Vice President of Student Affairs, Kevin Hughes, answers some follow up questions regarding his last email
~Evelyn Davidson, Staff Writer~
This article was written at the time of the dramatic spike in cases at Christopher Newport University. Cases have since begun to decline.
On February 8th, Dr. Kevin Hughes, Vice President of Student Affairs, sent out an email to the student body regarding the recent surge in COVID cases. In his email, Hughes explained that the rise in case numbers is mainly due to “small pockets of friends & acquaintances who aren’t following guidelines.” He emphasized the importance of following COVID safety procedures and making smart choices to reduce the spread of the virus. In addition, Hughes addressed changes that the school is making in response to the huge increase in case numbers. He noted that University Health & Wellness Services are providing free antigen and PCR tests to students with symptoms. In regards to quarantine/isolation resources, Hughes stated that the school is pursuing additional Iso/Q housing spaces on campus and they have contracted with an outside company to help with meal delivery. Following the release of this email, The Captain’s Log reached out to Hughes to ask some follow up questions.
You stated in your email that transmission of the virus is not due to in-person classes, could you elaborate on that and explain what information you have that tells you this?
Hughes: Students themselves are telling us about their interactions with people when not physically distanced and none have said anything about the classroom. Additionally, we have no faculty members in isolation.
Fraternities are doing in-person rush/recruitment events, why aren’t they being restricted to virtual only?
Hughes: IFC has moved all recruitment to virtual.
Considering the rapidly rising cases, what are your thoughts on campus activities like the Mardi Gras celebration in the DSU ballroom and movies in the Gaines theater? Will there be tighter restrictions on activities like those given the current case numbers?
Hughes: We know students need a break from academics and the challenges of this pandemic. As has been the case since August, any activity sponsored on campus by an organization or the university has to be vetted for spread prevention protocols based on evolving guidance and current conditions. We have previously modified our protocols and will continue to do so.
What is Christopher Newport doing to make getting on campus testing more accessible to students?
Hughes: We are easing access to symptomatic COVID testing through University Health & Wellness Services (UHWS) in the Freeman Center. If students are experiencing symptoms and use a scheduled telehealth appointment to meet with a clinician in UHWS, the nurse practitioner can assess them and determine, based on your symptoms, if they need to come into the clinic to have any number of tests, including strep, flu or an antigen or PCR-based COVID test. This will be a great resource for students as only CNU students can been seen in the clinic; you won’t have to travel off-campus to find a clinician; the clinic fee is significantly below many off-campus copays; and unlike urgent cares and other testing sites, both the antigen and PCR tests are at no cost to students.