COVID-19 Information

Reopening Plan

This plan has been reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education and has been found to be compliant in containing the required components of the 'Higher Education Reopening Guidance,' which was developed in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health.

As amended on January 11, 2021

This page includes the updates made for 2021 spring semester. The full plan is available for download below.

Introduction

The relationships between and among students and faculty that are fostered by small, in person classes, are among the central benefits of a Christopher Newport education. Therefore, Christopher Newport University will continue to offer its exceptional undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities predominantly in-person, in the spring semester of 2021.

Our objectives remain the same: to preserve as much as possible the residential and in- person classroom experiences that form the hallmark of a Christopher Newport education, while continuing to implement policies, practices and modifications for the protection of our students, faculty and staff from exposure to the virus.

Accomplishments

Christopher Newport was able to reach the end of the in-person portion of our fall semester as planned without a return to 100 percent remote teaching prior to Thanksgiving. We documented no transmission of the virus in any classroom, a low number of infections among faculty and staff, and effective management of the virus as it occurred among our students through a strategy of quarantine, isolation and community tracing.

The credit for this accomplishment goes first and foremost to our students. They responded to the risks, the new rules, and restrictions of the fall semester with patience, good humor and a mature sense of responsibility for each other and for their faculty. They wore their masks, kept their distance, limited socializing and travel and in doing so, avoided the need to a premature return to remote instruction and operation.

Our students’ success was facilitated and supported by the herculean efforts of staff across the University who - among many other things - rearranged and reassigned classrooms and dining areas to allow necessary distancing, developed new work plans for the provision of student services to support de-densifying the workplace, created training, signage, a symptom tracker and new options for dining and activities, undertook frequent cleaning and sanitization in all campus facilities, ceased travel and limited visitors. And the vast majority of our faculty returned to the classroom to teach in person, while also being prepared to teach remotely should the need arise.

Throughout the fall semester the Restart team continued to meet several times each week to respond to new questions and circumstances on campus, and to review and respond to changing government direction and guidance. Indeed, over the course of the summer and the fall semester, the following adjustments and alterations were made after our plan was complete:

The start of classes in the fall semester was delayed by two weeks to Monday, August 31, in response to the trends of the virus in Hampton Roads and the additional restrictions Governor Northam implemented in our region by Executive Order 68.

The delayed start provided sufficient time for an extended and phased move-in process for residential students. The phased process focused on screening protocols, sanitization, and de-densification of the residence halls.

The additional decision was made to eliminate fall break and finish the last two weeks of classes after Thanksgiving virtually, followed by online exams.

In addition to requiring a face covering when at least 6 feet of physical distancing was not possible or difficult to maintain while outdoors, the requirement was modified to require a face covering at all times while on the Great Lawn and Trible Plaza.

The university transitioned in mid-September from an in-house daily symptom survey to Campus Clear, a smartphone app, designed for daily use by all students, faculty and staff to identify anyone in the campus community with symptoms or suspected exposure to the virus. Individuals reporting a positive test, exposure, impending test, or symptoms were directed to remain off campus or in their rooms (if residential students); community tracers from the university provided appropriate support and resources.

A Captains Relaunch web page was introduced during the summer to share information with students, faculty, staff, families, visitors and the broader community about the university’s policies and practices put in place to limit possible transmission and minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

The university introduced the COVID-19 dashboard on the Captains Relaunch web page in late September. The dashboard reports daily the number of active student and employee cases, the total monthly cumulative cases for students, and the daily average of students in isolation or quarantine, updated weekly.

The university entered into a contract with a laundry service provider to support students in isolation on campus. The university entered into a contract with a local hotel to provide housing, food and laundry services for students in isolation or quarantine if support for such students exceeded on-campus capacity at any point in time.

Community tracing protocols were posted on the Captains Relaunch web page to provide information about the community tracing process and how it differs from contact tracing conducted by the Virginia Department of Health. Data gathered by on-campus community tracers is shared directly with the local health district, as required, to support their contact tracing efforts.

An alternative adjudication option was created for student misconduct related to COVID-19. The alternative process allows students to return to campus and classes more quickly thus supporting student academic progress while still requiring students to accept responsibility for failure to respect COVID related requirements and restrictions.

A variety of measures were adopted to limit as much as possible the risk of exposure to our students, faculty and staff. The mandatory compliance policy identifies these measures and provides for their enforcement.

