ETTRICK, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State University said Monday that the school will continue to offer classes fully online and cancel all on-campus housing this fall due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We have worked tirelessly to prepare for the safe return of our students. We are fully prepared to welcome them back to our campus; however, we have determined that the implications and risks of returning to campus in the midst of this growing pandemic could potentially have harmful or even deadly ramifications,” VSU President Dr. Makola M. Abdullah said in a letter.
Earlier this month, VSU opted to start classes online for the first four weeks and then planned to transition to on-campus courses in September. The time was to give all students and employees time to get tested for COVID-19 at home before coming to campus.
VSU administration said it revisited the topic after universities across the country reopened and then had to go online after major COVID-19 outbreaks on campus.
“VSU serves a population that is at higher risk of COVID-19. More than half of all cases and deaths are in the black community. We recognize that despite our heartfelt efforts, meticulous planning and precise preparations, this virus is relentless,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah said that while the news is disappointing, the school will provide opportunities, resources and activities to virtually engage with students throughout the semester.
“I thought it was the best decision because it will help slow down the spread of the coronavirus, however, I do feel tuition rates should decrease because we are not on campus anymore,” said graduate student Flo’Daija Branch.
Branch is enrolled in a criminal justice master’s program and says virtual learning so far this semester has come with its own challenges. Branch says students work with professors through Zoom.
“It has impacted me personally because I am used to having a hands-on [learning] setting,” she said.
While she does not prefer virtual learning, it is pushing Branch academically in ways she was not expecting.
“I will say, the thing about the virtual learning is that we are becoming more independent learners instead of being co-dependent on professors,” she explained. “We are learning a level of responsibility as well.”
VSU recently announced that it’s giving every undergraduate student $500 to help with their online education.
The university said it will be in touch with students regarding information about housing, dining and other business related to the change.
To view a message from Abdullah, click here.
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