Coronavirus Preparedness

This page provides information regarding Hollins’ decisions in regards to Spring 2020. For the most up-to-date information on Hollins’ plans as it relates to COVID-19, please visit

Hollins University is taking appropriate action in relation to the global spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We are actively monitoring the outbreak and working closely with local and state public health authorities regarding response protocols if required.

This page is intended to provide information about our preparations for the coronavirus, steps that members of the campus community can take to protect themselves from illness, and resources for the latest precautionary measures, travel advisories, and other important news. This is of course a fluid situation that changes on a daily basis, and updates will be issued as circumstances warrant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Update May 4, 2020

As we approach the end of this difficult spring term, students are finishing papers and projects and preparing for final exams while the university is busy planning for the 2020-21 academic year.

I remain so proud of this community for the ways it has responded to the pandemic. The faculty did a wonderful job pivoting to deliver online instruction. At the same time, students courageously adjusted to leaving campus and engaging in distance learning even though seniors forfeited cherished traditions and all students missed out on end-of-year celebrations. Finally, once Governor Northam’s stay-at-home order went into effect, most of our staff and administrators shifted to working remotely, which is something they have done with poise and grace. This has not been an easy time for any of us, but I am grateful for how thoughtfully everyone has responded, and I certainly hope this letter finds each of you, and your families and friends, safe and well.

I know many of you are wondering about our plans for the fall term. I assure you we remain committed to supporting the educational goals of our students and faculty as well as the health and safety of our community. Informed by these priorities, this fall we intend to open on schedule as a residential campus and resume high-quality, in-person instruction. Our community is at its best when we can all be together exchanging ideas, learning from one another in and out of the classroom, and nurturing meaningful personal relationships. However, given the seriousness of the pandemic, our plans remain subject to change as we receive new guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC, and government officials regarding testing, contact tracing, and other mitigation strategies.

Mindful of this evolving situation, President-elect Hinton, the cabinet, the faculty, and I are currently engaged in considering a number of issues that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assessment and modification of classroom, residential, and dining spaces to accommodate physical-distancing requirements, if imposed;
  • Development of a plan to manage COVID-19 challenges in conjunction with public health officials;
  • Consideration of different scenarios that allow for possible adjustments to teaching, residential life, and even the academic calendar;
  • Faculty engagement around how to ensure the best possible academic experience for students; and
  • Evaluation of the financial impact of the pandemic on university operations.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we conduct this planning work. We anticipate knowing more by mid-June (after the statewide stay-at-home order is lifted) and will share additional information with you at that time so that you can make your plans accordingly. In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates on our COVID-19 webpage, including the FAQ page. You will also have opportunities to ask questions at a series of virtual town hall meetings scheduled for the week of May 11. Watch your email for an invitation.

Finally, I wish you the best in the remaining days of spring term. Our Hollins family is resilient, and together we will move forward with unrelenting determination.

Nancy Oliver Gray
Interim President

Update April 23, 2020

Undergraduate and graduate students whose lives have been disrupted by COVID-19 may be eligible for emergency cash grants provided through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

As announced by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the grants are intended to help students pay for expenses related to their cost of attendance, including food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare. Students must show significant financial need in order to qualify for this support. According to the guidance from the Department of Education, students eligible for this financial support must be able to qualify for Title IV funding (federal financial aid).

If you are dealing with economic hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and have expenses that may be covered, please complete this form by Wednesday, April 29, at 4:30 p.m. EST. Each request will be carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To determine the level of financial need and nature of your eligible expenses, additional information may be required after the form is submitted.

Please note that international students do not qualify for Title IV funding and are not eligible for consideration under the CARES Act.

Kerry J. Edmonds
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Update April 14, 2020

Many of you have asked about plans for Honors Convocation and our 178th Commencement Exercises. As you know, we very much regret being unable to conduct these activities this spring due to Governor Northam’s stay-at-home order. I know this is a huge disappointment for our graduating students and their families and friends, as it is for our academic community. However, as I shared in an announcement to seniors this afternoon, we still want to recognize those receiving honors and those graduating.

