UVA not holding classes on Grounds for ‘foreseeable future’ due to coronavirus concerns

UVA not holding classes on Grounds for ‘foreseeable future’ due to coronavirus concerns
The UVA Rotunda and Lawn in Charlottesville (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia announced it will not be holding classes on UVA Grounds for the “foreseeable future" due to coronavirus concerns. The announcement was made Wednesday, March 11.

UVA President Jim Ryan says online classes will begin on March 19, and that the university will reassess the situation on April 5.

“In the coming days, because this is a serious issue, it's a real threat to public health, and rather than sit back and wait for the negative consequences we want to take action now to keep people safe," UVA Spokesperson Brian Coy said.

Students who are away on spring break are strongly encouraged to return home or to remain home if they are already there. Students at UVA and in Charlottesville are strongly encouraged to return home by this weekend.

University buildings and the UVA Health System will remain open to provide resources to students that may be unable to travel home.

UVA is still working out how online instruction will work, what will happen if students need to return to Grounds for essential items, and what to do about sporting events.

Even though students are asked to stay home, faculty and staff will still be reporting to UVA Grounds unless they are able to tele-work.

University Police Chief Tim Longo says his department is working to make sure things can remain business-as-usual for people who still have to be here.

"We have faculty and staff here who will be here, and continue to be part of this community. We have a responsibility to them and the safety and wellbeing of our faculty and staff,” Longo said.

Coy says UVA students and faculty can expect to see more emails in the coming days.

Charlottesville issued a press release Wednesday, stating in part:

“The city is committed to working together and supporting our neighbors during this event and to keeping the focus on public health and safety. The university is taking this step to protect the health of its students and faculty and to do its part not to spread the virus in Virginia. This change will present challenges to many employers and employees in our community, including the City of Charlottesville.”

Charlottesville’s city manager will be reviewing upcoming special event applications involving large crowds.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Thomas Jefferson Health District has opened a hotline at (434) 972-6261 which is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer questions regarding the coronavirus.

Chief Longo also says the UVA Police Department is working closely with the city and Albemarle County to be prepared in case anyone here contracts the virus.

James Madison University announced Wednesday that it will not hold in-person classes the week of March 16. In a release, the university states, “Beginning March 23, most JMU classes will move online until at least April 5. A communication will be issued by March 27 regarding the delivery of course content after April 5.”

The announcements come as the Virginia Health Department said Wednesday that there are currently 9 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus, in the commonwealth.

03/11/2020 Announcement from the University of Virginia:

President Ryan provided an update regarding the University’s operational and academic changes on March 11.

  • We will be moving our classes online. We will not be holding classes on Grounds for the foreseeable future, quite possibly through the end of the semester. We will reassess after April 5 at the earliest and periodically after that date.
  • Online classes will begin Thursday, March 19.
  • Students who are away on Spring Break are strongly encouraged to return home or to remain home if they are already there.
  • Students on Grounds and in Charlottesville are strongly encouraged to return home by this weekend.
  • University events with more than 100 people are prohibited for the foreseeable future and should be postponed, cancelled, or offered virtually.

Our approach is guided by three goals: (1) to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff, and Charlottesville neighbors; (2) to help slow the spread of the virus in Virginia and the nation; (3) to ensure the continuity of our teaching, research, and clinical care. All of those goals are advanced by reducing the number of people who are living and meeting on Grounds.

The university – including university buildings and the Health System – will remain open, and we will bring students back to Grounds as soon as we can do so safely. While we hope to do so before the end of the semester, we may not be able to and are working on a number of contingency plans, including plans for graduation.

STUDENTS

  • If you are currently away on Spring Break, we strongly encourage you to stay home or return to your home. Those who need to return briefly to collect crucial belongings, such as computers or books, will be permitted to do so, and details about how to do so will be forthcoming.
  • If you are currently in Charlottesville, we strongly encourage you to return home.
  • This strong request applies to all students regardless of where you are living – whether on Grounds or off.
  • We recognize that some students cannot go home, for a variety of reasons, ranging from the fact that their hometowns or countries are not safe to the fact that their only homes are in Charlottesville. We will continue to provide housing for students living on Grounds who genuinely cannot return home, and we will continue to provide dining services, though they will be modified. We will also offer assistance to students on financial aid who need help in returning to their homes.
  • With the help and creativity of faculty and staff, we will make sure you are able to meet your academic requirements remotely, and we will pay special attention to graduating students. You will be hearing from deans and professors over the next week with details about your classes, including any clinical, experiential, performance-based, or studio learning that may require alternative arrangements.

FACULTY

  • All faculty will be hearing from their deans soon with more details about moving classes online.
  • We are standing up a team to provide the necessary training and technology to move courses online.
  • While some research will be put on hold, we have plans in place to allow core research operations to continue. Those of you who are conducting research will be hear from our Provost, Liz Magill, and Vice President for Research Ram Ramasubramanian with more details soon.

STAFF

  • For the time being, staff should continue reporting to work as usual and take the recommended steps to prevent illness.
  • Staff with questions or concerns about their workplaces and the possibility of telecommuting should speak with their supervisors. We ask that staff who are feeling sick to please remain at home.

EVENTS

  • Effective immediately and until further notice, we are suspending all university-sponsored events that involve more than 100 people.
  • For events that involve fewer than 100 people, we strongly recommend alternatives to having an in-person event and, if that is not possible, taking all necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of infection. We also ask that those hosting events that involve visitors traveling to Grounds, of whatever size, consider alternatives or cancelling those events, depending on the risks involved.
  • At this time, these restrictions do not apply to athletic events or events at JPJ, both of which remain under discussion and consideration.

UVA will continue to provide additional detail in response to questions these decisions will generate, and will update this site to reflect new and revised guidance.

See the Current Students FAQ for more information. These will be updated regularly.

See the Faculty and Staff FAQ for more information. These will be updated regularly.

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