Photos: A Look Around Grounds, Where Silence is the New Normal

Entering the third week of online classes at the University of Virginia, activity on Grounds has slowed greatly. All but essential employees are now working from home; most students are gone and an eerie silence reigns over the Lawn.

You can hear the birds more clearly, the squirrels racing through the trees above. Often, the only noise is the low hum of the hospital power plant down the hill from the East Range, a previously imperceptible sound that is now a constant reminder of the life-saving work that continues at UVA Health.

Here is what UVA looks like right now, as we enter the third week of this unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Alexander Galt’s statue of Thomas Jefferson is still visible through the keyhole of the now-locked Rotunda.
University Transit Service employee Nancy Adams disinfects handrails on a bus as it stops on Grounds. Staff members clean the buses, and every surface a passenger might touch, multiple times a day. UTS has increased the number of buses shuttling hospital workers to and from UVA Health, allowing them to get to work while maintaining social distancing with fewer passengers on each bus.
A lone potted plant sits outside Brooks Hall, left outside to fend for itself as faculty and staff in the anthropology department work from home.
Facilities Management staff check and lock Lawn rooms on Friday following the deadline for all students to vacate and return home. Only students with no other option may remain on Grounds and only one dining facility, Observatory Hill, is open and serving to-go meals.
One of the few students remaining, first-year Aidan Donnellan, studies outside the Bonnycastle dorm.
Thick fog enveloped Grounds last week, shrouding the Rotunda even from above.
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Runners jog by a message someone has painted overnight on Beta Bridge – “Pray for our world, spread love.”
A woman exercises on the Lawn, taking advantage of the nice spring weather while safely separating herself from others.
Emily Little, a former nurse in UVA’s Emergency Department, volunteered at a Charlottesville supply drive to supplement medical supplies in doctor’s offices in the region. Here, she accepts a donation at Champion Brewery.
John D’earth, director of jazz performance in UVA’s McIntire Department of Music, plays down the sunset on a nearly empty Lawn, a musical reprieve from a stressful week. D’earth was part of a new video series UVA President Jim Ryan launched Sunday, sharing digital performances by student and faculty artists.
A conductor on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor looks out the door as the train rolls away from the Charlottesville station. A few passengers boarded the mostly empty train, but nobody disembarked. It rolled on toward New York.
An archway outside the UVA School of Medicine reads, “Enter by this gateway and seek the way of honor, the light of truth, the will to work for men.” The men and women of UVA Health are working around the clock to turn the tide of this pandemic.
A sign in a vintage store’s window on the empty Downtown Mall proclaimed, “A Nice Place to Visit.” Indeed, in normal times, Charlottesville is a wonderful place to visit. For now, though, everyone who can must stay home.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

Associate Editor Office of University Communications