President’s Spring 2021 Update

Posted on March 19th, 2021 by Travis Dix

Dear Friends,

Reasons for optimism abound as we think back to almost exactly one year ago. On our campus, within our community and across the Commonwealth, ‘normal’ was no more, and we could not imagine then the length of time we would be responding to this pandemic.

I’m reminded of how far we have come when I see our students safely congregating on campus, our faculty and staff members working diligently in their classrooms and offices, and our student-athletes competing after seasons that were previously cut short or postponed.  All of this and more are signs that the Averett community support for our comprehensive approach to COVID-19 health and safety protocols has paid off.

Just one glance at our University’s daily COVID-19 dashboard will paint a very encouraging picture. The prevalence of cases in our surrounding community continues to decline, and vaccine supply in our health district keeps ramping up. While we will remain vigilant in our health and safety practices, we are looking ahead and excited for what’s on the horizon.

It’s important that you – our alumni, community members and friends – know the exciting things we have planned, as well as the measures we are taking to keep us all safe.

As always, I want to thank everyone for their commitment to a safe and healthy community.

Go Cougars!

Dr. Tiffany M. Franks, President

Spring Commencement

The whole Averett community—graduating seniors, their family and friends, administration, faculty and staff—looks forward to Commencement every year as the crowning ritual and celebration of one of life’s most important milestones. To that end, Averett is committed to ensuring that graduates experience a safe and memorable graduation ceremony during a challenging time (in the context of directives from local, state and federal agencies).

Spring 2021 Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 8. To maximize health precautions for COVID-19, we anticipate the event will be held outside at the Frank R. Campbell Stadium at 10 a.m.

In the case of precipitation and prohibitive temperatures, Commencement will be postponed until the following day on Sunday, May 9, at 10 a.m. at the stadium.

To ensure social distancing, two guest tickets will be distributed to each graduating senior. We continue to follow local, state and national guidelines as they will determine event size and format.

Fall 2021

Our focus on the fall is well underway, and we are preparing to welcome students back to a vibrant campus for the start of Averett’s 163rd academic year.

We have received more than 3,000 applications for next academic year – 400 more than last year’s strong entering class – putting us on par with some of our largest class years ever. Fall registration for current students begins this month, and this summer we will host both on campus and virtual registration days for new entering students, with a strong emphasis on students and families coming to campus for these events.

We anticipate most classroom experiences to be in the traditional, in-person format, without the need to offer as many courses in the hybrid and/or online format.  We have heard our students’ desire for more learning options, and we are pleased that we are continuing to roll out the Anytime, Anywhere program, as we have in the last two summer sessions. This will allow traditional students to take some courses offered in the online program, thus allowing for more flexibility.

Likewise, we’re also planning for a return to as close to normal levels of activity, including fine arts events, sports and spectators, and campus activities in general.

Our expectation is that COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available and accepted over the coming months and that transmission rates of the virus will remain extremely low. Having said that, the past year has proven we are capable of adapting and providing a robust Averett education and experience under challenging circumstances and we will continue to put the health of our students, faculty, staff and community members first as we plan for the fall semester. We will continue to monitor the conditions around COVID-19 very carefully and adjust if needed.

Vaccination Update

Working with partners like the Virginia Department of Health, SOVAH Health, the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County, Averett University has joined the community fight against the spread of COVID-19, working tirelessly for the past two months to vaccinate approximately 18,000 of our most vulnerable neighbors. From our School of Nursing students and faculty administering vaccination shots, to hosting the inaugural mass community vaccination clinic in our health district, to the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness’ volunteer coordination for all community vaccination events – we are committed to the health of this community and contributing in any way we can to help us curb the impact of this devastating virus.

Now, we are excited to share that the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) has moved into Danville at the old JC Penney building in the Danville Mall to give 3,000 doses of the vaccine per day, Monday-Friday, 10 hours per day for the next 60 days. Given the sheer volume of this initiative, the Region’s health leaders have decided to register as many people as possible (over the age of 18) to receive the vaccine, if they wish to do so.

This means that ALL of our Averett students, staff and faculty, as well as community members (18 and over), are now eligible to register. The vaccine is FREE of charge, and a person only has to have a photo ID at the vaccination site to receive the vaccine. Currently, the Moderna two-dose vaccine is being used, and all patients will be scheduled to receive their second dose 30 days after they receive their first dose. You will be registered on-site to receive your second dose.

We have strongly urged our students, faculty and staff to visit to get into the system. VDEM will pull all names from this portal.  Anyone lacking access to technology can call 877-VAX-IN-VA to register.

Health and Safety Reminder

Much of the news related to COVID-19 has been positive in recent weeks, and I am extremely proud of our students, faculty and staff for their work and responsible behavior throughout the pandemic. While we are very optimistic for both the remainder of this spring and the fall, now is not the time to let our guard down.

Face coverings are still required to be worn in all Averett facilities and outdoors on campus, and we understand the responsibility we have to our community members to follow the rules established by the City of Danville and community service providers. We’ve come so far and worked so hard to get to a better place…let’s stay focused on doing the right things so we can enjoy a safe end to the semester and a better summer and fall.