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Local Advisory Board and Finance Committee meetings to be held electronically

Virginia Western Community College’s Local Advisory Board will hold an electronic meeting to conduct regular business on Monday, June 1, 2020, in accordance with § 2.2-3708.2 of the Code of Virginia and Chapter 1283 of the 2020 Acts of Assembly. The Finance Committee of the Local Advisory Board will meet at 3 p.m., followed by the full Local Advisory Board at 3:30 p.m.

If the meeting is interrupted by a technical problem, the public may notify Virginia Western by calling 540-985-5736.

This is an open meeting. Public comment can be accepted only in written form, due to the nature of the electronic meeting. Comments can be sent prior to May 29, 2020, via email to Amy Balzer at abalzer@virginiawestern.edu. The comments received will become a part of the public record.

These meetings can be witnessed via the URLs below:

Virginia Western Local Advisory Board Finance Committee

June 1, 2020, 3 p.m.

https://vccs.zoom.us/j/96299833045; password: FinVWCC

Virginia Western Local Advisory Board Meeting

June 1, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

https://vccs.zoom.us/j/92732212304; password: BoardVWCC

Watch the 2020 Graduation Video

Virginia Western honored its 2020 graduates and conferred their degrees with a special video message. You can watch it here:

Be sure to see special Thank You messages from our students, faculty and staff here:

We look forward to honoring our graduates in person when it is safe to do so!

Virginia Western to distribute CARES Act funding

Virginia Western Community College announces that it will immediately distribute $1.38 million in emergency financial aid grants for eligible students with funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds will support students directly and assist with the college’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related financial crisis.

“We are very grateful to be able to distribute these funds to help our students face this challenging time,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “So many of our students work and support families, and we know that they are being hit with significant financial burdens. We are eager to do anything we can to help them stay enrolled and on their academic path.”

On April 9, the U.S. Department of Education announced that more than $6 billion would be distributed to colleges and universities to assist students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The individual school allocations were established by a formula prescribe in the CARES Act that was weighted by the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of Pell-eligible recipients as well as took into account the total population of the school and the number of students who were not enrolled exclusively online before the coronavirus outbreak.

Virginia Western will perform a one-time disbursement to each student who qualifies for funds based on factors determined by the guidance from the federal government and Virginia’s Community Colleges. Students do not need to apply for the funds, the disbursement will automatically be sent to the record on file if applicable.

In addition to the funding earmarked for direct student support, another $1.38 million will be distributed to Virginia Western through the CARES Act to support institutional emergency relief needs. The college continues to plan for the upcoming fiscal year with significant changes to operations due to the pandemic.

Students with questions should call 1-855-874-6690 or visit: https://mysupport.virginiawestern.edu/sims/helpcenter/common/layout/SelfHelpHome.seam?inst_name=vccs-virginiawestern.

A message to graduating students from President Sandel

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy. As we begin the final stretch of Spring Semester, it is a time that many of us would normally be preparing for and imagining a special commencement ceremony to honor you, our upcoming graduates. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, we have had to cancel Virginia Western’s in-person commencement ceremony that was scheduled for May 15, 2020.

It is my great desire, and that of the Virginia Western faculty and staff, to honor those students who have worked so hard to complete their degree or certificate. On May 15, we will post a video through Virginia Western’s social media outlets and on our website to virtually confer degrees and recognize the graduating class of 2020’s academic achievements. We also will invite the Class of 2020 to participate in the next in-person Virginia Western commencement ceremony when it is appropriate and safe to do so.

In addition to the graduation video, we will continue the tradition of compiling a “thank you” video where students may recognize those who have helped them along the way like family, friends, faculty and staff. To submit a video (Maximum 3 minutes), upload a video onto your Google Drive or Dropbox, then email mediageeks@virginiawestern.edu. The deadline to submit is May 1 and guidelines for your video are listed here.

On May 15, we hope to see an abundance of Virginia Western spirit across social media. Through the student bulletin and on social media, we will provide printable signs you can show off and images for social media you can share to let everyone know about your graduation. Please share to our social media accounts too!

For students who already placed a regalia (cap and gown) order that was being shipped to Virginia Western, this order will be cancelled and payment refunded. Should you wish to have regalia to take photos in and have a keepsake of your important milestone, Oak Hall is opening a “ship to home” website for you to place a new order to be sent to you. To order regalia, visit:  https://vwcc.shopoakhalli.com/.

Unfortunately, this pandemic has changed almost everything about our regular ways of life. While it has prevented our ability to conduct an in-person commencement ceremony this May, it will not stop us from celebrating your achievements! Please join us as we honor the Class of 2020.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Public notice: State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2020-21 Fees at May Meeting

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2020, at 9 a.m. on May 21, 2020, via a virtual meeting. The address for that meeting will be posted on the Commonwealth Calendar no later than 5 p.m. on May 13, 2020.

The State Board will consider mandatory fee increases of between 0 percent and 2.2 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to provisions of the 2020 session of the General Assembly.   The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increases in mandatory fees to pay for contractual obligations, debt service, and proposed adjustments to student fees.

