COVID-19 Prevention | Response

SWCC COVID-19  Re-opening Plan Document #7
August 6,  2021

Current Status: Effective August 5, 2021, until further notice and regardless of vaccination status, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces at all of our college locations. We continue to operate under a normal academic calendar and course schedule. Social distancing and cleaning guidelines remain in place as detailed in Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols.

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. While things don’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.

General Guidelines

  • All decisions related to the reopening plan and the pandemic response are under the purview of the College President.  To assist in the creation and implementation of policy, the President has named the College’s Administrative Cabinet, which is comprised of both faculty and staff, to serve as the COVID-19 Advisory Team.
  • SWCC will partner with the VDH for contact tracing.  Please review the following webpage for information on contact tracing, what information the VDH will collect, and how it will use the data it gathers:
  • Southwest Virginia Community College will implement a short-term response plan if a COVID-19 infected person has been confirmed to have been on campus within the last five days.  In the event of a known positive case, the following actions will be taken:
The Campus Police Chief will coordinate with Tazewell County health officials and the campus’s COVID-19 Advisory Team.  These groups will recommend a course of action to the College President which may include determining if a short-term closure (up to 7 days) of all or parts of any campus buildings is needed.
    • Notifying the Virginia Department of Health for contact tracing.
    • The Facilities Director shall close the building or parts of the building for a minimum of 24 hours to ensure that a deep-clean can be completed.  Longer or more extensive building closures may be implemented at the director’s discretion.
    • Monitoring the situation to determine if longer term closures are necessary.
    • Contacting the VDH for contact tracing.
    • Complete the DHRM reporting form.
    • Contacting the health departments in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell County.
    • Employees will be notified of actual or potential exposure within 24 hours.
  • Isolation will be mandated for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or for anyone who is known to have been in close contact with a confirmed case.  Individuals will be required to isolate off campus for at least two weeks and have testing conducted by an appropriate health-care provider.  Students and employees with symptoms or concerns about having been in contact with a confirmed case should report their concerns to the Dean of Students and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources respectively and refrain from coming to work or classes.
  • As of August 5, 2021, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
  • All communication must adhere to the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  In circumstances where a confirmed case has been on campus, the college must take reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of the student, faculty or staff member.
  • All communication must be approved by the College President and may be disseminated internally by any executive staff member or externally by the Director of Strategic Communications.
  • All communications will be posted and archived on the College’s COVID-19 response webpage.
  • The guidelines contained throughout the Re-opening Plan are based upon the most current information that the College has.  Should new information become available, the plan will be revised.  All changes to the plan will be emailed to College employees and posted on the COVID-19 Response page for students and members of the community.
    • To assist with this information gathering, The Office of Institutional Research shall compile a report each day that reviews total cases and new cases in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell County.  It shall also include the total number of new cases for the states of Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. It shall be sent to the Senior Staff and COVID-19 Advisory Team each day in order to allow for the surveillance of local health conditions.

Screening Guidelines

An initial screening survey will be embedded into each course taught in a hybrid or traditional mode. Each student will be asked the following questions. Employees will be given this initial screening by email. It will ask the following questions:

  • Do I have new or worsening onset of any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, chills, body aches, fatigue, headache, loss of taste/smell, eye drainage, congestion that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • Have I been directly exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 or who has symptoms compatible with COVID-19? And/Or Have I been directly exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 or who has symptoms compatible with COVID-19, when I was NOT wearing CDC-recommended PPE while in a health care setting?
  • Have I been told by a health professional that I have tested positive for COVID-19?
If a student answers “YES” to any of these screening questions, that person will be contacted by a Student Success Advisor, encouraged to seek medical care, and be advised on possible schedule modifications.

