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Greetings, Faculty and Staff –
I want to thank each of you for continuing to faithfully serve our students during these unprecedented times. Typically, we would be getting together this week to celebrate the conclusion of another academic year and recognize anniversary milestones of our employees, as well as the Outstanding Faculty and Staff Award recipients. We are planning to host this event in conjunction with the Employee Workshop in August.
In my prior communication on March 30, which is logged at www.bluefield.edu/covid-19, I shared the College would follow social distancing guidelines of the federal government until the April 30 date. As you have most likely seen from news outlets, parts of the country are beginning to open back up. Our neighboring states of West Virginia and Tennessee have already began this process.
As the federal government has indicated, states will now be responsible for establishing reopening guidelines. We will defer to the Commonwealth's guidelines for reopening campus. While Governor Northam has placed a date of June 10 for Virginia to begin reopening, he indicated at a press conference on Monday that steps toward reopening businesses may begin as early as May 15. Please continue to operate as you have in recent weeks until we receive further word from the Governor. Should the original June 10 date change, we will communicate with you those changes as they take place.
Also, this week ELT members will begin having conversations with respective divisional teams about plans for when we return to campus, as well as preparations for the fall semester. While plan A is to begin the fall with on-campus class instruction, new protocols on how we go about doing that are being considered. These plans have not been finalized, or established yet in some circumstances. Knowing there is a wide range of speculation across the higher education landscape, we are developing plans that we believe will best work for Bluefield College and our students. Please have patience as our teams develop these plans. You will hear directly from college leadership in an official communication what these plans are. Further, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your ELT/CLT member or me. We will do our best to answer your questions.
CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra recently shared a short video by Tim Keller who provides a reminder for those in ministry [including those of us in the ministry of education and spiritual formation] to ensure we care for ourselves. He uses the analogy of what each of us hears every time we board an airplane: “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping the person next to you.” Keller shares four truths in helping us ensure we have our “oxygen masks on” as we traverse the landscape of this pandemic as we go about helping others [our students, our families, one another], which are: extraordinary prayer; resilience without stoicism; radical refocusing; and Gospel resolve. To see and hear Keller’s brief words of encouragement for self-care, click here.
Joining with you in faithful service,
The College Faculty have approved an optional grading policy for undergraduate students that will allow you to elect a Credit/No Credit option with the grade of “Pass” or “Withdraw” assigned as the final course grade. As is our normal practice, your faculty member will assign the final course grade as a letter grade of “A to F.” Once the grade is posted on your transcript, by May 15th, you will be able to determine if the final letter grade or the optional grade of “Pass” or “Withdraw” would best represent your effort in the course given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to elect the Credit/No Credit option of “Pass” or “Withdraw,” you will need to complete the “2020 Spring Semester Grading Petition” that will be accessible on MyBC (soon to be posted by the Registrar’s Office) by May 30th. The process does require you to secure the approval of your Academic Advisor and the Faculty Athletic Rep, Dr. Shawn White, if you are a student athlete.
The two attached BC COVID-19 Grading Policy documents will provide you with helpful information about the Credit/No Credit grading option. If you have additional questions, you may submit them to your academic advisor or directly to me for clarification.
We are just a week away from classes coming to an end (excluding the Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences program). I am grateful for everyone’s patience and perseverance as we have navigated the past month with the move to remote instruction. I can assure you that you have remained in our thoughts and prayers, and it is my hope you have felt supported by your faculty, as well as through Virtual Chapel, Prayer 3.0, RAMPART, BCTogether, Zoom Zumba, and additional creative ways we have attempted to maintain community via Tik Tok and other social media.
Here are updates and other important information you should know:
Work Study students will receive a payout for unworked hours (based on weekly averages of hours previously worked). Checks will be sent at the end of this month.
All traditional students* will receive emergency relief funding provided to the College through funds from the federal stimulus CARES Act. The funds are to “directly benefit students” to cover expenses related to “the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.” Once received, these funds will be distributed next month and will be proportionally allocated based on the level of Pell or non-Pell participation.
*Unfortunately, international students are not eligible to receive emergency relief funding per stipulations in the CARES Act.
The College’s position on refunds for room and board remains unchanged. Residential facilities and food services have many fixed costs, primarily personnel. We were successful in negotiating a lower rate with our food provider. These savings, along with others that can be identified, will be returned through a refund/credit. This will be done one month following the conclusion of the spring semester.
For students who still have textbooks, you will soon be receiving a pre-paid mailing label for your textbook return. Your textbooks must be returned by May 15. You will be charged otherwise.
Graduates who would have been recognized at Commencement on May 9 will have the opportunity to celebrate “Spring Commencement” on Saturday, August 22. Academic regalia will be coming to you in the mail soon with a celebration package from our Offices of Alumni Relations and Academic Affairs. Please take photos for us, share them with the hashtag #BCRams2020, and let us celebrate with you on May 9 as we share a "Graduate Celebration" video on our social media platforms.