Public comment will be received at the meeting following approval of minutes of the preceding meeting and prior to committee reports.  The public comment session will be available by via a virtual meeting, the location of which will be posted to the Commonwealth Calendar.  

Individuals who wish to speak to the Board must notify, or provide written comment, to the Office of the Chancellor at least 5 working days prior to the scheduled meeting by emailing rmowen@vccs.edu.

All remarks before the State Board for Community Colleges must be matters germane and relevant to the agenda of the day.

Student update 4/6/20

A message from Dr. Elizabeth Wilmer:

I hope that this communication finds you healthy and moving forward with your spring semester classes. As we have said before, but I want to say again, Virginia Western is committed to supporting you and helping you to complete these classes with the needed learning to successfully move on to future classes or graduate. COVID-19 had forced us to deliver your classes in ways that none of us intended. For this reason, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) had made some emergency policy changes only for Spring Semester 2020 to help the colleges and our students. These changes can be found at https://www.virginiawestern.edu/covid19/grading/.

The changes and what you need to do are listed below:

  1. Withdrawal Deadline

The Withdrawal deadline has been extended to May 8, 2020 for all but third four-week classes. The withdrawal deadline for third four-week classes is April 17.

  1. To withdraw from a class up until the deadline, you will go into the Student Information System through MyVWCC and withdraw from the class. This process is the same as it has been in the past with the exception of the deadline. Instructions on how to do this can be found at https://virginiawestern.edu/iet-services/myvwcc-help/withdraw-from-a-class/
    1. Guidance on Withdrawals:
      1. A “W” grade does not count towards your GPA but does appear on your Virginia Western transcript.
      1. A class with a “W” graded does not count towards graduation requirements
      1. If you are on financial aid, a “W” grade could impact future financial aid. Please note that the financial aid office will approach all appeals (impacts) with leniency and expedited turn around during this time.
      1. Students are only allowed to repeat a class three times. A “W” grade counts as one of these repeats.
  • Grading Scale

The default grading scale for spring semester will be the P+, P- W scale. Unless students select the A-F scale, faculty will use the default grading scale. The “WC” grade will be treated the same as a “W” grade.

Letter Grade What does the Grade Mean? How does it Apply?
P+ Pass with a grade of “C” or higher Applies to college transfer and technical education courses. A grade of P+ will not impact a student’s GPA. A grade of P+ will transfer.  
P- Pass with a grade of “D” Applies to college transfer and technical education courses. A grade of P- will not impact a student’s GPA. Will count towards Virginia Western graduation but will not transfer.  
W WC Withdraw     Withdraw/COVID-19 A student-initiated withdrawal through the revised deadline of May 8, 2020   A faculty member may award a WC for a student who did not initiate the withdrawal or did not pass.
I Incomplete The faculty member and student may agree to a plan to complete the remaining course requirements. The College has waived the requirement that students must complete 60% of course competencies and attendance requirements in order to receive a grade of Incomplete.  The Colleges has also agreed to allow students up to two semesters to complete the requirements for the course.
  • Students may opt for the standard A-F grading scale.
    • An assignment will be added to all Canvas shells that gives students the opportunity to select the A-F scale. This assignment will not count toward your grade for the class but is simply designed to give you this option. The option will be the only question on the assignment. If you select the A-F option:
      • You must do so by May 8, 2020
      • You may only do this once. Once it is done, you have selected the option and can’t change it. You will receive a grade on the A-F scale rather than the COVID-19 P+, P-, W grading scale above.
      • Guidance on when you might want to consider this option:
        • If you are transferring to UVA, an out of state college, or a private college that has not agreed to accept the P+ grade in transfer. Please check with your transfer institution.
          • Please note than when a course transfers, it only transfers for course credit and does not impact a student’s GPA at the transfer institution.
        • If you are a veteran and are concerned about the impact of a “W” on benefits. Please contact your veteran’s advisor for advising.
        • If you are trying to raise your GPA for graduation or academic standing purposes.
        • If you simply want a letter grade.
  • Incomplete Grade
    • If your class is not completed this semester, an incomplete is an option. This option must be agreed upon for just reason by both the faculty member and the student. All normal paperwork processes for documenting the incomplete should be followed. The exceptions are that the requirement that 60% of the work has been completed has been waived and the deadline has been extended to the last day of classes for Fall 2020.
      • Students in hands-on classes or clinicals where the class has not been able to meet in-person to complete the necessary in-person requirements of the class will receive an incomplete. We will ensure that you have the opportunity to complete this instruction to remove this incomplete. Your instructor will provide additional guidance as more information is available regarding when we can resume in-person classes.
      • Other students with extenuating circumstances should contact your instructor and follow the normal process with the two above exceptions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth Wilmer

Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

Virginia Western Community College

Employee update 4/3/20

Dear Virginia Western employees,

As you may have seen, Governor Northam ordered all state agencies such as Virginia Western to take immediate steps to freeze spending and plan for reduced budgets because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor is preparing for the potential of up to $1.8 billion in losses to state revenue, leading to a recession. As of this morning, there are more than 2,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth with 46 total deaths attributed to the pandemic.