A campus visitor policy was adopted and visitor protocols were posted on the Captains Relaunch webpage to establish measures to limit and manage on-campus visits. Recognizing that on-campus admission activities are critical for successful recruitment, a visitor policy for the admission office and welcome center was adopted and protocols established to welcome prospective students and their families to visit campus during the recruitment cycle, and conduct campus tours and interviews.

Protocols for cleaning electronic devices and for vehicle usage and cleaning were posted on the Captains Relaunch web page to provide information to the university community to minimize the potential for transmission of the virus.

Competition in all fall sports was canceled. Athletic teams were permitted to train and practice, supplementing daily screening requirements with athletic department screening protocols. Through a structured, phased approach teams slowly increased interactive elements while also mitigating risk. Student athletes participated in small groups for conditioning activities and after a two-week period with no infection among any members, multiple groups combined for position-group specific workouts, then migrated to full team practices.

The marching band began the fall semester with physically-distanced practices within instrument groups. Additional precautions such as instrument covers/shields were used to minimize risk of spread of the virus. As a credit-bearing class with performance requirements, the marching band successfully phased the joining of instrument groups until, ultimately, the entire band practiced together for the final two weeks of on-campus instruction and offered a physically distanced end-of-semester performance.

Additional Efforts to Support a Successful Spring Semester

For the coming semester, the following additional measures will be put in place. These changes are adopted in response to several factors:

  • limited access to outdoor activities in the winter months;
  • flu season;
  • increasing spread of the virus nationwide; and
  • our experience of the last semester.

The start of the spring semester will be postponed by eight days from January 11 to January 19. Classes will be exclusively online from January 19 to January 22. In person classes are expected to resume classes on January 25, with the option to remain online for an additional week, if necessary due to public health guidance, government restrictions or to accommodate our testing/isolation/quarantine protocols.

Spring break will occur on March 18-21. The change in schedule will necessitate an adjustment to the May 2021 commencement schedule. Ceremonies for the Class of 2022 graduates will be held May 8 and the Class of 2021 will be honored on May 15.

Prior to reentering the residence halls for the spring semester, all residential students must provide a negative result from an antigen or PCR test that has been administered within the 48-hour period prior to reentry. Students may use their own test provider or participate in the university’s reentry antigen testing program. Only students with a negative test will be permitted to enter their residence hall and room.

Commuter students will participate in the university’s reentry testing program as in-person classes resume.

Expanded antigen and PCR testing will be available for symptomatic students through the university Health & Wellness center during the spring semester. Additionally, consistent with VDH/CDC guidelines, the center will offer asymptomatic “test out” options for qualified quarantined students.

The COVID-19 dashboard will be reset at the beginning of the spring semester, with a continued emphasis on reporting current virus conditions on campus.

Random checks of individuals’ symptom tracker app will occur at entrances to university facilities throughout the spring semester to ensure that students, faculty and staff are completing Campus Clear on a daily basis.

During the first weeks of the semester, visitation in the residence halls will be limited to guests who live in the same building. If circumstances on campus and in the local community allow, a phased schedule will be adopted to gradually permit residential students to visit friends in other residence halls.

A robust testing system for student athletes will be implemented consistent with NCAA requirements and VDH/CDC guidelines. Student athletes will be required to complete reentry testing with all other students. Beginning at designated times for each sport, student athletes will be tested multiple times each week to support their training, practice and, if available, limited competition schedules

Conclusion

In order to successfully complete another in-person residential semester, we must not - and will not - let down our guard.

Face coverings, distancing, hygiene, sanitizing and disinfecting, limiting visitors and travel, de-densified and capacity-limited spaces, symptom tracking, testing and other existing rules and practices will continue.

It is our hope and expectation that the additions and modifications set out above will strengthen us, and provide additional support for our students, faculty, staff and visitors for another semester unlike any before.

At Christopher Newport we are grateful. And we embrace the opportunity to serve and protect one another.

COVID-19 Campus Restart Team – Updated

We have adjusted our COVID-19 Campus Restart Team due to two retirements of our Campus Restart Team members – our coordinator, Cindi Perry, and member, Bill Brauer. The updated Restart Team members are as follows:

  • Jennifer Latour, Vice President, Finance and Planning/CFO and Campus Restart Team Coordinator
  • Jana Adamitis, Associate Professor and Chair, Faculty Senate Crisis Response Team
  • Jim Hanchett, Chief Communications Officer
  • Kevin Hughes, Vice President, Student Affairs
  • Christine Ledford, Vice President, Administration and Auxiliary Services
  • Adelia Thompson, Chief of Staff, and co-Coordinator

Several of our COVID-19 campus sub-team chairs also join the Campus Restart Team meetings.

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