University of Virginia leaders outline plans for spring 2021 semester
Right now, UVA is planning to welcome students back to Grounds for the spring semester, Provost Liz Magill, Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis and Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Mitch Rosner wrote Monday afternoon in an email to the University community.
“We are monitoring the progression of the virus in the country, the Commonwealth, and this region closely,” they wrote. “As of now, we are still on track to welcome students back in-person in the spring.”
If conditions force a change in plans, the University will make an announcement by Jan. 15. Otherwise, undergraduate spring courses will begin Feb. 1, as scheduled.
As in the fall, students can choose to come to Charlottesville to study or to study remotely. All students studying in-person will be subject to testing requirements and must comply with University, local and state public health guidelines, including wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and limiting the size of gatherings.
“Building on the success of last semester will require the same level of vigilance and commitment to the safety of people around us,” Magill, Davis and Rosner wrote. “Fortunately, we now have the benefit of knowing that a plan like the one below can work if we stick together and do the right things for each other and for this community. We hope you are having a safe and restful winter break and we look forward to another successful semester.”
All students living or learning on Grounds in Charlottesville or Albemarle County, or attending in-person UVA programs in other locations, must present a valid COVID-19 PCR test to the University before courses begin, as well as watch a video on health and safety protocols, sign an agreement to abide by University policies designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and update their local mailing address.
Similar to the fall semester, UVA has contracted with Let’s Get Checked to provide self-administered, mail-in test kits to students, which can be ordered here. Students may also submit a PCR test from their own source, at their own cost. Antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted.
Answers to many frequently asked questions about the pre-arrival testing process are available on the Return to Grounds website, including plans for students who are arriving from other countries, who are under 18 at time of testing, or who have previously tested positive for COVID-19. There is also a suggested schedule for taking the test, based on when students are returning to Grounds.
University leaders recommended that students take extra precautions to minimize their exposure prior to returning to in-person courses. Any student who does test positive 10 days before their arrival to the Charlottesville area will need to isolate at home and be cleared by their local health department before traveling to UVA. They may begin coursework online if needed.
On Grounds prevalence testing
In the fall, UVA ramped up its testing programs to test students at least once every nine days. In the spring, thanks to continued increases in testing capacity, all students living in Charlottesville or Albemarle County will be tested weekly for COVID-19, beginning Jan. 11. These tests will be required for all undergraduate, graduate and professional students.
Beginning Feb. 1 – the day in-person courses start – students will be tested on a designated day each week, continuing throughout the spring semester. More details will be announced as that date nears, and students should monitor their UVA email accounts for testing plans.
Students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 will be exempt from prevalence testing requirements during the 90 days following their diagnosis, but must resume testing after that period. They are expected to follow all other public health guidelines.
Students will not be subject to disciplinary action for a positive test result or information disclosed during contact tracing; however there will be sanctions for students who fail to comply with testing requirements, including denial of in-person and/or remote participation and access to University network, facilities, courses, programs or activities. Students who fail to comply repeatedly will be subject to suspension. All students will also be held accountable for failures to comply with public health policies.
For information about these plans, see the Return to Grounds website.