Over the past few months, we’ve talked a lot about a return to Grounds for our students, either in-person or virtually through online instruction. This week, despite the fact that nothing looks like it once did, we can finally say welcome back and that we are thrilled to see our students at every level learning together once again.
In these past few days, University leaders have also been learning a lot ourselves about the new reality we are all facing together.
For instance, as the students of the hiking class offered through the Curry School have learned, it is still possible to get outside together and explore the beautiful trails around this region like the Rivanna Trail right here in Charlottesville.
Last weekend we learned another lesson about how to structure dining services, particularly at the Observatory Hill Dining Room. Even though students were masked, they were far too close together, not six feet from one another as our basic public health rules require. Staff from Dining Services and Student Life took immediate action to better enforce physical distancing and encourage students to stagger their dining times and we have seen improvement in our dining facilities since then.
Overall, in the weeks since our students began returning to Grounds and taking classes in person, we have learned that members of our community really do want to get this right. Take a walk around Grounds and you will see broad compliance with the new UVA polices on wearing masks, physical distancing, and limiting large groups.
We've also learned that the bar for success is very high. As we’ve watched other universities around the country, we’ve seen that this virus can exploit even minor lapses. Making this semester work will require all of us to stay vigilant and do the right things to keep ourselves and the people around us safe.
After months of uncertainty, planning, and around-the-clock effort, the University is finally back to doing what it does best – educating students (whether in-person or online), conducting cutting-edge research, and offering world-class patient care. While the need to remain focused and humble persists, we are learning that there is also cause for optimism. Much remains out of our control, but if we do the right things for each other, fix mistakes quickly, and find new ways to enrich each other’s lives as a UVA community, we have an opportunity to make this semester the success we are all hoping it can be.
As the updates below demonstrate, we continue to work hard to support our students, faculty, staff, and parents. Now, more than ever, thank you for the way you have responded to this challenging moment for us all. Welcome back.
Liz Magill Provost
JJ Davis Chief Operating Officer
PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
HOOS Health Check and COVIDWISE
Visit the Apple or Google Play store to download HOOS Health Check and use it every day that you will be anywhere on Grounds, even if all of your classes are online. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can complete your daily health check on the HOOS Health Check website (not compatible with Internet Explorer) or through a paper form for employees. HOOS Health Check is required every day that you are on Grounds and will help you stay focused on your health and direct you to resources if you need them. More details are available in FAQ sections of the Return to Grounds and Students on Grounds websites. Visit the ITS website to troubleshoot technical issues.
We strongly recommend that UVA community members download COVIDWISE, the Virginia Department of Health's exposure notification app. Users who voluntarily download the app can send and receive exposure notifications with other app users based on a positive COVID-19 test result. COVIDWISE is separate from HOOS Health Check and data is not shared between the apps.
Ongoing Testing of Students
Last Friday, the University announced a mandatory testing program for all students who are living/ learning on Grounds and in the Charlottesville/Albemarle County area this fall. There are three parts to this program:
Each day, a group of students will be notified via email that they have been selected for mandatory testing at the Student Activities Building near Scott Stadium. This test involves a nasal swab and results will be available in 24 to 48 hours. Students should check email every day and watch for a message from UVA Prevalence Testing (firstname.lastname@example.org) with instructions.
The University is also instituting a mandatory large-scale screening program of asymptomatic students using saliva samples. There will be multiple screening locations across Grounds. More details will be shared when the program launches later in September.
In addition, UVA will analyze residence hall wastewater, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health. If the wastewater from a residence hall indicates the presence of new COVID-19 infections, UVA will conduct virus testing of all the occupants of that residence hall.
Any students with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who believe that they have been in close contact with someone who recently tested positive should contact Student Health at 434-924-5362 for assessment. Students will not be subject to disciplinary action for a positive test result or for any information disclosed as part of contact tracing. The goal of these testing efforts is to identify and contain the virus.
Asymptomatic Testing for UVA Employees and Contracted Workers
UVA is offering free asymptomatic testing on a limited basis to eligible employees in the Academic Division, Medical Center, and University Physicians Group (UPG), as well as contracted workers who are employed by the nine major contractors that have workers on Grounds on a daily and long-term basis. See UVA Today for details.
Compliance with Public Health Measures
Each member of the University community has a shared responsibility to maintain a healthy and safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consistent with that responsibility, all students, faculty, and staff must comply with public health measures and University policies. Effective enforcement relies on commitment by students, faculty, and staff to remind one another of appropriate policies and guidelines, and to hold one another accountable. Acting as engaged bystanders to support and assist members of our shared community is the necessary first step in the University’s accountability process. For more information, please visit the COVID-19 Compliance Reporting webpage.
COVID-19 Dashboard Provides Timely Metrics
Visit the UVA COVID Tracker on the Return to Grounds website for the latest public data on COVID-19 at the University. The dashboard will be updated by 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Helpful Hints for Best Results
In a hybrid or virtual environment, students can’t rely on in-person interactions as a way to get help with a class. It might not be as easy, for example, to ask a quick question before or after class or to find a study buddy in the seat next to you. Students might need help preparing to be a work-from-home student or need to explore new ways to think about procrastination. Try to set good Study Strategies early on in the semester; and even though libraries have limited available space this semester, you can still Ask a Librarian. Looking for an online study group? Ask your professor to make an announcement so you can create a group chat. Concerned about connectivity? Visit ITS for tips and tricks, and if you need financial assistance in order to access reliable internet or for similar technology expenses, consider applying for CARES funding.