As a result, we are rescheduling Commencement for Sunday, September 6, during the Labor Day Weekend. Baccalaureate will take place the day before, along with other festivities to honor the class of 2020. Should the progression of the pandemic make that date not possible or safe, we will hold the ceremony next May 30, 2021, during the Memorial Day weekend.  Students who would have received awards at Honors Convocation will be notified by letter and then recognized during Commencement or at Opening Convocation in the fall. Additional details will follow.

Honors Convocation, which was scheduled to take place Tuesday, May 5, has been cancelled. However, students receiving awards will be notified by email before May 5 and will be able to pick up their certificates and prizes either at the rescheduled graduation or at Opening Convocation in the fall.

Nancy Oliver Gray
Interim President

Update April 2, 2020

For Graduate Students,

On Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order to protect the health of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order, which is in effect until June 10, requires all institutions of higher education to cease in-person instruction and cancel gatherings of more than ten individuals. As June 10 falls after the beginning of our summer session, we have made the difficult decision to move all summer graduate programs online.

For those of you who are incoming students, we understand this change in delivery is not what you were anticipating. However, I want to assure you that the program directors have been planning for this eventuality and will deliver a top-notch and enriching experience online. They look forward to welcoming you as you embark on your new degrees. If you have any questions, please contact the appropriate director.

For continuing students, please know that we are committed to maintaining, in an online environment, the high-quality instruction you are already accustomed to receiving. Your faculty and program directors are developing creative ways to deliver, as closely as possible, what they would ordinarily provide in person. We have ZOOM-enabled classes that will support the experiential learning and interactive engagement that make our programs so relevant to professional work. Your instructors are eager to reconnect with you virtually this summer.

Please know that your program directors will be in touch with you soon with more information, but do not hesitate to reach out to them, Cathy Koon (, or interim vice presidents Dan Derringer ( and Alison Ridley ( at any time with questions.

We look forward to you joining us online this summer.

Nancy Oliver Gray
Interim President

Update April 1, 2020

As you may know, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam yesterday afternoon issued a statewide stay-at-home order to protect the health of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order, which is in effect until June 10, prohibits public gatherings of more than 10 people.

As a result, we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to postpone our 178th Commencement Exercises, scheduled for May 24.  This is particularly difficult news for our seniors, who were already feeling a deep sense of loss after missing other senior activities and their final months as a class together; our graduating grad students; and those students’ families.

Seniors, I share your disappointment as I, too, was anticipating your special day.  As many of you know, you entered Hollins as first-year students during my last year as the university’s 11th president. After joining you at the outset of your Hollins journey, I was truly looking forward to presenting your diplomas this spring. It has been my privilege to get to witness how, both in the classroom and beyond, you have thrived at Hollins. This is not the end of the academic year that any of us would have wanted.

Although we cannot hold our Commencement Exercises on the scheduled date, we can look forward to enjoying this important event at another time. We will work hard to find the best way for our graduates to come together and celebrate their many accomplishments. Class of 2020, you will have your special day and you will have it in the style you deserve!  Following consultation with some of our seniors, I will be back in touch with alternate dates and plans.

Please continue to take care of yourselves, focus on your academic work, and support each other. We miss you and so wish you were all here.  However, as we are learning, now is a time to stay home, stay well, and stay strong.

Nancy Oliver Gray
Interim President

Update March 30, 2020

First and foremost, I hope that you are well as our country and the world continues to respond to the global COVID-19 crisis that has disrupted all of our lives. Even in these uncertain and challenging times, I am grateful to be part of a community whose spirit, empathy, and resilience lift each of us up and guide us during this unprecedented time in our history.

We know that you have many questions about your belongings, room and board fees, housing lottery, registration for fall classes, and, of course, Commencement. Please review the attached FAQ document for answers to these and other questions we have received. I assure you that we are working carefully and methodically through these issues and many others. As such, while we may not be able to answer all your questions at this time, please know that the university continues to develop plans in this dynamic environment and will share new information as appropriate.

You probably still have other questions, and yet more will likely arise in the coming weeks, so I thank you for your continued patience and flexibility as we continue walking this unmarked trail together. Please know the Hollins faculty and staff, many remotely as well as those on campus, will continue working tirelessly to serve you and this institution during these challenging times.

Stay safe and stay healthy,
Kerry J. Edmonds
Executive Vice President & COO

Update March 20, 2020

As we all adjust to changes required in how we teach, learn, work and live, I hope you are well and taking care of yourselves. I also know that many of you are eager to learn what we are thinking about online instruction for the remainder of the term.

