Autumn leaves on the Lawn Sanjay Suchak

UVA is set to open its fall semester on Aug. 25 with several conditions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Students will be required to submit a negative test result before returning to Grounds, where they will be required to track symptoms, maintain social distance and wear face coverings, according to updates this summer from University administrators. The updates also discussed offering remote learning options for those who cannot or choose not to return.

Officials also strongly recommend that students self-quarantine for 14 days before returning. Large crowds of students gathered for Midsummers without masks and social distancing, which put the entire community at risk and threatened to derail the return to school, Dean of Students Allen Groves wrote in a letter admonishing students for reckless behavior.

In a series of updates, the University outlined the following policies, noting that much of the plan is subject to change depending on conditions and the advice of health officials.

Public health

  • Students will require a negative COVID-19 test before returning to Grounds. Tests will be provided free to students at their homes. Fourteen days before returning to Grounds, students are highly encouraged to self-quarantine. Students who test positive will be able to return to Grounds after mandatory self-isolation.
  • All students, faculty and staff will be provided with two cloth masks and required to wear a mask in common spaces.
  • All students will be provided with two small containers of hand sanitizer, as well as a touch tool to open doors and push keypads.
  • The University will place 3,600 hand-sanitizer stands and containers in high-traffic spots. Sanitizing wipes will also be available.
  • Students, faculty and staff will be required to track virus symptoms daily using an app.
  • The University will enhance its cleaning of classrooms, labs, dining halls, lounges and other common spaces, and will provide hand-sanitizing stations around Grounds.
  • Testing will be available to anyone who wants it. Students who test positive will be isolated, and those who have been exposed will be quarantined. The University will be working with the Virginia Department of Health to trace the contacts of anyone who contracts the virus.

Academics

  • The semester, beginning Aug. 25 for undergraduates, will end by Thanksgiving.
  • The University will try to maximize the number of in-person classes, with decisions made based on format, classroom capacity and faculty availability. Large classes will all be online. In-person classes will have a remote option for students not on Grounds.
  • Undergraduate students can spread out their course load by taking classes in the January and summer terms, with no increase in tuition.

Student life

  • Students will be able to choose their roommates and will be assigned specific sinks, stalls and showers in residence halls, with limits on the number of students allowed in communal bathrooms at once.
  • Dining facilities will operate at 50 percent seating capacity and will provide more takeout options.
  • Sporting events will be held on Grounds, although no decision has been made on fan attendance.

Also this summer, UVA President James E. Ryan (Law ’92) announced that final exercises for the Class of 2020 will be held May 28–30, 2021. “We know this may be disappointing news for some of you, but our primary goal—beyond keeping you and everyone on Grounds safe—is to give you and your families the celebration you deserve, and one that reflects the special place the Class of 2020 will always hold in the history of this university,” Ryan wrote in a message to the class.