Bottom line: communicate with your professors in advance about any concerns you might have so that you can work to find a reasonable solution. They are eager to hear from you!
Call for Proposals for J-Term Courses
This year, regular tuition includes one J-Term course and one course in Summer Session I. To enhance our offerings, we are designing new, interdisciplinary courses for the January and summer terms, in addition to our regularly planned J-Term and summer classes. These signature courses, tailored specifically for this year’s new and returning students, will be taught by professors from across the University and will explore some of today’s most relevant topics. Faculty who are interested in teaching a signature J-Term course, or would like to suggest a topic that others might teach, should submit a proposal by Monday, Sept 21. See the J-Term website for the description of these courses, compensation plan, and selection process.
Parking Permits for 2020-21
Parking permits for 2020-21 are now available through an online parking portal (NetBadge required). Log in, click on “get permits” and view the options available for annual, daily, or multi-day purchase. Prior-year annual permits on central, west, and north Grounds have been extended to Sept. 11, and will not be automatically renewed this year. Therefore, these permit holders must take action to obtain a parking permit for the 2020-21 academic year. Visit the Parking & Transportation website for details.
University Transit Service
University Transit Service (UTS) bus-loading protocols, service hours, and routes are modified for the fall term. See Fall 2020 routes and the UTS Rider Guide for details. Download the TransLoc Rider app or use TransLoc online to find the nearest bus stop, track your bus in real-time, see arrival time estimates, and receive service impact notifications. Weekday Service and Weekend Service route maps are posted for Academic Division. Safe Ride is an on-demand, fare-free, point-to-point transportation service provided after UTS has stopped service for the night. A valid UVA ID is required to book and board a Safe Ride van.
RETURNING TO WORK ON GROUNDS
Return to Grounds Training Module Deadline Passed
The deadline for all Academic Division faculty and staff to complete the required “Return to Grounds” training module passed on Tuesday, Sept. 8; however there are still some employees who have not taken the required training. Reminder that everyone must complete the module even if you are not returning to Grounds so please complete it ASAP if you have not done so. It does not take very long. The module explains basic safety standards and behavioral expectations. At the end, you will be required to acknowledge that you have reviewed the content and agree to abide by the safety standards as outlined.
Reports for Managers About Training Completion
The Manager – Return to Grounds Training Report provides a list of a manager’s direct reports who are enrolled in the course, as well as their “Content Completion Status.” If you are a manager, please check this report and follow-up with your direct reports who have not taken the course and ensure they do so right away. It is imperative they are knowledgeable and agree to the UVA safety standards.
Remember to Pick Up Your Student Welcome Kit
The University is providing all students who will be living and learning in Charlottesville/ Albemarle County this fall with a kit containing two reusable cloth face coverings, two small bottles of hand sanitizer, and a door opener tool.
Undergraduate students who have not yet received a kit at their on-Grounds housing or through Athletics, ROTC, or their school may pick up their kit at the information desk in Newcomb Hall or the first floor desk at 1515 from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.
Graduate and professional students in the Engineering School may pick up their kit at the information desk in Newcomb Hall or the first floor desk at 1515 from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Other graduate and professional students will receive their kits from their school.
Dining on Grounds
UVA Dine is excited to welcome students back to Grounds and is working hard to create a positive and safe dining experience. Students are doing a great job wearing face masks, and staff are encouraging proper distancing in lines and dining rooms throughout all meal periods. Additional staff have been placed at the entrances and throughout the dining rooms to help guide and encourage social distancing.
All three dining rooms – O’Hill, Runk, and FFCo. in Newcomb – are open with to-go options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Students can pre-order using Grubhub or stop by The Forum at O’Hill (with a separate entrance) to pick up a prepared meal to-go. With 15 additional retail locations and food trucks located around Grounds, students can now use their meal plan at 20-plus dining locations. A new delivery service app called Good Uncle has also partnered with dining to provide quality hot meals throughout Grounds, and students can pay with flex dollars.
UVA Dine has also provided reusable bags to take multiple meals to-go at once for students who would like to limit their visits to the dining rooms. Visit the UVA Dine website to view hours of operations and menus.
Tents on Grounds
The University has erected tents across Grounds to give students places to relax, eat lunch, and get things done between classes. Each tent has lighting and WiFi, and tables and chairs are arranged to allow for physical distancing. These tents are located at the lawn in front of Peabody Hall, the south end of the Lawn in front of Old Cabell Hall (two tents), the Dell basketball courts, Hume Plaza (outside of Newcomb Hall), the lawn at the O’Hill dining hall, and the grassy area across from the Corner. In addition, some schools and units have chosen to erect tents for their own use.
Partnering with Corner Merchants
UVA students and staff have partnered with Corner merchants to promote healthy behaviors. Students have developed a social norms campaign and provided Corner merchants with kits including posters, coasters, signs, and masks. UVA has installed a large tent in the grassy area across from the Corner with 20 picnic tables under and near the tent to provide a place for students to eat takeout from Corner restaurants. UVA is also providing hand sanitizer dispensers for merchants to mount just outside their doors, and is offering guidance to help merchants plan for social distancing on their patios.