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A message from President Sandel for Independence Day

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.

Governor Northam has transitioned Virginia to Phase 3 in the Forward Virginia Plan. This has eased restrictions on non-essential retail, restaurants, entertainment venues, fitness and exercise businesses and more. While the key health indicators in Virginia have improved, please continue to use caution. For the specific guidelines of Phase 3, visit: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Forward-Virginia-Phase-Three-Guidelines.pdf.

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.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Campus re-opening plan for Summer Semester

Dear Virginia Western campus community,

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.

We are pleased to share this with you as a means to communicate our progress and intentions. To view the plan, please visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/covid19/.

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!

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel
President
Virginia Western Community College

Summer Semester update

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 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

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

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

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

Campus update 3/27/20

Dear Virginia Western community,

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:

P+ Pass with a grade of “C” or higher Applies to college transfer and technical education. A grade of P+ will not impact a student’s GPA.  
P- Pass with a grade of “D” Applies to college transfer and technical education. A grade of P- will not impact a student’s GPA.  
W Withdraw A student may withdraw or be withdrawn up until the last day of classes without penalty. See COVID-19 Guidance Message 11.  
I Incomplete 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 available.

Thank you again for your patience and support.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College

Campus update 3/25/20

Dear Virginia Western community,

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 their guidance.

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.

We are updating our website information and frequently asked questions throughout this public health crisis. If you have questions you’d like to ask, we have added a form where you can directly submit them: https://virginiawestern.edu/vwforms/questions-or-concerns/.

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 lbaker@virginiawestern.edu. Employees can email Jennifer Pittman, Associate Vice President of Human Resources, at jpittman@virginiawestern.edu.

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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert H. Sandel

President

Virginia Western Community College