I am writing to wish you a happy and safe Independence Day and remind you that Virginia Western Community College will be closed on Friday, July 3 to honor the national holiday. Many of us look forward to this time of year to enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation. This year, however, travel will look very different and we should all make health and safety a priority.
If you are going to travel, please carefully consider your plans and take precautions to lessen your potential exposure and the spread of COVID-19. Myrtle Beach, Horry County, S.C.; has become a hotspot of the virus and travelers returning to our region from those areas must self-quarantine for 14 days before coming to campus. The Virginia Department of Health also advises self-quarantine after international travel, or travel on a cruise ship or riverboat. For more travel information, visit: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus/travel-to-areas-with-widespread-ongoing-community-spread/.
I hope you all have an enjoyable Fourth of July weekend.
During Spring Semester, Virginia Western made unprecedented changes to how we deliver academic courses in order to keep our students, faculty and staff healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud everyone involved for the efforts to rapidly transform Virginia Western into primarily an online and remote institution in order to complete the semester with as little disruption as possible.
As we prepare to resume a limited number of face-to-face labs and classes with clinical instruction — in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health and Governor Ralph Northam — I want to share with you our plan for reopening in Summer Semester 2020. This plan is our first iteration – designed to provide a framework for our limited return to campus this summer. Certain CCT training programs will pilot the re-opening of classes next week, with a priority on completing incomplete Spring courses. The rest of the campus will begin a limited return on June 30. As with most things right now, it is a fluid document and will be adjusted as additional guidance is received from the system office, the state and local health agencies.
A cross-functional team has explored regulations, recommendations and best practices in order to create this plan. The plan takes multiple perspectives into account to balance health and safety measures with the need and desire to move forward in fulfilling our mission.
Please share your thoughts and questions with your supervisor or faculty member so we can work to address specific matters. We fully expect this plan to evolve throughout the summer and as we approach further campus classes in the fall. Thank you for your support!
Dr. Robert H. Sandel President Virginia Western Community College
Virginia Western’s campus is currently closed to students until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is holding online and remote learning classes for Summer Semester. The college is planning to reopen for limited in-person labs and clinical classes when permitted during Phase 2 of Governor Northam’s Forward Virginia reopening plan and when the appropriate health and safety protocols and supplies are in place.
Students, the public and guests will not be permitted on campus unless to attend specified laboratory, clinical or hands-on classes. Students who are not taking those specified classes or guests who need to visit campus must schedule an appointment. Not all buildings will be open.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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:
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.
A “W” grade does not count towards your GPA but
does appear on your Virginia Western transcript.
A class with a “W” graded does not count towards
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
Students are only allowed to repeat a class
three times. A “W” grade counts as one of these repeats.
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.
What does the Grade Mean?
does it Apply?
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.
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.
A student-initiated withdrawal through the revised deadline of May 8,
faculty member may award a WC for a student who did not initiate the
withdrawal or did not pass.
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.
may opt for the standard A-F grading scale.
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
Guidance on when you might want to consider this
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
note than when a course transfers, it only transfers for course credit and does
not impact a student’s GPA at the transfer institution.
you are a veteran and are concerned about the impact of a “W” on benefits.
Please contact your veteran’s advisor for advising.
you are trying to raise your GPA for graduation or academic standing purposes.
you simply want a letter grade.
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
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
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
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.
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.
As we wrap up the first fully online/remote
week of classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to update you on several
important issues related to this change. First, I want to thank all of our
outstanding faculty, staff and students for their flexibility and positivity as
we make the best-informed decisions we can. These variations to our normal
operations are going to have a positive impact upon our community’s health and
will likely save lives. Please continue to support one another, help those in
need and practice safe distancing routines.
Withdrawal Period: Given the unknown
negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, VCCS Chancellor DuBois has extended
the deadline to withdraw without a grade penalty for the spring semester. For Virginia
Western, that date is May 8, 2020. Effective
immediately, a student who withdraws or is withdrawn after the add/drop period
but before the last day of classes shall be assigned a grade of “W.” We will
send information on the process for a student to withdraw after the currently
published deadline in the near future.
Grading Policy: To ensure that students’
academic progress is not adversely impacted at this time, Chancellor DuBois is
instituting a Pass/Fail/Withdraw/Incomplete grading scale
for spring semester. Students will have the option to
request that their earned letter grades be recorded in lieu of the
pass/withdraw/incomplete option. This is compliant with federal and state
financial aid guidelines. Public four-year institutions in Virginia have agreed
to accept a Pass+ in transfer.
Under this policy, courses that have ended, such as 1st
8 week and 1st/2nd 4-week courses will follow the
existing grading scale.
Courses that have not reached the course end date as of
April 6, 2020 will use the following grading scale:
Pass with a grade of “C” or
Applies to college
transfer and technical education. A grade of P+ will not impact a
Pass with a grade of “D”
Applies to college transfer and
technical education. A grade of P- will not impact a student’s GPA.
A student may withdraw or be
withdrawn up until the last day of classes without penalty. See COVID-19
Guidance Message 11.
The faculty member and student may agree to
a plan to complete remaining course requirements in the following semester.
See VCCS Policy 5.6.0.
Virginia Western will develop a process to allow a student to request
his/her earned letter grade/s (A, B, C, D, F). Requests must be submitted by
not later than the last day of classes on May 8, 2020. A student may submit
only one grade request per course, and the request is not revocable. Specifics
on this process will be announced in the near future.
Campus Timeline: We have received multiple questions
following the announcement that we would remain in online/remote capacity until
further notice and not reopen campus on April 6, 2020, as originally planned. Our
goal from the beginning of this health crisis has been to return this semester
to a normal delivery of courses on campus. That said, we must acknowledge it is
increasingly unlikely to happen. With Governor Northam’s restrictions on
gatherings in place for at least 30 days (through April 24), faculty and students
should plan for those weeks to remain in online/remote instruction with the
likelihood we will have to remain online/remote for the rest of the semester.
I know this is challenging for everyone, as the
environment can shift during the course of a day. I appreciate everything that
you are doing to make this first week successful, and promise that we are
sifting through information and options as quickly as possible. We remain
mindful of the courses and students that are most impacted by a decision to remain
fully online/remote. We will provide additional guidance as soon as it becomes
I hope the start of this week has gone as smoothly as
possible during this time of transition to online and remote education.
Governor Ralph Northam and the Commonwealth of Virginia have continued to
respond to the escalating scale of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are following
When we originally planned the transition to online classes,
our hope was to completely reopen for face-to-face instruction by April 6. That
date is no longer realistic in light of guidance from the Governor, the
Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. As a result, Virginia Western campus will remain closed to students
and the public until further notice. We will continue to hold Spring Semester
classes online and remotely for the time being.
The Roanoke Region has been fortunate thus far not to have
been impacted by COVID-19 at the level other parts of the country have. For the
safety and well-being of our college community, we are asking that if you are
tested for COVID-19, you inform the college so we can adequately respond. We
will soon have an online form you may submit. Students can also email Lori
Baker, Dean of Student Affairs, at email@example.com.
Employees can email Jennifer Pittman, Associate Vice President of Human
Resources, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for considering the health and safety of our
region and helping Virginia Western do our part to flatten the curve of
COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.