UVA releases plan to move classes online, tighten restrictions if COVID-19 situation worsens

UVA releases plan to move classes online, tighten restrictions if COVID-19 situation worsens
Students mask up on UVA Grounds as restrictions continue to tighten. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With the number of coronavirus cases increasing at the University of Virginia, we are getting a look at strict, new measures that could be on the horizon.

This short-term contingency plan shows there is plenty at stake right now, and the ripple effect would spread far beyond UVA grounds.

UVA hasn’t had to resort to this new phase of restrictions yet, but University Spokesperson Brian Coy says they want to be upfront. Undergraduate classes could move online in the short term if cases continue to surge and quarantine housing becomes more scarce.

“This is a possibility and it’s not one that we would take lightly, but it’s also something that we hope to avoid," he said.

If UVA activates its “Short-Term Restrictions Operation”, undergraduate students will go online while graduate and professional students shift to either virtual or hybrid.

“We would also be limiting access to libraries, converting all dining options to grab and go only, and asking on grounds students to effectively quarantine in place," Coy said.

All academic building access would be restricted to graduate students, faculty and staff.

“We’re making sure that we communicate with our community about other things that could come down in the event that the virus continues to spread in the UVA community," Coy said. “We hope this helps people make better choices.”

UVA is under tight restrictions already. The school has a five person limit on gatherings, and masks are mandatory even when outside and properly distanced.

“Those are sort of a small version of what could come down and if cases and other indicators continue to progress in a negative direction," Coy said.

He says the university wants to move away from these added restrictions, but case counts have to slow first.

“We’re hoping that we will see a reverse and flip in the trajectory of our case counts and other things so that we can withdraw those restrictions within a short period of time and so that we don’t go to something like this much more aggressive plan," Coy said.

According to UVA, there is not one specific figure that will cause them to go ahead with this. Surging cases are always a red flag, but there are many moving parts involved.

“We have to consider our quarantine and isolation capacity, the capacity of our hospital system, to tell what’s going on in the greater community with the prevalence of viruses in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region, and other factors that all work together," he said.

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