Virginia State University (VSU) will keep all classes online and cancel student move-in because of COVID-19 concerns as more and more colleges continue to experience outbreaks across the country.
In a video and letter released Monday, VSU President Makola Abdullah announced the decision and explained the reasoning behind the difficult choice.
“After careful consideration and shared governance conversation, Virginia State University has made the difficult but necessary decision to remain online for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester,” Abdullah said in the video released online. “That includes canceling move in and not having residential students on campus.”
VSU’s original plan for the semester was to begin with four weeks of virtual instruction, then have students return to the Petersburg, Virginia campus to move into housing and start some in-person learning by mid-September.
The delayed start of in-person classes was to allow students, faculty and staff to conduct at home COVID-19 testing, according to the release.
“We have been revisiting the topic as we have seen universities across the country reopen and then be forced to shut down after major COVID-19 outbreaks. This is evidence that we cannot prevent the widespread of COVID-19 between students if we had [them] back on campus.”
C. Nana Derby, professor and chair of the sociology and criminal justice department at VSU, said the professors had been preparing for Abdullah to make this type of announcement and that the decision will not have too much impact on classes or their curriculum.
“There were [already] more virtual classes scheduled for the fall semester than the face-to-face,” Derby said in an email response to The Virginia Star. “We recognized that some students would select to remain off-campus and thus made preparations even for face to face classes to accommodate such students through what the University has referred to as hyflex.”
Derby added that even in virtual classes, student to professor and student to student interaction is imperative, and that teachers have worked hard to adjust to online instruction to ensure their students get the most out of the classes.
Abdullah thanked the VSU faculty and staff for their efforts in preparing for in-person learning and admitted that the decision to remain online could bring challenges, including financial ones, going forward, according to the release.
The full video of Abdullah’s announcement can be found here.
VSU is one of Virginia’s five historically black colleges and universities, with a total enrollment of 4,385 and an in-state tuition cost of 9,056 , according to U.S. News and World Report.
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