Graduates of the MABS Program will have a virtual Commencement on May 17.
Be on the lookout for some neat student engagement opportunities coming up next month!
For returning traditional students, we are praying we all willbe able to return to campustogether in August for the start of the 2020-21 academic year. There are a number of variables, however, that could prevent that from occurring. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated over the course of the summer. If the government continues or reinstitutes a shelter-in-place order at that time, we will continue with a more robust online program so that you can continue your education at Bluefield College.
While change typically brings discomfort, I encourage you to embrace the moment in which we find ourselves and make the most of it. Remain focused on your course work and preparation for exams, but also remain focused on your own health and wellbeing, as well as those of others around you.
“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” - Nelson Mandela
Several students have reached out to our office requesting a document that permits them to travel to campus to retrieve personal items. Most state’s shelter-in-place orders already permit such travel under the following provisions:
To ensure that you do not encounter any more challenges than necessary, I have drafted and attached a letter documenting that you are a student at Bluefield College, provided that you can furnish a valid Bluefield College student ID card and your respective state identification card (such as a driver’s license). The letter provides details regarding the College’s decision to move to remote learning and why your items must be retrieved from campus. While you are unlikely to run into any issues if showing good manners and judgment while traveling, please bear in mind that if confronted by a law enforcement agency, the officer (or law enforcement agent) has the discretion to instruct you to return home and you should heed her or his warning. If this should occur, please contact the Office of Residence Life to make arrangements to retrieve your items at a later date. I can also be reached directly for emergencies at 276-326-4206 (my office number, which will forward directly to my mobile).
We appreciate your understanding and resilience during this difficult time. Our staff thinks of you often and prays for you each day.
Shelter in Place Travel Letter
Good afternoon, Campus Community –
For those students who participated in our town hall forum yesterday, I want to thank you for your time, questions, and the high level of professionalism you displayed. I hope that as you engage civilly, in other facets of life, you can think back to these forums this year. Our country needs individuals who can engage in civil discourse at every level of government and in community life more than ever right now.
We appreciate your perspective. We aim to be transparent with you on how we make key decisions at the College. This does not happen at many colleges and universities. We do this because of our core values at Bluefield College. Value Three states: “We are a diverse community characterized by integrity, mutual respect, support, and encouragement.”
Further, as was stated at the closing of the forum, our College leadership team spends many hours debating scenarios, outcomes, creating models, and laying out possible choices in making all decisions related to the life of Bluefield College. Decisions are not rashly made, and they are always made with you in mind. In today’s communication, I would like to first update you on our federal work study payout process. I would then like to recap the major talking points from our town hall forum.
Yesterday afternoon you received a message stating that all federal workstudy work was to cease at the close-of-business March 31, 2020. While the message was sudden, and frankly a bit terse, it was not in any way to punish our workstudy students. Through a relaxation of standards by the Department of Education, the College is now able to structure a payout of federal workstudy funds. Within that package is the opportunity to pay out our workstudy students. A stop at the end of the pay period was needed to assess the remaining funds available to be paid out. We will soon institute our payout strategy for those federal workstudies.
It is important to remember that colleges and universities have two categories of workstudies: federal and institutional. This is based solely on how payment is made to the student: with a combination of federal and institutional funds or only institutional funds. This payout to federal workstudy students will conclude our workstudy program for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. This process will reset, as it does each year, for the fall semester.
However, some institutional workstudies may have the option to continue working based on two conditions: 1) the department or office they are working for has institutional funds available to pay students; and 2) the workstudy desires to continue working. Institutional workstudy students should confer with their supervisor to determine their category and qualification for future work this fiscal year.
In yesterday’s town hall forum there were questions from a few students concerning reimbursements of tuition. Students will not receive a refund or a credit on tuition. Remember, Bluefield College has not closed or ceased our operations. Academic services have continued, staff continue to be employed to meet your needs, and your education as a student has continued, albeit in a different modality, due to the necessity of an unprecedented health crisis.
Regarding reimbursements related to room and board, what College leadership has stated is, “we are not considering reimbursements at this time.” A better phrasing may have been that, “we are not issuing reimbursements at this time.” Within a month of the conclusion of the Spring semester, we will have a better idea of any cost savings that can be extended to residential students. For room charges, we are looking specifically at our fixed costs and other variables. We have continued to operate these facilities for residential students. We have securely stored belongings and personal possessions, and we remind you that leaving was an optional choice as residence halls are still open.
Second, for boarding charges or meal plans, we continue to negotiate with our food provider, Aladdin. The good news is we have nearly completed that negotiation this week. We look forward to extending you a refund/credit for their meal plans in the following days.
