Dear Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Students:
It’s been a little more than two weeks since I last checked in with you. With classes due to end next week, I hope you have managed the altered routines of this semester reasonably well. We all will remember this as a time when things changed suddenly and we were asked to operate in never-before attempted ways. If you have struggled some or a lot, I am certain you are not alone. You must remember this is an extremely challenging time and none among us has walked this particular path before.
Part of my purpose in writing is to remind you of several services still available to you, whether or not you are in Charlottesville. These services are available virtually, delivered by the same professional UVA staff members who would be meeting with you in person.
► Student Health and Wellness. You recently received an email with details on how you can access the services of Student Health, even while socially distanced. Teams continue to offer care to students through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); Medical Services; the Student Disability and Access Center (SDAC); and Health Promotion. If you are now residing in a state other than Virginia, some restrictions apply to remote access to CAPS, which vary state-to-state in terms of clinical licensure. If you want to talk with someone about COVID-19, stress and anxiety, nutrition services, or any other aspect of your physical or mental health, please reach out to Student Health and Wellness.
For those of you who are undergraduates, there have been a number of articles in the press recently on the challenges inherent in an adult student returning to a family home mid-semester. It’s natural to have somewhat less freedom than enjoyed at the University in this difficult stay-at-home environment, and there can be strains on even the best family relationships. Stress can also come from seeing your parents struggling in a dramatically altered employment environment, or needing to take on employment of your own in addition to coursework to help make ends meet. For some students, returning to a family home isn’t a viable option, and this can result in feelings of isolation once friends and housemates have left Charlottesville to return home.
Added to this is the feeling of “loss” by many in the Class of 2020, who have seen a disruption in what you thought your final semester would be. All of this can feel overwhelming at times. I urge you to exercise self-care, reach out to your peer network for support, be intentional in working to maintain your physical as well as mental health, and utilize the other resources available to you. A student wrote to me recently explaining that he has adopted the motto “you can’t pause your life” in navigating this difficult time. I hope you can focus on those things that matter most to you as we sail these choppy waters together.
► UVA Career Center. If you are worried about your prospects for an internship, job, or graduate school, the UVA Career Center is a valuable resource. By going to their Virtual Career Support website, you will find answers to a variety of career-related questions as well as links to:
- Schedule a virtual or phone appointment with a career counselor. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
- Register for a student town hall taking place this Friday afternoon, Jobs, Internships, and Graduate Schools: Strategies for UVA Students during COVID-19. You will learn more about the current job and internship environment and you will be able to ask questions.
- Use online tools such V-Mock to strengthen your resume and PathwayU to learn more about your top career matches.
- Enhance your resume by taking free online skill-building courses taught by Darden faculty.
- Connect with alumni to explore career interests through Virginia Alumni Mentoring.
► Grading Options for this Semester for Undergraduates. On April 15, undergraduate students received an email from the University’s academic leadership updating the Credit/General Credit/No Credit default for this semester. To summarize, your grades will automatically default to CR/GC/NC unless you express your preference to receive a letter grade. All undergraduate transcripts for the spring 2020 term will note that CR/GC/NC grading was the default grading option for UVA undergraduate classes in response to the global pandemic.
However, you also have the option to receive a letter grade for your courses. To receive a letter grade, you must indicate this option in SIS for each class. Two deadlines are important to remember:
- Beginning Friday, April 24, at 8 a.m. (EDT), all of your classes will default to CR/GC/NC. At that time, if you wish, you may change any (or all) of your classes back to the letter grade option (A through F).
- The window within which you may change to a letter grade will close on Tuesday, April 28, at 11:59 p.m. (EDT). You may change your mind for any class up until this deadline.
If you have questions regarding grading options, please contact your school of enrollment or email@example.com.
► Financial Support for Students. The COVID-19 crisis continues to exact an economic toll on everyone, and the University recognizes the hardships many students and their families now face. UVA has deployed institutional, philanthropic, and federal CARES Act funds to address many student financial needs. Federal Work Study students, for example, are continuing to be paid. Philanthropic and CARES Act allocations (a portion of the $5.86 million to be distributed to the University on behalf of students) are directly helping students through emergency hardship funds for travel, technology, and food, medication, and other living expenses. Over $600,000 has been distributed as of this past Monday.
To learn more about how the University is working to support students in need, please see the coronavirus website FAQs under the section for Students, Financial Questions.
► Assistance for Part-Time Student Workers. In my last message to you, I explained part-time student workers who can no longer work due to the pandemic may be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits through the Virginia Employment Commission. Since this can be a confusing process, the Law School has established the UVA CARES Project to help workers who are applying for unemployment benefits, including unemployed student workers. You can reach them by calling 434-243-8242, filling out a form at uvacares.virginia.edu or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
► Accommodations for Ramadan. The upcoming exam schedule conflicts with Ramadan, which begins this year at sunset on April 23 and ends at sunset on May 23. If you plan to observe Ramadan and need religious accommodations, please contact your faculty member as soon as possible. Pursuant to University policy and protocol, reasonable religious accommodation requests must be granted. For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions - Accommodations for Religious Observance, contact the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) at email@example.com or 434-924-3200.
We will emerge from this challenging time, even if we do not yet know when that will be. Please know there are many resources in place to assist you and many people looking to help you through this. We are entering the final weeks of this unusual semester, so do your best to finish strong. I know each of you has worked very hard to get to this point.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students