Community Updates

Aug. 19, 2020: Appeal to Sweet Briar Women
Aug. 6, 2020: Notice of a positive case of COVID-19 on campus
July 3, 2020: Campus Reopening Plan, Fall 2020

(This plan has been reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education and has been found to be compliant in containing the required components of the “Higher Education Reopening Guidance.”)

June 8, 2020: Virtual Town Hall

June 2, 2020: Important information about the College calendar

Dear Sweet Briar family,

In light of COVID-19, I’d like to share some preliminary information with you about important changes we’ve made to the College calendar.

Here are the high points:

  • Classes for the three-week session will begin on Aug. 11.
  • To limit the exposure of our on-campus community to the virus, we will reduce travel.
    • There will be no breaks between the 3-week and 12-week sessions or during the 12-week session.
    • The semester will be complete prior to Thanksgiving.
  • All exams for the 12-week session will be completed online.
Revised Calendar Dates Original Calendar Dates
New students arrive Wednesday, Aug. 5 Saturday, Aug. 15
Returning students arrive Saturday-Monday, Aug. 8-10 Sunday-Thursday, Aug. 16-18
3-week session begins Tuesday, Aug. 11 Thursday, Aug. 20
3-week session ends Friday, Aug. 28 Wednesday, Sept. 9
3-week exams Saturday, Aug. 29 Thursday, Sept. 10
12-week session begins Monday, Aug. 31 Monday, Sept. 14
12-week session ends Friday, Nov. 20 Tuesday, Dec. 15
Reading day Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 21-22 Wednesday, Dec. 16
Exams Sunday-Wednesday, Nov. 22-25 Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 17-19
Winter break begins Wednesday, Nov. 25 Saturday, Dec. 19

Any student who has concerns about her ability to return to campus before Aug. 11 should reach out to Dean Garrett (teresagarrett@sbc.edu).

Because exams for the 12-week session will be conducted online, we anticipate that most students will return home the weekend before Thanksgiving. That said, there will be a process, conducted through the Offices of the Dean and Student Life, for students who may need to take advantage of on-campus resources in order to take their online exams. Likewise, if students have extenuating circumstances and need to stay on-campus after the end of the semester, there will be a process for that as well. Please reach out to Dean Marcia (mthomkaley@sbc.edu) with questions or concerns.

There are still some details to work out in terms of traditional events like Convocation and Founders’ Day weekend. We will send those details when we know them.

Any consideration of changes for spring semester will be done at a later date.

This calendar was developed with input from many across campus and there will be impacts to orientation, advising, athletics and more. However, given the complexity of our calendar and the critical need to do everything we can to keep everyone in our community safe, we wanted to get this information out now. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work out details moving forward.

Please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.

Dean Garrett
434-381-6205
teresagarrett@sbc.edu

April 29, 2020: Planning for in-person instruction this fall

President Meredith Woo announced that Sweet Briar College plans to resume in-person instruction in the fall of 2020.

President Woo stated, “The most important consideration in this decision is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Located on 3,250 acres of exquisite land and in buildings that can accommodate all students in single rooms, we may be one of the rare colleges in America that can reasonably enforce social distancing. We will most scrupulously meet social distancing requirements. We are putting extensive plans in place for resumption of residential life, dining services and in-person instruction in a safe and responsible manner.”

This fall, the College plans to offer a single dormitory room to every student who wants and needs one. ​It will provide COVID-19 testing that will be in place by the fall​ and​ combine telemedicine with residential care to provide quality health care services to any student in​ ​need. ​

The College​ will provide food services while maintaining ​social distancing through a combination of prepared and served items, as well as contingency plans for a 2-day sanitation process. In addition, Sweet Briar will ​feature new farm-to-table dining service with produce from our very own 26,000-square-foot greenhouse.

Sweet Briar has a student-to-faculty ratio that is highly favorable to students. The College will continue to keep its classes small to allow students to spread out and maintain appropriate spacing. It will also offer hybrid or remote instruction to any student needing it.

“Sweet Briar is a college that cares deeply about its students and the larger community. Social distancing is a requirement that will be with us for a long time, and we will endeavor to be an example of how best to conduct fine education in the most healthful way possible. We miss our students and look forward to welcoming them home,” President Woo added.

For more information about the College’s response to COVID-19 and its commitment to the community, please visit our COVID-19 page.

April 24, 2020: Commencement Announcement

I want to thank you for responding to the survey on how best to celebrate your graduation. I heard you loud and clear that you want an in-person event later this fall.

We plan to celebrate commencement on campus
on Saturday, October 17.

There are many details to sort out about what the celebration will look like. Please rest assured that we will retain as many of our traditions as possible. As we work on the details, I did not want to lose any time in letting you know!

Congratulations, Sweet Briar Class of 2020!

