As you are aware, COVID-19 has had a major impact on our world and our nation, and now more cases are emerging in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although there are still no confirmed reports of the virus impacting anyone at Shenandoah, we have made the following decisions to help ensure the health and safety of our university community and to do our part to limit the spread of the virus.
We will continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation and will provide ongoing updates as the situation unfolds. I want to be fully honest. There is so much that is uncertain about this virus; we are trying to be very safety-conscious, while also recognizing that there is much that is unknown and unknowable at this point. I ask for your patience, your flexibility and your deep understanding that our sole focus is on the safety and education of our SU family.
President Tracy Fitzsimmons
Classes Moving to Remote Instruction for Two Weeks
From March 16-29, Shenandoah will hold all classes and coursework online. Classes will not meet face-to-face. We appreciate that our faculty and staff have been preparing for weeks for the possibility of moving to online classes. Thanks to their hard work, this transition will be as smooth as possible. That said, it will not be flawless, and I want to ask you now for your patience. Additional information will be sent to students in the coming days.
Advising and registration for summer and fall classes will continue but will be done remotely. Students will receive additional information soon.
Each day we will review the situation, and by Thursday, March 26, we will make an announcement about whether we will indeed resume full campus activities and instruction on Monday, March 30.
Clinicals, Practicums, Off-site Placements and Internships
In some cases these experiences may be able to proceed as scheduled; in others they may be conducted remotely or be postponed, canceled or limited. Students impacted will receive communications from placement coordinators in their programs; in these areas, we will be relying on guidance from accreditors, school systems and health systems.
The University Is Not Closed
Until further notice, administrative offices and services — including the library, dining hall, and the Wilkins Wellness Center — will remain fully operational on our main campus and two Northern Virginia locations. Faculty and staff should continue to work on-site; for those who have underlying health concerns, Human Resources will work with each individual and supervisor to devise a plan for working remotely.
If faculty and staff have any concerns or questions, please contact your supervisor. Per the Emergency Operating Plan, Human Resources has set up a dedicated telephone number (540-665-4590) for faculty and staff to call.
When Can Students Return to Campus Housing?
The safety of our students is paramount. If you are a residential student already at home for spring break, we ask that you consider remaining where you are. If you are currently off-campus on vacation for spring break, we ask that you consider going home if you can safely do so. If you are currently on campus, please consider heading home if that is a safe option. You will be able to continue your courses remotely with your iMLearning devices.
Note, however, that our campuses will remain open. There may be some residential students for whom it is best to return to, or stay in, campus housing. We know that some students may not have alternative housing options, or may need to stay on campus because of a local job, athletic commitment, etc. We want to hear from you and help make arrangements for your return.
In order to track and serve those who will stay on campus over the next two weeks, we ask that residential students fill out this survey. If residential students do not complete that survey by Friday, March 13, we will assume that they are remaining where they are until Sunday, March 29. For those planning to return, the residence halls will open at noon Sunday, March 15. Full-service dining services will be available, while self-service will be eliminated. Grab-and-go options are available as well.
If you choose to return to campus, we will ask that you provide information about where you have been, and that you communicate regularly with us about any changes in your health. As well, we will ask that faculty, staff and any on-campus students practice appropriate social distancing.
Postponement of University Events
Shenandoah University will cancel or postpone all large event gatherings (100+ people), all Conservatory events, and many smaller events, on campus effective immediately until Monday, March 30.
Details on these changes are under development and will be shared once finalized.
Status of Conservatory and Athletics Events
The Conservatory will suspend all events and performances until Monday, March 30. Please check the Conservatory Performs webpage for more information.
At this time, all spring sporting events are expected to be held as scheduled, but this could change and games may be postponed as recommendations are made by the NCAA and ODAC Conference. Please check the SU Hornets athletics site for more information.
We have suspended all university-sanctioned international travel programs. We are reviewing summer programs and will have an update by Thursday, March 26. While domestic travel for university business is not prohibited, it is strongly discouraged.
If You Are Ill (Or Not Ill)
We ask that if you are sick, please stay home until you are well and no longer exhibiting symptoms. Continue to be mindful of your health. Wash your hands with soap and water often, sneeze into your arm or a tissue, and maintain social distancing. If you are a residential student and are ill, please call the Wilkins Wellness Center at (540) 665-4530.
Even if you are not ill, please continue to practice good hygiene as this virus spreads easily, and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk.
If You Have Questions
This was not an easy decision for our university, but we feel it is the best one for the health and safety of our university community and is the best path to assure that students can continue toward their academic and career goals. We do not wish to put anyone at risk.
Students and parents, if you have questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please continue to monitor the university’s status through the SUN-e newsletter, email, and su.edu/coronavirus, as this situation continues to evolve.
SU has had a pandemic preparedness plan for years, and our emergency leadership team has been meeting about the coronavirus since January. Our faculty were notified weeks ago that they should begin preparing for a possible transition to fully online education — and they are ready.
We are confident that this transition will be as seamless as possible — it won’t be perfect, but it will be full of SU’s typical high level of compassion, attention to detail, care for each individual student, flexibility, and commitment to continued quality. Our years of general preparedness, and our weeks of planning for this specific situation, will serve our students and our community well.
Other communications will be sent out within 24 hours — the answers to many of your questions will likely be in there. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and each other.