COVID-19 Message Archive

SWCC COVID-19  Document Archives

Document #7 is currently in effect

SWCC COVID-19  Document #6 and #6.1
Updated 6/15/20

Reopening Plan (Document #6)

The mission of Southwest Virginia Community College is to provide quality educational and cultural enrichment opportunities for its community. We have a calling to fulfill this mission while at the same time providing the safest possible environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Based on the information that the College has, it seems clear that COVID-19 will be in our communities this fall and that no vaccine will be available by the end of the year. While the College wants to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible, guidance from a variety of respected organizations suggests that institutions such as ours will need to remain vigilant until a safe and effective vaccine is in place. Given these realities, the message at SWCC is that, while things won’t look the same as they have in the past, the College will continue to provide the highest possible educational opportunities to the communities of Southwest Virginia this fall. This document provides some guidelines for this work.

View the full text for guidelines pertaining to Academics, Staffing, Facilities, Students, and Online Teaching.

Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols (Document #6.1)

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening SOUTHWEST that will require careful planning. Every American has been called upon to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing and prevention hygiene, such as frequently washing your hands and wearing face coverings. Everyone also has a role in making sure our communities are as safe as possible to reopen and remain open.

The virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes. Each product has been shown to be effective against viruses that are harder to kill than viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

These protocols are focused on institutions of higher education.

View the full text of our Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols.

SWCC COVID-19  Document #5
Updated 3/30/20

All classes continue through distance learning only.  Faculty may, at their own discretion, choose to include both synchronous and asynchronous activities, but no face-to-face meetings are allowed. 

March 30, 2020
Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order. The full release and a link to Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here.

The executive order directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction.

Southwest Virginia Community College previously migrated all programs to alternative delivery formats as of March 23, and we are positioned well to continue in this manner. However, there were select courses in healthcare and workforce training requiring in-person labs or instruction that were being held with only a few students. Those activities will be suspended immediately. While we may open up those opportunities again at a later date, we will begin offering alternative methods of instruction for these activities for the time being.

The health and safety of our students and employees are always a top priority and we are immediately complying with these new orders. While the method of delivering courses is changing, we are committed to providing the high-quality education Southwest is known for and our students expect. I am grateful to our motivated and trained faculty and staff who can adjust to this ever-changing landscape.

Southwest Virginia Community College is still open. Most of our employees have adopted teleworking and are operating, business-as-usual, just from different locations. We are still accepting applications to the college, registration for classes is available, financial aid continues to be processed, and student advising is available via video, voice, or text. Southwest is here for you in these changing times.

Dr. Tommy Wright

SWCC COVID-19  Document #4

March 22, 2020

Southwest Students,

It’s a big week! As we conclude extended spring break, and as you prepare for resuming classes on Monday, March 23 via alternative delivery, we also ask for your attention to observing social distancing in the community.

We continue to receive guidance from public health officials along with our local, state and federal government officials clearly asking citizens to avoid gathering in crowds. Indeed, they are asking that any non-essential travel be avoided and to stay home as much as possible.

Please consider this guidance as you go about your daily lives. If you do need to go out in public, please practice social distancing and try to keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people as you go about your business.

The Southwest faculty and staff members are teleworking, and we are ready to support you and assist you in any way possible.

Stay safe, and stay home.

March 17, 2020
The health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff is always our top priority. Southwest leadership team members have been in regular consultation with each other and state and local health officials, and have been closely monitoring information on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and other relevant state agencies, and following their guidelines.

We are also committed to keeping educational disruptions to a minimum and helping students stay on track to complete their coursework for the semester and, in the case of our graduating students, to receive their degrees. To date, there haven’t been any reported cases of coronavirus on our campuses.

Southwest is immediately initiating a series of steps designed to mitigate the risk of transmission. The goal of these efforts is to promote social distancing – a main preventative measure recommended by the CDC.