Let me share with you how the refund/credit process will work. For underclassmen and those returning next semester, refunds will be applied as a credit to any existing account balance on your student account. Any remainder will be a credit on next year’s balance. For seniors not returning next semester, if your student account is paid in-full you will receive a refund check prior to May 9, 2020.
The faculty have not moved the College to a pass/fail system. This works to your advantage as a student, because in a pass/fail system you do not receive credit for the coursework you complete. While you may pass the course, you may be required to pick up additional hours outside your current academic plan in order to meet the number of credit hours required to graduate. This, for some students, could lead to additional courses to be taken, expanding course loads over subsequent semesters, and creates the possibility of adding a semester to your time at Bluefield College should appropriate planning not be worked out in advance.
Your faculty are here to work with you. As I stated in an earlier communication, one of our best qualities at Bluefield College is our caring faculty and staff who will meet students where they are in their moment of need. This includes a recent decision by the faculty to extend out the course withdrawal deadline to April 29, 2020, to accommodate students who may not be satisfied with their course performance.
The other significant issue we covered in our town hall forum yesterday was related to the Spring commencement ceremony. Seniors, we clearly heard your desires for a late summer/fall ceremony rather than our December commencement exercise to walk across the stage. Our team in Academic Affairs is meeting this week to reconsider current plans. I make no promises that current plans will change, but the team will once again review all options previously considered, of which a late summer/fall ceremony was one of those plans. We will communicate the team’s decision in days ahead.
I wish each of you well as you finish the spring term. I and many others are cheering you on. To borrow from the Apostle Paul, “run with perseverance the race marked out for you.” The race to which Paul was referring was this life journey we’re on. He noted that we all need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith. While that is the most important race for anyone of us, you are on a race to finish this semester. So, run with perseverance and stay strong as you near the finish line of this semester.
As promised, Bluefield College leadership continues to monitor and heed the advice of government and health officials concerning social distancing with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the direction from federal officials to maintain social distancing practices until April 30, we have made the difficult decision to continue with remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. We had sincerely hoped to be together for the end of the semester, especially for our senior traditional students. We now will look toward fall semester to be together again.
We understand that this announcement raises many questions. We will hold a virtual town hall forum tomorrow, March 31, from 2:00-3:00 PM for traditional students to ask questions. It is our ongoing goal to provide you with the best and most current information. Here are a few key questions we can answer in advance for you:
Again, Bluefield College is not closed. We are just completing instruction in an online modality for the remainder of the semester. At this time, staff members who have been working remotely should anticipate returning to work on campus Monday, May 4, 2020. This is a tentative date, as we will continue to monitor the ever-changing situation.
I am appreciative of everyone’s patience and flexibility as we have collectively navigated these unprecedented times. Each of us has experienced some disruption to, and inconvenience in, our lives. To our seniors, however, my heart goes out to you. Things are certainly not working out for the conclusion of your collegiate experiences as you and your families had imagined.
Together, we will persevere. And, we will have some incredible stories and memories of a lifetime! May God continue to work in you and through you as we serve those around us.
Hello Rams Student-Athletes,
The past weeks have certainly been unprecedented & historic. I want to make sure you and your loved ones know your Bluefield College Family are here for you. There is nothing more important than your safety and well-being. Please take care of yourselves and follow all health and safety guidelines we are receiving from our College, public health officials, and medical experts. We must do all we can to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Along with our daily routines, the global crisis we are facing as a result of COVID-19 has impacted every industry including college athletics. Adjusting to a new normal is not easy; however, it is important to keep things in perspective.
The ending of our spring sports seasons is disheartening, but our priority is to do all we can to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens. I acknowledge the sacrifice our student-athletes and coaches are experiencing for the greater good of our community and world. I was saddened to see your spring sports seasons end abruptly, especially for the seniors, but know we are extremely grateful and proud of you for your grit and dedication displayed.
Since this crisis began, our senior team in Rams athletics and our College leadership team have been communicating with you in real time, sharing what we know and working to answer your questions. We will continue to do so, and ask for you to continue to reach out as much as you need to during this time. Our staff and coaches are moving forward with virtual meetings and are committed to staying in constant communication with one another, and you, to ensure we are still productive while we prepare for the road ahead.
In effort to provide relief, the NAIA will not charge any spring sport student-athlete a season of competition. Any spring sport student-athlete (who was enrolled full-time in 2020) will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance or the equivalent. While I realize this may not be ideal for all, I am optimistic the rule will allow many to return and have the opportunity to not only have an additional season of competition, but optimally attain your degree.
For now, I challenge you to focus on your classes and utilize the College’s support systems, including members of the counseling team, to assist you with a strong finish. I am expecting you to move the needle up on last semester’s 2.79 departmental term GPA. Remain active! We now begin our pursuits for next year’s seasons. Our coaches will be posting daily virtual workouts to enable you to train and keep your body physically fit. Lastly, stay connected (virtually) with members of your teams, coaches, and college friends. It is in times like these that we must draw near to those we love who can provide a constant support.
