Dear Hampton University Family:
The health and safety of the Hampton University community remains one of our top priorities. Therefore, I am pleased to provide the Hampton family an update on our response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At this moment in time, COVID-19 has forced our institution, the nation and the world to find creative ways to address numerous challenges that heavily impact the daily operations of life as we know it. This is uncharted territory with new challenges appearing daily. Recognizing the fluidity of the situation, the University is daily assessing the best ways in which Hampton can mitigate and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
At the first mention of the potential spread of the virus, I reactivated the Infectious Disease and Prevention Working Group, chaired by Dr. Barbara L. Inman and including Hampton University’s Medical Director, Dr. Karen T. Williams. This group has met almost daily. Two of the University’s initial responses to the virus were to ask students to vacate the campus and to transition to remote instruction for faculty and students. Faculty received three days of additional training to ensure that the remote learning classes are engaging and effective, and students were offered resources to prepare for this new instructional environment. It is my understanding that classes are going well. I would like to thank the students and faculty for making this a smooth transition and encourage the students to do their very best in their classes.
Since our initial actions were taken, the spread of the virus has increased and individuals are being asked to take additional precautions to “flatten the curve” of the virus. As I write this correspondence, there are over 55,000 reported cases and over 800 deaths in the United States. This number will likely have changed drastically by the time you read this message. Recognizing the seriousness of the virus and its potential danger, Hampton University will do the following:
1. Continue remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. Professors have indicated that the students are doing quite well in the remote learning environment. They are continuing to make academics a priority, and the faculty are pleased with their positive attitude towards this transition. In an effort to assist the students, the course withdrawal deadline is changed to April 10, 2020. Understanding the economic conditions that many are facing, the$400 Advance Deposit for continuing students may be paid in two installments of $200 each. If this option is chosen, the first $200 payment is due by April 6, 2020 and the second $200 payment must be paid by May 31, 2020. Pre-registration for Summer and Fall 2020 will take place April 13-28, 2020. Advisement will be conducted via BlackBoard Collaborate Ultra.
2. Postpone Commencement 2020. Hampton University Commencement Exercises are one of our most treasured traditions. The decision to postpone instead of cancel Commencement was made because we feel so strongly about the importance of the ceremony to students, their families, alumni and the entire Hampton University community. This was a difficult decision to make. On a personal note, I have three earned degrees in addition to many honorary degrees and I have attended all of the ceremonies where they were conferred. My undergraduate ceremony was the best and I want our Hampton students to experience the joys of their undergraduate ceremony. Upon the completion of all academic and financial requirements, degrees will be mailed to the graduating seniors’ permanent addresses. The 2020 Commencement is now scheduled for September 25, 2020, conditions permitting. This is also the date of our Opening Convocation Ceremony.
3. Establish a four-day period when students can retrieve their belongings from dormitories. At present, it is not in the best interest of the health and safety of the Hampton community for students to return to campus. The dates that have been set aside for students to retrieve their belongings are May 7, 8, 9, 10, 2020. These dates are subject to change based on the conditions and status of COVID-19. You will hear directly from Dr. Barbara L. Inman and the Office of Student Affairs regarding specific details.
4. Make arrangements for the international students who remain on campus to vacate the campus. The University will fund travel for international students currently on campus to return to their homes. In the event traveling home is not an option, the University will fund travel to an alternative location.
The Hampton University Board of Trustees, the Administrative Council, the Infectious Disease and Prevention Working Group and I have all made Hampton’s response to COVID-19 a top priority. We meet daily, often times more than once, to stay abreast of matters related to COVID-19 and to determine necessary actions. I will continue to keep you updated on actions to be taken by the University. Please remain safe and follow the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your local health agencies, and your state and local officials. We will all make it through this when we work together and do what is best for ourselves and each other.
With all good wishes,
William R. Harvey