CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia is delaying both when some in-person classes start and when undergraduates can move in to residence halls.
In its announcement Tuesday, August 4, UVA stated that these actions are in response to an uptick in coronavirus cases, both locally and nationally.
The university says undergraduate courses will still start on August 25, but they will all be online for two weeks. Classes will shift to in-person on September 8, and a few days before that, undergraduates will be able to move into residence halls.
“The reality is that this is a historic moment and everyone is doing the best they can to cope with the moment and do the right things,” UVA spokesperson Brian Coy said. “We believe this is the right thing to make sure we’re doing this in a way that’s the healthiest and safest approach for everyone.”
Graduate and professional programs will start as previously planned.
Coy says that UVA will continue to monitor COVID-19 data in case another decision needs to be made.
“Today we feel confident that this is a good way to step out the return to grounds,” he said.
Rising third-year student Rayna Burmeister is skeptical. She heard about the university’s decision when her friends texted her.
“How much money do you want to bet that it’s not just two weeks, but it’s indefinitely?” she asked her friends.
To make that call, the university will monitor the COVID numbers, including the positivity rate, testing capacity, and hospitalizations.
“If those numbers mean that it’s not as safe, as we think it is today to bring people back on September 8, we will make another decision,” Coy said.
But a decision to have students come back could have a dangerous outcome if you ask third-year student Will Houghland.
“Looking at the way people are doing it right now, I’m seeing so many students that are still going to frat parties, going out to bars,” he said. “There’s no way something bad is not going to happen.”
The university is still promoting online instruction options for nearly all of its courses.
“Going online, trying to help the students that are hurt by online as much as possible, is the best they can do,” Houghland said.
But as UVA touts Tuesday’s decision as evidence it is listening to students, some are not sure.
“I feel like it’s kind of picking and choosing how it wants to listen,” Burmeister said.
University leaders are also urging students who plan to live off-UVA Grounds to delay their return until in-person courses resume.
UVA says it will work to accommodate students who need to return sooner, and that international students should plan to arrive in the United States by August 25 in order to comply with quarantine and immigration requirements.
The University of Virginia says it has and will continue to implement health and safety precautions, including virus testing for all students who will be in Charlottesville. Additionally, UVA says classrooms have been outfitted with plexiglass shields, and capacity has been revised to comply with physical-distancing recommendations. Physical distancing measures and safety protocols will be enforced in dining halls, libraries, buses and other public spaces.
Face coverings will be required for all students, faculty and staff.
University leaders are set to hold a virtual town hall Friday, August 7, for students, faculty and staff who would like to hear more about UVA’s plans. A similar event for parents and Charlottesville community members will be held sometime next week. Leaders plan to share another UVA update no later than August 28.