The University of Virginia won’t know how many students are returning to Grounds and from which regions these students are coming until Aug. 5.
UVA spokesperson Brian Coy explained that on Saturday, students will receive their final class assignments, which will let them know how many of their classes will be online or in-person.
“There may be a lot of students who don’t have any in-person experiences at all,” he said.
Students will then have until Aug. 5 to cancel their housing contracts if they decide not to come back to Charlottesville.
“Until that happens, we really don’t have a good picture of how many students are going to be coming back,” Coy said. He added that many students may have already elected not to come back. “Because all of our classes are fully online, any student can elect to stay home now,” he said.
UVA’s first day of classes is Aug. 25. All students returning to Grounds will be required to take a COVID-19 test no fewer than seven days prior to their arrival. Students who test negative will be cleared to return to Grounds. Students who test positive will be asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days, based on CDC guidelines, after which they could be cleared to return by Student Health.
Throughout the summer, there has been much concern from community members and public officials about UVA’s decision to bring students back.
Infection rates vary across the country, and travel increases the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
“I, for one, do not understand why the students are coming back into the community from all over the globe and why we would take that chance,” said Mayor Nikuyah Walker at a press conference on July 13. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
While students are “strongly recommended” by UVA to self-quarantine for 14 days before arriving and required to adhere to the university’s social distancing requirements for the duration of their time on campus, students and community members worry that many students won’t follow these requirements, leading to an increase in community spread of the virus.
“I don’t trust my own peers to actually follow the rules,” said Analie Grosch, an Albemarle County resident and incoming first-year student at UVA. “People are still going to be trying to visit each other in their rooms and not social distancing and not wearing masks.”
Grosch expressed concern that when an outbreak happens, it’s not just going to be university students who get sick.
“It’s going to be university staff. It’s going to be university food workers and janitors, and it’s also going to be the hospitals. And it’s going to be everyone who lives and works in and around Charlottesville.”