Image via Facebook College of William and Mary
Image via Facebook

UPDATE (June 11): Gov. Ralph Northam announced that colleges will reopen in the fall with comprehensive public health plans in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines differ from the ones put in place for K-12 schools, which are focused on three phases for reopening.  The college reopening guidelines require schools to monitor the virus and create plans to reduce the spread. 

“Reopening higher education in Virginia in a safe and sustainable manner must be a statewide priority,” the guidance said. “While much can be achieved online, it is also true that the classroom environment, collaboration and mentoring remain vital.”

Here are some of the parts of the college plan that it must address: 

  • Have a team dedicated to addressing COVID-19
  • Potentially making COVID-19 prevention part of student orientation
  • Social distancing, including potentially limiting visitors
  • Potentially limiting the number of diners allowed in a cafeteria and eliminating buffet-style food
  • Restricting the use of shared spaces, like dorm lounges

College of William and Mary

July 22 Update: The College of William and Mary announced that they will be teaming up with Virginia Commonwealth University Health System to expand mental and physical health services, including testing for COVID-19 for students and employees. 

All students will be required to get tested before the fall semester, with the timing depending on when a student arrives on campus: 

  • Students will receive a self-administered, mail-in test kit prior to coming to campus. Test kits will arrive in time for students to self-administer the test, mail it back along with the required consent form, and get test results before they are due to arrive on campus.
  • International Students will receive specific testing instructions in the next week to 10 days.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate at home or off campus until you have a confirmed negative test. Students who test positive will be mailed a retest approximately 10-14 days following the initial positive result.
  • Prevalence testing (initial sampling of 5% of the student body) will occur at least every two weeks. Testing frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends and available testing methods.
  • Students who experience symptoms over the course of the semester should make an appointment with the Student Health Center for a clinical assessment and testing if necessary. The Student Health Center will provide instructions on necessary next steps.

William & Mary will cover the cost of a voluntary test for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to returning home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Testing schedules will be released later. Further details here.

July 14 Update: The College of William and Mary introduced a mandate requiring face coverings on campus beginning on July 15 until Dec 31 2020. These requirements are required for all students, faculty, staff, contract workers, vendors and others on campus. 

In indoor public spaces, face coverings are required to be worn over the nose and mouth at all times, even if physically distancing is being practiced. Indoor public spaces include building entry areas, classrooms and labs, libraries, conference rooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, lounges and other shared spaces that allow for public interaction or gathering. In outdoor spaces, face coverings may be removed only when an uninterrupted distance of six-feet can be found between individuals for the duration of the activity.  Further details here.

June 29 Update: The College of William and Mary has introduced the Path Forward: Fall 2020, preparing for an early opening and an in-person semester. The university will offer three semesters – fall, spring and summer – to provide maximum flexibility for students. The fall 2020 semester will include a condensed schedule that begins a week early and ends before Thanksgiving. 

There will be no fall break.

 William & Mary is taking a phased approach to decision-making and will continue to update the community as more information and details become available. Further details here

June 16 Update: William and Mary has announced that all three semesters- summer, fall and spring- will be held in person and accelerated in order to increase flexibility for students. In the university’s reopening plan, here are the steps included. 

  • Fall schedule begins and ends early
  • Fall break is removed
  • Incorporates evening and Saturday classes
  • Offering remote options

Further details here. 

May 12 Update: William and Mary reversed their decision to raise fall 2020 tuition rates and mandatory fees, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The university board of visitors unanimously voted to roll back a tuition increase for incoming in-state undergraduate students. 

: The College of William and Mary says their goal is to resume in person learning next fall, as long as it is safe to do so. They say they’ll have more details to share about preparing for the next academic year in June. 

Summer 2020 courses will be held entirely online or taught through a blend of methods through remote learning. The classes are open to all William and Mary students. Further details here.

George Mason University

July 2 Update: The university has announced that class will begin on Monday, August 24, with a mix of in-person and remote classes under a six-step approach. The university states that it will begin conducting further research under this new model. 

Here is the six-step approach:

Stage 1 “Protect”: Only essential personnel allowed on campus. 

Stage 2 “Plan”:  From June 11 to June 30, the university was in Stage 2, the planning stage. Faculty and staff were needed in order to assess the plan. 

