The country and world are navigating historic times, and my thoughts are constantly with you. The challenges are really hard, and these are days you will remember throughout your lives. Of course, this beautiful spring should be a time when we are all together here, but Covid-19 has morphed this semester into this surreal, shared but distant moment.
I know you’re dearly missing routines and friends, and struggling with new obstacles even as we meet our obligations for the common good. I know online learning is challenging, and leaves behind so many of the rhythms and traditions we cherish. I hope you’ll keep working hard. Draw strength from your Longwood friendships, and support one another, as best you can. We are dearly missing you.
I promised last month that the Class of 2020 would walk for in-person graduation, and that I’d be in touch again by this week in April. Since then, we’ve been working with government officials and campus and community leaders to identify a date as soon as possible that is also as reliable as can be. We have a date — Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be on the weekend of October 9th & 10th. As would have been the case this May, the graduate ceremony will be on the Friday evening, October 9th, and the undergraduate ceremony will be on the Saturday, October 10th, during the day. It will be a full weekend of celebration – with plenty of opportunity over the course of the weekend for you to celebrate and reconnect.
Campus and Farmville are so beautiful in the fall, and earlier dates which we explored so closely continued to have real risk of disruption by this crisis. We’ll have more precise details regarding exact times and logistics in the weeks ahead. (And be assured that by finishing your academic requirements you still officially become a Longwood graduate in May; we’ll explore ways to mark that occasion too, without taking anything away from October.)
More broadly, I also want all of you to know that Longwood fully intends to return to in-person learning here on campus in the fall. No one can predict exactly what the weeks and months ahead in this historic and challenging time may hold, but I am in regular touch with the other Virginia college presidents and state officials as we begin preparing for a return to normalcy. It may require us to do some things differently on campus, at least for a while, including additional steps to protect public health. We’re already working on that. But we have every expectation of being back next fall. When we are, we’ll be all the more appreciative of what it means to be in this special place.
During this strange interlude for now, take care of yourselves, and of one another. Check in on friends and classmates. Keep the spirit of Longwood strong until we are back together — and stay well. Thank you so deeply.
Lastly, there is something I came across recently from the Class of 1943 that resonates with this moment and that I wanted to share. The Class of 1943 also lived through an historic and uncertain time, and even during the great turmoil of WWII found strength in this place we cherish, already over a century old in their day. Here is what they wrote:
There is something about the campus and the buildings here in Farmville that make us love the school always, from the first time we come up the short walk to the Rotunda. Perhaps it is the calm, quiet appearance of the long, low, red-brick buildings beneath the shade of tall maple trees. Perhaps it is the worn doorsill of the ever-busy Rotunda and the way the steps wind up to the second and third floors inside. Or it could be something in the atmosphere that makes us realize how many through the years have entered these buildings with a feeling of awe and left them with a heart full of devotion for this, their Alma Mater. We are proud to be among them.
All my best, always,
I wanted to be in touch—and first say how much you all are missed here on campus. Despite the challenges we are all facing, I’ve seen some inspiring things over the last few weeks: students everywhere, both through their organizations and individually, are drawing strength from each other as we look forward to returning to campus in the fall. I am constantly amazed by the Longwood spirit.
I also wanted to update you on several topics I know are on your minds.
If you are a continuing student, your unused bonus dollars will be rolled over for use in the 2020-21 academic year. If you are graduating, you will receive a refund in July of any remaining bonus dollars.
Please remember, the housing and dining refunds announced last month are being split into two payments to you—one now, and one in July. The first set of housing and dining refunds has been mailed and should soon be arriving at your home address. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a continuing student with a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, you will have a $50 credit applied to your account in July. If you are graduating and had a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, your July refund check will increase by $50.
If you have remaining charges on your student account, they will be deducted from the July refund. If you have questions, please email email@example.com.
Commencement for the Class of 2020
With Gov. Northam’s executive order in place until June, Commencement as originally scheduled the weekend of May 16 cannot go forward. President Reveley has been working to identify the best possible option for the Class of 2020 for an in-person ceremony— a date as soon as possible, but one we can be confident can happen. He will be in touch with students about this in a separate email within the next few days.
As long as you have met the requirements for May graduation, be assured your degree will be officially conferred and you will be considered a Longwood graduate by May 16, even though our official ceremony will come later. Diplomas will be mailed to your home in early summer. This applies to undergraduate and graduate students. Soon you will receive an email confirming the name to appear on your diploma and mailing address.
Longwood-managed housing remains closed to students who haven’t been granted an emergency exemption while the governor’s order is in place. Any student who left belongings in their room can be assured that those items are safe and secure. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, we will share the process we will use to bring you safely back to campus and move your belongings. If you have an item in your residence hall that you need urgently, please contact the Housing office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-395-2080.
In keeping with the Governor’s stay-at-home order, we are asking students not to travel to campus to take graduation photos until further notice.
