Matt McWilliams March 13

Assistance Vice President of Communications Matt McWilliams discusses next steps due to COVID-19 during an interview on March 13, 2020.

On Thursday, April 16, Longwood University announced that a new leadership team, the COVID-19 planning team, or Task Force, had been created. 

The team was created by President W. Taylor Reveley IV, and is composed of people from across the university and town of Farmville. The team’s main mission is to get campus ready to return to in-person classes in the fall. 

Chief of Staff and Vice President Justin Pope, who is on the task force, said, “President Reveley created the task force to help with some of the planning work that will need to be done to prepare campus to re-open in-person learning for the fall semester, which we are determined to do.”

Vice President of Wellness Matt McGregor, who also leads the university’s Incident Command Team, agreed that the main purpose of the task force is to get campus to recover from COVID-19.

He said, “The group focuses on what we have to do in order to be ready for the fall semester, and how we can get students to where they are ready to come back to campus.”

Both added that there are issues across the university that need to be considered before anyone can return to campus, from how food is served to possible social distancing measures. The buildings and residence halls also need to be cleaned, and new measures will need to be put in place to ensure the safety of campus. 

The team is composed of seven individuals: Justin Pope, Matt McGregor, Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs David Shoenthal, Incoming University Police Chief Doug Mooney, Associate Vice President for Operations and Services Lori Blackwood, Moton Museum Executive Director Cameron Patterson and Associate Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams. 

It was agreed that the plan is to resume classes in the fall, and the importance of resuming a sense of normalcy was emphasized.

Pope said, “It’s incredibly important for our students and families, for our community and for society as a whole for classes to resume on campus.”

McGregor added that no one knows what is going to happen yet, but the team is thinking through worst-case scenarios and how to address those issues if need be.

“This group will be looking to maximize the campus experience as much as possible,” McGregor said.

The task force and university officials will be in touch with students and families over the next few months as the plan continues to evolve. 

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