COVID-19 Update - Students, Faculty and Staff

To: W&L Students, Faculty and Staff
From: President Will Dudley
Date: Friday, September 4

I write today to offer my thanks and congratulations on a successful arrival to campus and completion of the second week of undergraduate and third week of law classes. When we were last together in March, none of us could have imagined the collective effort it would take to return to W&L this term.

We have arrived at this moment as the result of extraordinary work by our faculty and staff. Plans have been created, implemented, and modified as circumstances have evolved. Our students, faculty, and staff have placed their trust in each other and relied on our community's good faith to comply with the stringent expectations that are critical to this enterprise.

Thanks to a tremendous effort on the part of our Student Health Center and Human Resources staff, 100% of students, faculty, and staff who were eligible and on-campus participated in our arrival COVID testing program between Aug. 10 and Aug. 24. One positive case was identified among students, for a 0.05% positivity rate, and one positive case was identified among employees, for a positivity rate of 0.10%. This is a remarkable result, and I am hopeful that with continued vigilance we can keep the number of positive cases low enough to complete Fall Term on campus.

I am grateful to each of you for contributing to our success to date. It has not been easy, and while we are gradually becoming accustomed to these new modes of living and learning together, they are not what any of us expects from the college experience. I know that many of our students - and some faculty and staff as well - are hoping that with the passage of these first critical weeks, we will be able to relax some restrictions and return to greater normalcy.

But we have arrived at this moment precisely because of the precautions we've taken and the care we've exhibited for one another. The safety measures that have gotten us to this point need to remain in place for the time being, with one exception. Current W&L students may now visit other W&L students in residential halls, townhouses, apartments, Greek houses, and off-campus housing, as long as all other requirements are met, including restrictions on gathering size, physical distancing, and face coverings. All other visitors remain prohibited. The COVID-19 Committee will provide more specific information about this policy revision in an email to students later today.

It is important that all members of the campus community understand that the environment can change at a moment's notice. The news is filled with headlines about colleges pulling back on reopening plans, quarantining all students in their rooms, or sending students home due to outbreaks caused by small acts of carelessness. We are fortunate to have avoided that so far. We need everyone to continue to pitch in, remain vigilant, and do their part to help us remain here on campus together.

Again, I thank you for your individual efforts to bring us this far. It is good to have you back.