Dear Parents and Guardians:
As we head into the final weeks of this semester, we can feel both gratitude and relief for the good job students have largely done helping minimize the spread of COVID-19, navigating a pandemic while juggling academics and personal lives, and joining with us to achieve an overall successful semester. At the same time, we have to balance those feelings with reality. The pandemic is worsening instead of improving nationwide. This concerns us as students begin venturing home.
Importance of students remaining at home during break. When we set the schedule for this fall, we established an expectation that students would leave Charlottesville for Thanksgiving or Winter Break and not return until the start of second semester (now scheduled for Feb. 1). I am writing today to ask for your help in this regard. Many students will want to travel back and forth between Charlottesville and elsewhere, and we need your commitment, and theirs, to stay put in their home communities until late January. Although it is easy to think “I’m only one person, I have been safe, and me going back to Charlottesville will have little impact,” the truth is that one person multiplied by several thousand does have an impact on the larger community. For everyone's safety, we hope you and your student will jointly recognize why it is important for them not to return to Charlottesville.
As multiple sources are emphasizing, any travel is risky right now. Staying in one spot will help our collective efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s also important for students to continue to follow all the good habits they have adopted this semester: wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, gathering only in small groups, and frequently washing their hands or using hand sanitizer.
Expanded regulations in Virginia. Everyone spending the holidays in Virginia should be aware of new regulations announced last Friday, Nov. 13, by Gov. Ralph Northam. They include in-person gathering limits of 25 (UVA's limit remains 10 or fewer); an expanded mask mandate; a curfew for on-site alcohol sales, consumption, and possession; and increased enforcement measures.
Pre-departure testing for students. Testing for COVID-19 is available to students before they leave for Thanksgiving or Winter break, and both on-Grounds and off-Grounds students have received detailed information in the past week. Testing also will be required of students prior to the start of second semester. More information about the requirements for the spring semester will be available in the near future.
Reduction of University services during upcoming breaks. We recognize a small number of students will need to remain in on-Grounds housing or in the area over the extended break due to unusual circumstances. Many services will be curtailed after the Thanksgiving Break, with a further reduction in services occurring after exams end on Dec. 11. Some offices, such as Student Health and Wellness, will remain available to students whether they are here or at home, but they will observe the Thanksgiving Break as well as the University's Winter Break from Dec. 19-Jan. 3.
Several options for students to receive flu shots. If your student has not yet received a flu shot, we are urging them to do so. Students can always make an online appointment for a flu shot during normal business hours at Student Health and Wellness (SHW). In addition, now through Nov. 23, SHW is offering a walk-in flu shot clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Student Activities Building. For payment information, additional details, or information on other places near Grounds where students can go, please see the Student Health and Wellness Flu Clinic webpage.
Recent messaging to students. University Dean of Students Allen Groves has sent an end-of-semester message to all students summarizing a number of details about pre-departure testing, planning for a safe trip back home, preparing for second semester, and for the limited number of students who need to remain in the area, how to access services or resources during the extended break. Please read his message so you are aware of the information students are receiving.
Decisions about second-year housing. A special note to the parents of first-year students: We know you and your student may have begun thinking, and perhaps taking action, about housing for second year. You and they should know there is plenty of time to consider their options for housing. Living on Grounds offers a number of benefits, including the opportunity to build community, which has become even more vital due to the pandemic. Information about the 2021-2022 application process for on-Grounds housing will be available on the Housing & Residence Life website by the end of this year.
Graduation ceremonies. Another special note, this one to parents of students who will be graduating: We all remain hopeful we can hold graduation ceremonies as tentatively planned for the Class of 2021 in late May. A final decision about ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 will be made by March 15. The Finals Weekend website remains your best source for updated information.
Upcoming town hall on holiday health and safety: On Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., parents and students are invited to join a UVA virtual town hall meeting regarding Holiday Health and Safety. Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis will provide brief updates, and Dr. Mitch Rosner and Dr. Costi Sifri from UVA Health will give an update on local conditions around COVID-19 and share health and safety tips for the holidays. Please register in advance to submit questions and receive the Zoom link.
In my four decades with the University of Virginia, I have rarely seen one semester resemble another. They all vary, but fall 2020 is clearly without an equal. Whether your student has been here in Charlottesville or at home, they have weathered one of the most difficult periods in our history.
This Thanksgiving, as always, I am grateful for our students who are the lifeblood of the University. May you enjoy some quality time with them over the extended break, and may you and your entire family stay safe and healthy.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Nov. 19: Lighting of the Lawn (virtual). Watch the livestream on the LOTL website.
Nov. 24: Fall courses end
Nov. 25, noon: Residence hall access ends for students who do not plan to return until late January
Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving Break
Nov. 30-Dec. 1: Reading Days
Dec. 2-11: Exams
Dec. 6 and 9: Reading Days
December (various dates): Spring course registration
Dec. 12, noon: First-year residence halls close
Dec. 12: Winter Break begins for students
Dec. 19-Jan. 3: University academic offices closed
Jan. 4-15: January Term (virtual)
Jan. 14: Spring 2021 term notification of charges
Jan. 16-31: Winter Break continues for students
Late January (various dates TBD): First-year residence halls reopen
Feb. 1: Spring courses begin
Feb. 12: Spring 2021 term charges due
Feb. 17: No classes
March 9 and 29: No classes
March 15: Decision about graduation observances
April 15: No classes
May 6: Spring courses end
May 7-15: Exams
May 9 and 12: Reading Days
May 21-23: Class of 2021 Finals Weekend (tentative)
May 28-30: Class of 2020 Finals Weekend (tentative)