After the initial screening, faculty, staff, and students who must come to campus should ask themselves the following questions each day:

  • Do I have new or worsening onset of any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, chills, body aches, fatigue, headache, loss of taste/smell, eye drainage, congestion that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • Have I been directly exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 or who has symptoms compatible with COVID-19? And/Or Have I been directly exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 or who has symptoms compatible with COVID-19, when I was NOT wearing CDC-recommended PPE while in a health care setting?
  • Have I been told by a health professional that I have tested positive for COVID-19?
If a student, faculty, staff member, or guest to any of SWCC’s sites answers YES to any of these screening questions, that person must stay home and not come to campus. Furthermore, he or she should take the following actions:
  • Any student who reports a suspected or confirmed case or who answers “YES” to a health screening question will be required to report that information to the Dean of Students.  The dean will then refer the student to the Health Department in the student’s county of residence.
  • If an employee answers “Yes” to any of the above questions, they must contact their immediate supervisor and the Associate VP for Human Resources either via telephone or e-mail. The Associate VP for Human resources can be reached at or 276.964.7389. The employee will be referred to the Health Department in their county of residence.
  • The College will follow VDH guidance ( and will contact VDH to determine the need for testing students or employees. The college will coordinate any necessary communications to students and employees with the VDH. If students or employees request information about COVID-19 testing, the college will direct them to the VDH testing site locator at so they may find a testing site close to them.

The contact numbers for each health department are as follows:

Buchanan County: 276-935-4591
Russell County: 276-889-7621
Tazewell County:  276-988-5585
Dickenson County: 276-926-4979

    • Additionally, if a student or employee develops any of these symptoms while on campus, they must leave campus immediately. People who have reason to believe that they are infected with a contagious disease of public health significance have an ethical and legal obligation to conduct themselves in accordance with such knowledge in order to protect themselves and others.
    • A daily email reminder of this requirement will be sent to all students and employees each day.

Academic Guidelines

  • The College is operating a regular academic calendar.  No restrictions on course scheduling are in place.
  • All support services, including tutoring, library, testing center, and success coaching, will return to face to face operation by July 1.
  • To ensure continuity during these rapidly changing times, all dual enrollment courses must have a Canvas presence.
  • Instructors may teach unmasked if they follow social distancing guidelines.

Staffing Guidelines

  • All employees will report as directed in their approved work plans.
  • It is important also for faculty and staff working on campus to follow the following safety protocols:
    • Avoid office gatherings.
    • No unnecessary visitors, including children, will be allowed in the workplace.
    • Break rooms and other common areas must be closed.
    • Anyone who is sick must notify the supervisor and stay home.
    • Meetings must be conducted electronically, unless authorized by the respective Vice-President.
    • Once the travel ban is lifted, the College will only allow travel upon approval of the respective Vice-President.
    • Employees should follow hygiene guidelines established by the CDC, including frequent hand-washing.

Facilities Guidelines

  • Public spaces and classrooms will be monitored according to a schedule established by the Director of Operations. Offices and private spaces should be cleaned by the responsible employee at the end of the day and after each visitor.
  • All employees must care for their spaces based on the guidelines in SWCC’s Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols.
  • All workstations will be a minimum of six feet apart. Barriers will be created in places where this is impossible.
  • Desks and chairs will be removed from classrooms and public areas to ensure that social distancing guidelines are observed.
  • Common areas will have posted maximum occupancy numbers.
  • All repeat use items (such as pens) and appliances will be removed from community-facing areas.
  • Educational events are permitted so long as the guidelines in the COVID plan are followed.  Non-educational events must be approved by the president.
  • Restrooms will be organized to encourage social distancing.
  • Until further notice, all elevators should be considered single occupancy.

Guidelines for Students

  • Students will find that classes are available in several different modes: online with regular meeting times, online without regular meeting times, part online and part face-to-face, and fully face-to-face.
  • Students who choose to attend classes on campus will find that each of their classes have been marked for social distancing. They must follow these markings.
  • As of August 5, 2021, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
  • Public sitting spaces will be arranged to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Students must avoid congregating in large groups and avoid moving or crowding the furniture.
  • Students should consider bringing their own laptops in order to avoid using computer labs. A small number of laptops will be available to borrow through the Student Success Division.
  • Students with underlying health conditions should consider taking their classes online if possible or postponing their program of study if online learning is not an option.
  • Students who show symptoms of COVID-19 must avoid coming to campus and should see a health care provider as soon as possible.
  • It is inevitable that some students will contract COVID-19, despite the prudent precautions undertaken by the College.  Each student must educate his or herself to the risks involved in class attendance and make decisions accordingly.  Any student in a high-risk group, should consider taking only online courses until the crisis passes.
  • International student considerations (i.e.COVOD-19 travel health risks, CDC returning travelers guidelines)
    The Office of the Registrar serves as the point of contact for all International Students. Southwest Virginia Community College adheres to the guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is a unit within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees the F-1 international student visa program. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.
    Additionally, any individual - student, employee, contractor, or visitor - who has travelled internationally must remain off campus for 14 days after their arrival in the U.S. and should follow CDC guidelines regarding staying at home and monitoring for symptoms.

