COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions Updated March 27

Classes and commencement

Why did Roanoke College suspend in-person classes?
As part of Roanoke College’s preparation and response to COVID-19, President Maxey and cabinet have determined the best course of action is to suspend face-to-face meetings of classes. This plan is part of a wider public health strategy to ensure the health and safety of our campus and community at large. We believe this approach allows us to help protect the health of both the campus community and our neighbors, while ensuring that teaching and research can continue.

Will classes reconvene in person this semester?
No. Faculty members are working with all students to continue remote instruction for the rest of the semester. Please reach out to Dr. Gail Steehler at 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.

What’s the plan for commencement?
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 promise that we will have a commencement celebration just as grand as what we would have had May 2.

We will send a survey for your feedback on alternative Commencement week ideas when we know more.

Will there be any changes to the way faculty conduct classes or hand out grades?
Students may choose Pass/Fail grading for any Spring 2020 course. You may choose Pass/Fail for any number of courses. Please consult your advisor before choosing this option. IT is testing a new app that will allow students to designate any courses they wish to be graded Pass/Fail. When it is ready (in early April), we will send you a link.  Until you get that email, think things through and talk with your advisor. You will have plenty of time to make your designation in April.

Students having difficulty with their workload should stay in touch with faculty as much as possible. They can reach out to the Center for Learning and Teaching at or 540-375-2247. They can also get in touch with Student Health and Counseling Services at 540-375-2286 if they’re in need of counseling or support.

Can Pass/Fail grading hurt my GPA?
Only if you fail a course. A fail is the same as any other F. Consult your instructor to be sure you know what your grade is. If you are likely to fail, consider dropping the course.

Can a grade of Pass improve my GPA?
Generally no. If you get a grade of P, you earn a unit of credit, but your GPA doesn’t change. If you are re-taking a course and earn a P this term, the last attempt drops out. In this special case, your GPA could go up slightly.

I need to improve my GPA to avoid suspension or keep my federal financial aid, is Pass/Fail a good choice?
Maybe, maybe not. Even though no one will be suspended this term, Pass/Fail doesn’t improve your GPA. Talk with your instructor and academic advisor. A grade that improves your GPA is better than a Pass. By the same token, a Pass is better than a grade that lowers your GPA.

Could my financial aid be affected?
While the College does not intend to academically suspend students for the Spring of 2020, federal financial aid regulations will still require students to attain the required GPA standards for continuance of financial aid (1.7 GPA for freshmen, 2.0 GPA for all others).  Should your record require appeal, the Financial Aid Office will notify you in writing in May. Students who do not attain the required GPA will be encouraged to appeal directly to the Financial Aid Office in writing.

I’m feeling overwhelmed, should I just drop all my classes?
Lots of us are feeling overwhelmed. Please consider reaching out directly to your professors about the challenges you are experiencing. Reach out to others if you are experiencing anxiety. See the Health & Counseling section further down this page.

Reach out to the CLT for tutoring, Writing Center, or other academic support. Before you decide to drop courses, please talk with your academic advisor. Maybe dropping one class would give you the breathing room to finish your other courses, but you need your advisor’s help to sort through the pros and cons of which course to drop. Dropping a course or two is better than failing them, but be sure you ask your instructor about your likely grade. Don’t assume.

I hope to go to graduate or medical school, can I take a Pass/Fail?
Your academic advisor can help you think through which courses your graduate program may want to see graded A-F.

If I drop a course, will this stop me from graduating on time?
Your advisor can help you figure this out. Dropping the wrong course could delay graduation, especially if you are a junior or senior. If you have several semesters left before graduation and drop something that you can pick up next semester, you probably won’t be delayed. You will just pick up an extra course in a future semester.

What’s the plan for May Term/Intensive Learning?
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.

A special option has been established to help seniors complete the IL requirement. Any student who has at least 20 units completed on April 1, 2020 and who graduates from the College no later than May 2021 may satisfy the IL requirement with any full unit of Internship or Independent study already completed or completed by May 2021. Students who qualify for this option will receive an email no later than April 3. Note that students who qualify for the option may still take an IL course if they prefer. This exception does NOT reduce the total number of units needed to graduate from the College.