We are seeking more guidance from the Governor’s Office as well as the VCCS as to what this will mean for Virginia Western. Here is what we have been directed to do as an institution so far:

  • Maximize carry-forward balances by eliminating discretionary spending for the remainder of the fiscal year; all non-essential spending should cease immediately.
  • Prepare for a full assessment of current and planned initiatives and commitments in order to maximize budget savings for the next biennium.
  • Freeze all hiring of classified and wage positions funded in whole or in part by general fund dollars. We are seeking additional guidance regarding faculty and non-general fund positions.

I understand the anxiety this message from the Governor’s Office can create as we work together as a state to stem the tide of this terrible pandemic. Please be assured that we are doing everything in our power to gather more information for you and take steps to ensure a strong future for Virginia Western.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Campus update 4/2/20

Dear Virginia Western community,

Last week, I shared with you details of a new grading policy and withdrawal period established by the VCCS during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ease the burden on students as we adapt to an online learning environment. You can view information on those policies at: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/covid19/grading/.

The VCCS has made some revisions to the grading policy in an effort to clarify the process and equip our students for success during Spring Semester. Please see below:

  • Students who withdraw themselves will receive a W.
  • Students who are withdrawn on the final grade roster will get a WC.
  • Neither the W or WC will impact a student’s GPA and both will be handled as a traditional W grade.
  • The 60 percent work completion requirement for an Incomplete (I) grade has been removed
  • Students who receive an Incomplete will have two semesters to complete it, making that work due by the last day of classes for Fall Semester 2020.

We have extended the withdrawal deadline in the Virginia Western system. Students can withdraw themselves in the Student Information System through May 8, 2020.

We will provide guidance on the implementation of these processes in the near future and will share those with you when available.

Thank you again for your patience as we navigate these changes. Students, please reach out to your faculty member or advisor if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Employee update 4/1/20

Colleagues, 

As you know, the public health crisis we are currently facing is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. Our state and federal governments are working to approach this crisis from many directions, one of which is how to help mitigate the potential negative impact on our workforce. As policies are developed and refined, we are working diligently to understand the impact to our college community, and how it may help as unexpected or challenging situations arise. With this communication, I want to provide summary thoughts on the core policies that are in place today, as well as some additional resources. 

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)

In one of my first communications to you, I provided a copy of the state’s Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) policy, and asked you to familiarize yourself with it. Essentially, this policy is designed to provide paid leave to full-time and wage employees when work hours are reduced or eliminated as a direct result of COVID-19. PHEL eligibility is based on regularly scheduled work hours. Effective last week, eligibility for full-time employees was increased from 80 hours to 160 hours, or the equivalent of 4 standard work weeks. For part-time employees, the proration also increased to the equivalent of four work weeks, with the amount based on an individual’s regularly scheduled work hours. For example, an employee regularly scheduled for 20 hours per week is eligible for up to 80 hours of PHEL; an employee regularly scheduled for 29 hours is eligible for up to 116 hours. Please talk with your supervisor if you believe that you may be eligible for PHEL. 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

FFCRA is federal legislation that goes into effect nationwide today, April 1, 2020. While the typical requirement is to post these notices in our physical locations, I am instead attaching a copy of the poster to this email, as the majority of our campus community is now working remotely. This legislation has two main leave components: sick leave and expanded family/medical leave. As a state agency, we continue to await guidance from the Department of Human Resources regarding how this policy will be enacted across the state. Additional communications with details about how this pertains to us will be shared as soon as they are available. 

Additional Resources

While the policies noted above help to provide some financial peace of mind, it is normal to feel a heightened level of stress and anxiety in the midst of all of these changes. There are many resources available to help. Here are a few to get you started:

Additional communication will be forthcoming. If you have questions in the meantime, please reach out to Human Resources at Hrapps@virginiawestern.edu and our HR team will assist you.

As I have said before, our priority during this time is the safety and well-being of our campus community. Thank you for everything that you have done, and continue to do, to keep our college operational. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated.

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Campus update 3/31/20

Dear Virginia Western community,

On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The executive order is to stay in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded. I wish to reiterate the Governor’s words that we all need to stay home and limit interactions with other people unless essential in order to stem the spread of this virus.

As part of the executive order, the Governor directed all Virginia institutions of higher education to cease in-person classes and instruction with the exception of those related to the provision of health care or medical services, such as clinical rotations in medical facilities.

The majority of Virginia Western’s classroom instruction transitioned to online or remote learning the week of March 23, following Spring Break. Some of our classes with clinical rotations in medical facilities will continue meeting as needed and available due to the critical need for health care professionals at this time.

We will hold no in-person classes nor instruction on campus until after June 10 in adherence to the Governor’s executive order. That policy means we will remain in online or remote course delivery for the remainder of the Spring Semester and at least the beginning of the Summer Semester. That includes courses provided by our School of Career and Corporate Training (CCT).

Please continue to follow the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for health and safety. We must all play our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for your patience and diligence at this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College