Seniors: I am so thankful for and honored to have you as part of our Rams family. I cannot thank you enough for all your hard work, perseverance, dedication, and determination to be successful throughout your time at Bluefield College. You are true champions and you have all the tools needed to be successful in whatever you decide to pursue as your chosen professional path. I look forward to staying in touch with you.
Though the Rammies Athletics Awards Banquet may not take place the way we planned, we will use the date and a social media platform to honor our seniors and recognize our Champions of Character, academics, and community service accomplishments. Details are forthcoming.
We will push through this together, keeping the perspective that is necessary, while focusing on doing all we can to prepare for when we return to campus.
This is a good time to remind ourselves of how sports prepare us for life’s challenges, and how to respond to adversity. All the lessons we learn through sports provide us with the transferrable skills we need to maneuver through situations like the one we are facing now.
Never have we encountered a period in our lifetime that has called on us to step up and embody these values more than now. Our ability to manage successfully through this global pandemic requires us to be great teammates, friends, neighbors, and citizens. It requires us to work together to solve the challenges and problems confronting us. It always requires us to operate with respect toward others and to do the right thing.
If we do these things individually and collectively, we will ultimately emerge victorious — with whatever life throws our way.
I am thankful for my team, student-athletes, coaches, and staff, and I am proud of how you have pulled together during this time.
This is a fluid situation with many twists and turns. Bluefield College leadership will continue to update you on changes and with new information. As I ponder this situation at hand, I’m reminded of James Lane Allen's quote, "Adversity does not build character, it reveals it." Remember, as student-athletes, you are strong, courageous, and resilient! Remain steadfast and know this too shall pass.
I look forward to seeing you again soon and plan to send another update to you in mid-April. Until then, please stay safe, be well, and take care of yourselves and one another.
Dear Residential Students –
I trust this message finds you safe and in good health. I also hope your online/virtual classes are going well. Should you need assistance, please let us know how we can help you.
Several of you have asked questions related to your campus residence that most likely many of you are thinking about. Hopefully, this message will provide the answers you are seeking.
A question has been raised about whether residential students will be refunded a portion of their room and board. Related to your room, we are not considering reimbursements at this time. Returning home during the time period of online instruction was an optional choice. Bluefield College continues operation of the residence halls. Many, if not all students, who returned home have left personal possessions in your rooms. These items continue to be safely and securely held for you during this time. There are fixed costs related residential, housekeeping, and maintenance staff. Should there be savings from operations, College leadership will evaluate the possibility of a refund/credit. This will be based on a number of variables which will be evaluated one month following the conclusion of the spring semester.
Boarding charges at Bluefield College have many fixed costs, primarily personnel, but we are negotiating with our food provider for a reduction in our monthly bill. With less food being prepared, then less food is needing purchased. We are hopeful these savings in food purchases can be passed back to you as residential students. This too will be evaluated one month following the conclusion of the spring semester.
Another question relates to whether students who have chosen to stay on campus can remain on campus, even if classes remain online for the remainder of the semester. I attempted to address that in last evening’s communication to the campus community. The answer is, “Yes.” We recognize for many students who chose to stay here that this is a safer place than your home community.
A related question has arisen about summer housing should it not be safe for students to return to their homes. We will accommodate any student who wishes to remain on campus this summer. There would be new charges associated with the summer term, and students will more than likely be moved to another residence facility. Please be mindful too that there is not a meal plan for the dining hall during the summer.
An additional question has arisen as to how students would collect personal possessions from the residence halls should we not return for in-class instruction this semester. Our residential staff is preparing a plan that would be communicated to you should we not return to in-class instruction. There would be an electronic schedule posted, and you would sign up for a specific time to arrive to campus and collect your belongings. The schedule would be structured in a way to limit the number of individuals that would be in the same area/building/suite at the same time.
Should you have other questions, please let me know. We will continue to communicate to groups in this manner so that everyone has the same information and can stay informed.
Wishing you a blessed day, and please join now in the virtual chapel service on Instagram (follow bc_center_for_worship_arts)!
Good evening, Campus Community.
I pray each of you are staying well during this time. I encourage you, if you are not already, to video-call, call, and text your loved ones and friends during this time. While we are apart, it is good to stay connected with one another. A large part of what makes staying home away from others difficult is that we are created to be relational beings. There are many wonderful articles online right now highlighting ways to stay connected. Search for those, and I challenge you to embrace at least one or two of those ways. For me, I am conferencing via Zoom each day with colleagues, and Kathryn and I enjoy getting the family together via Facetime—everyone at the same time.
As a follow-up from my last message, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to work closely with the Tazewell County Health Department, and monitor updates from the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Tazewell County Health Department has reached out to potential contacts that were identified during the tracing protocol. They continue to check in frequently to assess these individuals’ conditions. At this time, no additional illnesses have been developed. Follow up may continue from other health departments for certain individuals who reside out of state. However, that does not mean our guards should be let down from social distancing and good hygiene. Please review our tips for good hygiene in our previous communications logged at: www.bluefield.edu/covid-19.
