Dear Parents and Guardians:
I am writing to you as the parents and guardians of students who live on Grounds. I fully recognize what a challenging month it has been since move-in, especially for our new students and their parents. Thank you for all you are doing to support your student from afar. The pandemic has created a very difficult situation for all of us.
With COVID-19 testing continuing to expand and with cases among students on an upward trajectory, we expect to continue with our COVID prevention measures between now and November when students are due to go home. The University remains committed to keeping students in residence. There are no plans, as some parents have suggested on social media, to keep students only until housing refunds are no longer available and then send everyone home. When we committed to bringing students back to live in the residence halls, we made plans with an eye toward being successful. That meant investing in increased testing, setting up locations for isolation and quarantine (I/Q), and being well-stocked with PPE.
We recognize that I/Q, which many students have now experienced, is disruptive and stressful. While the physical locations for I/Q vary, we have ensured spaces are clean, safe, and accessible to high-quality Wi-Fi. A cadre of University staff members serve as one-to-one care liaisons to students and communicate with them on a regular basis. Student Health and Wellness is always available via telehealth and phone. We continue to refine and improve our protocols for I/Q. Last week, we updated our guidance for certain students in quarantine to be able to go outside each day for fresh air and exercise. This change only applies to those currently not positive for COVID or those awaiting their COVID test results but not experiencing symptoms.
Given what I have outlined for the rest of the semester, we understand if you and your student may have questions or doubts about remaining on Grounds through November, or perhaps during an I/Q period. Earlier today, University Dean of Students Allen Groves sent a message to on-Grounds students with guidance on preparing to I/Q, questions to consider if students prefer to go home for I/Q, and resources to call upon for maintaining good mental health and well-being during this critical time.
I encourage you to read Dean Groves’ entire message as well as refer to the I/Q Ready Guide linked below. As you will see, he encourages students to talk over their plans with you or other trusted individuals. Being prepared, including knowing where they would I/Q if that call comes (here or home), will help students deal with some of the understandable stress the pandemic has generated during this time.
If you and your student have decided it may ultimately be best for them to return home, financial implications and deadlines do come into the picture. If your student does decide to leave and they update their status in SIS by September 30, they will receive a $660 reduction in mandatory and University activity fees. Students should contact Housing & Residence Life if they decide to leave, in order to determine whether they are eligible for any prorated refund of their housing charge. In addition, students with meal plans should contact UVA Dining. To update their status in SIS, they should contact the Return to Grounds call center as soon as possible at ReturntoGrounds@virginia.edu.
Many of you have asked about mental-health and well-being resources for students. A number of types of support are available. The COVID-19 Well-Being Resource Guide, as Dean Groves references, provides a very thorough summary of online resources, including virtual informational sessions with peer health educators, and more structured appointments or group meetings with Counseling and Psychological Services and the University’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center. Your student’s RA should always be on their list of contacts for questions or concerns, along with their professors, teaching assistants, and advisors. UVA is a caring community, but students sometimes need to take the first step to make these connections.
Thank you for your support as parents and guardians during this challenging time.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer