ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Four thousand students, faculty, and staff, but only 86 positive coronavirus cases. Marymount University has kept their COVID-19 numbers low since students returned to campus back in August.
At the height of the pandemic, the college made the decision to hold their spring 2020 classes completely virtual, but the feedback they received from students was clear — they wanted to be back on campus.
“Given that that was the student’s preference, we decided to return to campus,” said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.
Staff began meeting daily to create a safe return to campus plan. The university created a coronavirus taskforce comprised of 22 members.
“We made an effort to stay in touch with every one of our students, new and returning, to explain to them what our plans were,” said Dr. William Bisset, VP of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.
The first step to ensure safety was to create an environment that could allow social distancing. Next, a mandatory mask mandate was implemented. The university decided that having on-site testing was crucial, so they purchased a machine to do rapid testing for the virus.
They also enabled a “hybrid-flexible system,” which allows students the flexibility to switch between in-person and virtual instruction.
“You could essentially start the semester remote and then as soon as you were able to come to class in person, and we were very accommodating,” said Becerra.
However, staff says one of the biggest reasons they have kept cases so low is due to student cooperation.
“Our entire community rose to the occasion and complied completely with all our social distancing expectations and requests,” said Bisset.
Heading into the next semester, there will be some changes to Marymount’s system, the biggest one being the COVID-19 vaccine. The school has already applied to be a vaccination center — a sign of hope for normalcy as classes begin in the new year.
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