SWCC COVID-19  Document #3

March 13, 2020

Dear Southwest Virginia Community College Students:

Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to read President Wright’s statement on efforts the College is taking to limit our risk of exposure to COVID-19.  We recognize that this may create challenges for you as you pursue your academic and professional goals; however, the guidance from our political and public health officials is clear.  The best way to slow the rate of transmission is to avoid large gatherings. With this in mind, the College has made the difficult decision to extend spring break an additional week through March 22.

As we prepare for this additional week of Spring Break, here are a few things that you need to know:

  • No courses will be held at any of our campus sites.  This includes traditional, online, non-credit, and workforce development courses.
  • Students engaged in clinical placements, internships, or group simulation activities should continue to report to those placements unless otherwise directed by your program coordinator.  These activities WILL continue.

We will send another message to students on Thursday, March 19 informing you of any additional changes that will be made to our academic calendar and course offerings. At this time, we have no plans to modify the schedule further.
The College will be open all week, so students can continue to take advantage of library services, tutoring, advising, and other such resources.  

As I said earlier, I understand that this change and the situation surrounding it may be stressful. Please let me assure you that we have taken them because we believe they are the best way to protect you and our communities.  I would encourage you to watch SWCC’s communication channels closely as additional information will be forthcoming.

I deeply appreciate your understanding as we work through these difficult times.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to respond contact me at

SWCC COVID-19  Document #2

March 11, 2020

Southwest students,

As your safety and wellness is of utmost concern, we wanted to alert you to a few best practices and guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19/Coronavirus.

  • If you have traveled to a country or area that is listed as a Travel Health Threat Level 1 or above, please notify the Dean of Student Success, Dyan Lester at or 276.964.7677. Based on the current situation, we will work together to develop a plan for your safe return to campus.

Please view the current Threat Level list here: .

  • The CDC and the US Department of State are recommending cruise travel be avoided. If you have recently boarded a cruise ship, please notify the Dean of Student Success, Dyan Lester at or 276.964.7677. Based on the current situation, we will work together to develop a plan for your safe return to campus.
  • Likewise, if you come into contact with anyone who has traveled to an area labeled as a Threat 1 or above, or has boarded a cruise ship recently, please notify the Dean of Student Success, Dyan Lester at or 276.964.7677. Based on the current situation, we will work together to develop a plan for your safe return to campus.

If you are running a fever, stay home. Communicate with your instructors and academic deans, and they will work with you to establish parameters for you to stay engaged in your course(s).

While the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth of Virginia are currently very low, we want to be vigilant and reasonable with regard to our role in preventing the spread of this communicable disease.

The Southwest administration is actively monitoring the national and local situation, and will continue to share information with you with regard to your role as a student; however, we encourage everyone to take an active role in educating themselves.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office via the information below.


Dyan Effler Lester
Dean of Student Success
Title IX Coordinator
Southwest Virginia Community College
Buchanan Hall, Room 151
Office 276.964.7677
Fax 276.964.7695

SWCC COVID-19  Document #1

March 12, 2020

Dear Members of the SWCC Community:

The spread of the new strain of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has challenged all of us in a variety of ways.  While there are currently no known cases in our service area, our political and public health leaders have stressed that slowing the rate of transmission is the key to keeping our health care centers from becoming overwhelmed and to protecting vulnerable populations within our communities.  They stress that avoiding large gatherings is a major component to a proactive response to this threat.  With that and a desire to err on the side of caution in mind, I am writing to you today with some important updates.

The College’s leadership team has met many times over the past two weeks and has consulted with our local and system level colleagues and other experts to discuss the best strategies to ensure safety while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities to our students and community.  After careful consideration, we have decided to extend our spring break an additional week through March 22.  

We believe this extra week will afford us several benefits.  First and most importantly, it ensures that large groups are not gathering on campus, which we hope will limit any possible exposure.  It will also give faculty extra time to prepare their Canvas course shells to facilitate learning in a distance format.  Further communications aimed at providing specific guidance to faculty, staff, and students will be forthcoming.

Please understand that this decision is not one that we take lightly.   We understand what challenges these changes create.  It is our hope that classes will restart on March 23 without further disruption; however, if further modifications are required, I am confident that we will find ways to overcome them together.


Dr. Tommy Wright, President