Virginia University of Lynchburg Statement on Coronavirus
As you know from the news and special announcements, the COVID-19 coronavirus has now been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic. Although there have been no confirmed cases at Virginia University of Lynchburg, out of an abundance of caution we are moving toward the overall closure of in-person operations at VUL in favor of remote operations, with the exception of some essential services. This is a complex undertaking that will require additional planning and communication. The best ways to reduce the risk of getting this or any viral respiratory infection include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- Stay at home away from others if you are sick
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Effective Thursday, March 12, all classes were suspended. No students attended classes on Friday, March 13, 2020.
- Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Spring Break
- Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, 100% of classes will resume and will be taught either online or through e-mail.
VUL’s number one goal during this crisis is to ensure the health and safety of our students and community. Your wellbeing and education is and will always be our primary focus at Virginia University of Lynchburg. We know that these policies will cause serious disruptions. We’ll continue to work with you and our faculty and staff to mitigate the impact of these necessary public health decisions. We ask that you read this message closely; that you adhere to the guidelines outlined in this letter; and that you work with us to safeguard our collective health.
It is exceedingly unlikely, based on all that we know at this point, that this virus will have abated by the end of April. In light of the need for faculty, staff, and students to make plans, we made the decision to not hold any classes on campus for the remainder of this semester. We realize that some of your coursework will be significantly hampered by this teaching format. We’ll help your instructors accommodate this shift in the best possible way. As we continue remote instruction, we’ll guarantee that you’ll be able to complete your academic work for the spring semester. It is imperative that you communicate with your instructors. For students who do not have the technology needed to complete their classes online, we are allowing you to communicate and submit assignments by e-mail to the instructors. This directive was told to you in a mandatory meeting in the auditorium on Thursday, March 12, 2020, and to the faculty on Friday, March 13, 2020. Faculty are to stay in contact with their students (keeping a daily log) making sure that they are understanding and completing their assignments. Instructors must inform the academic advisors of students who are not making any contact. It is imperative that we give one hundred percent of our time to make certain that our students succeed during these challenging times. We are in active discussions about what changes we might make to our normal grading system this semester. We will be back in touch soon, once we have made a decision.
In light of the evidence about the likely progression of the virus over the next couple of months, and when it will peak, we have not made a decision on our Commencement Exercises, We will not make this decision lightly, as we know how disappointing it will be to graduating students and their families. Graduates you will have the opportunity to MARCH across the stage to receive your hard-earned degrees. We will communicate updates as we have them.
This crisis is provoking widespread anxiety. You may be experiencing stress related to concerns for yourself, your family, or your friends. Please remember the many campus resources available to support you. Your residential college staff is always available to answer your questions and to talk through your distress. Counseling Services are available by contacting Dr. Philip Campbell (434) 251-0576, or Dr. Carlton Jackson (434) 258-4540.
We also realize, as students, there are many questions regarding course completion, financial aid, veteran benefits, housing, access to counseling and other resources. You will be notified as soon as we understand the progress of this virus, and how we will be able to provide services to you as instructed by the U.S. Department of Education. Please ensure your email address and phone number are up to date and check it often. Thank you for your support and continued patience as we deal with the specifics of this enormous crisis and challenge.
Kathy C. Franklin, Ph.D.
We strongly urge the entire Virginia University of Lynchburg (VUL) community to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 prevention measures.
Additionally, recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19 is an important step in combatting the spread of the illness. If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you seek medical attention.
VUL will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and will proactively update the VUL community.
If you have recently traveled internationally or been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, please seek medical evaluation and communicate any coronavirus diagnosis to university officials.
The Department of Education has released aid to qualifying universities through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The student emergency grant aid funds were to be used to assist students who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Education used formula by taking the number of FTE (Full-Time Equivalency) students at the institution for the fall semester of 2019 and the number of FTE Pell Grant recipients to determine each institution's funding allotment. Virginia University of Lynchburg (VUL) was allotted $357,917 with $178,959 in guaranteed emergency aid to go directly to students. Virginia University of Lynchburg has signed and returned the Certification and Agreement and in accordance with the agreement, VUL has used no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section18004 (a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid grants to students.
In accordance with guidance from the Department of Education, the institution determined that the CARES Act funds would be issued to students with the most immediate need. Students who had unexpected housing, food, and transportation expenses due to the closure of campus on 3/13 due to COVID-19 were determined in the most need. Campus, Pell, and Title-IV eligible students were evaluated and if eligible, they were awarded. Every eligible student received an award amount of $1627, which was awarded to a total of 110 students and exhausted the student financial grant that was allotted to the institution.
There is 182 estimated total number of students who are or could be eligible to participate in the Federal student financial aid programs under Section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and thus are eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
Recipients of the grant were advised that the funds they received were for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, (i.e., food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare) through the CARES Act. This is a grant and does not have to be repaid. Guidance from the IRS explained that students will not be taxed on the grant funds they received. Also, these funds will not be added to any students’ gross income for tax purposes. The IRS also issued guidance that students will not be able to claim any deduction or credit for expenses paid with the grant, including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit.