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University of Virginia’s Final Exercises canceled as currently planned

The University’s been forced to make sweeping changes across Grounds

Sullivan Photo by Joel Hawksley/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Commonwealth and the rest of the country continue to enter into uncharted territory as the nation goes—slowly—into lockdown. Restaurants, bars, gyms, and businesses everywhere are being forced to close down indefinitely, and even so, it feels like we’re not doing enough, and we’re not doing it fast enough.

The University has also been forced to make difficult decisions regarding its operations. On Tuesday evening, President Jim Ryan and Provost Liz Magill delivered a message to the University community that, among other things, Final Exercises will not proceed as planned for the 2019-2020 academic year. That’s not to say they’ve been definitively canceled, as they are seeking alternative ways to celebrate the tremendous achievements of UVA’s graduating students.

Final Exercises will not proceed as planned. In light of the evidence about the likely progression of the virus over the next couple of months, and when it will peak, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Final Exercises as currently planned. We did not make this decision lightly, as we know how disappointing it will be to graduating students and their families. That said, a team is already focused on developing creative alternatives to mark this important occasion, and we will communicate updates as we have them.

You can read the full memo here, but other highlights from Tuesday’s announcement include the following:

  • Classes will remain online through the remainder of the term.
  • All events, no matter the size, are canceled through May 15. This doesn’t include internal meetings, and it’s perhaps important for those on the Reunions cycle to note that this doesn’t yet apply to Reunions.
  • All UVA employees, whether full- or part-time, will still get paid, whether that means they are working in person, working remotely, re-deployed to other tasks, or unable to work, the University will honor all employment commitments for the foreseeable future.
  • Student employees who can continue to work remotely should do so. Unfortunately those who cannot will not be able to get paid.
  • Only students who have no other options will be permitted to use on-Grounds Housing. Everyone else must vacate by Friday, March 20. The University will be providing pro-rated credits or refunds for both on-Grounds Housing and dining.
  • There are a lot of other modifications and reductions of service that are worth reading for those in Charlottesville or are a member of the University community today.

It caught my attention that the University’s point of view is that, “It is exceedingly unlikely, based on all that we know at this point, that this virus will have abated by the end of April.” A bleak statement for those still holding out hope of returning to normalcy sooner rather than later.

The University announced yesterday a confirmed case of COVID-19, a staff member at the UVA Women’s Center.

We’ll do our best to keep you posted on all things-Virginia here. Earlier today, the ACC and UVA canceled all spring athletic events and activities, including the football team’s Pro Day (April 8) and Virginia Cavaliers’ Spring Football Game (April 25). The VAF also canceled all spring Social Tours. They have not yet made any decisions on summer camps.