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VTS Closes Offices Until March 23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: (703) 461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu
 
ALEXANDRIA,VA – Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) has closed due to the confirmation of a student testing “presumptive positive” for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“I announced last night that the campus is closed,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president. “We will ask for a deep clean of the campus. Classes will continue online. Membership of the Episcopal High School gym has been suspended. 1823 is closed. The Butterfly House and Library are both closed.”

On March 10, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) was notified that a resident of Washington, DC, associated with Christ Church in Georgetown, who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, spent time at the Immanuel Chapel at VTS. AHD’s investigation identified and called individuals who had close contact with the Washington, DC resident, to advise them to self-quarantine at home, including students and faculty of VTS. One of those close contacts was the VTS student who tested presumptive positive.

The Seminary was notified the AHD of the test last night and announced the closure of the campus. “Presumptive positive” means the test, conducted by Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services in Richmond, was positive and is pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the AHD, the student is currently doing well and is isolated at home.

At VTS, we are conscious of the need to protect our community and guests from the virus as much as we are able. Our assumption throughout is that we are seeking to follow the advice of the CDC and other health-related authorities and medical professionals. Effective until Monday, March 23, 2020:
  • All Seminary administrative offices have closed.
  • The Butterfly House (on-site childcare) has closed.
  • The Bishop Payne Library has closed.
  • 1823 has closed.
  • Chapel services remain canceled.
  • Classes will continue online.
“There have been cases of COVID-19 in most states and across the National Capital region,” said AHD Director Dr. Stephen A. Haering. “The Alexandria Health Department and the City of Alexandria have been preparing for this. COVID-19 is an evolving situation, and we will continue to share information as it becomes available. Based on our current investigation, the general Alexandria community is still at low risk for COVID-19.”

The Alexandria Health Department advises that visitors to the campus, who were not contacted directly by AHD and asked to self-quarantine, should consider themselves to be at low risk. Such visitors should self-monitor for symptoms. Self-monitoring includes checking body temperature twice a day and monitoring for symptoms of cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or temperature higher than 100.4 F. If you were potentially exposed at Immanuel Chapel and have any of these symptoms, or if you develop them within 14 days of the visit, call your primary care physician. Guests who do not show these symptoms do not need to call your physician or be tested for COVID-19.
 
“While uncertainty surrounds us on every side, we are invited to trust in the agency and work of the Creator God,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. “Let us pray for those impacted by this virus and for those public servants and doctors who are working to ameliorate the situation.”

For the latest information, please visit www.vts.edu/coronavirus.

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Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.
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