Expectations for Online Teaching

Consistent practice in course design and management are helpful for students in an online environment.  As more classes transition online and faculty who have never taught using a distance format prepare for this mode of instruction, a list of best practices and expectations has been provided.  While each class is unique, faculty are expected to adhere to these guidelines unless modifications are approved by their dean.


  • Post a minimum of 2 Announcements each week – consider one at the beginning of the week to remind students of due dates and expectations, and another near mid-week to clarify any information needed and/or encourage your students.
  • Review students that have not logged-in each week and use the early alert tool in Navigate to email them/notify a Success Advisor.
  • Respond to students within 24-48 hours, or by the end of the day on Monday if they message you over the weekend.


  • Upload in the “Syllabus” tab. (If copying from another course please ensure that your Syllabus is up-to-date.)

About Your Teacher:

  • Provide your contact information, preferred communication method, etc. on this tab.

Weekly module format:

  • Even if units run for multiple weeks, plan the class weekly, beginning each module on the same day each week.
  • Use scaffolding and sequencing to determine your content grouping. Do not close modules once they are completed – they should be left open for students to review as needed to support their learning.

Discussion Board:

  • Use an introductory discussion board to introduce yourself to students and require them to introduce themselves appropriately. This should be due and graded before the last day to drop a class to help inform your communication with Admissions regarding student participation.
  • Respond to each student and consider requiring them to respond to 2 peers.


  • Post all graded assignments in Canvas even if the assignment is in class.
  • Provide grade and feedback to student within a maximum of one week after due date.

Due dates:

  • Create assignments and quizzes in Canvas and use the due date setting. This auto-populates the Syllabus tab and Course Calendar for the students.

Best Practices to Consider:

  • We do not recommend using the Canvas Inbox system for your preferred method of contact as it operates independent of the email system. VCCS student email through MySouthwest is the preferred method for the institution. However, non-protected information can be communicated through other means.
  • Consider holding virtual office hours using Zoom or phone. Post those in the About Your Teacher tab.
  • Review your course in “student view” to ensure that course layout flows in a consistent and logical format.
  • Use Discussions to increase student engagement by creating opportunities for student-to-student interaction, and student-to-instructor interaction. This will also nurture an open and supportive community.
  • Check that all of your links or uploaded course files work correctly. These can be compromised during course copies and due to other technology errors.
  • Use Canvas Studio and Zoom to create short video lectures and announcements for your students.
  • Make sure your assessments link clearly to your learning objectives and allow for different learning styles and demonstration of mastery of the content.
  • Include different types of activities and assessments in order to promote learning achievement and increase engagement, motivation, and self-efficacy. (i.e. Don’t do all multiple-choice or all essay or all project-based assessments.)
  • Make sure that any materials you use meet digital accessibility requirements. Be mindful of the ability to adapt materials based on accommodations needed by students with disabilities.
  • Know when to ask for help! You are the subject matter experts, so be sure to reach out to the Director of Distance Learning and Canvas Administrator to let us help identify the best technology tools and resources to build your courses.

Department of Labor and Industry Addendum

1.     Positions at SWCC have been classified according to risk as follows:

a.     High Risk: Clinical Instructors, Clinical Coordinators, Program Heads for medical programs

b.     Medium Risk: All remaining positions at SWCC not mentioned in the high-risk category

2.     Per our re-opening plan, any employee who is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is not allowed to report to work or must leave work immediately if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and must notify their supervisor and HR of their symptoms. Any reports of a medical nature related to COVID-19 received by SWCC will be kept in a designated medical file for the employee, subcontractor, contract employee, and/or temporary employee in a locked location. An individual may request to review their medical file.

3.     The VP of Finance and Administration or their designee will discuss with subcontractors and companies that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of employees or other persons who are known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus of staying home before any work begins on campus. Any discussions with the aforementioned individuals will be documented and kept on file in the office of the VP of Finance and Administration.

4.     Employees will be allowed to return to work based on the current CDC symptom-based recommendations and direction from the Cumberland Plateau Department of Health.