Dear Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional School Students:
I'm writing today – on the heels of my message to you on COVID-19 testing earlier this week and President Ryan's message yesterday on modifications to fall opening – to provide you with important updates on choices you may make about the coming fall semester, including actions for you to take consistent with those choices. I recognize it's a lengthy message, but I ask that you take a moment to carefully review what is set forth below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken much from you. I know it can feel like so much of life is suddenly outside of your control. However, there are important choices about your UVA experience that are yours to make. They are described below. Please also know that if you elect to be in Charlottesville this fall, we will do all we can to create safe but meaningful opportunities for you to be together as a student community. I don't want you to feel your life has been put on pause. There remains much that awaits you.
Decisions about the fall. In the coming days, all students will need to make some important decisions about the fall semester. By its very nature, the COVID-19 pandemic means your individual actions can affect others. Likewise, the actions of others will have an impact on you. For these reasons, you should keep community at the forefront of your actions and carefully weigh your options for the fall.
The University has intentionally built flexibility into the available options:
- All students, with very limited exceptions, may take their courses virtually.
- Undergraduate students may take a lighter load this fall and at no additional expense enroll in a J-Term course in 2021 and a Summer Session I course.
- Undergraduate upperclass students may choose to reside in local on- or off-Grounds housing in Charlottesville/Albemarle, and take advantage of classes or services offered in person.
- First-year students may live on Grounds or may live in their home communities (but may not reside off-Grounds in Charlottesville/Albemarle unless this is your family home).
- Please note that all students living on Grounds or in the local area (Charlottesville/Albemarle) will need to meet several public safety requirements. The latter part of this email describes those requirements.
Recognize the risks. It is critically important that you and your family discuss the risks imposed by the pandemic. If you are not comfortable with the guidelines established by the University, including living in a residence hall with others, it's okay to consider whether you'd prefer to take courses online and remain in your home community for the fall. If you feel you cannot adhere to the public health requirements the University, Commonwealth, and local authorities are imposing to slow the spread of COVID-19, you should reconsider whether returning to Grounds this fall makes sense for you. The University must enforce these mandates, including consequences for failure to comply. We fervently want this to be a safe, productive semester for everyone, but this semester will be very different from what you may have experienced here previously. That's something to keep in mind as you make your decision.
Determine the choice that is best for you. I recognize how difficult these decisions are for each of you. You have been dealt a challenging set of circumstances, and what you expected your undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional school experience to be has been severely upended in many ways. Whether you are a fourth-year who had been looking forward to your final two semesters, a first-year who has already experienced several disappointments since March, or a student embarking on a new journey for graduate study, the answers are not easy. They are yours to determine, however, in light of what is best for you, your health, and your future.
UVA will be here for you. We are here to support you in whatever you decide. Through virtual classes and outreach, supplemented by as many instances of in-person teaching and services as possible, we want you to have a meaningful college experience inside and outside the classroom. The pandemic is a real threat we cannot control. We can, however, control our response to it, both individually and as a University.
Let's move forward together.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students
Summary: Student Requirements for Fall 2020
1. On-Grounds Housing Contract: August 24 (Revised) Deadline to Cancel
If you signed a housing contract to live on Grounds, but now wish to cancel your contract, you may do so with no penalty by writing firstname.lastname@example.org by August 24. We have extended this from the original August 5 deadline, but please do not fail to communicate your decision by this new date.
2. SIS To-Do List
Beginning today, August 5, you should have seen a To-Do added in SIS:
COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Requirements
You must complete this action by August 25.
3. Initial Question in SIS
This question will determine if you need to complete all the requirements. It reads:
Will you be living or learning on Grounds or in the local community of Charlottesville and Albemarle County during the fall 2020 semester?
Note: "Learning" refers to any in-person activity, such as attending class in person, going to office hours, meeting as part of a student study group, or visiting the library or gym.
If your answer is NO, you do not need to do anything further.
If your answer is YES, you will need to complete these three requirements:
3a. Testing. Obtain a negative test result via a COVID-19 self-administered test.
On Monday, August 3, you received a message from me about ordering a mail-in self-test kit from the University's vendor, Let's Get Checked. You are urged to order the test by the end of today, August 5, so you receive it promptly. Please wait to take the test according to the schedule outlined in my August 3 email.
Note: Some students will need to follow special instructions for completing the test.
3b. Video. View a video on new Rules and Norms.
A group of your fellow students has created a video that summarizes ways in which new rules and norms will be a vital part of keeping the UVA and larger Charlottesville community safe in light of COVID-19.
3c. Agreement. Sign an agreement committing to follow those Rules and Norms.
It is the shared responsibility of our community to maintain a healthy and safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. You must commit to this shared responsibility by signing and agreeing to the terms of the Agreement to Acknowledge Compliance with Public Health Measures.
In brief, students must commit to:
- Wear a mask at all times indoors, except when alone (or with roommates) and in private spaces (e.g., dorm rooms or apartments).
- Wear a mask outside when a physical distance of at least 6-feet cannot be maintained.
- Maintain 6-feet or more from others when outside your home.
- Gather socially in groups of 15 or fewer or not at all.
- In addition, visitors to students in Charlottesville and on Grounds will be limited, and extracurricular activities will be modified in ways that comport with the health and safety protocols.
Self-Quarantine. In addition to these requirements, you are strongly encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to your return to Charlottesville or the start of classes. This means you should stay home, separate from others outside the home, monitor your health, and follow directions from your state or local health department.
This is a protective measure that limits exposure to individuals who may be infected with COVID-19 and thus can transmit the virus. The University recognizes this may pose challenges, but it is a highly effective measure to limit the spread of virus to Grounds once school resumes.
If you are unable to self-quarantine, it is essential that you minimize contact with others during this 14-day period. Specifically, you should not attend any large social events or interact with more than a few people (3-5) at a time. You should be vigilant in physical distancing (maintaining at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others), using a face covering, washing hands frequently, and refraining from touching your face (especially eyes) without washing hands first.
If you have been living abroad, regardless of your nationality, you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the U.S.
While waiting for the test result and even upon receiving a negative test result and subsequently traveling to Charlottesville, students should continue to take special care to avoid crowds as much possible, physically distance, and wear a face covering. More details are spelled out on page 2 of the University's COVID-19 Prevention, Detection, and Response Plan.
Hoos Health Check: All students, faculty, and staff planning to be on Grounds will complete a daily check on symptoms related to COVID-19 through the HOOS Health Check app or by email. The HOOS Health Check app is designed to make individuals aware of their symptoms, to encourage personal responsibility, and, if the individual exhibits symptoms, to provide resources and next steps for testing. Instructions for downloading HOOS Health Check will be provided in mid-August.