Dear parents of both seniors and other students registered to live off campus,

Earlier today, we sent the following message to your students. We are grateful for your partnership in communicating with your students the need to remain vigilant in the face of an evolving national health crisis.

As you will see below, we are looking ahead to what may be a next step for the state of North Carolina and advising all students still in Winston-Salem to return home if at all possible. We do not want to put your son or daughter in a compromising situation with travel but we have been advised by health officials that their living situation here represents a risk, and our ability to support them if they become infected with COVID-19 will be very limited.

We know this has been a challenging time for our students and their families. Every action we take is in the best interest of our students with the information available at the time. Nothing is more important than our students’ continued health and safety.

Again, thank you for your partnership.

Penny Rue
Vice President for Campus Life

NOTE: Because we have no way of knowing which students might still be in Winston-Salem, we are erring on the side of the broadest inclusion possible with this information and are sending this message to: all seniors and all students (of any year) who were approved to live off campus. If your student is not in Winston-Salem, please disregard this message.

Subject: Anticipating a “Shelter in Place Order

Dear Wake Forest seniors and students registered to live off campus,

I am reaching out to you today to share important information so that you can make the best decision possible for your health and safety. I am so sorry that this semester has taken such a disappointing turn in recent weeks. I still have great hope that together we will emerge from this brief episode stronger as individuals and as a community.

While we remain optimistic that we can deliver a high-quality educational experience, even under these challenging circumstances, rapidly evolving conditions in the state may accelerate our need to further change the way we support those of you still in Winston-Salem.

Today, North Carolina confirmed the first case of community transmission. This means that the patient was not at risk due to recent travel or contact with someone known to have been exposed. As of today, there are 137 confirmed cases in the state, and many others potentially ill with COVID-19 have yet to be officially identified. Numbers are expected to increase as results from individuals being tested become available. Epidemiologists are predicting we could see the virus spread to thousands of people in North Carolina as early as April 2.

Governors in other states have issued executive orders requiring residents to “shelter in place” with wide-ranging implications and requiring all residents to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible. Failure to comply with an executive order could carry fines and other legal penalties.

In anticipation of the expected spread of the virus and a possible executive order being issued in North Carolina, Wake Forest is planning to implement the actions explained below. We believe these actions are necessary for the safety of our community during this unprecedented public health challenge.

Students should strongly consider returning to a place of permanent residence

Students still living in Winston-Salem are strongly encouraged to consider making immediate plans to return home before anticipated travel restrictions go into place. It is important for as many students as possible to return home. By reducing the density of our student population, we can slow the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming health care and community systems. We also believe it is important to alleviate the possible stress on health care, food services, custodial services, safety and security functions and other infrastructure at the University.

What would a shelter in place order mean for students still in North Carolina?

“Shelter” is a student’s residence hall, off-campus house or apartment. Within this space, students may congregate in groups no larger than 10 people, maintaining six feet of distance between each person not already living in the same room. Wake Forest has already implemented a no-visitor requirement in residence halls, and students residing off-campus are not permitted to visit the residence halls.

While the exact requirements of a shelter in place order would be directed by the state government, we anticipate that students would be permitted to leave their residence only for the following reasons:

  • Attending medical appointments (please reschedule all routine, non-essential appointments)
  • Picking up to-go meals
  • Going to the local store for food and supplies
  • Walking and exercising, keeping six feet away from anyone you don’t already live with in the same room.
  • Reducing movement within the community slows community spread and helps conserve critical medical resources.

What should I do right now to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Any student presenting symptoms and receiving testing is required to self-isolate. Any student who experiences symptoms associated with COVID-19 should contact the Student Health Service, their primary care provider or public health department.

Thank you for your attention and adherence to these changes. We have a moral obligation to reduce the burden on and risks for our essential workers serving our community during this time and healthcare workers who may need to handle a sudden spike in new cases of COVID-19.

We are actively trying to do our part to slow the rate of spread of this virus and are asking the same of you. The preventative actions we are taking now will have a direct influence on how we weather this pandemic. We appreciate your resilience under rapidly evolving circumstances. The best place to find information on Wake Forest’s response to coronavirus is at

Please continue to virtually check in on one another and take care of yourselves and your families during this time.


Penny Rue
Vice President for Campus Life