We have wrestled with this very difficult decision. I had very much hoped that we would be able to resume in-person instruction in April. However, the pandemic continues to grow – it is now in Roanoke as well – and we are all being asked to do things we would not ordinarily choose to do. As a result, we have made the decision to continue online instruction for the remainder of the term.

I know this is a disappointment for many of you, just as it is for me. And I regret that we do not yet have answers to the many questions you have about refunds, campus access to retrieve your belongings, commencement, and other concerns. We will have more details for you hopefully by late next week, but we felt it was vital to share this decision with you as soon as possible. We will also regularly update information on the FAQ page on our website ( In the meantime, if you have questions for us to consider, please direct them to the President’s Office ( and we will work to get answers for you.

This situation has been stressful and disruptive for everyone. We are deeply grateful that so many of you have stepped up in different ways to adapt to these unprecedented challenges and to help others in need. We can take great comfort and encouragement in knowing that the Hollins family is resilient and supportive. We must strive to practice empathy and compassion in our daily lives in caring for others as well as ourselves. Please keep your spirits up; check in on one another by phone, email, text, or social media; and stay positive. Let us remember our motto, Levavi Oculos, and lift up our eyes, especially in these uncertain times.

Nancy O. Gray
Interim President

Update March 13, 2020

As we advised you yesterday, we continue to monitor information regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. According to this afternoon’s local press conference with authorities from the City of Roanoke and Carilion Clinic, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in southwest Virginia. However, in light of Gov. Northam’s announcement closing all K-12 schools in Virginia, and out of an abundance of caution, we are accelerating our plans.

We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our campus and reduce the risk of contagion. Therefore, our Spring Recess will begin today at 5 p.m. and continue through Sunday, March 29. We encourage all students to make arrangements to leave campus as conveniently and safely as possible.

To give students time to arrange and prepare for this transition, residence halls and the dining hall will remain open through Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. Students needing additional time, or wishing to stay on campus during the remote instruction period, have been directed to the appropriate surveys.

The measures previously announced will remain in effect:

  • Undergraduate and graduate classes will transition to remote delivery and other alternative modes of instruction beginning Monday, March 30, the first day of scheduled classes after Spring Recess.
  • Remote instruction and residence hall closures will be in effect at least through the week concluding Friday, April 10.
  • On or before Monday, April 6, the university will reassess whether in-person instruction can resume, or if we will need to continue classes remotely through the rest of Spring Term.
  • The university will remain open and employees are asked to please report to work according to their regular schedules.

We are following developments closely so that we can make necessary changes, as we are doing today, to our plan of response. We will notify you immediately if circumstances warrant.

Thank you so much for your flexibility, cooperation, and understanding during this dynamic and rapidly changing situation.

Nancy Gray
Interim President

Update: March 12, 2020

Over the past couple of weeks, faculty, staff, and administrators have been carefully considering the most effective ways to protect our campus from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Today, out of an abundance of caution, I am announcing the following measures to help safeguard the Hollins community:

  • Residence halls will close on Friday, March 20, for Spring Recess; students are asked not to return to campus after the break.
  • Undergraduate and graduate classes will transition to online delivery and other alternative modes of instruction beginning Monday, March 30, the first day of scheduled classes after Spring Recess.
  • Remote instruction and residence hall closures will be in effect for two weeks through the week concluding April 10. At that time, the university will reassess whether in-person instruction can resume, or if we will need to continue classes online through the rest of Spring Term.
  • The university itself will remain open, and faculty and staff should continue to come into their offices and adhere to their regular work schedules.
  • Non-essential, university-related travel to professional conferences or other large gatherings is suspended.

Ending in-person classes and closing our residence halls in the middle of an academic session, even temporarily, is one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever had to make because we so value the importance of our in-person teaching and learning environment. I deeply regret the stress and disruption this process will no doubt cause for many of us. However, I hope that these decisions underscore our profound level of concern about this situation and our commitment to doing everything we can to reduce the risk of contagion and protect those who are most vulnerable.

Understandably, you may have a lot of questions about this decision. This letter is intended to address those questions. 

