UVA Student Council calls for virtual instruction, opt-out system for on-Grounds housing

UVA Student Council calls for virtual instruction, opt-out system for on-Grounds housing
The University of Virginia Rotunda (FILE) (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Student Council is calling on UVA to switch to virtual instruction for the fall semester.

In a released Wednesday, August 26, the council cites outbreaks of the coronavirus at the University of North Carolina and Virginia Commonwealth University as examples.

There is concern COVID-19 will not only spread to UVA Grounds, but across the community with dire consequences.

The student council is also asking for an opt-out system for on-Grounds housing, which would let students stay unless they voluntarily decide to return home.

08/26/2020 Release from the University of Virginia Student Council:

As Universities around the country have begun to bring students back to campus and resume in-person instruction, disturbing trends have arisen. At the UNC, hundreds of community members have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the administration to revert to remote learning only a week into the semester. At VCU, over three dozen cases have been reported in the first week of classes. And Notre Dame, which has nearly identical protocols to UVA, has reported upwards of 500 cases since reopening. The University cannot, in good conscience, resume in-person instruction. COVID-19 will spread, the Charlottesville community will suffer, and students, faculty, staff, and community members will die. 

Student Council is formally calling on the University to 1) reverse all plans for undergraduate in-person instruction* and 2) implement an opt-out system for on-Grounds housing.

An opt-out system for on-Grounds housing means that students will be allowed to move-in/remain on Grounds unless they voluntarily opt to return home; housing is guaranteed to all students. A system of this type ensures that no student feels forced to return to an unsafe or unstable home environment, and that the University is not deciding which circumstances are “extenuating enough” to allow a student to remain on Grounds. Strict physical distancing, masking, and other restrictions would remain in place, with strong enforcement. 

As always, Student Council encourages community members to be vigilant in their observance of public masking and physical distancing. Students should not be meeting in large groups, going to parties and bars, or participating in any other behavior which puts themselves - and the Charlottesville community as a whole - at risk for serious illness. Students in need of support should not hesitate to reach out to UVA Mutual Aid or the UVA CARES Act Emergency Fund

UPDATED 8/26/20 AT 11:22 a.m.

*Except for classes which, structurally, must be held in-person to satisfy graduation requirements - such as clinical rotations for Nursing students.

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