to our national and global effort to stem this epidemic.

We are also highly attentive to our faculty and staff, and to our neighbors in Farmville. As we encourage and facilitate responsible public health behavior on campus, we also expect students to honor their responsibilities to the broader community by following public health guidelines off-campus as well. Our Student Affairs leadership outlined those expectations in this recent message.

Longwood is fortunate to have a number of important characteristics that help in these efforts:

  • Ample supply of on-campus housing, with all en-suite bathrooms, to spread students out and social distance. All campus housing is less than 15 years old, with fully modern HVAC and ventilation systems.

  • Naturally small class sizes and no giant lectures – only about 15 of more than 1,000 official Longwood courses typically have more than 40 students, so social distancing for all courses through classroom adaptations or in some cases hybrid elements is manageable.

  • Strong partnerships across the Commonwealth, and a strong collection of health resources in place locally, including an experienced Student Affairs staff, the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office, the University Health Center, and the resources of Centra Healthcare, including Centra Southside Community Hospital, one block from campus.

Over the summer months, Longwood worked closely with state officials to develop detailed plans for how exactly the fall will look – to encourage social distancing, and build in flexible academic tools to serve the needs of students. Our planning is rooted in direction from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal Centers for Disease Control’s guidance for higher education. Longwood’s 152-page detailed re-opening plan has been certified as complete by the State Council for Higher Education (SCHEV) in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health. That means it contains all 26 required components required of Virginia colleges and universities. The document will be updated as plans change.

Here’s an overview of the 2020-21 academic year. For more detailed information, please consult Longwood’s main “Fall 2020 and Covid-19” information page, in particular the “Info for Students” section.


2020-2021 Calendar

Longwood’s 2020-2021 academic year started in late August but there are some minor adjustments to the fall semester calendar to allow for flexibility to address public health issues. 

  • The start date for fall classes, Aug. 24, did not change, nor did the schedule for New Lancer Days. Students received information about the timeline and precautions in place around the move-in schedule.

  • Ordinarily, the last week of classes occurs after Thanksgiving break, and we conclude the semester with a week of final exams. This fall, by holding classes on Labor Day, eliminating fall break on October 8-9, and moving the research and showcase days to a Saturday, the last day of in-person classes will be completed by Tuesday, November 24, before Thanksgiving break.

  • We will hold a two-week review and final exam period after Thanksgiving. We anticipate that most final exams will be given online. If public health considerations permit, some exams can be taken in-person. We anticipate that students and faculty would still be able to come to campus for purposes of technology access.

Students Return to Campus

Students received information by email about Longwood’s staggered move-in schedule for on-campus housing to facilitate social distancing, as well as New Lancer Days. Longwood asked students to take certain precautionary steps, including exercising particular caution during the 10 days before coming to campus. Also starting 10 days before their return, students were asked to begin doing the Daily Health Check screening questions described below. If students have been exposed to a positive Covid-19 case, have tested positive themselves, or have any symptoms, they were told not to come to campus and email questions@longwood.edu for further guidance.

Students were asked to bring with them a supply of face coverings and carry one at all times. We also asked students to bring a thermometer for temperature checks (for more information, see the section on face coverings under “A Healthy Campus” below).


Academics

Classroom learning is the heart of why we’re together at Longwood. Our strategy is to accommodate and encourage social distancing in learning spaces, taking advantage of Longwood’s already small class sizes, large campus and our available classroom spaces.

We are also utilizing technology in order to provide flexibility should students need to miss class for health reasons. Having these tools in place will also allow for continuity of instruction if public health considerations warrant additional steps – for example a short suspension of in-person classes for increased cleaning and testing.

While most classes are in-person, some courses - about 20 percent - have moved to a fully online format.

If a student was registered for a course that moved from in-person to fully online, he or she was notified via email during the week of Monday, August 4 - Friday, August 7. These updates were reflected in the student’s My Longwood ‘Week at a Glance’ between Monday, August 4 and Friday, August 7.

Longwood worked with students who hoped to schedule their classes online on a case-by-case basis. Depending on available online classes, however, this was not always possible. Students were advised to contact questions@longwood.edu to discuss moving to a fully online schedule.

CLASSROOM SPACES

Longwood already has small class sizes, and few large lectures. Some of those large lectures moved online, while others moved to bigger spaces. Each space now being used for a classroom has appropriate physical distancing in place. The classroom community doesn't look the same, but we are committed to and have planned for the development of that community and to a strong academic experience.

In short, we have a good deal of space and are making full use of it. We have adjusted layouts within classrooms, identified and relocated some classes to larger rooms, and even repurposed some spaces like auditoriums that aren’t typically used as classrooms.