Stage 3 “Prepare”: The university is currently in Stage 3 and will stay there until July 31. In this stage, faculty and staff will modify work areas to prepare for the return of employees. 

Stage 4 “Return”: On Aug. 1 to 23, students and employee support will return. 

Stage 5 “Resume”: From Aug. 24 to Dec. 19, instructions and operations will return under new normal conditions. 

Stage 6: This stage is the resumption of normal operations at a date to be determined. 

Further details here

June 25 Update: George Mason University has announced that they will be starting classes as scheduled on August 24. They are still debating whether or not to complete the semester as scheduled or to end in person classes before Thanksgiving and hold final exams online. Further details here. 

May 27 Update: George Mason University says they intend to hold in-person classes in the fall, with the appropriate guidance of public health officials and any needed modifications to ensure the safety of the community. 

The university has put together a committee consisting of university individuals who are evaluating options on how to best reopen the campus, including…

  • Lower-density classes to allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Continued use of distance learning.
  • Appropriate hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Reduced occupancy in residence halls. 

Fall 2020 classes are scheduled to begin on August 24, summer classes begin on June 1. This date was modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details here.

James Madison University

July 2 Update: JMU is planning to resume its on-campus, residential operations in the fall of 2020. The university has formed a task force, including leadership from the University Health Center, working to address questions about what living, learning, and dining arrangements on campus may look like this fall. Further details here

The university is also following Gov. Ralph Northam’s guidelines for university reopenings during the pandemic.

June 8 Update: JMU announced that they’ve created a modified fall schedule called “Fall Schedule 2.0”. With Fall Schedule 2.0, the university aims to provide as much in-person interaction as possible while meeting guidelines from the Centers of Disease and Control and the Virginia Department of Health. 

The new fall schedule maintains the Monday, Wednesday, Friday / Tuesday, Thursday structure, but shifts some time periods to insert two additional 60-minute cleaning blocks during the day, in addition to the usual evening cleaning. Further details here.

May 15 Update: JMU announced that they plan to resume in-person learning for the upcoming fall semester, as long as it is safe to do so. The university’s contingency task force is working on addressing living, learning and dining arrangements that could look like in the fall based on…

-Recent guidance from the American College Health Association (ACHA) and other public health experts on best practices for reopening university campuses;

-JMU’s capacity to put these best practices in place before the fall semester;

-Analysis of more than 15,000 responses to surveys sent to JMU parents, students, faculty and staff. If you have not yet responded, please click here for students and parents, or here for faculty and staff to respond.

JMU has also voted to keep tuition rates the same for the upcoming fall semester. Alongside the tuition freeze, the college is distributing over $6 million of CARES Act money to assist eligible students who’ve incurred expenses due to COVID-19. For further details. 

April 17: James Madison University says they plan on resuming residential operations for the fall 2020 semester.The university has assembled a task force to assess how university life will change if social distancing measures are still necessary. 

Fall 2020 classes are scheduled to start August 26. 

All summer courses have been moved online and have either canceled or postponed all on campus events through May 15. Commencement for spring 2020 graduates has been moved to August 7-8, if it is safe to gather at that time. Further details here.

Summer 2020 classes are scheduled to begin on May 11.

Liberty University

Liberty University has canceled their summer abroad programs. And while classes had been held online since March 23, the campus remained open until the semester ended on May 8. Further details here.

University of Richmond

July 20: The university of Richmond recently announced a full, comprehensive reopening plan for the Fall 2020 semester.  The incredibly detailed reopening plan addresses the required 26 components that Virginia colleges were supposed to address in their respective plans. 

The college will deploy an interim policy that requires face coverings for everyone on campus  as well as providing two face coverings for all students and employees. 

In terms of student housing, the university has stated that most of their traditional style residence halls, suites and apartments are large enough to permit full occupancy while adhering to the social distancing guidelines between students. However, all the triple bedrooms have been eliminated for the upcoming semester and will be converted to doubles. 

The university will also implement a staggered move in schedule for incoming students this fall. 

  • July 15 – approximately 120 students
  • August 10 – approximately 250 students
  • August 14, 15, and 16 – approximately 950- 1000 first year students and transfer students
  • August 19, 20, and 21 – approximately 1600 upper level students

The university’s custodial services team will follow all applicable public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting the campus facilities. 

