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Roanoke College Reevaluates As COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise

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Written by Kaelyn Spickler

Almost two weeks ago, on March 15, Roanoke College students evacuated campus to follow COVID-19 precautions, and on-line classes began March 17. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise, RC faculty, staff, and administration have been working hard to make sure students’ voices are heard and decisions are being made with everyone’s best interest and health in mind. 

First, RC students came together to sign a petition led by, senior, Kelly Doran which accumulated signatures from 49.53% of the graduating class and 25.52% of the overall student body to keep graduation at its original date or postpone, but not cancel, the ceremony. Senior Week celebrations and graduation are something every student looks forward to here at RC, and the Class of 2020 came together to get their voices heard. “Their work, I feel, perfectly aligns with Roanoke College’s Live on Purpose initiative, and I feel this petition shows the successful work that each of you (RC administration), as well as the faculty and staff, have done in developing these students into responsible citizens,” Student Body President Senn Boswell said in a letter to the Roanoke College administration. 

On Friday, March 20 President Maxey announced that after daily meetings, it had been decided RC will be continuing remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester. Additionally, while keeping in mind the requests of graduating seniors and the petition signed, it was decided graduation is postponed. “These are heart-wrenching decisions, and I promise you that we will select a date to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2020,” President Maxey said in an e-mail to the RC community. 

President Maxey continued to assure seniors that Senior Week activities, Baccalaureate, and Commencement will be celebrated at a later date when everyone can, again, gather on campus. 

Other decisions mentioned in President Maxey’s e-mail include: 

  • All on-campus events and athletic events are canceled until further notice. 
  • For residential students, the college plans to offer credits and refund adjustments by the end of the term. 
  • The college is currently working out a way for students to retrieve any belongings, but, as of now, students cannot return to campus. Designated dates and times, along with more information on this process, will be given to students at a later date regarding retrieval of belongings. 
  • On-campus May Terms have been moved to on-line, and seniors will have priority for those courses that are accessible on-line. More information describing which courses are available will be available soon. 
  • All on-campus summer school courses are canceled, and the college is currently working on a way to make courses available to students on-line. 
  • Student Health Services and Counseling is offering telemedicine services Monday-Friday 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Students needing these services should call (540) 375-2286. 

As students continue with on-line learning, RC faculty and staff voted to extend the deadline to drop a course to Monday, April 20 by 4:00 PM. Additionally, students may choose Pass/Fail grading for any number of courses, though it is recommended the student reaches out to his or her advisor before doing so. This applies to courses towards any major, minor, concentration, general education, or honors requirement, and if a student elects to use Pass/Fail this term, he or she can still graduate with fewer than 30 units graded (A-F). Again, if there are further questions, students should contact their advisor to ensure they remain on track for graduation. 

These are unchartered waters for everyone, and it’s important to remember RC faculty, staff, and administration are doing the best they can with the information available. Though this is not the ending of a semester anyone wanted, please be understanding of these decisions made and continue to be patient as details begin panning out. Rest assured, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the RC community, so continue to wash your hands, stay at home, and follow CDC guidelines. Roanoke College’s webpage is constantly being updated with the latest information, so check out  https://www.roanoke.edu/covidfaqs if you have further questions.