Update for Fall Term - Undergraduate Students

To: W&L Undergraduate Students
From: The COVID-19 Committee
Date: Wednesday, September 30

Below is this week's update on the university's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please remember to check the COVID-19 Resources website for the latest campus messages, resources, and FAQs that are being updated regularly, and to submit your questions to covid19@wlu.edu.

Latest on COVID Cases and Conduct Sanctions

As communicated earlier today, several new COVID-19 cases have been identified among W&L's campus community this week, including two undergraduate students, the first known case among law students and the first asymptomatic employee to test positive through the university's surveillance testing. You can access current testing data on W&L's COVID-19 Testing Dashboard.

In addition, a number of undergraduate and law students have recently received sanctions for failing to comply with community standards and COVID-19 restrictions. This week, eight students were sent letters requiring them to move to all-virtual instruction for the remainder of the term as a result of an off-campus event held earlier this month, to which a significant number of recent COVID cases can be tied. Another 50 students are receiving conduct probation and a fine as a result of the same event. As a reminder, the current restrictions remain in place and continue to be enforced:

  • No indoor gatherings, on or off campus, of more than 6 people (including housemates)
  • No outdoor gatherings, on or off campus, of more than 10 people
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet is required at all times, in all locations, indoors and out
  • Face coverings required at all gatherings, at all times, unless you are outdoors and more than six feet apart
  • No visitors other than current W&L students in residences, including residential halls, townhouses, apartments, Greek houses, and off-campus housing

There's no question the pandemic has created huge challenges to college life, particularly the social aspects. Providing engaging, safe ways for students to socialize continues to be a priority for our staff. Student Affairs, Student Activities, Campus Recreation and numerous student organizations are working tirelessly and creatively to provide programming to help students connect. There are a lot of lessons learned in that process, and W&L is striving to build on the activities that are resonating with students during these difficult times.

We are grateful to all of you who have been working hard to abide by the COVID-19 restrictions. We appreciate the sacrifices that students, faculty and staff have made and continue to make during this challenging time. Your efforts do make a difference and they significantly improve our chances of completing the Fall Term on campus.

Reminder - Mental Health Support Resources

Even in the best of times, a new semester can bring new stress, but being back on campus during a pandemic brings its own unique set of challenges. A variety of resources exist to help students with difficulties that might impact their well-being.

The Counseling Center web site is a good starting point for information about support for students, resources for concerned friends, and information about how to access direct clinical services at the university's Counseling Center. This web page includes information about access to care in situations where students may have urgent needs or mental health emergencies. That information is also available on the "Get Help Now" banner from the W&L Student Life homepage.

There are a number of other resources available on campus you can turn to if you need help or are concerned about a friend needing help, including: Res Life staff, Peer Counselors, Class Deans, Public Safety (540-458-8999), and the Student Health Center (540-458-8401; open 24/7 when school is in session). The Student Health Center nurses are the point of contact after regular business hours for consultation with the medical and/or counseling providers on call.

Off campus options for assessing mental health emergencies include

  • Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital emergency department: Dial 9-1-1
  • Crisis Text Line: Text "GO" to 741-741 (free, 24/7, confidential)
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Rockbridge Area Community Services Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline: 1-855-222-2046

All of these resources listed have had training and experience in helping students who are in distress. Each situation is unique, and each student in distress has their own level of comfort in who and how to ask for help. Please connect with one of these support resources if you or a friend need help.

University Library

University Library staff have noticed issues with COVID-19 community standard compliance recently and would like to remind students to please help us keep our community safe in the following ways:

  • Masks are required in both Leyburn and Telford Science Libraries at all times and in all spaces (even study rooms with doors) with the exception of quick sips of beverages or quick snacks
  • Full meals may not be eaten in Leyburn or Telford Science Libraries
  • Failure to comply with university's mask order will result in your immediate removal from the University Library

Starting at noon on Saturday, October 3rd, Leyburn Library will only have the entrance leading from Stemmons Plaza open. All other swipe card access doors will be inaccessible for building entrance. For a full list of COVID-19 adaptations visit: https://libguides.wlu.edu/virtualinstruction/student.

Reminder - Testing Options

Students who are not exhibiting symptoms but would like a COVID-19 test have a new local option. The Rockbridge Area Health Center (RAHC) is now offering COVID-19 testing. If you are not experiencing symptoms, you do not have to be an established patient of the RAHC to be tested. Call 540-464-8700 to speak with RAHC's COVID Testing Coordinator to schedule testing.

Students with possible symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to stay home, contact Student Health at 540-458-8401 for assessment/indicated testing, and to self-isolate while the test result is pending. The Student Health Center can test students on-site for the Coronavirus antigen with a rapid test that gives results in 15 minutes. This test is recommended for individuals with symptoms, within the first five days of illness.