Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia on November 16 updated members of the university community on plans for the spring semester. Given the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 infections in the United States, the university’s spring approach will focus on bringing seniors back to campus and providing some in-person learning experiences for seniors, graduate, and professional students.
“These are profoundly hard decisions, and in navigating through this difficult time, we are guided by our first priority–the safety of our community,” DeGioia wrote. “For all of us, this is not how we would like to be operating, and I understand the disappointment and frustration that comes with these circumstances.”
The plans—which DeGioia described in detail in his weekly video presentation—are provisional and subject to modification. They include:
- Bringing back approximately 500 additional seniors, members of the undergraduate Class of 2021, who currently live outside of the Washington, D.C., area. This will double the number of students living in Main Campus residence halls. The Law Center also will increase the number of residential students on the law campus.
- Granting a small number of exceptions for undergraduate students whose living situations have changed substantially and who no longer have stable housing.
- Developing an optional residential summer semester for the undergraduate Class of 2024. This will provide an opportunity for students to live on campus and take credit-bearing courses before they begin their sophomore year, provided public health conditions allow.
- Offering all courses virtually, while introducing some hybrid Main Campus courses (virtual courses that have in-person components) for senior undergraduate students–both those in residence on campus and those living in the Washington, D.C., area–and for students in the Graduate School.
- Planning for some hybrid academic experiences for medical, nursing, and law students, as conditions permit.
- Following a revised academic calendar, with undergraduate courses beginning on January 25.
- Gradually offering new opportunities for studying and gathering on campus. Using a reservation system, the university will provide access to certain key campus locations, with strict adherence to its public health program.
- Partnering with WeWork to provide domestic and international students with access to quiet study spaces and internet access off campus, at no cost.
The plans, DeGioia said, reflect months of consultation and conversation with local and national public health experts, faculty, staff, families, and students.
“We understand the disappointment in not being able to fully return to campus and how eager our community is to be together in person,” DeGioia wrote. Noting that this is “a very uncertain and challenging time” to be announcing spring plans, DeGioia said the university will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic and make adjustments as needed, guided by Georgetown’s commitment to health and safety.