Admin Building
By Roanoke College News

COVID-19 Update for March 20

To the Roanoke College Community:

I know you have been wondering whether and when we will be able to resume in-person courses and hold our other planned events and traditions this spring. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the academic year any of us envisioned, and we are working daily to assess the best outcome possible. 

I’m writing to let you know we made the immensely difficult decision to continue remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. In addition, we are postponing but not canceling our Commencement, previously scheduled for May 2. As much as we would prefer your return, that is not in your best interest.

We also will cancel all in-person May term courses but will conduct a limited slate of courses via remote instruction. We are canceling all in-person summer school courses and will offer instead a limited number of summer courses via remote instruction. All of these decisions were made in the interest of community safety, CDC recommendations and because the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely continue to escalate.

We know remote learning is our best available option for the safety of our students, faculty and staff. I am grateful to our faculty and staff for their efforts to get our students connected remotely this week, and know they will continue to guide our students well through our semester and exam period.

I have heard the pleas from so many of you to keep Commencement for the graduating seniors.  I saw the petition, heard the stories and read the emails that tug at my heart and make me proud of the love you all have for one another and the College.

These are heart-wrenching decisions, and I promise you that we will select a date to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2020. We know you need to cancel your travel plans for May 2, which is why we are letting you know now about the Commencement postponement.

Please bear with us as we continue to find the best way to connect with and celebrate the Class of 2020. I would love nothing more than to shake hands with and pass a diploma to every one of this year’s graduating seniors in the future. Mrs. Maxey and I look forward to welcoming you to our home to burn your name into the Presidents’ Home bookcases. We will find a way to celebrate your graduation.

Below you will find important information about the remainder of the semester. Please know that we have heard your concerns and are working to address them. None of these decisions has been easy, and they reflect the gravity of the situation we’re in together. Roanoke College has faced challenges in the past. I know we will prevail because of our ingenuity, persistence and care for one another.

Michael C. Maxey


Please Note:

Today, President Maxey and Roanoke College senior leadership will hold a remote Town Hall session to answer your questions. The Town Hall will be broadcast on the Roanoke College Facebook page starting at 2 p.m. EDT (March 20). If you are not on Facebook, you can still view the Town Hall by going to and scrolling down the page to find the video. You will be able to post your questions in the comments section of the video, and we will answer as many questions as we can. A Facebook account is needed to leave comments or questions, or you can email your questions to  

Additionally, the webpage is updated regularly with information about  Roanoke College’s response to COVID-19, and you may send additional inquiries to


Remote learning for remainder of semester

  • Faculty will work with all students to continue remote instruction for the rest of the semester. Please reach out to Dr. Gail Steehler with questions.
  • We are actively reviewing which academic policies may need to be adapted in response to this unprecedented term. You will receive more information about this soon. 
  • Students with significant technology needs may apply for assistance through the Student Emergency Fund.  
  • All on-campus events, and all college-sponsored off-campus events, including Athletics, are canceled until further notice. 

 Commencement postponed

  • We have made the difficult, but correct, decision to postpone Baccalaureate and Commencement until a later date. 
  • We will determine an alternative date and a plan for Senior Week activities, Baccalaureate and Commencement. 
  • We know this is upsetting to our seniors but rest assured that we are working hard to determine ways to celebrate the incredible Class of 2020. We will gather again on campus to mark your achievements on a new date.
  • We will send a survey for your feedback on alternative Commencement week ideas when we know more.

Credits and refunds

  • Even with these unprecedented conditions, for residential students, we plan to offer credits and refund adjustments.
    • We will make credits and refund adjustments to student accounts before the end of the term.
    • The amount of the credit or refund will be based on the individual student’s circumstances.
  • We appreciate your patience as we work through the many calculations necessary to determine the specific refund or credit applicable to each residential student.

Student belongings

  • We know many students still have belongings on campus and that the timing of the continued remote learning decision will inconvenience many. For that, we apologize.
  • We will work out a system for everyone to retrieve their belongings. 
  • Students may not return to campus at this time to retrieve their things. 
  • Conditions permitting, the College will allow students to return on designated dates and times under a strict protocol to ensure the safety of everyone involved. As you know, we  must observe the mandate to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
  • We will share all information about these dates and the process for student retrieval of belongings soon. 
  • We understand the disruption that this has caused our students and families and are grateful for your understanding and patience.
  • Please contact Residence Life & Housing with questions.

 May Term/Intensive Learning requirement

  • For May Term, priority will be given to seniors. Some campus-based IL courses will be converted to remote learning formats. Other courses cannot make this transition due to their nature and will be canceled.
  • All students currently classified as seniors will receive an email within two weeks outlining options that will allow them to satisfy the IL requirement and graduate on time. 
  • All non-seniors currently enrolled in a May 2020 IL course will receive an email within two weeks describing whether that course will be offered remotely this year and, if not, whether other options are available this year.

Housing on campus

  • Because the remainder of the semester will be conducted through remote learning, we are working to ensure that most students on campus make plans to return home or to a safe location.
  • We recognize that some students may have to remain on campus because they cannot return home or to a safe location. Be assured that we will take good care of the students who must remain on campus.

Student health, wellness and counseling

  • It is important for us to remember that despite our physical separation, we are still a strong community of Maroons.
  • We are now offering Telemedicine Services. These services include medical and counseling visits, and are offered through the end of the semester. We are currently only able to offer these services to students located in Virginia, due to licensing regulations and limitations. 
  • If a student is located outside of Virginia, we will consult with them by phone in order to best meet their health and counseling needs. Students may call 540-375-2286 for assistance. 
  • We encourage everyone to utilize their local healthcare resources and primary healthcare providers during this time.
  • For more information please email

 Summer school online only

  • All in-person summer school courses are being canceled. We are expanding online summer school offerings, but it will take some time to get new courses posted. Please watch for a future update. Students interested in online summer school courses can register for those using the same process as registration for fall courses. 

Registration for fall 2020 courses

Registration for fall 2020 housing

  • Housing selection for fall 2020 begins on March 31. Please see Residence Life & Housing Selection FAQ for more information. Eligible students should have received a selection time slot via email and should follow standard procedure for selection.

Remember, it is important to continue to follow CDC best practices in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Be well, Maroons.