As schools across the country continue to go all-online, Shenandoah celebrates nearly two months of in-person education. Through the commitment of our students, faculty and staff to uphold the SU Pledge to keep our community safe, along with our strong campus pride and personal responsibility, Shenandoah has experienced so many successes — and we hope to keep this trend going!
When the pandemic hit, Shenandoah was ready. For years, we had a pandemic plan in place. In addition, beginning in January 2020, our Incident Command System Committee composed of administrators and staff met weekly to discuss the virus. Our iMLearning program, which just celebrated 10 years, assured that everyone had the Apple technology they needed as we transferred — quickly and seamlessly — to a virtual learning model in March. Also, nearly 50% of our faculty members already had distance education training prior to 2020. We made no COVID-19-related cuts to benefited faculty and staff in the spring/summer, which translated to a can-do spirit to make the fall semester work. On top of all of this, our strong relationships and our meetings this spring and summer with Valley Health and the Virginia Department of Health helped us plan for potential COVID-19-related scenarios for the fall semester.
And here we are today — surviving and thriving!
If you walk around campus, you might see our Shenandoah Conservatory students and faculty practicing outside, perhaps using our large outdoor tents set up to provide additional classroom spaces or places to hang out and study. Our hybrid learning model, ShenFlex, allows Shenandoah students to learn both in a classroom and over Zoom, and our new Shenandoah Go app keeps our community vigilant, safe, and well-informed with its daily symptom tracker and its ability to distribute information quickly through push notifications, videos, infographics, chats and texts.
Although we are a social campus, we cultivate a culture of care over a party culture. This, in addition to our strict mask and social distancing policy, our SU Pledge, our color-coded Shenandoah Go passes for campus access, and the diligence of our campus health officials, has kept us healthy, safe and able to maintain our in-person operations.
But we didn’t stop there. Shenandoah also:
- Expanded residential student housing by 200+ rooms in as little as six weeks
- Lowered the density in the residential halls, increased the number of single-occupancy rooms with a private bath, and added a new dining space called Buzzins
- Expanded classroom spaces while reducing individual classroom capacity
- Conducted pre-entry testing of more than 1,400 students, including all residential students and a large population of commuter students, upon return to Winchester
- Is performing weekly surveillance testing of 10% of the student population, allowing the university to quickly identify students needing a diagnostic COVID-19 test and then move them to isolation/quarantine rooms that are equipped with food delivery
- Continued to train our student-athletes in a safer manner and began practice for all 22 sports
- Created an extensive set of on-campus signage reinforcing our Pledge To Keep Shenandoah Safe
And most importantly, with the help of everyone at SU, we’ve created a strong culture across the university that takes pride in being a Hornet!
Shenandoah University has done an AMAZING job of making certain that we have as safe an environment in which to teach and work as humanly possible. In addition to testing, each member of the university community completes a daily health check in order to gain access to campus and classrooms. I truly believe that Shenandoah is doing everything possible to create a safe environment where quality instruction can happen. Students with whom I have spoken have expressed that to me, too. While some might charge me with being too much of an optimist at a time when it is perhaps easier to be pessimistic, I believe that the way Shenandoah has adapted to this crisis is first-rate. The university, of course, has always had a pandemic plan in place—all we are doing now is implementing that plan.”
Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A. | Director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute
As a Hornet Ambassador, I am beyond impressed that Shenandoah University has made tours on campus possible! Once I got the message over the summer that tours were starting back up, I was absolutely elated that I would be able to return to campus after so many months of quarantine. The new policies and safety measures in the tour route are truly a testament to the innovative minds at Shenandoah University. We, as a university, are proof that anything is possible and that is why I am proud to be a Hornet.”
Cade Watts ’21 | Exercise Science, Pre-Athletic training major, public health minor
It is really impressive what our faculty have accomplished. We worked really hard this summer to outline what a teaching model could be — a model where we could keep our faculty and students safe, while maintaining community – what makes Shenandoah, Shenandoah. We planned ‘in theory,’ not knowing the reality. Faculty redesigned all their classes and learned the possibilities of technology. They are balancing technical difficulties with cleaning protocols, mask wearing, classroom resizing, and you know, it’s not easy. But our faculty deeply want our students to get the most out of their education and they consistently strive to do what they can to assure they are doing all they can to assure that. Talk about heroes.”
Amy Sarch, Ph.D. | Associate Provost
Shenandoah is doing an amazing job given the circumstances. Social distancing has been maintained, people are respectful of others’ space, and ShenandoahGo is a great app to track and monitor our symptoms and slow the spread of COVID. I have not had any issues with anyone refusing to wear a mask or invading my personal space. Shenandoah is handling the pandemic as reasonably and effectively as possible.”
I have been — and continue to be — impressed by the extent to which faculty are actively seeking ways to transform their teaching. Over a dozen Faculty Interest Groups and Pop-Up Pilots were established by faculty this semester. Together, they are exploring topics like service learning; flipped classrooms; diversity and inclusion; and experimenting with tools like Camtasia, Yellowdig, and Snapchat. In addition, nearly 30 faculty have volunteered to lead workshops or roundtables for Transformative Teaching & Learning (TTL). The fact that we issued nearly 350 certificates of attendance between May and August is further testament that faculty are going above and beyond in their commitment to educating and inspiring their students, despite the many other demands on their time and attention.”
Karrin Lukacs | Director of Transformative Teaching & Learning and professor of curriculum & instruction