The past week has been like nothing we’ve ever seen or expected. Classes went online, we learned about the importance of social distancing, and we accepted a never-before-seen disruption in our lives. But you — our students, faculty and staff — have done a truly extraordinary job of persevering and making the most of a situation that is challenging and sometimes scary. No, it has not all been perfect. Some are struggling with technology or loneliness or other concerns. But you are all putting your heads (virtually) together to come up with innovative ways to teach and learn and support each other during these most uncertain of times. You have banded together as the SU family, and you have stepped up to do your part to ensure that Shenandoah University remains a place of academic pride and indomitable spirit.
As we continue to navigate this ever-changing situation, we must also continue to adapt. And so I humbly ask for your flexibility and patience.
I want to thank all of you for your patience, cooperation and commitment to our community. We all know the recent days have been difficult, often filled with frustration, confusion and disappointment. But there have also been many, many bright spots. In the midst of crisis, SU is rising! I am grateful for the support that you have given one another, and thankful for the demonstrated commitment you have shown to ensure safety and education in a time of deep need.
President Tracy Fitzsimmons
Shenandoah still does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our university community.
But in accordance with federal and state governmental recommendations/orders regarding the number of people who can gather together, along with the CDC recommendation for institutions of higher education to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable students, staff and faculty, Shenandoah is taking the following additional actions, effective immediately:
Classes, Advising, and Registration Will Remain Online Through Spring Semester.
All Spring 2020 semester classes will continue to be held online during their regularly scheduled time until the end of the semester, May 15, 2020.
- Hornet Central has provided the following information about registration: The class schedules for summer and fall 2020 are now available on Student Planning. Please work with your advisor via e-advising; click for e-advising instructions. Plan your classes now, so you are prepared to register as soon as your online registration period opens.
Summer 2020 Classes.
It is too early to determine whether Summer 2020 classes and programs will need to move online. We are making preparations to do so if needed and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Residential Life: Housing and Dining.
We were fortunate that our students were already largely off campus for Spring Break. Acting quickly prevented people from returning to campus and to the Winchester and Northern Virginia areas which might have brought harm to them or others. We are confident that swift action helped flatten the curve for our campus and community.
- We recommend a “shelter in place” mindset (like we use when waiting for a storm to pass over). Get to a safe place and plan to stay there until we send an update about returning to campus. Many cities or states have already provided guidelines that people should not leave their homes except for essential reasons such as buying food, checking on family members and seeking health care. We encourage you to strictly follow the guidelines of the area where you are living/sheltered.
- We hope to be able to re-open the campus for some residents and small-scale activities the week of April 20, but that will depend on the health status of our country and the region.
- Residential students: We are getting creative about an organized return or move out. Residential Life staff are making a plan for your return to campus once we can give the “all clear.” In the meantime, continue to contact email@example.com if you have questions or need to have medications shipped to where you are. We will work directly with the small number of students currently still on campus regarding housing and dining.
Shenandoah University will prorate the residential room and board and commuter meal plans for the spring semester. A credit will appear on your student account and will be used to offset any outstanding balance. You will receive notice when your account has been adjusted and can be viewed on Hornet Hub. If this adjustment results in a credit balance, you will receive additional information concerning your options.
We are all dealing with the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic as best we can, and working toward solutions that are best for our students and employees. We are currently weighing how to best, and most equitably, address the financial strain being felt throughout the university community. We are concerned for our students and employees whose family members may be financially impacted by the severe economic downturn and restrictions on public movement. We are working to address these complex issues to provide the best possible outcome for a community with a wide variety of needs and concerns. We will communicate more specific information in the coming days.
Student Employees Will Continue to be Compensated for the Next Two Weeks.
Student employees able to work remotely under the direction of their supervisor will log hours worked as normal. If this applies to you please log your hours worked as normal. If you work less than 7 hours per week, Payroll will manually add the difference to ensure you are paid for a total of 7 hours. Student employees who are unable to work remotely will be paid 7 hours per week for the pay period beginning March 16 and ending March 29. Payment will be made on April 9. This will only apply to student employees who are currently on SU’s payroll and have not exceeded their allocated student employment funds. Work-study students will be contacted by their supervisors, who can also answer any questions about working remotely. We understand that for many students, work-study is part of their financial aid package which is why we are endeavoring to keep them employed at least through March.
All Employees Working Remotely.
After Friday, March 20, all employees should move to a completely remote work operation, until at least April 13, unless notified directly by a vice president.
Additional Restrictions on Access to Buildings.
While Shenandoah is officially still open and operating, the institution will operate entirely remotely and we ask everyone to remain off campus. As of 5 p.m. today, March 20, only faculty and staff who need specific access to their materials, office, lab, studio, etc., may enter campus buildings. No one should be on campus except notified employees and a few students approved to live on campus. Please remember to practice social distancing at all times.
We very much want to celebrate the Class of 2020 with our traditional University Commencement and all of the accompanying hoodings, pinnings and festivities. They are an impressive group of seniors and graduate students who DESERVE to be honored! We do not yet know if it will be possible to host graduation as planned; Shenandoah’s commencement date, May 16, falls outside of the 8-week window during which the CDC has restricted large gatherings, but that guidance may change. As a result, we are not making a decision about graduation yet, but expect to do so by April 13. Please know that whatever the circumstances, we WILL find a way to celebrate the Class of 2020 — and we will do everything possible to make sure that includes an in-person ceremony.
In tandem with the university’s announcement that it will continue online education for the duration of the spring semester, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has cancelled the remainder of the university’s spring sports calendar as mandated by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Coaches and staff will be accessible by email and phone. Although our teams will not be on the fields, the tennis courts or the golf course this spring, we intend to be fully engaged with our student-athletes. Please continue to follow Hornet Athletics on our social media channels and on www.suhornets.com for features on student-athletes and teams, the Hall of Fame class for the coming year, and other athletic department announcements.
Spring Events Suspended Until Further Notice.
The CDC set forth recommendations to cancel all events of 10+ people for 15 days (until March 31) and to cancel all large events (over 250 people) for the next eight weeks (until May 7) to help contain the spread of COVID-19. If you have a scheduled event during this time, a staff member will work with you to reschedule your event at some point in the future when it will once again be practical/possible for SU to hold events within our facilities. As mentioned above, we hope to be able to re-open the campus for some residents and small-scale activities the week of April 20, but that will depend on the health status of our country and the region.
As a reminder, here are the protocols for students, faculty and staff who may think they’ve been exposed to or are seeing symptoms of COVID-19.
Protocol for Students
Please submit a Student of Concern report about your condition. A member of the CARE Team will then reach out to you to coordinate any care or support you may need.
Protocol for Employees
An employee who has been exposed to the coronavirus, or diagnosed with COVID-19, should promptly notify Kim McDonald in Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org and their direct supervisor, who should attempt to reasonably accommodate the employee during the period of time they may need to self-quarantine. The direct supervisor may reach out to HR for guidance, but should, at a minimum, respect an employee’s request to keep confidential the reason for the employee’s absence or unavailability and share the situation only with other university employees with a reasonable need to know.
If you know that a student has been exposed to the coronavirus, or diagnosed with COVID-19, please submit a Student of Concern report. A member of the CARE Team will then reach out to the student to coordinate any care or support the student may need. A student may also fill out their own Student of Concern report.
Where to Get Updates
This global health crisis not only impacts our work schedules and our financial health, but it can also impact our mental and emotional well-being. SU recently provided a message of care and support to students about counseling services and how to access academic services online. Please continue to monitor su.edu/coronavirus where we have links to all official communications as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are being constantly updated. Some specific communications will also be sent via email.