Coronavirus one

Assistant Vice President of Communications Matt McWilliams and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Tim Pierson discuss the university's procedures moving forward due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A student at Longwood University has tested positive for COVID-19, or coronavirus, and is in self-quarantine, along with two other students as of Thursday, March 12.

On Tuesday, March 10, an email was sent out from the university, alerting everyone about a student that was in self-quarantine and was tested for the virus. The email came out shortly after the university was notified of the student’s status.

The email proceeded to say that the university was working closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and had necessary plans created in the event that the student tested positive for the virus. As of that time, the test results were unknown, as it can take two to four days for the results to come back.

A second email from President W. Taylor Reveley was sent out Wednesday afternoon, informing students of the situation as more universities across the commonwealth moved to online classes, following the coronavirus outbreak. President Reveley confirmed that as of that time, there were no positive cases of the virus at the university or in the surrounding community, but urged students to be cautious and aware of their health and surroundings. 

That evening, a separate email was sent from President Reveley, around 10 p.m., announcing new information they had received.

He wrote, “These are challenging times nationally and here in Virginia.”

He continued on to say that there was a presumptive positive case of coronavirus at the university, and that the student remained in self-quarantine following the results. He added that the VDH had also begun reaching out to students who may have come into contact with the infected student in order to get them assessed and tested, as necessary. 

Assistant Vice President of Communications Matt McWilliams said on the test, “It is a two-step verification process, which begins at the state level, then goes to the Center For Disease Control to confirm.”

Along with this, the university cancelled campus events and in-person classes through Wednesday, March 18. The university will remain open during this time, but certain locations will be on amended hours. Students were also encouraged to make their own decisions on whether or not they want to stay on campus or go home during the break.

As of Thursday, March 12 at noon, the university remains closed through March 18. Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Tim Pierson said that they are closely monitoring the status of the university and community, and will make changes as necessary. 

McWilliams added, “As of noon Thursday, the generalized risk to campus is low, and we are being advised on preventative practices from the Virginia Department of Health and will make changes across campus as needed.”

Pierson noted that the university’s incident response team has been meeting regularly and has been working on plans for weeks, specifically since the virus hit the United States.

Pierson said, “It was inevitable that it would reach us, so we started planning different levels of response.

The team is comprised of faculty and staff from all across campus, in order to get the most accurate information that will then be delivered to students. The team has been meeting daily since coming back from spring break, and will continue to meet to ensure the health and safety of campus and the community. 

McWilliams said, “We are in close contact with the Virginia Department of Health on a daily basis, going through our procedures, plans and following the guidelines.”

For students that are self-quarantined, they will remain in their rooms, or they have the option of going back to their homes. If a self-quarantined student chooses to stay, the university has a plan in place with Aramark to deliver food to them to ensure they do not leave, but are able to get basic necessities. 

As of Friday, March 13 at 2:30 p.m., the university has announced that Longwood will move to a fully online format through Friday, March 27 effective immediately. All campus events have also been cancelled. 

The announcement came in an email from President Reveley at 2:19 p.m. The email went on to say that the university will remain open, and students can decide if they would like to stay or if they would like to go home until classes resume.

Another email regarding the next steps will be sent out no later than Wednesday, March 25.

For students that are feeling ill or symptomatic, contact the University Health Center at 434-395-2102. Any questions can be sent to the Virginia Department of Health at 434-392-3984. 

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