Like you, we continue to listen to our government leaders and health officials during this time. Hearing their calls to continue to stay-at-home, we are now moving our date to return to face-to-face instruction. For traditional students, Bluefield College will tentatively end remote classes on April 10, 2020 and return to face-to-face instruction on April 13, 2020. Let me again reiterate the word, tentatively. The situation continues to be fluid. College leadership will continue monitoring and making decisions in real time with the most current information. When we are closer to this date, we will communicate instructions for returning to campus for students, faculty, and staff.
At this time, our physical campus is shut down to all visitors with the exception of deliveries and vendors servicing campus. We are suspending campus tours for recruits and potential students until stay-at-home restrictions implemented by Governor Northam are lifted. Online tour options are available on our website and we encourage you to share the link to this video, or our Facebook post, with potential students: https://youtu.be/XgDeBbi05nM
I proudly share, as I meet with groups about Bluefield College, that one of our defining features is the outstanding care and attention our faculty and staff give to our students. Your professors and members of the Bluefield College staff stand-by ready to assist you, especially during times like this. To our faculty and staff, please know you have my greatest appreciation for the way you have continued to shine during this unprecedented situation. Students, here are a few items to be reminded of:
Looking ahead, there are more conversations to be had concerning key events. At this time, we have not made a final decision as to commencement. However, per the e-mail from our BC Central team, if you are planning to graduate, please fill out the proper forms. Processes, like this, should continue as normal and our staff are still working to service student requests and forms. For residential students, summer housing will continue to be available to any student, domestic or international, should the student feel returning to home would be returning to a high-risk area. We will have communication out in the days ahead with instructions for this process. Please contact Dr. Joshua Arnold at email@example.com or 276.326.4206 should you have any questions.
Please continue to be patient with the College and leadership during this unprecedented time. We will always use current information to inform our decisions in the days ahead. I understand the desire to have definite answers to questions, and some semblance of order and understanding in this uncertain time. I too would like to have a definite understanding of what the weeks ahead hold for our world. Bluefield College will provide information and updates to you as quickly as we can. While we do not have answers to every question, know we strive to provide you the best information as it is available. Finally, you should never hesitate to ask if you have a question.
Let’s make the most out of this unique circumstance to be all that we can be. With fewer distractions, let’s give more concentration and time to our studies and work. And, let’s be there for one another—whether that be 6 feet away or via a digital bite—to convey our friendship and love. Let’s continue to be the hands and feet of Christ in serving others!
Bluefield College leadership has been notified that a Bluefield College student has tested positive for COVID-19. The student has been home, outside of Southwest Virginia, since Thursday, March 12, 2020 and was tested by the student’s physician earlier this week. Bluefield College immediately notified the Tazewell County Health Department. Their staff has begun a tracing protocol to track the student’s movements while on our campus and determine others who could have come in contact with the student.
We ask that you not panic at this news. Instead, please take a moment to evaluate your health condition. Remember, protocols are in place to assist you in doing this. Please visit the Virginia Department of Health website for these instructions: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/local-exposure/
For students who remain on campus, the Tazewell County Health Department representative said there is no need for self- or mandatory-quarantine.
We will continue to follow the lead of health officials from the Tazewell County Health Department and Virginia Department of Health. Please know that we will continue to sanitize campus each day as we have since the onset of this pandemic. For our students remaining on campus, and our entire campus community, we encourage you to continue these best practices:
Bluefield College leadership pledges to continue keeping our community informed by sharing information by press releases, campus e-mails, and by updating our webpage: www.bluefield.edu/covid-19. Up-to-date information on Virginia coronavirus cases can also be found from the Virginia Department of Health at: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. Please continue to look at these sources for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
Good evening, Campus Community –
As we sent out last night via RAMAlert, there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Mercer County, West Virginia. Our Crisis Management Team met this morning and has agreed to move employees to remote work settings effective Friday, March 20. These remote settings will be from home for an undetermined amount of time. As you know, the situation is fluid and ever changing. Therefore, we will continue to assess and monitor each day to determine when we can return to campus and our offices.
Although employees have remote work setting options, the campus will remain open with select staff. This is determined by the ELT/CLT member responsible for each area. Hourly employees will not lose compensation during this time. We will be sensitive to the needs of our campus community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to ELT members should you be in need of something.
As we work remotely in the days ahead please follow these instructions:
While we are taking these steps to mitigate risks to our faculty and staff, please remember the work of the College must go on. We have students to serve online, on campus, and the prospective students we need next fall.
I encourage you to not forget the students who are staying on campus. With most everyone working from home, the campus will seem more vacant. Please pray for them and their wellbeing; and if you are in the neighborhood, please stop by Shott Hall to interact with any of the students you may encounter.