Student Housing
At this point in time, it is uncertain when residence halls will reopen after closing on March 20. Therefore, we recommend that students take as many of their belongings home as possible when they leave for Spring Recess. Don’t forget textbooks or other materials that you will need when remote instruction begins on March 30.

The decision regarding our residence halls was made in order to promote social distancing, a key component in mitigating the coronavirus. However, international students and limited others with mitigating circumstances may petition to remain on campus. Tomorrow morning, Housing and Residence Life will email students with more details about this procedure along with other important information. 

Hollins is providing every resource possible to facilitate online and other instructional delivery platforms for faculty and students to prevent any disruption to academic or creative work. Next week, faculty will review with their classes how they will communicate with students and deliver the course content when online instruction begins. 

University Operations and Employees
Academic and administrative departments and offices will remain open and employees are asked to please report to work as always. One-on-one meetings with individuals from outside of campus are still permissible. Nevertheless, using Skype or Zoom to conduct meetings is encouraged whenever possible.

Faculty and staff members who are ill should stay home from work.

Additional guidance will be forthcoming related to leave policies in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Campus Events and Activities
Effective immediately, all public events on campus that have been scheduled on the university calendar between now and Sunday, April 12, are cancelled. The Office of Admission is reaching out to prospective students and their families to offer other options such as private visits or online communication.

The Wyndham Robertson Library and Eleanor D. Wilson Museum will remain open for individual use.

At this point in time, we are not cancelling or postponing major events scheduled for later in the spring such as Honors Convocation, Commencement, and Reunion, but will continue to assess their feasibility as we get closer to their respective dates.

A Note of Thanks
I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kerry Edmonds and Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole for their tremendous leadership over the past couple of weeks in helping us deal with this unprecedented public health issue. I also want to thank the members of our COVID-19 task force for generously sharing their time and considerable expertise. You brought many crucial perspectives to our discussions.

Hollins Strong
Finally, I want to end on a note of assurance and optimism. We can take great comfort in knowing that the Hollins community is strong. We are resilient. And we support one another. For more than 175 years we have time and again overcome difficult circumstances and emerged with the unshakable confidence that we will move forward. As one of my colleagues said, “A community can take many forms.” I have no doubt that the strength of our community will sustain us in the days ahead.

Again, let me stress that these procedures are currently in place through the week concluding April 10, and the campus community will be notified immediately if any changes are required based on rapidly changing developments related to the coronavirus. In the meantime, we will continue to assess the situation thoughtfully and thoroughly, and make an informed decision on our next steps and keep you informed.

Nancy Gray
Interim President

Update: March 10, 2020

Last week, we shared with you that we are actively monitoring the latest information surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus. The spread of this illness is why Hollins, similar to other colleges and universities around the country, is considering its potential impact on our campus and preparing to effectively maintain operations under a range of circumstances. Above all, our mission is to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff; to do so with thoughtfulness and compassion; and ensure every measure we take serves the common good.

A task force is presently reviewing our response protocols and contingency plans and revising them as needed to respond to potential disruptions, including impacts to the academic program, university-related travel, and residential housing.

Instructional Continuity
One of our highest priorities is to make certain our academic community still thrives in the event a particular situation, from public health matters to weather-related incidents, causes disruption. If necessary, we will take advantage of all available resources to ensure teaching, research, and advising are ongoing. Our faculty is in the process of developing instructional continuity plans for delivering our curriculum online and via other delivery platforms should the university decide to suspend in-person classroom instruction.

Planned Travel
Yesterday, members of the campus community received a survey about university-related or personal travel plans, if any, for Spring Break and the remainder of Spring Term. If you have not yet done so, please complete this survey by noon on Friday, March 13:

This information will help Health and Counseling Services monitor those destinations for news of possible COVID-19 cases. We can then focus accordingly and appropriately on the health of the campus.

Health Precautions
To date, we have seen no suspected cases of coronavirus, nor have we identified any specific risk to any individual here on campus. Nevertheless, it is important to take preventive measures to protect yourself and others. Please keep in mind and practice the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact, including handshakes and hugging.
  • Get proper rest, nutrition, and exercise.

Your cooperation is deeply appreciated as we work collaboratively to safeguard everyone’s health and safety. We will continue to update you as new details become available or information changes.

Nancy Gray
Interim President

Kerry Edmonds
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer