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Lynchburg-area colleges prepare for students’ return

Lynchburg-area colleges prepare for students’ return

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SWEET BRIAR—Forty-eight Sweet Briar College alumnae returned to the college this week to help get campus ready for students to return next week.

Beginning July 24, the group planted flowers, pulled weeds, power-washed buildings and completed small construction projects around campus. In the past, more than 100 alumnae have visited campus over two or more weeks for what they call “Sweet Work Week,” according to Class of 1987 graduate Vikki Schroeder.

This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer alumnae were on campus and much of the work they completed was outdoors allowing for social distancing.

Amid the pandemic, Sweet Briar College, along with every other school across the nation, has had to adjust operations for the fall. In addition to implementing a mask policy on campus and adjusting the campus dining services, the college is encouraging students to spend time outside on the campus’ 3,250 acres of land to allow social distancing.

Schroeder, who traveled from Minnesota for Sweet Work Week said she’s participated for the past five summers. She said she hopes livening up the outdoor areas by planting flowers and pulling weeds will allow students to feel more welcome and comfortable.

“It just looks good and clean and fresh,” Schroeder said. “It’s for the students. We care about this campus and we want every student who comes here to have a great time.”

Sweet Briar College students are slated to move in Aug. 5 and Aug. 6. Dana Poleski, director of media relations at the college, said move-in is going to look different this year. Students only will be allowed to bring two guests to help them move in, masks and gloves must be worn, and students must sign up for a move-in appointment time.

In order to limit the possibility for exposure, Poleski said guests will be required to leave as soon as their student’s belongings are unloaded.

Enrollment for the fall semester is up from last fall, said Meredith Woo, president of the college. Woo said around 400 students are expected this fall; last year the college had about 360 students.

Classes at Sweet Briar College are slated to begin Aug. 11.

At the University of Lynchburg, students will move back onto campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 5 to 8, said Janika Carey, director of communications.

Carey said there will be 15 move-in appointments every two hours, and masks are required in common areas on campus.

Carey said the university is expecting 524 new students for the fall 2020 semester, a drop of around 5% from last fall’s 553 new students. The university currently has a total of 1,754 full-time undergraduate students for the fall, nearly equal to the 1,756 they had last fall, Carey said.

University of Lynchburg’s fall classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 12.

Liberty University students will begin returning to campus Aug. 17, according to the university’s fall In-Person Instruction & Campus Operating Plan. The university adjusted its fall 2020 academic calendar to allow more days for move in. In order to ease the congestion, students will have a specific move-in time.

All students will be required to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire before arriving to campus for the fall, the plan said. Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 24.

Randolph College officials announced earlier this month fall classes will be held online amid the pandemic, so no students will be returning to live on campus this fall.

Brenda Edson, director of college relations at Randolph College, said the college’s enrollment is around 608 for the fall semester, a slight decrease from last fall’s 617 students. Randolph College’s fall semester is slated to begin Aug. 24.

At Central Virginia Community College, the total number of students enrolled currently is down about 20% from last fall, according to Christopher Bryant, vice president of institutional advancement. As of July 29, the college has 1,999 total students enrolled, compared to last fall’s 2,506.

Many of the college’s fall classes will be held virtually, and Bryant said the college is hopeful more students plan to enroll before classes begin Aug. 24.

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