RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam has announced new guidelines for reopening Virginia colleges and universities and reintroducing in-person instruction.
This comes after state education leaders issued new guidelines to reopen K-12 schools in Virginia with a phased approach.
This time around, the governor wants each state college and university to create their own plans that demonstrate compliance with specific guidelines, which were outlined in a guidance document.
"We have one of the most diverse systems of higher education in our nation. From urban to rural and beyond, that is why each institution will take on this challenge in the way that meets their unique mission and circumstance," said Northam.
Several colleges around the Commonwealth started sending students home and moved their classes to online instruction in March. The pandemic has taken a financial toll on some schools that have had to cut sports programs.
Institutions need to meet certain public health conditions in order to reopen their campuses, and to develop plans to address the following:
- Repopulation of the campus
- Monitoring health conditions to detect infection
- Containment to prevent spread of the disease when detected
- Shutdown considerations if necessitated by severe Conditions and/or public health guidance
Peter Blake, the Director of State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) said students should expect a "new normal."
"More courses will be taught in an online or hybrid manner. Classes will be smaller, schedules will be staggered, resident life will be spread out, food service will be offered in non-traditional ways, and large-scale events such as performing arts and athletic will be a new experience,” said Blake.
Read the full guidance document below:
So far, several institutions across Hampton Roads have released some preliminary details about what they have planned for the fall semester.
Old Dominion University's blueprint for reopening says students will begin on campus, online and hybrid courses on Aug. 15th.
ODU will cut down class sizes, secure protective equipment, and deep clean campus buildings. It will also conduct testing and contact tracing.
Christopher Newport University released a similar plan. CNU students can return to campus for move-in on Aug. 3rd. In-person classes will begin Aug. 17th.
Neither ODU nor CNU will have a fall break.
William & Mary plans to reopen classes earlier than usual this fall and will offer a condensed semester while providing students with in-person and hybrid course options.
A spokesperson for Tidewater Community College said the fall semester will begin Aug. 24th. The college will give in-person priority to courses that require hands-on learning.
Norfolk State University, Regent University, and Hampton University are still in the process of developing plans for reopening in the fall. A spokesperson for Regent University said the institution will roll out its plan next week.