Take care during this challenging time.
Dr. Tim James Pierson
Vice President for Student Affairs
In my email on March 23, I promised that we would continue to communicate with you about academic decisions that have been made. Below I will give you a summary of those decisions, and you can find more detailed information at the University COVID-19 FAQs.
Alternate Pass/Fail option – Undergraduate students now have the option to choose an alternate Pass/Fail grading scale for any course that had been face-to-face but moved online for the rest of the semester. This is not a decision to rush into, which is why you have until Friday, April 24 to submit your decision to the Registrar’s office. You must consult with your academic advisor about this decision and fill out a form.
The new grading option includes the following grades:
For more detailed information on how to select this option, visit the University COVID-19 FAQs.
Depending on the academic program, these grades can fulfill program requirements. These grades will not be computed in your Spring 2020 semester GPA. Graduate courses and courses that started online at the beginning of this semester are not eligible for the alternate pass/fail grading scale option.
Withdrawal deadline extension – The withdrawal deadline for courses has been extended until Friday, April 24. Please be aware that course withdrawals may affect your financial aid. You should contact the staff in the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions.
These are important decisions that encompass a lot of factors, including your academic major or minor program requirements, and you do not have to make them alone. Reach out to your academic advisor or other faculty and staff for advice. We are here to help you make the most informed choices possible and to help you finish the semester during this unprecedented and stressful time. You and your education are important to us.
Larissa M. Smith, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
In my message yesterday I tried to stress the obligations you have as citizen leaders in the midst of this global pandemic. Today I write to share how Longwood is trying hard to do right by you – at a time when I know many of you are struggling with uncertainty for yourselves and your families.
Your professors are working night and day to provide the kind of teaching, mentoring and personal connection that are so special here, even at a distance.
Someday soon enough, we will get to celebrate being back on campus. In the meantime, we want to help with the financial burden families are facing, and provide housing and dining refunds as best we can. We know no solution is perfect, and that individual circumstances vary. But we’ve worked hard to develop a plan that’s 1) clear 2) as fair as possible and 3) we can deliver as soon as possible. That’s important because we know many of you are facing challenges now. The Lancer family is all in this together.
Here is what we are doing:
These refunds will be paid in two installments: one half of the total by check to your permanent mailing address in the next 30 days; and the second half in a payment this July.
We think this straightforward and equal approach is what’s fairest to our whole community, and will help you and your families as we all work together through this challenging time.
Please direct questions to: email@example.com
Dr. Tim James Pierson
Vice President for Student Affairs
Given the escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Virginia, and following the Virginia Department of Health’s most recent guidance to Longwood and other Virginia institutions, Longwood will need to close our residence halls to the fullest extent practicable and require students to return home, despite the hardship this may present. The University will make emergency exceptions on a case by case basis. Those students still registered in Longwood housing were informed this morning and instructed how to make an emergency appeal. Over 90% of Longwood students had already returned home as of last week. Any remaining students are being asked to depart this week.
All students in Longwood housing will have access to their room or unit again at a future date, to be determined, to collect or store belongings.
As of 5:00 p.m. today, Upchurch University Center will also be closed until further notice. Greenwood Library will continue to operate on its current schedule of limited hours.
Dear Longwood Students,
As the number of cases throughout the state and nation continue to rise, it is now more imperative than ever that we strictly adhere to all COVID-19 preventative guidance, especially when we live in close quarters as we do in Longwood-managed as well as off-campus properties.
Longwood has asked and strongly recommends those of you who are able to safely return home to do so. If you must remain in campus housing, you must be registered. Please understand we are evaluating whether we may need to take further actions as well.
The following safety changes are in effect immediately to ensure social-distancing, given the severity of this outbreak and the growing realization that it can pose a threat to people of all ages.
Failure to adhere to any of the aforementioned or future expectations may result in Conduct & Integrity charges, criminal charges, or immediate removal from Longwood housing.
In this serious time, it’s imperative that we make the health of ourselves and one another our foremost consideration.
Please follow this guidance from public health officials to ensure that we do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Tim James Pierson
Vice President for Student Affairs
The Virginia Department of Health informed the University this morning that a second Longwood student has received a positive COVID-19 test result.
The student lives off-campus and has self-quarantined since last Wednesday, March 18. VDH believes the student acquired the virus while traveling out-of-state the week after spring break, but is not certain of the origin.
As with the case reported on March 11, VDH has already been in touch with identified contacts of the student prior to their self-quarantine, and is now following up directly with those contacts. If you have any questions or concerns about symptoms or possible exposure, call the local VDH office at 434-392-3984 or our University Health Service at 434-395-2102. Locally, Centra has set up a hotline at 434-200-1225.
