Below please find a message from President Chris Wood related to the semester COVID response and outcomes. We will continue to communicate throughout the summer on an “as needed” basis.

We appreciate your attention to the messaging that has been shared and assure you we will convey pertinent updates when necessary.

In dire circumstances, working together was our armor

During the 2020-21 academic year, students at Davis & Elkins College demonstrated a deep commitment to follow health guidelines that not only kept you healthy, but also kept your fellow students healthy. Yet, it goes well beyond that. I believe the efforts of our students in the height of a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed millions worldwide and more than 580,000 in the U.S. alone showed tenacity, discipline, and a crucial willingness to think about people other than yourself. That is a journey in self-exploration that cannot be taught, only experienced.

As the Fall 2020 semester approached last August, great uncertainty had washed over the college community nationwide. COVID-19 had not only enveloped every corner of the U.S., tanked a summer vacation season, and cast great doubt in a troubled economy, but it had also cast a shadow over a return to campus for students across the country.

In the meantime, Davis & Elkins College spent the previous several months developing an extensive return-to-campus strategy that that included a comprehensive guide for faculty and staff and a system by which the college could minimize and mitigate the virus in our student community.

Our campus health and safety plan included weekly, random testing among students, and showed an impressive response throughout the fall, with the exception of an outbreak in November as a result of poor judgement by a handful of your classmates.

Likewise, following advisories to students to follow safety practices over the holiday season, D&E braced for the return of students for the Spring 2021 semester. As the result of holiday activity and travel, the College faced positive COVID cases the first week of the new semester, prompting a plea to step up preventative practices and to urge your fellow students to do the same.

Messaging to students was imperative: live safely and follow guidelines or face the risk of online instruction rather than in-person instruction in the classroom. Thankfully, D&E’s students heard that plea and responded.

That said, this year was not without issue, but we faced challenges together. While positive cases found their way to campus, the diligence of campus leadership and the commitment by students helped us control and correct each challenge we faced.

Your response was immediate, steadfast, and extraordinary. All told, D&E had a remarkably low COVID-19 positivity rate, due in part to the diligence and leadership of every D&E Senator.

It would be a great oversight not to commend those who created and implemented our return-to-campus strategy, a plan that made D&E a model throughout West Virginia and the nation as to how to cope with this horrible pandemic. By working together, we did a great job of protecting our campus and completing a successful academic year without any interruption in the delivery of in-person instruction. For that, I am so incredibly grateful and proud of you.

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College