I hope you and your family are safe and well.
Meredith Woo

March 24, 2020: Important information about the three-week session

Sweet Briar Family,

Yesterday, the governor of Virginia issued a statement prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people for 30 days and requiring that all non-essential businesses must telework where possible. In light of continuing health and safety issues, we have made the difficult decision to continue remote instruction for the rest of the academic year. We will also cancel or postpone all remaining on-campus events. However, operations of the College will continue.

The three-week session will be conducted the same way classes are being conducted now: using remote teaching and learning tools. We realize that some of the classes scheduled for the session may not lend themselves to remote instruction. Dean Garrett is looking at all of the classes scheduled to be offered and will be in touch with students and faculty whose classes may need to be substituted or adjusted in some other way.

We know you have many questions, and we do not have all of the answers right now, but we didn’t want to wait to inform you about our decision. We will be working hard over the next few days to determine the details and will communicate them to you as soon as we can.

Here’s what we do know.

Graduation and Other Spring Traditions

At this time, we’re postponing graduation. In the coming days, we will be thinking through all of the possible options for honoring our seniors and recognizing their accomplishments.

Likewise, we know that our spring traditions are incredibly important to our community. We want to take some time to think carefully about how best to handle them. We’re working with the Office of student life, the Student Government Association and other student leaders to advise us on the best way to do this. We’re proud of the achievements – athletic and academic – of every student and we want to honor all of you appropriately.

Collecting Your Belongings from Campus

We cannot encourage anyone to travel right now. Please be assured the residence hall rooms are locked and belongings are safe. We advise students to leave items in their rooms until it is safe to travel. If you have specific items you need right away, please contact the Office of Student Life at 434-381-6134. In the coming weeks, we will be discussing in-depth how move out will work and we will provide you with more details soon.

We know how disappointing this is. Spring is a special time at Sweet Briar and we should be here together to honor our traditions and celebrate with you. That we cannot do so is a loss to us all and I am deeply sorry for the circumstances that led to this decision. We miss you and your indomitable spirit.

As this situation evolves, I will reach out often with timely and important information.

Take care and be well,

Meredith Woo

March 12, 2020: Important Information about the spring semester

Dear students, faculty, staff, parents and friends,

As people around the world grapple with how to respond to the coronavirus, I have consulted extensively with my colleagues at Sweet Briar and at other institutions, as well as with experts at the CDC, about how to best keep our community safe. This has been a difficult decision, but the health of our students and community is our top priority.

Sweet Briar College will move to remote teaching and learning until April 17, the end of our 12-week session. Classes will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday of next week (March 16 and 17) so that faculty can prepare to shift their teaching. Remote classes will resume on Wednesday, March 18. All students will be contacted by Dean Teresa Garrett regarding how the remote teaching and learning will work.

Students who are currently on campus are asked to return home, if they have the means to do so. Students who have been away from campus for spring break, are asked to remain off campus. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Dean of Students Marcia Thom-Kaley at mthomkaley@sbc.edu.

All College events are suspended until further notice. We continue to evaluate large events like graduation and reunion. We will be in touch with you as soon as we have news to share about that.

By April 6, we will contact the community about how we will conduct the three-week session.

We wanted to inform you about this decision as quickly as possible. More information will be coming as decisions are made about how this will impact operations and people around campus. We encourage you to visit sbc.edu/covid-19 regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Thank you and be well.

President Meredith Woo

This message supersedes previous emails from the College about its response to COVID-19.

March 10, 2020

Dear students,

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, we wanted to reach out and let you know that we have a plan for dealing with communicable diseases and we are implementing that plan. The most important thing to know is that as of now the College is running in a business-as-usual mode. Your health and safety are our number one concern and your academic success at Sweet Briar is in the forefront of our minds.

We have been monitoring the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and are working to ensure a safe learning and working environment. 

It is important that each of us does our part to prevent the spread of any communicable disease, whether it be the flu, COVID-19 or any other respiratory illnesses. Prevention decreases the pressures on health care resources, freeing them to support patients in grave need, and safeguards against inadvertently exposing vulnerable individuals.  

Academic Program

We expect to continue our academic program as it has been. If you have experienced any upper respiratory illness, however, it is important that you not expose others and you should not attend class. We have asked faculty to adjust their attendance expectations to accommodate that. If you are sick, please report the illness to the Office of Student Life. 

Likewise, we have asked faculty to stay home if they are sick. We’re working with the faculty to provide alternative modes of instruction so that students and faculty alike may participate in class, even if they’re unable to come into the classroom. 

We are discussing the possibility of offering online instruction should circumstances dictate. Options might include using  Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, Skype, Canvas chat and video lectures.