  • Procurement and utilization of only EPAregistered disinfectants identified for use against SARS-CoV-2;
  • Training employees with prior cleaning and custodial responsibilities to prioritize cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces in their assigned areas;
  • Installing disinfecting wipe stations across campus in academic, administrative, athletic and dining spaces, with signage encouraging individuals to wipe down high-touch surfaces with which they might come into contact
  • Significantly increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations across campus.

The entire plan can be found here

July 14: The university released further details on health and safety regulations for the upcoming fall semester, which they say are i line with CDC guidelines to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. 

Fourteen days prior to arrival on campus, students are required to monitor their temperature and symptoms and to engage in risk reduction practices, such as avoiding large crowds and gatherings and maintaining safe distance (at least six-feet apart) from people outside of their family unit. 

Students should not come to campus if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. 

All students will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival on campus, and additional testing will be conducted throughout the semester. Students may be exempted from testing upon arrival if they have a negative test result from a test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival on campus.

Registration for returning students begins on July 20, while registration for first year students is on Aug 3.

The University of Richmond also invites students to join a Zoom Conversation with President Crutcher on July 22 at 4:30 p.m. to follow up on the information in the announcement. Further details here.

July 8: The University of Richmond has announced that it plans to resume in-person instruction in the fall semester and has created a fall move-in guide for students and families. Within this guide, students will sign up for a time slot and will be given a limited amount of time to move per slot in order to increase social distancing. 

Prior to arriving on campus, all students are required to monitor their temperature and symptoms for at least 14 days. More information about a monitoring app or form will be provided in the next few weeks, according to their website. 

Any students who exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to move in until they meet the following criteria. 

  • No fever, defined as less than 100 degrees F, for at least 3 days (that is 72 hours of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers, such as Tylenol, Motrin, aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol, etc.), AND
  • Other respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath), AND
  • At least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared or two negative COVID-19 PCR viral tests done at least 24 hours apart.

All students will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at testing sites on campus. Students will not have access to their residence hall room until they’ve been tested. 

Students will be given three hours to complete their move in and get tested for COVID-19 on campus. Face coverings and wrist bands designating their move in time will be provided. Further details here. 

June 30 Update: Although Virginia has entered Phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan, The University of Richmond announced that they will remain in the “Red Stage” of their physical distancing framework

Within the “Red Stage”, the university will do as follows:

  • Employees must work remotely and those needed on campus must be provided with appropriate accommodations.
  • Supervisors must continue to reinforce the importance of staying home while sick
  • Develop and pilot a temperature screening policy
  • Physical distancing of six feet is required, even in vehicles
  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Face coverings are required
  • Employees should disinfect shared tools

Beginning on July 15, student-athletes will also return to campus. Further details here.

June 15 Update: The University of Richmond has announced that they plan on resuming in person instruction for the upcoming fall semester. Fall break will be eliminated and in person classes will end prior to Thanksgiving. The final week of classes and exams will occur after the holiday and will take place remotely.

Classes are set to begin Aug 24 and scheduled to end on Dec 18. Further details here. 

The University of Richmond is currently working through three possible scenarios for the fall semester- full residential semester, full remote learning or a hybrid of the two. To explore their options, the school has formed working groups of 75 faculty and staff members. They predict a definitive decision to be announced in July.  

May 27 Update: The university announced that, due to Richmond’s delay in reopening along with the rest of the state, all summer session II classes will all be held remotely, including internships and summer research classes. Further details here

The campus will remain closed for the first session of  2020 summer classes beginning in May.  The verdict on the second summer session is still pending. The first session is supposed to begin on May 11. Details here.

University of Virginia 

July 23: According to the University of Virginia’s health plan, all undergraduate and graduate students returning to campus will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 viral PCR test result to the University prior to their return.

The college is working together with a third party vendor in order to provide at home testing for students. If a student prefers to be tested by another provider, the student is allowed to arrange a test to be performed at their own expense, and the test result must be provided to UVA.

Fourteen days before returning to campus, students are strongly encouraged to self quarantine, meaning that students should stay home, separate from others outside the home, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

If a student is unable to self-quarantine, it is essential that the student minimize contact with others during this 14-day period, specifically not attending any large social events or interact with more than three to five people at a time. Students should practice physical distancing, using a face covering, washing hands frequently, refraining from touching their face (especially eyes) without washing their hands first.

