Important Update on COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic at Radford University (Message from President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. to Parents)

Important Update on COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic at Radford University

Dear Parents:

As Radford University reopened on July 27, 2020 and began classes on August 12, 2020, we have focused on implementing our Campus Reopening Plan, while also responding to emerging needs and individual situations. We have engaged in transparency to share campus-based testing information on the University COVID-19 Dashboard. With this week’s update, the data showed an increase in confirmed cases as expected by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), specifically the New River Health District. However, we were recently advised by Director Noelle Bissell, M.D. that the number of local confirmed cases has plateaued and is beginning to decline as evident when examining weekly data and daily trends. Although this is very positive news, our campus community needs to be very diligent in continuing to follow Commonwealth of Virginia requirements, Radford University expectations, and public health guidance.

As the University is committed to protecting and promoting the health, safety, and well-being of all students, as well as faculty and staff, by taking prompt action when necessary, a gathering limitation of 10 individuals was recently instituted for the main campus. The University has been monitoring compliance with the recent gathering restriction for all main campus students in both on-campus and off-campus environments. This increased restriction and related enforcement on gatherings was implemented due to student behavior in our broader community. In partnership with the VDH, an overwhelming majority of positive cases was attributed to students attending two unrecognized fraternity parties and one large gathering, all of which occurred off campus. Students following public health measures and engaging in on-campus activities, such as attending in-person classes while wearing face coverings and exercising physical distancing, have very minimal exposure to COVID-19.

In addition to the increased gathering limitation, the University has taken a number of recent actions to ensure that we are supporting every student in their unique experiences. A call center was established in order to provide increased staffing and expanded support to the Dean of Students Office. This change has allowed us to provide additional one-on-one assistance. If your student has specific needs, please encourage them to contact the Dean of Students Office, which can be reached at (540) 831-6297 and Please know that students contacting the University will be provided with the necessary level of assistance and guidance.

The Student Health Center is now offering weekend hours. Students can receive campus-based health services on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 AM to noon. Additionally, the intake process has been modified to serve more students. The Student Health Center will continue to offer full medical consultations, evaluations, and services for those needing them. However, informational sessions and COVID-19 testing will now be offered in the Buchanan House at the beginning of each hour. Students with mild symptoms associated with COVID-19 can report directly to the Buchanan House without an appointment at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, noon, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 4:00 PM on Monday through Thursday and 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, noon, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM on Friday. Students with significant symptoms associated with COVID-19 or in need of other services should continue to call the Student Health Center at (540) 831-5111 to make an appointment.

Our campus continues to be a safe learning and living environment as we are disinfecting individual classrooms and common areas twice a day. Disinfecting has been prioritized over cleaning in an effort to ensure a healthy environment. We are requiring face coverings on campus and have reconfigured classrooms to enable physical distancing. Clear barriers have been installed in many areas, including at the front of podiums in classrooms and throughout reception areas in customer-facing offices. Our students, as well as our faculty, staff, and visitors, are completing daily health screenings and being supported through campus services and individual requests.

Dr. Bissell recently shared, “Radford University has been the model of how to manage the return of students to campus during this pandemic. Together, we have weathered the storm. We are through the worst of it. What has happened is exactly what we predicted, and there have been no signs of community transmission.” During a time in which we are seeing an encouraging trend and receiving tremendous support from public health officials, like Dr. Bissell and her dedicated team, social responsibility remains so very critical to our campus, our community, and our success. As you continue to support your student, please know that we are diligently working to ensure our campus community continues to be a safe learning and living environment for all Highlanders!

With Highlander Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.