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University of Virginia set to conduct in-person classes

Officials said they feel the effort to hold in-person instruction is worth it

A statue of Thomas Jefferson stands in front of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on graduation weekend at the school Saturday May 16, 2020, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A statue of Thomas Jefferson stands in front of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on graduation weekend at the school Saturday May 16, 2020, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia announced Friday that it is moving ahead with plans to offer in-person instruction for the fall semester.

In a statement posted on the school’s website, UVA officials said they had initially delayed the start of in-person undergraduate classes by two weeks to allow for more assessment of the spread of COVID-19. They also said they delayed the decision in order to take a look at how other schools have fared since opening.

UVA said it is now proceeding with plans to welcome students to residence halls starting Sept. 3 and to begin in-person instruction for undergraduates on Sept. 8.

“We know some will be delighted to hear this news and others will be disappointed,” the statement said. “To be frank, it was a very difficult decision, made in the face of much uncertainty, and with full awareness that future events may force us to change course.”

Officials said they feel the effort to hold in-person instruction is worth it.

“Some critical parts of a college education cannot be replicated online. Some academic instruction, for sure, can be just as effective online; in other cases, it’s a challenge,” officials said. “Regardless, we know that the college experience is also about what happens outside of the classroom.”

Among other factors, the school also said a majority of UVA students will be in Charlottesville, living in private houses and apartments, regardless of how classes are conducted.

“By welcoming our students into classrooms and on Grounds - with adequate testing, rules about gatherings and mask-wearing, and enforcement - we will be in a better position to monitor what’s happening and to contain any outbreaks,” the statement said.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Friday that UVA has reported 67 total positive COVID cases since Aug. 17 among students, faculty and staff. Of those, 23 were students who reported a positive test on Thursday, the school’s highest single-day total. Twenty-five students, faculty or staff have been hospitalized.

Some colleges in Virginia, including Virginia State University, have decided to conduct the entire semester online.