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Containing the Spread of COVID-19

September 19, 2020
All Students
Allen W. Groves, University Dean of Students

Dear Students:

I’m writing today with a few brief updates on our shared efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

I’ll begin by thanking you for the great effort being made by so many to comply with University policy and look out for each other. When I’ve traveled around Grounds and the surrounding area, I’ve seen significant compliance with mask wearing by the vast majority of you, as well as efforts to maintain an appropriate physical distance of at least six feet if walking or running outside without wearing a mask. You’ve also asked questions when unsure of how to go about a specific group event or activity, and this shows a desire to do the right thing.

Here are some additional points I’d like to briefly reinforce or clarify for you:

Always keep in mind the spirit of relevant University policy (i.e., the objective of protecting community health). While we have a 15 person maximum limit on gatherings, that number is likely far too large for a group of friends coming over to your apartment. The physical space might only safely accommodate five people when socially distanced in your living room with masks on. For a Lawn room, that number is likely no more than two individuals plus the resident. Keep in mind the maximum number for the room, which will almost always be much less than 15 if it’s inside a residence.

Be supportive of friends and classmates who test positive for COVID-19. This is a virus that spreads easily through human contact. Someone can contract it despite trying to do the right thing. Let’s not shame those who need our support.

You need to respond promptly (usually within two hours) to phone calls from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) or UVA Student Health and Wellness. These calls will likely appear as a phone number you don’t recognize. Make sure your phone is turned on and your voicemail is set to receive messages and not already at full mailbox capacity. An important part of the agreement you signed when you decided to return to Grounds this fall was cooperating fully in testing and in contact tracing by VDH.

You will not be subject to disciplinary action for information you share with VDH as part of their follow-up contact tracing work (e.g., if you disclose to VDH that you were at a bar the night before testing positive, despite being underage). It’s critical you provide full and complete information to VDH so prompt contact tracing can take place, protecting everyone with whom you may have come in contact and those with whom they may subsequently come into contact.

Be mindful of self-care. This includes making sure to maintain a good sleep schedule and spending time outdoors in fresh air and sunshine. Utilize the many tents and open greenspaces across Grounds. Go for a walk on O-Hill. Kayak on the Rivanna or the James. Be mindful to avoid isolation and look for safe opportunities to gather in small groups, including the many programs sponsored by the University Programs Council. If you would like more ideas, please fill out the Student Engagement Involvement Calculator to get a personalized email with eight to ten suggested clubs and activities that might interest you. See the links at the bottom of this email for more details on this and other opportunities.

Thanks again for what you are doing every day to protect the health of our shared community.


Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students

Ways to Get Involved

Student Engagement Involvement Calculator

UPC Activities

IM-Rec Sports

Contemplative Sciences Center

Multicultural Student Services and Resources