PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — College life came to a screeching halt in March when Governor Ralph Northam shut down schools and all but essential business. Slowly, campuses reopened to a changed world that required distance and virtual learning.
As students head home for the holidays, the director of all things COVID-19 at Norfolk State University hopes students will continue to use the same safe practices that were required on campus.
“Generally speaking, I have been very pleased; the students have been very supportive, and not only that, the staff and faculty, everybody at the university has done a wonderful job,” said Dr. Michael Shackleford.
In late October and into November, schools saw a spike but school officials say overall COVID-19 final grades for the semester are consistent with regional trends.
In cumulative numbers, NSU reported 41 cases of the coronavirus. Old Dominion University had 208, Christopher Newport University 103, and the College of William and Mary reported 83 cases. Hampton University was fully virtual this semester and will stay that way through the spring. Virginia Wesleyan, which is private like Hampton, reported 29 cumulative cases through November 25.
“Toward the end, things got a little dicey but not out of control. I think that could have been a function, somewhat, of students being sequestered for the whole semester; toward the end of the semester they probably ventured out a little bit,” Shackleford said.
But not all students are headed home. At NSU, 200 students applied to a program that allows them to stay on campus through the entire holiday season if the infection rate in their hometown is high or if there are close quarters at home.
“The requests that are legitimate, that sound legitimate and make sense to us, we will do what we can to accommodate these students. We are not trying to put them in harm’s way by any stretch of the imagination,” Shackleford said.
When classes resume in mid-January, all NSU students will be tested for the coronavirus. If the results are positive, the student will be isolated for 14 days. If a student tests negative but has symptoms, the student will be placed in quarantine.
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