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Roanoke College is postponing the phase-in of its planned in-person instruction. College President Mike Maxey says in a letter to the college community that 15 students have tested positive for COVID-19; they are quarantine, as are 40 students who have been exposed to someone with the virus. Roanoke has moved all classes on line until September 14.

Here is college President Mike Maxey’s letter to the Roanoke College community:

Dear Maroon family –

Today I write to inform you of plans to push back the1 arrival of our second phase of students as we continue to navigate our care of the students currently on campus, particularly those with positive cases of COVID-19.

Today, Monday, August 24, the number of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 is 15. Currently, 10 students who have tested positive are in isolation in Catawba Hall and two in their apartments in Afton Hall. The other students are in isolation off-campus. A total of 40 students — who have been in contact with or exposed to someone who has tested positive — are in quarantine. Students in quarantine are not necessarily carrying COVID-19. Students are in quarantine as a precautionary step for their safety and that of others around them. Student Health employees are monitoring our isolated and quarantined students closely and working to ensure they are well cared for.

Classes online until September 14

Online classes for all students will be extended until September 14 in order for us to carefully manage testing and care for students on campus. Students, whether living on campus or off campus, will attend their classes online. Courses that are currently meeting in-person will transition to online only over the next few days. Instructors will contact their students to provide details.

Second phase of move in for all students – weekend of September 11-12

We are now planning for all remaining students to move in on the weekend of September 11-12.  We want to be able to manage, control, quarantine and limit travel over the next two weeks as we evaluate plans for online vs. in-person instruction. We will review positive cases and the number of students in quarantine and isolation on a daily basis together with local and state health officials.

Roanoke College will announce a final decision on whether or not we will complete the fall semester online on September 4.  As noted, this decision will be made together with public health officials and based on health outcomes on campus. If we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks, we will announce any changes by the September 4 date.

In order to care for the students currently on campus, no additional students will be allowed to move into campus housing. Students who have not yet moved to campus should remain at home. Please note that no move-in exceptions or special permission will be granted.

Guidelines for students on and near campus

We continue to very strongly stress the importance of our new guidelines and policies, developed to keep all of us safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the College community. It bears repeating:

  • Student behavior is a strong determining factor in the spread of COVID-19.
  • Do not host parties. Large gatherings and parties that create a health and safety risk are a violation of Roanoke College policy, a violation of Virginia law and against CDC guidelines.
  • Do not go to off-campus houses, apartments, restaurants and bars. Overall, we ask that you avoid leaving campus.
  • Practice safe physical distancing of six feet separation between individuals. All students, faculty and staff must maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another at all times when possible whether indoors or outdoors.
  • College policy requires fabric face coverings to be worn on campus, especially in common areas where social distancing can be a challenge, such as The Commons, classrooms, hallways, lounges and even outside if close to others. The use of cloth face coverings or face masks is a critical step for communities and individuals to take to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus to others. See the policy.
  • All students, faculty and staff are required to submit a Health Assessment every day. This has proven helpful in identifying symptoms and getting students tested quickly.

I recognize this is yet another change to the schedule for many of our students and families. For that I apologize but it is a necessary step to make sure we manage our community and the increase in COVID-19 cases carefully. I know that many of you have already made plans for travel. I am deeply sorry for the necessity to make changes in your plans.

If we need to move to full online instruction, we will provide students with ample time to arrange for plans to return home. Of course we will ensure that any students who cannot return home are well taken care of on campus, as we did last spring. In the event that students are sent home, room and board charges will be prorated.

Students who are currently on campus are allowed to remain unless we need to send students home at a future point.  We are providing our regular services for on-campus students.

Please visit roanoke.edu/returntoroanoke for updated information and answers to questions you may have. Additional questions may also be sent to questions@roanoke.edu.

As we work to navigate these challenging times, we appreciate the support of all Roanoke Maroons.