Dean sends stern message as CNU sees large COVID-19 outbreak; nearly 130 active student cases

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) –COVID-19 cases are increasing at Christopher Newport University in Newport News as officials warn students to heed “campus expectations.”

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, 129 CNU students and six employees had active cases of COVID-19, according to the school’s dashboard.

From Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, 45 CNU students were in isolation due to a positive test or awaiting test results, and 126 were in quarantine because of exposures or as precautions.

Classes have been underway since Jan. 19, and students returned to campus for in-person classes on Jan. 25.

On Feb. 8, Dean Kevin Hughes wrote a stern letter to students and employees reminding them of “campus expectations” after learning that some students were attending parties and not following COVID-19 safety precautions.

“Quite frankly, it’s your obligation to do your part,” Hughes wrote. “Yes, we want and expect to continue with in-person classes, organized student activities, and athletics. Your duty extends beyond those reasons.”

Since the start of the spring 2021 semester, CNU has suspended 3 student organizations and removed 15 students from campus.

“As has been the case since last August, when individuals or groups are intentionally indifferent or knowingly ignore the expectations and guidance of the university or the Commonwealth, we will respond and we will do so firmly,” he said.

Further, Hughes said the university hasn’t seen any evidence of classroom transmission of the disease. However, “significant transmittal” has happened among small groups of friends and acquaintances who aren’t following COVID-19 guidelines.

“What is happening on our campus right now is a stark reminder that individual behavior can have a profound and lasting impact. When you socialize with little concern, and in some cases reckless disregard, for who it hurts, everybody is impacted.”

Hughes said people who aren’t taking all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 aren’t just impacting those on campus. It’s also putting families, coworkers and those at “Teeter and Target” at risk.

Hughes reiterated what’s expected on campus beyond hand-washing and using sanitizer:

  • Completing the Campus Clear screening every day
  • Reporting any symptoms immediately, even after completing the screening for the day
  • Avoiding travel, including into the local community, if at all possible; travel only when needed
  • Wearing face coverings at all times and properly in all areas: classrooms, residence hall lounges, common areas, library spaces, when eating (lower the mask only when consuming the food and drink, not the entire meal)
  • Limiting close contacts by interacting with fewer people, which is defined as 6 feet or less, mask or no mask, for a cumulative total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period.
  • Staying away from large gatherings in unstructured environments.

The dean implored students and employees to be truthful on their daily screenings and with contact tracers.

The university also has — and is working on — putting more measures in place:

  • Easing access to symptomatic COVID testing through University Health & Wellness Services (UHWS) in the Freeman Center.
  • Modifying meal delivery processes to increase the efficiency of food service for those students who are in university isolation or quarantine spaces.
  • Acquiring additional campus bed spaces for potential future isolation and quarantine needs.
  • Supporting our region’s ability to fight the virus through vaccination clinics.

Click here to read Hughes’ full message to campus on Feb. 8.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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