By STACEY HAIRSTON
Booths and tables in the once busy Panther Grounds and Bookstore at Ferrum College, were empty Saturday as the majority of students have now left the campus.
Campus administration announced late last week that due to the nationwide spread of COVID-19, classes held on campus would transition to online instruction beginning March 18, and that students were free to go home.
“We have been monitoring carefully the unfolding COVID-19 situation and its impact,” said Ferrum’s Dean of Students Nicole Lenez in a recent open letter to students. “As always, the health and safety of our students and employees is our top priority.”
In-person classes are expected to resume April 6.
Until that time, the college has canceled all group gatherings, events, clubs, parties and athletics. Only limited services and resources will be made available to students remaining on campus, and visitors are not permitted to be on campus.
To reduce the need to travel, students were given the option to stay or go.
“Most of the students are leaving,” said Luke Costley, a Ferrum College student from Richmond. “I am actually leaving soon myself. The area I’m from has about the same risk as Ferrum, so why not go home?”
Costley said online learning will be an adjustment for everyone, but “I feel it will be alright.”
He added, “The curriculum won’t be quite the same, but I’m interested to see how this will all turn out.”
Playdea Sowers, a worker at the cafe, said only about 200 students remained on campus, and they were mostly staying inside their dorms.
“They’re venturing out to get something to eat, and then going straight back to their rooms,” she said.
Sowers said she and her coworkers are using the opportunity to do some extra deep cleaning of the cafe and other areas around the school.
“We have extra Lysol and other cleaners to sanitize the tables, walls and to clean the floors,” she said.
Students who have made the decision to leave campus for the distance learning, will not be permitted back on campus until the college officially reopens its doors, Lenez added.