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.

Are in-person summer school courses still on as planned?
No, 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.

Will there still be a Dean's List this semester?
No, there will be no Dean't List or President's List for Spring 2020.

Will registration for fall classes be affected?
No, registration for Fall 2020 classes has begun as planned. All students should follow our regular procedures for registration. See the Registrar’s webpage for specific information including assigned time slots. Consult your regular academic advisor as needed.

What about internships?
For specific programs, students should check with advisors or faculty supervisors.

I was taking a travel IL course that got canceled, will I be able to take that course next year?
Maybe. You will get an email in a couple of weeks after we work through all of those details.

I really need to do my May Term this year, what are my options?
Hold on until April 3. Once we get seniors settled for May Term, remaining seats will open for others. Watch for an email with options.

If a student has a learning disability and are struggling with online courses, are there resources to help?
An email went out Thursday regarding students with learning disabilities and those in need of academic support. Students should be able to meet with counselors and advisors via ZOOM, a videochatting service. Advisors are still available, and are prepared to use digital tools to assist students who need help.

Other events, including Athletics

Are all events canceled as well?
Yes, all on-campus events, and all college-sponsored off-campus events, including Athletics, are canceled until further notice.

Will fall sports be affected?
At this time, fall sports are expected to go on as planned.

Are visitors, including prospective students, allowed on campus?
Campus is still open but visitors are strongly discouraged. Large gatherings are canceled. 
Starting Monday, March 23, Roanoke's Admissions Office will discontinue face-to-face interviews with prospective students and will shift to online interviews. Contact Admissions to schedule an online interview. 

Does this affect alumni weekend (April 17)?
Alumni Weekend 2020 has been canceled. We believe this is the right decision at this time. The health, safety, and well-being of our alumni and friends is our highest priority. We will plan to celebrate this year's special milestones, especially our reunion classes, and other noteworthy events at Alumni Weekend in 2021. More about this here.


When will students be able to return to get belongings they left in their rooms?
Students may not return to campus at this time to retrieve their things, but we will work out a system for everyone to retrieve their belongings. This situation is complicated in large part because of all the health measures expected of us.

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're working to find the optimal time for you to be able to find out when you can come to campus to pick up your belongings. We'll get to that as quickly as we can and work with you individually to find a time that works for you and your family.

We understand the disruption that this has caused our students and families and are grateful for your understanding and patience. 

Will there be credits or reimbursement for housing?
Even with these unprecedented conditions, for residential students, we plan to offer credits and refund adjustments. President Maxey and his cabinet are hard at work on making those calculations and will soon inform you about them.

You'll hear something within the next couple of weeks about the plan, and the credits and refund adjustments will be made 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.

Will students who are currently on campus be able to continue staying there?
Students currently on campus will be contacted directly by Residence Life and Housing staff to develop a departure plan. Be assured that we will take good care of the students currently on campus who cannot return home.

Does this affect housing for the fall?
No. 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.

I’m planning on going abroad in the fall, but am not sure whether the trip will happen now. What should I do about housing?
Apply for fall housing. We hope you are still able to do your study abroad program in the fall. If the program is still on, we will just remove you from housing and find you something for the spring term. If you don’t end up going on your program, at least you will have housing for the fall. See more on fall housing in the question directly above this one.

If I'm a parent filling out the Census and my child normally lives on campus, should I count them as living home with me or will the College count them?
Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The College works directly with the Census workers to count the residential students on campus. If their student lives in an off-campus apartment, the student should complete their own survey for the apartment.

Health and Counseling Services

I am having difficulty handling this new situation. Can I still access Student Health and Counseling Services for support?
Roanoke now offers Telemedicine Services. These services include medical and counseling visits through the end of the semester and May Term. At this time, we are only able to offer these services to students located in Virginia at the time of the service, due to licensing regulations and limitations. We hope the current circumstances will result in some flexibility with these regulations. Updates will be provided as they become available. Students may call 540-375-2286 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule a Telemedicine appointment.