International students who are traveling from abroad are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the U.S. In the coming weeks, we will provide additional information for international students.

Further details here. 

July 2: Upon reopening, the University of Virginia will put in place several public safety measures in order to ensure the safety of the students and staff returning to campus this coming August. 

The university will be providing students with two cloth face coverings, two 2 oz. containers, and a touch tool in order to help students limit contact with surfaces like door handles. It also has added 2,600 free-standing hand sanitizing stations to go in high traffic areas. 

Both students and staff returning to the campus are required to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing guidelines. The university has also enhanced its cleaning protocols significantly. Further details here

May 27 Update: UVA plans to reopen its campus for the 2020 fall semester as planned on August 25. Assuming that state and federal public guidelines allow, students will be allowed back on school grounds and in-person classes will be held. 

However, some classes will be held online in respect to students who cannot return to campus. 

How students will be safely back in on grounds and in dorms while adhering to social distancing is still being planned.  UVA states that they understand that this is a rapidly evolving situation and aren’t planning for a typical fall semester. Some of the changes they’re making include:

-Ending in-person instruction before Thanksgiving 

-Acquiring personal protective equipments for students, faculty and staff

-Expanding January course offerings to let students take a lighter course load in the fall

The university also held a virtual town hall on May 27 and conducted a survey that 73% of students responded to. Further details here.

April 3 Update: The University of Virginia says they’re consulting with experts at UVA Health, the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC about reopening the campus. At this time, the university is operating under the assumption that they will be opening in the fall. 

Fall courses are scheduled to begin on August 25. 

All summer courses held prior to June 30 will be done remotely. However, summer enrollment dates will remain the same. 

Virginia Commonwealth University

July 24: Virginia Commonwealth University emailed reminders to students about the required  COVID-19 testing they must take before entering the campus. VCU Residential Life and Housing emailed instructions on how returning students are supposed to register, receive and mail back their entry test. Further details here.

July 17: VCU announced that residential students will be required to take and submit an at-home COVID-19 test and receive negative results before returning back to campus. VCU will mail COVID-19 tests to students that will include a return envelope for analysis. VCU is partnering with Kallaco, a national lab network for testing, to provide residential students a personal testing kit prior to their return to campus. The test kit and analysis is at no cost to students. 

If a student’s COVID-19 test is positive, they may not return to campus and are to self-isolate, in accordance with VCU protocol and CDC guidance. Further details here. 

July 14: President Michael Rao announced that VCU will hold some classes in-person this fall. The university will also be providing back to campus kits with face coverings, hand sanitizer and other items to keep students healthy upon return. Further details here

July 9: VCU has announced that the fall semester will begin on Aug. 17. Upon returning, students are required to do the following. 

  • Monitor their health daily. Testing will occur according to protocols.
  • Wear a face covering or mask in common areas.
  • Apply physical distance guidelines to all settings.
  • Clean and disinfect personal and shared spaces before and after use. Cleaning supplies will be available in numerous locations.
  • Report symptoms associated with COVID-19 to VCU Student Health Services. A call center hotline will be available later in the summer.

Further details here.

June 25 Update: VCU is set to begin Phase 3 of their reopening plan on July 1. The phase should last for about two weeks with each week’s guidelines becoming more relaxed as time goes on. 

During the first week (July 1-15), Approximately 25% of non-designated employees that cannot work well remotely return to campus; researchers return at no greater than 50% occupancy capacity

The second week will allow about 50% of non-designated employees that cannot work remotely return to campus; researchers return at no greater than 85% occupancy capacity; a limited number of students return for clinical placements and a limited number of student-athletes return throughout the month. Further details here

June 3 Update: VCU announced that they will begin a phase reopening of the university in June, starting primarily with health science classes and college & research faculty, staff and trainees. The official start of the fall semester is Aug 17. 

The last day of classes will be Nov 24. Final exams will take place after the Thanksgiving holiday from Nov 30 to Dec 4 (MCV Campus) and Nov 30 to Dec 7 (Monroe Park Campus). Further details here. 

