The University of Virginia is planning to return to in-person instruction and much more normal operations in fall 2021, UVA leaders shared in an email message Thursday.
“Our present plan is to return to the in-person residential, educational and research experience that has always been a hallmark of our University,” President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis wrote. “After a year in which the pandemic disrupted nearly everything about the UVA experience, we are eager get back to living, learning, and working together here in Charlottesville and we know you are too.”
Plans being developed for the fall include a return to in-classroom instruction as the default mode of instruction for faculty and undergraduate, graduate and professional students. First-year students are expected to live in residence halls, and more normal operations will resume for key parts of University life, including housing, dining, libraries, recreation and transportation. Exceptions for students, such as international students with unique travel concerns or students with health concerns, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with more details forthcoming. Grading options are expected to return to normal in the fall as well.
University leaders also expect that limits on gathering and travel will be significantly relaxed. Importantly, however, Ryan, Magill and Davis noted that UVA will continue to work with public health experts as the start of the fall semester draws closer, and will provide greater detail about health and safety plans no later than July 15.
“These plans are based on our expectation that vaccines will be widely available by the beginning of the fall term and the prevalence of the coronavirus will be much lower than it is today,” they wrote. “In the event that the trajectory of the pandemic worsens, it may be necessary for us to revisit some of these decisions. Additionally, there may be a continuing need for some level of public health precautions, but we are optimistic that they will be much less restrictive than the protocols we have employed over the course of the past year.”
Right now, University leaders are planning to fully open UVA libraries in the fall, as well as IM-Rec facilities and programs, dining and student activities facilities. University Transit Service bus routes and schedules will be announced in August. All of these services will continue to follow public health protocols, and UVA Facilities Management will continue to employ the enhanced cleaning protocols developed last summer.
The University also will provide an update on Final Exercises plans for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on Friday.
Closing the email message Thursday, Ryan, Magill and Davis thanked the University community for all of the work and dedication they showed during this academic year, and during planning for the fall semester.
“This good news would not be possible without students, faculty, staff and parents who have overcome the challenges of the past year with grace and ingenuity and who have contributed to our preparations for the coming fall throughout the planning process,” they wrote. “We are not quite out of the woods yet, but we have finally reached a point where we can envision a return to much more normal conditions of in-person learning, working, and research.
“That is certainly worth celebrating and taking a moment to thank all of you for helping us to get this far.”