We have just learned that the student who had been tested for the COVID-19 virus has received a negative test result. We give thanks to God for her health and the health of our campus community. I know this issue had been weighing on the minds of a number of individuals.
Christian author Max Lucado offers this advice as we live through these uncertain times: “Feed your faith, not your fears. Your fears will starve to death.”
As many of you have returned home to remotely complete classes for the next two weeks, I am sure you have questions about what to expect as we aim to resume seated instruction. Rest assured that College Leadership continues to actively monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is rapidly changing each day. Given the unprecedented nature of this situation, we are making plans to resume seated instruction on March 30. However, College Leadership will not make that decision until we are closer to that date. This is to allow the most current information to inform our decision making. Therefore, the Student Forum has been postponed at this time until we can make this important decision and provide you more details. Please continue to check your BC e-mail for more information regarding a future time and web link to a Virtual Student Forum.
Joshua Arnold, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President | Student Development
Upon reaching a consensus together with our educational partner, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), Bluefield College will cease all face-to-face classes and move to remote instruction. Remote instruction for traditional students at the Bluefield, VA campus will go until, at least, March 30, 2020. The College’s graduate students studying at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) campus in Blacksburg, VA will go at least until April 6, 2020.
Leading up to these dates, College officials will monitor and reassess the status of the pandemic. Bluefield College operations and services will continue to remain fully operational during this time with restricted travel and visitor intake processes remaining in place.
Bluefield College leadership has been consistently monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) during the spring semester. This has been done in conjunction with local, state, and national health officials. The safety of the campus community continues to remain College leadership’s top priority.
As of today, we have learned of a BC student who has been tested for the COVID-19 virus as recommended by the student’s physician. The student is not on campus and is awaiting test results. Our prayers are with the student and for a negative result.
I realize this is disconcerting news for everyone. From what I have been told, the student is not displaying any symptoms listed on the CDC website, which are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. I repeat, the student was not exhibiting these symptoms.
I ask that everyone remain calm and refrain from jumping to conclusions. Doing so is not helpful to our student and the student’s family, nor does it help the College or residents in our community. Tests, from what I have been told, normally take 24-48 hours for results. As soon as I learn of the test results, that information will be shared with our campus community and health officials immediately.
For traditional students, all face-to-face courses will be held online and via alternative instruction methods beginning Thursday, March 19,2020 (traditional classes will be suspended until then to allow faculty and staff to prepare for the transition to online course delivery). All online classes will continue to be delivered as usual. Students with questions or concerns should first reach out to their class instructor(s), then followed by the Office of Academic Affairs at 276.326.4456.
Health officials at the national level are encouraging individuals to not remain in close proximity during this pandemic. Therefore, we are permitting residential students to return home any time after classes ending today, Friday, March 13, 2020, and no later than Monday, March 16, 2020. Students who live on campus and choose to leave may leave the majority of their belongings in their residence hall rooms (students should remove all trash and food from their rooms and should close and lock all windows and doors). Residential students who choose to return home may NOT come and go from campus during this time.
Residential students, for whom this region is safer, may plan to remain on campus rather than returning home. International students, pursuant to federal regulations, MUST remain on campus. Student Development staff will also remain on campus to service and provide assistance to those students staying on campus.
Again, Bluefield College is not closed. Faculty and staff members should continue to keep their normal routines. All athletic contests and practices are currently suspended until April 5, 2020. Events at Bluefield College held by outside entities, courses through the Fine Arts Community School (FACS), and Bluefield College departments are also postponed during this time (concerts, festivals, etc.). Decisions related to future operations, events on campus, and services will continue to be made in the days ahead.
Highlands Fellowship will continue to meet at their regularly scheduled time unless modified at a later date. Announcements will come directly from Highlands Fellowship.
Please know that this was not an easy decision to come to for College leadership. However, as we talk with our educational partner, VCOM, we both feel it is the responsible decision to make at this time for the health and safety of our campus community. Also, College leaders believe the online modality is the best way to assist our students as they continue working to complete coursework for this semester to attain their academic and career goals.
It is our goal to resume normal academic and residential operations on March 30, 2020. Bluefield College will continue to monitor the dynamic situation, and we will adjust our decision making as the pandemic evolves. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to continue checking their emails during this time for up-to-date information, as well as checking the www.bluefield.edu/covid-19 webpage.
Finally, I would like to convey my deepest thanks to our Crisis Management Team for their work during this ever-changing situation. They are faculty and staff members with a dedication to care for our students. Students, please know we cherish you and your families. Your success is of the utmost importance.
Should anyone have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 276-326-4466.
I would like to begin tonight’s communication with a note of reassurance for you. Earlier today, College leaders spoke with several health professionals responsible for public health protocols in our region, including our regional health department. The discussions covered many topics, but focused on the College’s actions and communications. I am happy to share their overwhelming approval. I share this not to brag or detract from the seriousness of this ongoing situation in anyway. Instead, it is my hope that it will help you find peace in this time of uncertainty.