Following CDC guidance, we have upgraded and increased the regular cleaning of all academic spaces, evaluated and upgraded ventilation systems, and implemented ingress and egress plans for buildings that accommodate social distancing.

Additional mitigation measures include ensuring shared equipment is cleaned between uses. We have also provided face shields or clear face masks to faculty. All faculty, staff and students are required to wear face coverings during classroom instruction, and inside the public areas of campus buildings (for more information, see “Face Coverings” below).

FLEXIBILITY OF INSTRUCTION

All classes are available in Canvas, our learning management system.

Web cameras in each classroom enable instructors to make course content available more readily and encourage innovative teaching that aligns with public health guidelines. This technology also allows students to access materials remotely if they must miss class due to health concerns related to COVID-19. In the event we are advised by health authorities to temporarily move some or all classes online, we are prepared.

Over the summer, faculty engaged in professional development to address both hybrid and potential online delivery and content of their courses. Last spring, a change to online interaction had to be made abruptly, but careful planning for the fall semester has occurred. Students also have resources and support for engaging in different types of teaching and learning.

CONTINUITY OF INSTRUCTION

Resources are available to ensure that students who have symptoms of an illness or have been quarantined can be absent physically from the class but maintain progress with their work. The planning for flexibility and continuity of instruction also addressed the possibility of an instructor being physically absent from class for health reasons.

Guidance from the CDC and Commonwealth have encouraged flexibility to take additional steps if there are a substantial number of cases in a campus community and/or community spread. If needed, additional steps could include temporarily moving classes online.


Campus Life - Encouraging Social Distancing

We know social distancing cannot be made absolute on a college campus. But members of our campus community play a vital role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and steps to encourage it are part of campus life next year.

HOUSING

Longwood is also fortunate to have an ample on-campus housing supply, and every on-campus residential unit in use has either been built or remodeled within the last 15 years, with high-quality building systems in place.

All on-campus residence halls have advanced ventilation systems that provide each individualized room its own direct to-and-from circulation of outside air, so air is not circulated among rooms.

There are no community-style bathrooms in Longwood residence halls, and all shared bathrooms in suite-style accommodations are limited to a maximum of 4 students, with the exception of a small number of suites that house 6 students. Our housekeeping partner, The Budd Group, continued stepped-cleaning efforts over the summer and intensified those efforts further for public spaces across campus, including residential corridors.

Longwood’s housing office made additional single rooms, including single bedrooms within suites, available to students through the housing assignment process at a discounted rate. Face coverings are required in public areas of Longwood-managed housing at all times.

DINING

Longwood students now see a variety of new practices and set-ups with our dining options on campus, which are administered by Aramark. You can read about some of the steps Aramark took nationally.

On our campus, Dorrill Dining Hall is open. Some meeting spaces near the D-Hall and in Upchurch University Center were repurposed to provide additional space for distancing. Other precautions in place include increased cleaning and sanitation, stanchions for line management at self-service stations and some menu adjustments for faster service. Aramark employees have undergone thorough training and are using required PPE.

Aramark-run food options such as Chick fil-A, Starbucks and others are operating with social distancing requirements, extra sanitations, and other precautions in place.

CAMPUS ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS

Extracurricular organizations and activities are an important part of campus life and culture, and are continuing to the greatest extent possible under state and federal guidance. The guidance in place across Virginia concerning events and gatherings will likely continue to evolve, and will inform Longwood extracurricular activities and events.

Our Student Affairs office is working closely with extracurricular organizations to ensure they have adequate space for social distancing at meetings, and that their activities closely follow guidelines. Some activities and meetings have moved online. Some major events such as Convocation, Family Weekend and Octoberfest are being reconfigured.

ATHLETICS AND CAMPUS RECREATION

Longwood’s intercollegiate athletics program has its own set of comprehensive plans to protect the well-being of student-athletes, in close consultation with the NCAA.

Our campus Health & Fitness Center has re-opened and is closely following the Commonwealth’s Phase III guidelines, with distancing precautions in place, and screening questions for everyone who enters. Under Phase III, most campus recreation programs are proceeding, though with precautions and guidelines in place. Face coverings are required when entering and exiting the Health and Fitness Center.

ADDITIONAL STEPS

If public health authorities recommend additional steps, Longwood may consider implementing further restrictions on gatherings, student travel, or public facilities use.


A Healthy Campus

Longwood has a strong network of health care resources and partnerships in place to respond when cases emerge on campus, and has strong protocols to respond when that happens. The University has worked closely with the Virginia Department of Health on how to respond in the event of COVID-19 cases in the community.

