Dear Mountain Empire College Community,
I want to be sure to keep you abreast of the latest news and decisions regarding COVID-19 and the potential spread of the virus. As of March 11, 2020 at 5:00 PM, there were 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia. The Virginia Governor’s Office confirmed this morning that all 9 of those cases can be traced to a source such as foreign travel, and those infected did not contract the virus through sustained community transmission. At this time, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have both reported that there are no cases of sustained community transmission of COVID-19 in Virginia. The Governor has not declared an emergency. Tennessee saw its first reported case of COVID-19 on March 6th, and has less than 10 confirmed cases at this time. Kentucky also has at least 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
This afternoon, Northern Virginia Community College, Germanna Community College, The University of Virginia, and UVA- Wise made the difficult decisions to either suspend coursework and/or move coursework online. This is an option MECC may need to exercise in the future, and we are preparing our services and campus for this possibility. Our campus demographics do not mirror these institutions. We are not in Northern Virginia; we do not have dorms, nor do we have a significant population of international students. We plan to continue to be hyper-vigilant in promoting COVID-19 protocols, monitor the situation and continue to plan for a disruption in courses and services with the Emergency Management Team.
While this news is not cause for panic, we must continue to be diligent in preparing for a possible regional outbreak. Please continue to prevent the spread of infectious disease through adherence to CDC infection control protocols such as handwashing, hygiene and household sanitation. This is a rapidly evolving issue. Facts about the status of the virus, what we know about it, CDC guidance on best practices and the number of people impacted are all changing hour to hour. MECC’s Administration and Emergency Management Team are monitoring the situation closely and will keep you informed via email, campus alerts, our website and social media outlets if there is a decision to change MECC operations.
Kristen Westover, Ed.D.
President, Mountain Empire Community College