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Welcome New Students: Preparing for a Successful Year

June 18, 2020
To: 
New Undergraduate Students
From: 
Allen W. Groves, University Dean of Students

Dear Student,

Welcome to the University of Virginia! As Dean of Students, I would like to reiterate how happy we are you have joined our community. I know you are anxious to learn more about summer and fall activities, so I am writing as a follow-up to the message you received yesterday from President Jim Ryan and his leadership team. I will cover several topics, including On-Grounds Housing, Orientation, Dining, and reminders about tasks you can be completing now.

Community is a word you will hear often as a UVA student. Communities like ours are richly diverse – a quality, I believe, that continues to strengthen who we are and what we stand for. At the same time, our community is bound by common values and aspirations. You and your peers will add to our diversity with your own unique experiences and backgrounds. Virtual orientation activities planned for this summer will help you begin to share some of your uniqueness while developing a sense of community, understanding our values, and meeting your peers.

At this point we know summer orientation and the fall semester will be different from a normal year. Students' health and safety have always been major priorities, but they will take on critical importance when you begin this fall. Like never before, safety must become a personal and collective responsibility of everyone in our community – students, faculty, staff, area residents, and visitors. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a very serious threat, and we all can take actions to safeguard ourselves and others. Personally "owning" this responsibility as the right thing to do for others who may be more vulnerable or at risk will require a high degree of selflessness, discipline, and community care, but these times are unlike any we've seen in our lifetimes. It will take a sustained commitment from each of you if we are to be successful in protecting one another, including our neighbors in the surrounding community and our employees working to keep the University open and operating. This is a heavy lift, but I am confident you will rise to the occasion.

Many details about the fall continue to evolve. To stay up to date on the latest information, please visit the Return to Grounds website where you will see a link to a Student hub with student-specific information and links to related websites.

The following are several updates and reminders about various tasks, some of which you can be working on now, to help you start your UVA journey:

Your UVA Email

You are receiving two copies of this message, one sent to the email address you used when you applied for admission and one to your UVA email address. If you haven't already, it's very important to set up your UVA account as soon as possible. From this point forward, all messaging from the University will go directly to your UVA email address. The IT Checklist will walk you through setting up your email. Please review the entire IT Checklist for helpful information ranging from how to download free software to setting up a secure place to store passwords.

Commitment to Safety

As part of our shared responsibility to one another during this unusual time, you will be asked to sign an agreement reflecting your commitment to follow established public health and safety protocols. Those protocols, which may change over time based on evolving public health orders and directives from the Governor of Virginia, include things you likely are already doing, including maintaining social distance, gathering only in small groups, wearing facial coverings, and following good hygiene habits.

If you will be living in University housing, you will also need to sign an addendum related to rules and protocols that will be in effect in all the residence halls for the 2020-21 academic year.

You will hear more about signing the agreement later in the summer. If applicable, you will need to sign the Housing Addendum as part of a request coming your way soon from our staff in Housing & Residence Life.

First-Year Housing

The longstanding requirement for first-year students to live on Grounds remains in place for the upcoming academic year, but with one exception: If you wish, you may decide to remain in your home community and attend classes virtually. Our staff in Housing & Residence Life will be in contact soon to ask about your plans. You must respond by July 1 through the Housing portal so we can begin to make residence hall and room assignments, which are expected to be issued by mid-July. Signing up for a preferred roommate, as you know, was delayed, and our staff will share more information with you about that process as well.

Move-In Dates

If you plan to live on Grounds, you will be assigned a move-in date in August. Unlike previous years, move-in will occur in a staggered fashion over a period of multiple days, beginning in mid-August. Housing & Residence Life will provide you with complete details via updates on their website and through email to your UVA account.

Transfer Students

If you are a transfer student who applied to live in University housing, Housing & Residence Life will begin making offers to transfer students who submitted a housing application. Housing is not guaranteed, so a lottery system will determine the order in which applicants receive offers. If you receive an offer, you will need to sign both the Housing Agreement and the addendum online to accept the offer and receive a move-in appointment.