May 27 Update: Due to the impact of the coronavirus on K-12 school systems, VCU has moved the freshman response deadline from May 1 to June 1 for students who were accepted on April 1.  For further details 

VCU has also canceled all study abroad programs for the Fall 2020 semester. The decision was made due to the U.S. State Department’s current Level 4, which forbids travel. The cancellation includes all program types, including exchange, direct enroll and provider programs.  

The Global Education Office is providing students with refunds for any applications fees, which may include a $150 GEO fee. Refunds will be available in the next 30 days. 

While Summer 2020 courses between July 9 and July 22 are to maintain their scheduled format, the university is prepared to move it to remote instruction if necessary. The final announcement on July 9 to July 22 sessions will take place no later than May 29. For further details. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced nearly all Virginia universities to close their campuses and to continue the remainder of the 2020 spring semester virtually. As summer approaches, it’s still unclear whether many will reopen in the fall. Below we’ve rounded up what universities are saying when it comes to their plans for the upcoming semester.

May 12 Update: The decision has been made to move the summer classes that begin in July to online instruction, as well as  the sessions held in May and June. Instructional modes for summer classes on the Medical  Campus vary by school; students should contact their dean’s offices for additional information.  Further details here.

March 25 Update: Virginia Commonwealth University states that they’re in the early stages of planning for the COVID-19 pandemic. The university is using input from the VCU and VCU Health community. Decisions about returning to campus will be communicated as they’re made. 

Fall classes are set to begin on August 18. 

All VCU summer courses that begin before July 9 will be held online. Summer sessions that begin from July 9 to July 20 will maintain their normal scheduling. However, the university is prepared to move those courses online if necessary. They anticipate their final statement on the subject of summer classes to be released on May 29. Summer classes are set to begin on June 22. 

Virginia Tech

July 29: Virginia Tech released details on how and when students living off campus should get tested for COVID-19 before the upcoming fall semester. The university has also enhanced their testing protocols to provide quicker results. 

While students living off campus are not required to get tested, those who think or know they have been exposed to the virus, traveled to Blacksburg from a hot spot, or have symptoms or other indications of exposure are encouraged to contact Schiffert Health Center to determine whether they should be tested

A virtual town hall meeting on the testing protocol will be held Friday from noon to 1 p.m. with campus leaders who’re joining together to discuss VT’s reopening plan. Further details here

July 21: Virginia Tech hosted a webinar explaining the university’s approach to keeping graduate and international students safe and healthy for this upcoming fall. According to the university, the plans will involve students adhering to public health guidelines including wearing a mask, physical distancing and self quarantine if symptoms arise. 

“This may be surprising to some, but I am fairly confident in Virginia Tech’s ability to thrive this semester,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “It’s going to be challenging. But I think our plan for the fall is sound.”

Further details here

July 15: Virginia Tech announced its academic offerings for the upcoming fall semester. The university stated that they will be adjusting course modalities for several classes, moving some to fully online. Advising services will also be done primarily online. Further details here.

July 8: Virginia Tech has announced their move in plan for incoming students during the fall 2020 semester. Students will sign up for a two hour slot between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and will only be allowed two additional guests to assist. 

According to the university site, students will receive more information in regards to their slot and COVID-19 testing by July 10. Students are directed to go to the Housing and Residential Life website when more information is available. 

Further details here.

July 1: Virginia Tech has announced that they’ve developed a comprehensive testing, tracing, and case management plan for COVID-19 in preparation for students and staff returning to campus in August. 

“The testing strategy within the plan will remain flexible, allowing the university to adjust the number and frequency of tests in response to the changing COVID-19 landscape,” said Mike Mulhare, assistant vice president for emergency management.

All students who plan to return to work, go to school, or live on-campus are highly encouraged to participate in the COVID-19 screening. Before returning to campus, all students will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. The 9,000 students expected to live on campus in the fall can be tested on move-in day at an on campus testing clinic. Further details here.

June 12 Update: Virginia Tech announced that they will be reopening their campus for the fall semester, while supplying some remote options for students. The entirety of the semester will be on campus, except eight days after Thanksgiving Break which will be entirely online. 

While holidays and breaks prior to Thanksgiving will be observed, non-essential travel is discouraged.  Those who travel away from Blacksburg may be subjected to quarantine upon returning, depending on potential exposure to the coronavirus and distance of travel. 

The semester is set to begin on Aug 24 and end on Dec 16. Final exams are supposed to happen after Thanksgiving Break. Further details here.