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Longwood closes residence halls following second positive test

By Crystal Vandegrift and Alexa Massey

The Farmville Herald

A day after a second Longwood University student tested positive for the coronavirus, the university has decided to close its residence halls and require students to return home.

In an email to Longwood University students, staff and faculty Wednesday, March 25, Longwood Assistant Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams announced the university would be closing its residence halls and requiring students to return home.

“Given the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia, and following the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) most recent guidance to Longwood and other Virginia institutions, Longwood will need to close our residence halls to the fullest extent practicable and require students to return home, despite the hardship this may present,” McWilliams’ email stated.

According to McWilliams, the university will make emergency exceptions on a case-by-case basis for students who need to remain on campus.

A second Longwood student tested positive Tuesday, March 24. The off-campus Prince Edwards County resident had been self-quarantining since March 18. McWilliams said the (VDH) believes the student may have acquired the virus while traveling out of state the week after spring break. The official origin of the virus is uncertain. 

Farmville Mayor David Whitus said Tuesday that the Town of Farmville was notified about the case earlier that day and that town officials are dedicated to getting the news of any new coronavirus updates to residents as quickly as possible. 

“As soon as we know, the public needs to know,” Whitus said. 

Whitus urged community members to stay home if possible and practice social distancing otherwise.

More than 90% of Longwood students had already returned home as of last week.

“All students in Longwood housing will have access to their room or unit again at a future date, to be determined, to collect or store belongings,” McWilliams said.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, at 5 p.m., the Upchurch University Center will also be closed until further notice.

According to McWilliams, the Greenwood Library will continue to operate on its current schedule of limited hours.

As of Wednesday, March 25, at noon, the VDH reported 391 positive cases of coronavirus with 59 hospitalizations and nine deaths. Prince Edward County has the two cases of Longwood students who have diagnosed as positive for the virus. Buckingham and Cumberland counties do not have any diagnosed cases so far.

Those with any questions or concerns about symptoms or possible exposure can call the local VDH office at (434) 392-3984, or dial the University Health Service at (434) 395-2102. 

Centra Southside Community Hospital has also set up a hotline at (434) 200-1225.