I am located outside of Virginia and am in need of counseling. What can I do?
Our Counseling staff can consult by phone to help meet your needs. Students may call 540-375-2286 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. for assistance.

I already have a doctor and counselor here at home and I live outside of Virginia.
If you are already connected to medical and mental health providers in your locality we recommend you receive services there. We are available to assist students with this transition as needed. Students may call 540-375-2286 for assistance.

What if I’m experiencing a mental health crisis requiring immediate assistance?
If this occurs, we recommend you immediately call 911 or go to your nearest urgent care facility or emergency room.

Is the Care Team still operational?
Yes. Care Team is fully operational although adjusting to providing distance follow-up through tele-counseling and via digital avenues as cases require. Dean Amy Perkins has assumed the role of chair of Care Team during this time and Wes Brusseau is now the vice chair.

Other campus services

Will students and faculty still be able to get technical support?
Yes. Information Technology will continue to serve students remotely. The Help Desk is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 375-2225. 

Will food services continue?
Yes. Food services will be available but on a limited basis. 

Is the Fintel Library still open?
Yes, Fintel is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, during our move to remote instruction. For specific hours of operation, see the online calendar. The library’s electronic resources are available 24/7. Staff-mediated, online assistance is available 8.a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 7 p.m.–9 p.m. Sunday–Thursday. People can enter Fintel Library by swiping their current Roanoke College student, faculty or staff IDs at the front door.

Will the Belk Fitness Center be available? 
The Belk Fitness Center will be closed starting Sunday, March 22, until further notice. 

I’m a student and will not have internet access where I’m going. How do I keep up with classes?
We’re working with our Information Technology staff to find solutions and make sure students continue to have access to their education. 

It is our understanding that Comcast is offering free internet for two months for those who meet their qualifications. This is merely a potential resource to explore, not a College-sponsored program. You can find out more here

If students had mail sent to their dorm, how can they retrieve it?
All mail and packages that come in via USPS will be forwarded to students' home addresses. If students have something coming in via UPS, FedEx, DHL or other delivery services, they should call Mail Services at 540-375-2315 to make arrangements to have it shipped home (this will require a credit card for additional charges.) For auto-shipments, students should change their shipping address to where they're currently living. People with more questions should contact Jeannette Cockram at

COVID-19 specific questions

Have any Roanoke College students or faculty tested positive for the virus?
No. Several students were in isolation for several days as a precaution for low risk exposure. One student who was in isolation has been tested for COVID-19 and the result was negative. 

Would families be notified if a faculty or staff member tests positive later (meaning they may have been exposed while still on campus)?
If a member of our campus community has a positive test for COVID-19, we would follow the Virginia Department of Health guidelines to contact individuals who may have come in contact with the infected person.

What happens if a student gets the virus while at home? And is not able to do their school work?
Students should contact their professor directly and advise them of the situation. Students may also contact Student Health and Counseling for assistance.

What is the importance of staying home?
Limiting contact with others is best for your health and for the health of others. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you might be spreading the COVID-19 virus. The more we can slow down the spread of the virus, the better equipped our health care system is to handle the number of cases.

Does Health Services have COVID-19 tests?
At this point all testing is being handled by the Virginia Department of Health state laboratory. Roanoke College staff will coordinate with local VDH officials.

What is Roanoke College doing to protect employees who are still working and coming on campus?
In addition to remote learning, social distancing, limited in-person meetings and increased disinfection of campus buildings, employees who are at-risk or who are caring for someone at-risk can request to work from home. Employees who cannot work from home may request a leave of absence, drawing from the five extra days of leave recently given to employees in this category, on top of their other accrued-leave balances.

How is Roanoke College protecting the community?
Roanoke College is following CDC guidelines on screening and response protocols, and will continue to issue updates to those in the Roanoke College community as well as on our social media outlets. Housekeeping department continues to disinfect and clean the campus with products recommended for killing viruses. 

If I have more questions, where can I ask them?
Future updates can be found at You can also email us at for queries not addressed on the COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.  

For questions about COVID-19 itself, we recommend reading the Centers for Disease Control webpage and the Virginia Department of Health website. We have a longer list of resources at