Let me now respond to our campus community members concerned about the student who went home today, along with the other members of our spring break mission teams. First, there is confusion about whether this student was tested for COVID-19. This individual was not tested because the student did not exhibit symptoms of the virus. There are rumors going around campus that she was tested, and even more far-fetched stories of the student being confirmed with the virus. Those things are simply not true.
Additionally, a number of students and parents have expressed anxiety that the individuals who participated in recent mission trips are actively part of our community and not in quarantine. This topic was covered with health professionals in today’s conversations. When asked if these individuals should immediately go in for testing or be quarantined, the response was a sound “no.” We have been told, and have read in our daily briefings, that an individual must be exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms before a doctor will require a test. These individuals have been encouraged by these same health professionals to reach out to their primary care providers to inform them of their travel as a first step. They are encouraged to follow the medical professional’s requests from that point. We were also told they did not need to be quarantined unless they were exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
If you have not seen e-mail communications from Student Development today to our students, please read those messages. I will recap these items for you:
Remember, in Southwest Virginia and on our campus there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time. We continue to be proactive by sharing CDC guidelines with you. These guidelines, when put into practice, are a good defense for healthy individuals to stay healthy. Students, we encourage you, not just today but every day, to heed sound counsel in your life. Follow these simple guidelines. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise, a healthy diet, and an appropriate amount of sleep.
Bluefield College leaders continue to prepare for all scenarios that could impact the completion of the semester. Again, this should not alarm you. It should provide a reassurance that College leadership has proactive plans in place to handle situations as they potentially could change. The limiting of travel, cancellation of events, and intake process of visitors to campus are proactive measures that do not guarantee our campus immunity from the pandemic. Rather, they are measures to be as cautious as possible. Further, our COVID-19 website will be up tomorrow. Please refer to it, and encourage others to refer to it, as a means for up-to-date information from Bluefield College. We will send additional messages via email and social media when it is available.
Should you or your family wish to speak to me, I welcome your call, text, or email. I will respond as I can. I will also attempt to address similar questions/concerns through community messages, such as this. We will continue to be in constant conversation as we monitor the COVID-19 situation. Again, please be prayerful for our campus community, our nation, and global community as we navigate each day and as we remember and give thanks that God is still God—our Rock, our Fortress, and our Deliverer.
“My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” ~ Psalms 18:2
As promised in previous communications, we are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 (coronavirus). You are most likely aware, on a national scale, that the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and last night President Trump restricted travel to mainland Europe. On a local scale, Bluefield College has updates as well.
We are currently in the process of creating our COVID-19 page on the website. This page will provide our campus community, parents, and the local community information on our actions related to the pandemic. It will also provide information on frequently asked questions, steps on what to do in a variety of situations, a catalog of official College communications, and links to helpful information from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Student Development is also in the process of setting up a student town hall forum in the immediate future. This forum will allow students to hear from College leadership, ask questions, and take away facts to make informed decisions. We will announce this time and place very soon. We are also implementing travel restrictions for anyone traveling on a College-sponsored activity if he or she is feeling ill. The Appalachian Athletic Conference has specifically banned any student athlete that is ill from team travel. Finally, members of faculty have been asked to make plans for the rest of the semester should we need to move to an online format for the rest of the academic year. Please note we are not moving to online at this time, just making necessary plans.
At this time we have a student taking action to self-quarantine at the recommendation of health providers. Due to the student’s confidentiality rights, we cannot disclose the situation, other than to say the current symptoms do not present as COVID-19. We can share that the situation is being monitored by the student’s family with College leadership staying in close contact. We believe in acting in an abundance of caution, and appreciate the student's dedication to safety.
I would ask that each of us do our best to remain calm. I understand that it is easy to look at the current situation and quickly race to the worse case scenarios. In no way does this minimize our attention to the ongoing details of the pandemic. In fact, College leadership met with Bluefield Regional Medical Center officials to ensure protocols are in place, should they be needed. Remember, if you feel you are sick please seek medical help immediately from your primary care physician, MedExpress, or go to hospital. Please contact GluedRAs if you need assistance with transportation. If you have any financial concerns, please notify College leadership as well. We are here to assist you. Your primary care physician or hospital physician will test you if you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Here are CDC guidelines for identifying symptoms: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html
Please know that the College continues to take steps to keep campus as disinfected as possible. Our facilities team is cleaning facilities at a higher frequency than normal. Commonly touched areas, such as desks, door handles, and keyboards, are being given extra attention. Please continue to follow CDC protocols in keeping your own spaces as clean as possible as well. It is important we all remain vigilant in cleanliness with other viruses still in play at well, such as the flu virus and stomach virus.
