‘I don’t want to catch it’: Longwood University on edge after student tests positive for COVID-19


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Classes and school activities at Longwood University have been canceled through at least March 18 after a student tested positive for coronavirus.

On Thursday, 8News spoke with two students who said the campus is a bit of a ghost town as concern surrounding the presumptive positive case continues.

“My life is right now is like in danger kind of, like I don’t want to catch it,” Dante Bowles, a graduate student at Longwood with asthma, said. “I’m going to try and stay away from people as much as I can. This town is very small and like I feel like it can spread very fast.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus fears prompted the university to cancel on-campus events and in-person classes through at least next Wednesday, a decision that senior Sutton Reekes believes is the right move.

“It is a day-by-day thing, we don’t know if there’s gonna be more, if there’s gonna be less,” Reekes told 8News. “I also think keeping campus open for right now is a smart decision mostly because some students might need the facilities open.”

Both students, who video chatted with 8News on Thursday out of concern, said many people in the community are avoiding the campus. Bowles and Reekes told 8News they were surprised to hear a student had tested presumptive positive.

“It’s kind of one of those situations where you just don’t expect it’s going to happen to you and you just don’t expect that it’ll happen so close to you,” Reekes said. “So, you can only prepare so much in your head until it actually is there.”

Bowles said he’d like to see the campus closed.

“She was on campus at some point, so in that fear of we don’t know what she actually did on campus I think it’s best if we like close it down,” he said.

University officials made the following announcement after consulting state health officials:

  • Effective tomorrow (Thursday) morning and through at least next Wednesday, March 18, campus events and in-person classes are cancelled. As with a weather-related closing, faculty will be in touch with you about continuing work assignments and clinical/internship experiences. It is your responsibility to check your student email or Canvas as appropriate, and to contact them with questions.
  • If it is necessary to extend the cancellation of in-person classes beyond next Wednesday, we will do so. Over these next few days, faculty will continue preparations already underway to be able to continue their courses online further into the semester should that prove necessary.
  • We will continue to evaluate in consultation with experts when we can return to in-person classes and campus events, and communicate regularly with you during this period.
  • The University is not closing. Students may wish to return home during this period, but they do not have to. We recognize many students may feel safer and more secure here at Longwood than in places to which they might return, and we will continue to accommodate you. Residence halls, the library and the dining hall will remain open, with protocols already in place for extra cleaning and to facilitate any “social distancing” that may be necessary. We will communicate more details with students about this separately.
  • Faculty and staff should consider the next five days as similar to a weather-related closing and engage in their duties and responsibilities as they customarily would in that circumstance. Faculty and staff can access their offices.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.


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