DAILY HEALTH CHECK

Starting 10 days before returning to campus, we asked all students to commit to a daily routine that included frequent hand-washing, checking for fever and other symptoms, proper social distancing, limiting social gatherings, and wearing face coverings. Before students leave their room in the morning, they must confirm they are not experiencing any of the following new symptoms (unless attributable to another health condition):

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Employees are also required to conduct this daily health screening, and stay home if they have any symptoms.

RESOURCES

The University Health Center, located in Mid-Town Landings near central campus and operated by Potomac Healthcare, and staffed by physician and advanced practice clinicians, is operated for use of the campus community and every student has access. The Health Center has taken detailed steps to evaluate, test and treat students who may have been exposed to COVID-19, as well expanded options for telehealth consultations.

Longwood students also benefit from close proximity to the resources of Centra Healthcare, the region’s leading healthcare provider, which operates Southside Community Hospital one block from the north end of campus, as well as a large outpatient clinic adjacent to the south end.

We are also particularly attuned to issues of anxiety and other mental health concerns students may have at this time, including regarding COVID-19. Longwood’s Counseling and Psychological Services office serves as a resource, and continues to meet with students over the phone and virtually.

TESTING

The Virginia Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control do not recommend surveillance testing of a campus community before members return to campus. However, Longwood is able to provide sufficient testing capacity so that any student, faculty or staff member requiring testing will have access through the University Health Center. There are additional community resources in place, notably the large regional Centra Healthcare network, which operates both a hospital and a large primary clinic within a few hundred yards of campus. Longwood also continues to work with VDH and potentially other Virginia public universities on statewide prevalence monitoring. Anyone in the campus community who believes they may need testing should contact the University Health Center or a local healthcare provider.

FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings are an important tool to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and Longwood requires them in a broad range of settings, as indicated below. They are also an important signal to our community that we are taking seriously our collective responsibilities for public health.

Every member of the Longwood community—students, faculty, staff, and visitors—needs to wear a face covering inside the public areas of campus buildings. That means all lobbies, hallways, restrooms, or any other public place. You also need to wear a face covering at any time you can’t maintain six feet of social distance. There are a few exceptions to this:

  • Students' personal rooms in their residence hall or Longwood-managed apartment are their own. You are not required to wear a face covering while in your room.
  • The private offices of faculty and staff. Employees may require that anyone who enters their office wear a face covering, however they are not required to wear a face covering while alone in their office.
  • There are some public areas on campus, where other precautions are in place, which are also excepted from the rule, notably the Health & Fitness Center, Dorrill Dining Hall, some Athletics facilities, and some academic spaces for particular subjects with specific needs. The Health & Fitness Center has detailed, state-guided protocols in place. Among them: students must enter and exit while wearing a face covering, and maintain social distancing while exercising.

Longwood has a substantial supply of face coverings that we are distributing to students, but it’s up to the student to bring some and always have one available.

WHEN COVID-19 CASES APPEAR ON CAMPUS

The guidance from Virginia and the CDC to colleges and universities anticipates that positive cases will likely appear in campus communities, and offers direction on steps campuses should consider. Steps Longwood will take include:

  • Providing rooms where students who live on campus and cannot return home can self-isolate, with a designated group of staff conducting regular wellness checks, delivering meals and supplies, and providing academic support to stay on track with classes. Arc Residence Hall, which had planned to be offline this year, is being used for this purpose if students are unable to properly self-isolate in their own residence hall room.

  • Working directly with VDH to identify others in the community considered at potential risk of exposure, and direct them to assessment, testing and other resources as appropriate.

  • Working with VDH to determine if any additional community-wide measures are necessary.

  • Because of important privacy laws and VDH guidance to colleges and universities, Longwood will not provide details regarding individual cases and results. However, we will regularly share information that keeps the campus community broadly informed. In the event of any emergency or timely developments, we will use emergency communications channels such as the Omnialert emergency communication system, in place since 2008, to which students, families and members of the public may subscribe.

IF YOU HAVE INDIVIDUALIZED CONCERNS

Longwood’s planning for Fall 2020 is designed to encourage responsible public health behavior by all, as well as give students who wish to do more some options to take further steps. We understand students have varying special circumstances.

If you’re not sure how best to get connected with the right person at Longwood to answer questions about your particular circumstances, we encourage you to email questions@longwood.edu


Continuing updates regarding Fall 2020 and Covid-19 will be available at: www.longwood.edu/covid19

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