Virginia Wesleyan University President Scott D. Miller released the following message and video this week, sharing plans for reopening campus this fall:
While summer sessions are in full swing via remote and online courses, our campus is still fairly quiet. It is hard to believe that more than three months have passed since COVID-19 spun our spring semester into unprecedented directions and disrupted our everyday lives. Looking back, I'm proud of how the entire campus community--students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends--have persevered through the many challenges that emerged. As Booker T. Washington noted, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome."
COVID has presented, and will continue to present, many obstacles. As we plan for several possible scenarios this fall, I know the uncertainty creates anxiety. It is our hope that sharing this information about our fall plans today will help to ease some of your concerns. Please know that this letter is not fully comprehensive and that we are continuing to develop and implement policies and procedures to guarantee the safety of the campus community. We will share more information in the coming weeks and months, but want to provide you with important details about our return to campus in August.
These plans have been formulated by our Emergency Response Team, which has led our COVID response since February. This group continues to research and be informed by guidelines and executive orders from the CDC, WHO, Virginia Department of Health, Governor Northam's office, other agencies, universities, and studies. They have been working throughout the disruption to ensure the safety of all campus constituencies and the continuation of our educational mission.
As this group has worked to develop a plan to return to campus, they have done so with input from faculty, staff, and our contract service providers. The plans that we have in place will allow us to safely return to campus and offer our students the liberal arts experience that is our fundamental mission. We, and all of higher education, have had to think outside the box. In my 30 years as a college president, I have faced adversity in many forms. COVID-19, however, has brought some of the greatest challenges of my career.
In May, I shared with you our intent to resume classes in person this fall. I am excited now to share more specifics of that plan with you. The first important change that you need to plan for is a revised semester start date. Under these unique circumstances, the start date for the fall semester has been moved up two days to Monday, August 24, 2020. Additional details of the semester calendar are as follows:
Fall 2020 Semester
- Classes begin Monday, August 24.
- Classes will be held on Labor Day (September 7).
- Fall Break (October 12-13) has been eliminated and classes WILL MEET on those days.
- In-person classes will end on Friday, November 20, for Thanksgiving Break. All students will vacate the residence halls at that time and WILL NOT return to campus after Thanksgiving Break.
- The semester WILL CONTINUE after Thanksgiving Break with remote instruction from November 30 through December 4.
- Final examinations will take place in a remote format December 7-11.
- The fall semester will end on December 11.
- Incoming residential students arrive — First Years (Friday, August 21) and Transfers (Saturday, August 22).
- Marlin Nation Orientation for all new students will occur on August 22-23.
- New Batten Honors College Fellows/Scholars will receive additional information soon in a separate email.
- Returning students will move in on Sunday, August 23.
Other Important Information
- Information regarding the format for January Term will be released in the near future.
- Specific information regarding opening activities for the Batten Honors College, fall intercollegiate athletics, and other groups will be forthcoming.
We are continuing to develop and implement comprehensive policies and plans for fall that will promote a safe environment for the entire VWU community. The Office of Academic Affairs has plans to ensure that all classes are taught while maintaining safe social distancing. Professors have been working diligently and creatively to plan for a somewhat different, but still rigorous and engaging, fall semester. Campus Life and Operational Management has also developed plans that encompass every aspect of our student experience.
Throughout the summer, you will receive a series of email communications outlining the full details of the University's plans for operation this fall. In addition to these emails, plans will be archived on the University's COVID-19 website (www.vwu.edu/coronavirus) for your easy reference. Please bookmark this site for your convenience.
The coming academic year is going to present unprecedented challenges for all higher education. We have chosen to embrace these challenges and have confidence in our strength as a campus community. We will need to come together to safeguard each other and to adapt with agility and creativity as the situation evolves. Even as we share these plans, we know that flexibility will be required of all of us in the coming months. Together we will make it an extraordinary and memorable, if atypical, fall semester.
Again, I want to share my appreciation for the work of the Emergency Response Team, the faculty working group, and all of the faculty and staff who have kept us moving forward through these uncharted waters. We look forward to our students' safe return in August.
COVID-19 FALL SEMESTER SCHEDULE AND UPDATE
June 19, 2020