Athletics

Right now, Sweet Briar athletics is operating as normal. We plan to play home and away contests as currently scheduled. Director Canfield is in communication with ODAC and the NCAA and will implement their recommendations, which may include having competitions without fans or canceling events. We will keep the community up-to-date if anything changes with respect to athletics.

Campus Visitors

Our campus remains open to visitors. However, beginning on Sunday, March 15, we will close the back gates to the College and require all traffic to campus to enter through the front gate. Visitors may be asked to sign in.

Campus events will continue as scheduled. Some presenters may choose not to travel or ask to modify the events to ensure all participants’ wellbeing. We will keep you informed of any changes to the campus calendar.

Planning and Prevention

It is important that each of us does our part to prevent the spread of any communicable disease, whether it be the flu, COVID-19 or any other respiratory illnesses. Prevention decreases the pressures on health care resources, freeing them to support patients in grave need, and safeguards against inadvertently exposing vulnerable individuals.  

To keep yourself and our community healthy, please follow the guidance provided by the World Health Organization, the CDC, and the Virginia Department of Health. Please visit our Campus Safety website for up-to-date answers to frequently asked questions.

Extra housekeeping measures, such as wiping down frequently used surfaces more often, are being implemented across campus. 

I am regularly meeting with the cabinet of the college (vice presidents and deans) to make plans to continue our academic year. Should there be any changes, I will let you know. Until then, if you should have any questions, please contact Marcia Thom-Kaley, dean of students, at 434-381-6134.

We feel confident that our community is safe and that most of our operations will continue as normal. Whether you return after Spring Break is a personal decision for your family and we will support the decisions you make. 

Thank you and be well.

March 5, 2020

As our community gets ready to head out for Spring Break, we wanted to update you on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Since President Woo’s update earlier this week, the U.S. has seen an increase in cases, but as of now, there are still no cases in Virginia. As we mentioned earlier this week, for the most up-to-date information on the virus, we recommend visiting the following sites:

The College is in regular communication with health officials and will communicate necessary information as it becomes available both by email and on our website.

In terms of your personal travel, we recommend that you follow the advice of the CDC. You can find information on which countries are under travel notices on the CDC website. As of now, the CDC is recommending postponing unnecessary travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. Please note that although locations may not be under a travel notice right now, depending on where you’re planning to travel, the situation may change quickly, creating difficulties in getting to your destination or returning to Sweet Briar.

Certainly, if you’re feeling unwell, we encourage you to self-isolate and contact the Office of Student Life (studentlife@sbc.edu or 434-381-6134) so that our staff can help you manage your College obligations appropriately.

Of course, the best way to prevent the spread of any virus is to avoid contracting it in the first place. We recommend you follow these best practices:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, not into your hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Take care of yourself and stay safe. Have a great Spring Break.

March 3, 2020

By now, you’ve heard about COVID-19 virus, also known as the Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCov. We wanted to provide you with an update about Sweet Briar’s efforts in response to this virus. Please share this information with your families as necessary.

Although the virus is affecting countries around the world, as of now, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Virginia at this time. If you are not traveling to a place where there has been an outbreak and have not been in close contact with someone who has been ill, your chances of getting the virus are low.

However, hearing the news about the virus can be stressful and that you may be feeling anxious about the situation. The health and safety of the community is incredibly important, so we wanted to provide you with information so that you can take reasonable precautions.

First, to get the most up-to-date information about the virus, we recommend visiting the following sites:

Second, there is currently no reason to change your normal routines and there is no need to wear a face mask.

Third, it is always prudent to follow normal precautions to prevent becoming ill. Of course, these precautions will not only help protect you from the Coronavirus, but also help protect you against other illnesses common at this time of year, such as cold and flu.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw it in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Fourth, there are reports associated with the spread of COVID-19 virus, of increasing xenophobia and prejudice against Asians. I want to be clear that such behavior will have no home at Sweet Briar, and trust that you will not condone it in others.

Finally, as we prepare to leave for Spring Break, there may be additional things to be aware of. Currently, the CDC is recommending that all travelers avoid non-essential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. However, because this is an evolving situation, a country not currently experiencing an outbreak could be declared a high-risk area at any time, possibly necessitating a 14-day self-isolation upon returning to the U.S. If, during your Spring Break travel, you’re asked to self-isolate, please call our Office of Campus Safety at 434-381-6144 (phones are answered 24/7) as soon as possible so that the College can coordinate with you.

The College does have a plan for how to respond to a communicable disease issue. We are regularly meeting with health officials and are closely monitoring this situation. We will keep you aware of any changes to our activities as a result of the virus. For up-to-date information on this evolving situation, in addition to visiting the sites above, you can also visit sbc.edu/campus-safety. We’ll be adding information and FAQs there.

Be safe and be healthy.

Meredith Woo

President

Sweet Briar College