The Rotunda Sanjay Suchak

President James E. Ryan (Law ’92) has signaled the University of Virginia will likely start the fall semester on time August 25, with a return to Grounds of students and in-person instruction, though with limitations, and with a litany of new public-health measures.

A formal back-to-school announcement is expected any day, no later than mid-June. The outlines of what to expect came in a May 28 message to the UVA community from Ryan and his executive vice presidents, qualified as senior leadership’s current thinking, subject to continually changing events and further consideration. Among the tentative high points:

  • A condensed semester that ends by Thanksgiving, with exams taking place within that time frame or separately online
  • A hybrid of in-classroom and virtual instruction, with large lectures remaining online
  • A still-developing set of safety protocols that will include distancing, masks, testing, contact tracing and isolating those who’ve likely contracted the virus

Provost M. Elizabeth Magill’s (Law ’95) coronavirus working group continues to develop the details, such as protocols for managing crowds in dorms, dining halls, libraries and recreational facilities. Ryan also allowed for the possibility that the University may not be able welcome all students to Grounds all at once.

And the spread of COVID-19, or a state mandate, could preempt the still-formulating plans altogether.

The message to the community conveyed a balancing of considerations, between maximal public health and the optimal college experience. “One of UVA’s greatest strengths is our world-class residential learning experience—something that, as all of you know by now, cannot be fully replicated online,” Ryan said in the memo, adding: “There is also no end in reasonable sight for this virus, which makes it even more imperative that we do our best to adapt.”