The times they are a changin’

CNU peaks at 8 active cases, implements guidelines to ensure safety as students return

Students walk across the Great Lawn after returning to classes on Aug. 31. Photo by CNU OCPR.

Going back to school is bittersweet. It’s exciting yet also nerve wracking. You have to leave your family, yet you get to be with your second family at Christopher Newport. You get to stop sitting around the house all day, but you have to get used to having lots of course work again. 

But this year, there are added nerves coming with the start of school. While many students are excited to return to campus, there is the gloom of a global pandemic lingering overhead. Campus is bustling with the start of classes, yet things certainly look different.

Let’s start with classes. Over the summer, Christopher Newport made the decision to switch to a hybrid class structure, meaning there is a mixture of online classes and in person classes. Some students have all online classes, some have all in person and some are split fifty-fifty. Currently, about 70% of classes are being taught in person with around 30% being taught online. Christopher Newport also pushed back the start of classes to August 31, a delay of two weeks, in order to be cautious of the rising trend in COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads. 

Students attend class in one of the classrooms in Luter Hall that promote physical distancing. Photo by CNU OCPR

After emails and virtual town hall meetings from President Paul Trible and the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean Hughes, students were given the opportunity to opt out of housing for the Fall 2020 semester and work with the registrar’s office to change their course schedule to all online classes.

Secondly, in order to ensure the safety of Captains upon their return, students were required to complete online training and sign a new social contract in order to be informed of the severity of COVID-19 and remain aware of new guidelines when they returned to campus. 

In order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus, students returned to Christopher Newport in waves. Administration staggered residence hall move-ins to reduce the number of students and visitors at a given time. Each student was only allowed two guests to help with the move-in process and all students and visitors were verbally health screened before moving in. 

Now, everyday, students are required to complete an online daily symptoms survey in order to screen students. Questions include whether or not students have been experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and whether or not that have been told by a doctor or administrator to quarantine or self isolate. The university does not require each student to get tested for the virus unless they are directed to do so by a health professional, in which case they should notify the university.

Additionally, Christopher Newport moved bigger classes that could not accommodate for social distancing online. Furthermore, some rooms and event spaces such as the Gaines Theater, rooms in the Freeman Center, and the DSU Ballroom have been turned into lecture halls for bigger in-person students to accommodate for physical distancing. 

All athletic events, performances, and conferences have canceled for the foreseeable future. Campus is also closed to the general public, meaning students and staff must swipe into certain buildings like the Trible Library with the CNU ID card. 

Additional pop-up dining locations have been added in the Freeman Center and Peebles Lobby in order to cut down on traffic in the Commons and Regattas dining halls. Students must order ahead for these pop-up cafes through myCNU. At the Peebles Theater pop-up cafe, orders for lunch must be placed by 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for dinner the day of pick up. No walk-up orders are allowed. The Captain’s Cafe has different meals each day, ranging from Papa John’s pizza to Chick-fil-A catering, and walk-ups are allowed.

As expected, automatic hand sanitizer dispensers can be found all around campus, and masks are required in all locations when social distancing is not always feasible. The only exception to this rule is when students are in their own dorm rooms. Students who live on campus are not permitted to have outside visitors who do not live in their building.

Since the start of school, Christopher Newport at its peak confirmed eight active COVID-19 cases with seven students and one faculty member reporting positive tests. As of Sept. 8, that number has dropped to four active cases, with all of them being students. 

For current information about the active cases and more information about measures the university is taking, visit

~Emma Dixon, Executive Producer of CNUTV~

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