Should you or your family wish to speak to me. I welcome your call, text, or email. We will continue to be in constant conversation monitoring the situation. Again, please be prayerful in all things and know that God continues to be God and we should place our trust in him.
Bluefield College leadership has been consistently monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) during the spring semester. The safety of our campus community is our top priority. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health departments at the regional and state levels have served as the guide for decision-making during this time. In addition, communication with other colleges, universities, and educational partners have provided ongoing dialogue about best practices.
With no outbreak in the region, at this time, Bluefield College will continue operating a normal class schedule. College leadership will continue to monitor situations, on a daily basis, with ongoing communication to students, employees, and constituency groups. The campus community continues to be encouraged to follow CDC and health department guidelines for hygiene.
As of Wednesday, March 11, 2020, two protocols have been immediately put into effect until a time designated by College leadership:
For more information, please contact Joshua Cline, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at 304.960.9195 or email@example.com.
Earlier today a number of major universities announced moving to online platforms to complete the spring semester, including two in our region—Virginia Tech and UVA Wise. I also participated in a conference call with presidents of Virginia private colleges and learned five institutions were announcing extended spring breaks and movement to online course completions. All five institutions are in or near large metropolitan areas with higher population densities. The vast majority of Virginia private colleges are doing what our leadership is doing —monitoring the situation day-to-day.
The safety of our campus community is our top priority. Our response team for situations, like this, met today to determine our course of action at this time. In an effort to mitigate risks that might lead to individuals being infected by the COVID-19 virus, we are immediately implementing two policies. The first is an essential travel restriction for the foreseeable future. This will particularly affect our spring athletic teams. Only conference games will be played at this time, and travel to certain areas will be monitored by College leadership. Other student-related college travel will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Students are highly encouraged to share travel plans with Student Development personnel when considering personal travel to areas outside the region, but are not restricted from personal travel. Official travel for faculty and staff will be subject to approval by the College Leadership Team (CLT) member supervising the employee's area. We ask that employees be conscious too of sharing personal travel to areas outside the region that could be affected.
The other policy relates to screening visitors, ideally prior to their arrival to campus, but certainly upon their arrival. Beginning immediately, prospective students and families, campus speakers, and other campus guests, will be asked several questions to determine whether they should be on campus. We will do our best to deter visitors that could be ill from being on campus until they know they are well. However, we cannot make any guarantees.
While neither of these tactics are full proof, our goal is to mitigate risks. We also ask that you continue following these basic steps in maintaining a healthy environment and perspective for yourself and others:
As mentioned earlier, your health and well-being is our most important concern in the remaining weeks of the semester. We are dedicated to being a place that prepares you to be a servant leader. As a community of servant leaders, we collectively are equipped to care for one another in a variety of ways. While it is tempting to give in to fear and paranoia at times like this, I encourage you to maintain a positive outlook and work with other students to ensure everyone is well informed and is keeping up with critical information. Help us create a community that stays healthy together and serves one another.
Please continue to monitor your email, BC app, and BC website for updates.
Bluefield College's leadership is continuing to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation our world is facing. We continue to follow the directives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our state/regional health departments. At this time the CDC is providing guidance for institutions, like Bluefield College, for this situation. Our responding teams are meeting today on campus to review current protocols, and discuss future plans in line with CDC instructions. You can find that information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
This is not to alarm you, but to inform you that College leaders are taking appropriate planning steps for the situations as they are, or could, arise. We will continue to be in communication with you in the days ahead as more information comes, or should the situation change. Please continue to be vigilant about wellness and cleanliness. I urge you to follow these CDC guidelines:
Finally, I ask you again to keep those fighting this illness, our healthcare workers and community, and our civic leaders in your thoughts and prayers as they respond to COVID-19.
I would like to take a moment to discuss the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as spring break ends and many return to campus to conclude the spring semester. Please be assured the situation is being monitored by College leaders each day. We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates; we are reviewing updates from state and regional health departments; and we are in frequent communication with other colleges and universities concerning their responses. Further, our facilities team is frequently cleaning spaces.
At this time, we have no plans to close our campus due to the Coronavirus. We are fortunate that our region has no known outbreaks, at this time. However, we must be prepared and aware of ways to ensure we all stay as healthy as possible and, in general, prevent the spread of disease. This time of year typically brings with it a variety of other diseases, like influenza and stomach viruses. I would encourage you to follow these tips:
It is always important to listen to facts from credible sources, especially in moments like this one. I encourage each of you to visit the CDC’s webpage on Coronavirus facts: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/share-facts-stop-fear.html. There is also good information being provided by the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.
Finally, I would ask that we all be in prayer for the following groups of people: those fighting this illness and their families; researchers as they seek a means to combat this virus; and government and civic leaders as they enforce proper protocols related to the disease. We will continue to communicate with you should the situation change. Best wishes to each of you in the remainder of this academic year.