I know you are hearing from me a lot more frequently than normal; thank you for continuing to read. You also are receiving detailed (and long) emails, rather than the brief texts that are your preferred way to communicate. I promise you we are trying to get information to you quickly and as briefly as possible.
First, let me reiterate my thanks for all you are doing to slow the spread of COVID-19. This remains a difficult time for all of us. As a member of the on-Grounds residential community, you have felt the impact of prevalence testing, isolation, and quarantine. And for new students, these disruptive, but necessary, steps have been on top of adjusting to college life. None of this is easy.
As the past weeks have shown, clearly we all need to think more seriously about what quarantining and isolation may look like for ourselves. Therefore, one of my reasons for writing is to ensure you are aware of the various resources available to you for information and support. The infographic below, for example, covers several topics I will briefly summarize.
Paying Attention to Symptoms. It's important to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19, however mild they may be. As a reminder, you should be completing the HOOS Health Check each day, even if all your classes are virtual. If you have a fever, chills, cough, congestion or runny nose (see the full list), please call Student Health and Wellness at 434-924-5362 so a health-care provider can determine if you should be tested.
Being Prepared. Until the spread of COVID-19 is under better control, you will see even more testing and therefore should be getting prepared to isolate or quarantine (I/Q). The best way to be "I/Q Ready" is to learn about I/Q, what they involve, the timelines that are followed, and other details. Study up on the facts and how the University is managing these processes. Continue to read the emails and notices you receive, as things can change. Keep your Go Bag ready, or at least make a list of what you would take with you into I/Q.
Reviewing Your Choices. If you received a call tomorrow to isolate or quarantine, do you know what you would do? Would you prefer to go home or move into University-managed I/Q housing? Now is the time to talk with your parents, guardians, and other trusted individuals. Part of making this decision is reviewing the risks involved. See the “Should I go home instead of moving into UVA I/Q housing?” questions, especially as you think through potential risks or needs of others. If you do decide to go home, the Going Home Checklist will give you important pointers. Also, check out an excellent resource from the Virginia Department of Health: Also, check out an excellent resource from the Virginia Department of Health: Living with Someone with COVID.
Changing Your Plans. Even if you do not have to isolate or quarantine, you may be considering moving back home for the rest of the semester. In consultation with your parents, guardians, or other confidantes, you should look at the pros and cons and decide what is ultimately best for you and your family. The University hopes students will remain on Grounds, but you should decide what is best for you from an academic and personal standpoint.
If you do decide to leave and you update your status in SIS by September 30, you will receive a $660 reduction in mandatory and University activity fees. To determine whether you are eligible for any prorated refund of your housing charge, please contact Housing & Residence Life. If you have a meal plan, please contact UVA Dining as well. To change your status in SIS, please write the Return to Grounds call center for assistance at ReturntoGrounds@virginia.edu so your record can reflect you are "not living or learning on Grounds or in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area" this fall.
Accessing Resources. Adjusting to college life takes time for nearly everyone. The added stress of that transition during a pandemic makes the usual challenges of college even harder. No one resource fits everyone, but here's a list to explore:
- Connect with Your RA. Your RA is trained to help in a number of situations. Don't be afraid to connect with them. Just remember, they are students, too, and they also face added stress due to the pandemic.
- Focus on Well-being. Open the COVID-19 Well-Being Resources page and you will find an array of links, from tips for well-being to online mental health tools to help through Counseling and Psychological Services. Schedule a one-on-one, virtual session with a peer health educator to explore the Well-being Resource Guide and talk more about mental health during COVID-19.
- Enjoy Nature. This time of year is especially beautiful in Charlottesville. If you are a first-year, take advantage of the trails at Observatory Hill. They are within walking distance of many first-year residence halls.
- Be Social. Explore student groups, and if you need ideas, please fill out the Student Engagement Involvement Calculator to get a personalized ideas on clubs and activities that might interest you.
- Talk to a Peer (Health Educator). Peer Health Educators are students who are trained on college health issues. You can schedule a PHE Patient Education session by calling 434-924-1509.
Prioritizing Self-Care. As I have said previously, it's important to get good sleep, eat nutritious food, and find ways to be active. Kindness goes a long way in these difficult times. Now is definitely no time to shame others if they do become COVID-positive or need to quarantine. Likewise, you should be kind to yourself if you aren't meeting your own expectations. We all need to be realistic about our limits right now.
The pandemic is likely to remain a part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. Please take time to prepare, consider your choices, and use the resources available to you.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students