FARMVILLE, Va. (AP) — Longwood University has joined the growing list of colleges moving to at least temporarily suspend on-campus instruction after a student there tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The university announced the diagnosis in a statement late Wednesday night. The statement said the student had been tested by the state health department. That positive result will be be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
Longwood, which has canceled in-person classes through at least March 18, said that the student had briefly been on campus after the school’s spring break last week.
Even so, the health department believes there is “a low generalized risk to our community,” the statement said.
The health department has begun reaching out to those who may have been in close contact with the student to evaluate whether any further steps such as assessment, self-quarantine or testing may be necessary, Longwood said.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people who contract it recover.
The health department’s official list of “presumptive positive” cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, stands at nine, although officials haven’t provided an update since Wednesday morning.
In addition to the Longwood case, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday at a press conference that a volunteer first-responder who works in Maryland’s Montgomery County but who lives in Virginia’s Prince William County has tested positive for coronavirus.
Hogan said the case was tied to the rector of a Washington church who was diagnosed with the illness. He said Maryland is coordinating with Washington and Virginia health officials.
A cascade of Virginia colleges began announcing Wednesday that they were canceling on-campus instruction at least temporarily. In addition to Longwood, those announcing changes included the University of Virginia, William & Mary, James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University.
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.
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