Dining Plans

The online dining contract will be available on the Dining website July 1. All first-year students must sign up for an All Access plan by August 1. First-years who do not sign up will be defaulted into the All Access with $150 Flex plan. Incoming transfer students and upperclass students can sign up for any meal plan at any time. See UVA Dining's Meal Plans 101 page for more information.

UVA ID Cards

As a new student, you are required to submit a photo online for your UVA ID card. This task is a prerequisite to receiving your housing assignment, so please submit your photo by July 1 when you confirm your housing plans for the fall. Later this summer, you will learn more about obtaining your UVA ID.

Summer Orientation

As you may know, orientation will occur virtually this year. A central component will include course registration. You will receive more information from your school of enrollment, including your assigned enrollment date, via a message from your school to your UVA email account. Assigned enrollment dates run from July 6-29, based on school or transfer status.

Additionally, our student Orientation Leaders and staff will host several fun, informative virtual sessions throughout July and into August. These sessions will help you learn about UVA, meet your peers, ask questions, and prepare for a great start.

Educational Modules

In July, you will hear from me again explaining the requirement to complete several important online educational modules relating to key policies and student life. You can complete the modules at your leisure, but it's best to complete them before courses begin in August. They will provide valuable information as you prepare to come to Grounds, and completing them promptly will avoid receiving reminder emails from me! The deadline for completion is September 15.

Financial Aid Update

If your personal or family financial situation has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to reach out to Student Financial Services at sfs@virginia.edu to learn about the appeals process for fall 2020 need-based financial aid decisions.

Other Important Tasks

Please check the Student To-Do List for tasks you can complete now. In addition to ones already mentioned, please take care of:

  • UVA Alerts: Sign up to receive emergency text alerts to your cellphone. You are automatically enrolled to receive emails. You can also add multiple email addresses, including those of your parents.
  • Photo ID for your University ID. Please submit by July 1 at the same time you indicate your fall plans in the Housing portal. You will not receive a housing assignment until you submit your photo.
  • Authorized Users in UVAPay. If you elect to complete this authorization, your parents or guardians will have access to your student account to receive billing information and to make payments.
  • Pre-Entrance Health Form. Complete with your health-care provider and upload by August 1. A $100 penalty will apply if you submit it after the deadline, so please take care of this promptly.
  • Health Insurance Enrollment or Verification. The website will open on July 20 and close on August 31. Starting on July 20, you will receive reminders about this task. Even if you already have health insurance that meets the University's specifications, please don't overlook this task. Failure to verify your existing insurance coverage (often through a parent's plan) by August 31 means you will be automatically enrolled in the UVA Aetna plan, resulting in an annual premium of $2,980.

I encourage you to take ownership of these various steps now, since they represent your first requirements as a UVA student. Ask for your parent's or guardian's help as needed, and by all means keep them informed. I am confident in your ability to take responsibility for their completion.

I extend my best wishes to you as you take these first steps toward beginning your journey as a UVA student. We are looking forward to your becoming part of this special community, both in person and in some cases virtually. You have met difficult challenges this past spring and suffered disappointments that incoming students of the past could never have imagined. None of us can change the course of this pandemic and how it has or may affect each of us in the coming months. However, as President Ryan has said, we can adapt our response to it and do our best to move forward, keeping the health and safety of our shared community foremost in our minds.

I look forward to interacting with you during the summer and over the course of your time as a student on Grounds. It's great to be a Hoo!

Sincerely,

Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students


Key Dates

As soon as possible: Set up UVA email account
July 1: Submit photo ID for University ID
July 1: Confirm fall housing plans (first-year students only) and sign Housing Addendum
July 1: Dining contract available
July 1: Set up Authorized Payers in UVAPay
July 6-29: Course enrollment appointments, as assigned
Mid-July: Receive email about educational modules
July 20: Website opens to verify or enroll in health insurance
August 1: Submit Pre-Health Entrance Form
Mid-August: Move-in begins, as assigned
August 25: Courses begin
August 31: Deadline to verify health insurance
September 15: Deadline to complete educational modules and other requirements