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Lancers return socially distanced

Over five days last week, Longwood University welcomed just more than 5,000 undergraduate students to campus, but things will look different for the Lancers this new term.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, the Farmville Town Council passed an ordinance limiting the size of social gatherings to 50 and setting rules requiring face coverings in public places. The university itself is requiring students to wear a face covering while on campus and in classrooms. Fines may be imposed up to $300 for violations of the ordinance.

“Students that have returned to campus are doing a stellar job of wearing appropriate face coverings and maintaining social distances,” Dean of Students Jennifer Fraley said.

Tammy Jones Manning dropped off her son Hunter, who is an incoming freshman. “Longwood did a great job, hats off,” she said. “I never saw anyone upset or distraught, which says a lot for the university, parents, and students. I thought it was going to be chaotic, but it was not, which makes me feel that Longwood was a great choice.”

For Kim Brickhouse, whose son, Corbin, is a senior, sending her child back to campus during a pandemic was extremely stressful for her family.

“We were not sure what to do or what our options were other than to sit out the semester or maybe even the year,” Brickhouse said. “I am grateful that the university offered a way families could express their concerns and that we were able to work out a way for my child to take his classes virtually.”

For returning Longwood students Carrie Bailey and Ashley Roberts, they say this year’s move-in was differently different, and they both decided to bring less with them because of the uncertainties, but are hopeful classes will remain in-person.

“I am praying that LU will stay with in-person classes,” Bailey said. “Since I am a senior at Longwood, I am aware that my time is limited, and I am worried that my time might be cut. I just hope Longwood students and faculty all do their part to ensure the health and safety of those on campus as well as their families and the Farmville community.”

Bailey said the pandemic affected her last semester as well.

“Having to leave Longwood in the spring abruptly was a drastic change. I am a strong believer in schedules and planning,” she said. “It is challenging for me with the constant uncertainties about my future here in Farmville.”

For Roberts, she is afraid that all classes will eventually move to online due to the rise in COVID-19 cases around the state, but she is happy to see that Longwood has put safety measures in place for students and staff.

“There are signs and hand sanitizer stations that remind everyone to stay six feet apart and constantly wash their hands,” Roberts said.

Roberts said that on move-in day, the normally crowded elevators were a thing of the past. “there are signs that say only four people are allowed in order to comply with social distancing.”

In an email to students, University President W. Taylor Reveley said the 2020-21 academic year would be a unique one and a true lesson in citizen-leadership for all and a reminder that we are all connected and must be accountable to one another.

“As other institutions have seen, even one careless gathering could not just impact our own health but the course of the semester for all,” Reveley said, “I believe deeply in you all and your capacity to lead by example, and I am heartened by what I have seen so far these first few days with students returning.”