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Longwood preps for August 24 reopening

Longwood University preparing for students to return to in-person learning on campus on August 24 but with minor adjustments to the fall academic calendar.

“This fall, we will hold classes on Labor Day and cancel fall break,” Assistant Vice President of Communications Matthew McWilliams said last week. “Because of this, in-person classes will be complete by Thanksgiving break.”

According to McWilliams, Longwood anticipates 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,” McWilliams said. “This plan is similar to what many, if not most, Virginia institutions will be doing. We hope and currently expect students will return to campus after Thanksgiving for a two-week review and exam period, but this adaptation will allow for flexibility.”

Over the last few months, Longwood has been working with state officials to develop detailed plans for how exactly the fall will look – to encourage social distancing and build inflexible academic tools to serve the needs of students. “Our planning is being structured around direction from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal Centers for Disease Control’s guidance for higher education,” McWilliams said.

Longwood already boasts small class sizes – 15 classes on campus have more than 40 students, and only six more than 50.

The university will also be upgrading and increasing the regular cleaning of all academic spaces, evaluating ventilation systems, and developing ingress and egress plans for buildings that accommodate social distancing.

Longwood students will see a variety of new practices and set-ups with dining options on campus, meeting spaces near the Dorrill Dining Hall and in Upchurch University Center will be repurposed to provide additional space for distancing.

In line with state guidance, Longwood’s current policy regarding face coverings is to encourage them and to ask any faculty, staff, or students to wear them when social distancing is not possible.

Faculty will have the discretion to require students to wear face coverings in class, consistent with applicable law and state guidelines.

If the university were to have a case of COVID-19, they are prepared to provide rooms where students 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, will be used for that purpose.

The Longwood University fountain sat dormant last week as the campus remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.