“We are all in this together.”

Hughes clarifies university reopening plan in town hall meeting

Ever since the pandemic started, the world has been changing. Lots of things are different now then they were before. School is no different.

With students set to return to campus in early August, the Vice President for Student Affairs, Kevin Hughes, held a virtual Zoom town hall on July 9 to discuss changes being implemented in the upcoming fall semester to keep students, staff, and faculty safe amid COVID-19. He clarified the university reopening plan and revealed additional plans to ensure safety upon students return.,

Hughes’s seminar style meeting allowed for attendees to submit any questions they had about Christopher Newport’s reopening plan to get more concrete answers.

He began his discussion by stating that the university is committed to resuming in-person classes in order to maintain “the in-person experience.” Due to physical distancing guidelines, he said that this experience would look different.

For example, Hughes explained, a class typically held in the lecture hall McMurran 101 could instead be held in Diamonstein Concert Hall to allow for students to be spaced out a safe distance from one another.

Like social distancing, mask wearing will also become commonplace on campus. Hughes stated that students and staff will be required to wear masks in class and in dining halls. Frequent deep cleaning will ensure the safety of high-touch and high-traffic areas. 

Housing changes will include limits on visitors and guests, as well as no triple units to further physical distancing. Hughes introduced the idea of the “family unit,” referring to a student’s roommates and/or suitemates, in the event that certain students need to be quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19..

Changes to the dining halls at Christopher Newport will include more outdoor seating options, and the possibility of Dining Dollars being used at nearby restaurants such as those located in CNU Village and Hidenwood Shopping Center. Plexiglass will be put into place in The Commons and Regattas as well as other places on campus to create contact barriers.

Students will go through verbal screenings before being allowed into certain buildings to make sure they are free of any symptoms. There will also be a screening process implemented before, during, and after students notice symptoms.

Ahead of returning to campus, Hughes advised students to stay home if they start to feel unwell. He stated that the University has been partnering with Riverside Regional Medical Center weekly to develop safety measures that will promote the health of the student body. These include a telehealth program for symptomatic students which will connect them to healthcare providers from Riverside so they can receive treatment.

Not every single student will be tested: this will be done on an as-needed basis if requested by a doctor in response to symptoms. Students who test positive for the virus will need to notify the university and Student Affairs. They will be contacted by the on-campus clinic daily and assigned a case manager to assist with class access and other needs that the student may have as they recover. The student clinic and Counseling Services will be open for students to utilize in person with telehealth options.

Hughes encouraged students to think of the guidelines as an extension of the Honor Code, which emphasizes “creating an environment of respect and mutual trust” in order to create the safest campus environment possible. He said, “We are all in this together. We all have the obligation to consider, ‘How am I caring for others?’”

~Anna Dorl, Editor in Chief~

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