Last week, Longwood advised students who can return home safely to do so. This applies to students living on or off campus. As the virus continues to spread rapidly in Virginia and nationwide, it is extremely important that anyone who has been asked to self-quarantine do so, and that everyone follow state and federal guidance to self-distance, avoid even small gatherings and stay at home or in their residence hall rooms as much as possible.
As Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, I wanted to share some additional information following President Reveley’s announcement that Longwood will be shifting to online delivery of classes for the remainder of the semester. Below is important information to keep in mind:
Faculty and staff are here to help you. We have compiled many questions and answers about distance learning on our COVID-19 FAQs page.
In addition to your coursework, you should be consulting with your advisor about summer and fall courses if you haven’t already. Registration is scheduled to take place next week (Tuesday, March 31 through Friday, April 3), and you should develop some back-up plans in case class availability changes.
I realize this transition creates many questions, and I assure you we are working to address them.
Ironing out the details of this transition will take a little time, and I appreciate your patience. We will continue to communicate with you about any decisions we make. This is an uncertain and stressful time, and I know this transition to distance learning places an additional burden on you. However, as Lancers, I am confident that we can work together to meet this challenge and finish the semester strong.
We are living through historic times in America, around the world and here in Virginia, and hard decisions are necessary.
Today, Longwood is announcing a number of important steps for the remainder of the semester. Foremost, like so many institutions, for the remainder of the semester we will proceed with teaching online rather than in-person.
However, we firmly commit to holding graduation in-person — something so deeply important to so many. We hope that means in mid-May as long planned, but we don’t yet know exactly when. Also, while fewer than 10 percent of students are on campus and in Farmville now, going forward we also will need to be even more mindful of limiting campus activity and ensuring social distancing to fight Covid-19.
The soul of Longwood is living and learning together in person on our beautiful campus. We all dearly yearn for the day when that can be true again. When it comes, we will be all the more appreciative of this place we cherish. But at this time of extraordinary disruption and uncertainty, I know all of you are scrambling to adjust to a new reality for the weeks and months ahead, and that you need to plan. We don’t yet know every detail, so we will continue to be in close communication. In the meantime more information is below, and this updated Q&A also tries to anticipate some of the key questions you will have.
Online Learning for the Remainder of the Semester
The shift to online learning that began last week will continue through this semester, including final exams. We understand how challenging this is. Our faculty and staff are working tremendously hard to ensure academic continuity and student learning, and I hope this work will help keep you engaged and connected with one another in the weeks ahead. Please keep working hard, for your professors and for yourselves, and reach out to them with questions or concerns. All in-person events on campus are also cancelled until further notice (faculty may be in touch with students if they can develop viable distance or virtual alternatives for academic events such as recitals, concerts, art shows, the spring student showcase, and theatre productions).
Some questions you may have about topics like registration for next fall and summer courses are addressed in the Q&A. Some other questions will be addressed in the days ahead in emails to students from the university, so please continue to check your email.
With today’s announcement, and continuing to follow guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, we are asking students who are able safely to return home to do so.
Students who have health or other important considerations for themselves or family members and need to remain in university housing should register at https://rms.longwood.edu:446/page/studenthousinggateway as soon as possible, but no later than this coming Monday, March 23 to let campus officials know you continue to need housing. Students remaining should know dining services will be take-out only and facilities hours on campus limited. If CDC guidance evolves and we are able to provide further services, we will do so.
Other questions regarding accessing the residence halls to retrieve belongings, refunds and other matters are addressed as best we can now in the Q&A. We will continue to be in close contact on these fronts.
Commencement is a fundamentally important ritual in life, and Longwood famously does commencement ceremonies with fanfare and spirit. Class of 2020 — you have my firm commitment we will honor you and your graduation from Longwood in person. What I can’t tell you now is exactly when that will happen, for our undergraduate ceremony or our graduate ceremony. We will evaluate how circumstances develop over the coming weeks and communicate with you again by April 10.
Let me close for now by simply saying that this all is heartbreaking news to send. To our seniors especially, you are losing a precious and irreplaceable time together here at this place we all love. The Alma Mater yearns to have you here, and in profound ways this will be home for you throughout life. I am incredibly sorry —– and we all are incredibly eager to be together again.
Longwood has prospered through turmoil and triumph alike, since 1839, onward ever.
All my best, always,
Longwood continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak, and we want to provide you with additional details on the state and campus responses.
As part of a statewide effort to slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Ralph Northam today placed a limit on all non-essential gatherings to no more than 10 people. We strongly urge students who are staying on campus to follow that guidance for any social gatherings while classes are in a fully online format.
The Governor also today provided additional guidance regarding eating facilities and fitness centers. In order to promote social distancing and follow the latest guidance, we have amended some hours and practices at our facilities. Beginning tomorrow (March 18), all dining options will be take-out only.
Longwood is committed to the health and well-being of our campus community. We are in close contact with the Virginia Department of Health and following their guidelines for our campus. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and patience as we navigate this evolving situation.
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.