Fall 2020


Dear students and colleagues,

Due to the increasing case count of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth and the nation, UVA Wise has made the difficult decision to modify our reopening plans. Despite the change in plan, we look forward to an exciting, on-campus academic opening and we will continue to plan for a safe and productive year at UVA Wise.

The College has developed these plans in consultation with academic departments, Student Affairs, Athletics, Operations, UVA administration, UVA Health System, the Board of Visitors and the UVA Wise College Board, among others.

The details of the plan are as follows.

Academic Calendar

  • Classes will now begin on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.  The revised start date will accommodate enhanced protocols for reopening, including student testing prior to the return to campus.
  • Due to the delayed start of classes, coursework and finals will now extend beyond the Thanksgiving holiday. After Thanksgiving, students will remain off-campus and will complete remaining coursework and finals online. The revised academic calendar will be announced and posted by the Provost’s Office.
  • Classes will be offered face-to-face and in online and hybrid formats.
  • On-campus, residential move-ins are suspended and will resume on Wednesday, August 19 in preparation for the start of classes on August 26. The Dean of Students will issue a communication soon regarding staggered and prescheduled housing move-ins. Any students with move-ins scheduled after today, Monday, August 3, 2020, should not travel to campus until further notice.
  • Convocation will occur on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.

Testing and Symptom Tracking

  • All UVA Wise students will receive at-home test kits prior to their return to campus.
  • Approximately 71 residential students are currently on campus. They will not be asked to return home. These students and some employees, approximately 175 in total, were tested for COVID-19 on campus today using kits courtesy of UVA Health System.  Test results are expected this week.
  • Testing will allow the College to gauge infection rates to enable future decision-making.
  • Students with a positive test result will not be allowed to return to campus until 10 days post-diagnosis and 3 days after the cessation of symptoms without medication, whichever is longer.
  • Residential students who test positive will receive housing accommodations in Martha Randolph Hall in order to self-isolate. The College is currently identifying additional isolation and quarantine space, if needed.
  • Symptomatic employees and students, or those who have had contact with individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infections, can receive COVID-19 testing at the Health Clinic on campus. Please call ahead to make an appointment at 276-376-3475. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, walk-in appointments are not available.
  • Individuals who have had contact with someone with COVID-19 will also quarantine per the Virginia Department of Health guidelines.
  • It is important to note that a student’s or employee’s test results or their health status will not negatively impact one’s enrollment or employment at the College. We encourage open and frequent communication from students and employees so the College can be responsive.
  • The symptom tracker app is under development and is expected to be live and fully operational prior to the return to campus. All students and employees are expected to track symptoms completely and truthfully. All students and employees are expected to follow all guidance and instructions if symptoms are present.

Continuous Monitoring

UVA Wise is monitoring the following factors as the situation on the ground evolves.

  • Rate of infection on campus
  • Rate of infection in surrounding localities and counties in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky
  • Hospital intensive care capacity in the immediate service area
  • State and federal guidance for institutions of higher education
  • Sufficient testing resources on and off-campus
  • Sufficient quarantine and isolation spaces on campus for residential students
  • Sufficient contact tracing resources in place with the Virginia Department of Health

Any decision(s) pertaining to campus operations will be made with these factors in mind and in close consultation with the campus community and the Virginia Department of Health.

All major decisions regarding COVID-19 will be clearly communicated to campus employees and students via email, text, auto-call, and the College website.

Your safety and health are paramount in any and all decisions regarding College operations during these extraordinary times. Please continue to share your feedback, concerns, questions and suggestions with me and with the leadership in your areas. Together, we will  ensure that UVA Wise is a safe and healthy community. Please take care and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best regards,

Donna P. Henry. Ph.D.



Do I need to be tested if I am a student at UVA Wise this fall?
All students planning on living or learning on campus at UVA Wise this fall must present evidence of a completed, negative COVID-19 test or follow CDC guidelines regarding a full quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test. UVA Wise is providing testing kits to students (no need to order one yourself). Student are encouraged to check their email for testing information.

Can I perform the UVA Wise COVID-19 test at home?
If you are less than 18 years of age (and thus considered a minor), you will need to have a Primary Care Physician proctor your test. Otherwise, you can perform the test at home. 

Students who live more than an hour from campus will receive a COVID-19 test kit at no cost, shipped from UVA Wise. 

If you live approximately one hour or less from campus (or you are from further than an hour from campus but prefer to be tested locally), you may get tested from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 12; Thursday, August 13; or Friday, August 14. Testing locations include:

•     David J. Prior Convocation Center at 437 Stadium Drive NE, Wise, Va.
•     Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center at 1 Partnership Circle, Abingdon, Va.

No appointment is required to complete testing during these times; however, we ask that you prepare by downloading the Let’s Get Checked app to a smart device. Then, please bring that device—your smartphone or your college-issued iPad—to the testing site in order to activate your test kit.

Can you ship my test kit to a Post Office Box?
No. If you live more than an hour from campus and verify your address so that UVA Wise ships your COVID-19 test, that test must be shipped to a physical address, not a Post Office (or P.O.) box.

I’m visiting my family out of state; can I take the test here and send in the results?
As long as you can provide a negative COVID-19 viral PCR test result with a date of August 11 or later, you can return to campus. If you need UVA Wise to ship a test to you at a different address than your legal, home address, email your best shipping address to us at c19test@uvawise.edu so that we may send your test kit to the proper location asap.

Do students who have opted to take classes completely online need to complete the COVID-19 test?
You need to complete a test if you are coming to campus. If you have chosen to take courses completely online and won’t visit campus, you do not need to complete a test. However, if you have chosen to complete classes online but will come to campus to use the library, dining facilities, meet with faculty, etc, you must show a completed negative COVID-19 test result.

How do I show documentation that I have a negative test result?
Once you complete and mail your Let’s Get Checked COVID-19 test kit (or complete it at an on-campus or Abingdon test day) and the lab completes your processing, the Let’s Get Checked app on your phone that will display your results. You may also show a negative test result from the Health Department or Primary Care Physician dated August 11 or later.


What safety measures will UVA Wise be taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
UVA Wise will follow the Higher Education Reopening Guidance report published by the Virginia Department of Health including, but not limited to:

  • Reduced capacity in classrooms to ensure physical distancing
  • Use of face coverings
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitization of campus spaces
  • Promotion of good hygiene and social distancing best practices

The College is also monitoring best practices for Colleges, Universities, and Institutions of Higher Learning as established by the Centers for Disease Control and will be implementing many measures to heighten safety as fall approaches.

Are face coverings required on campus?
Yes, it is vital we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  One of the ways we can do this is through the wearing of face coverings. Policy SEC-045 states that face coverings must be worn by all faculty, staff and students while inside a College facility, building, or any other College property while in the presence of others (e.g., common work spaces, meeting rooms, etc.).

Exceptions to this policy include:
  • A person eating or drinking at a food and beverage establishment on the College campus,
  • A person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible,
  • Anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering,
  • Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance,
  • A person in need of College medical services may temporarily remove the face covering.

How should I prepare for a return to campus this fall?


  • Expedition, the extended orientation event for new freshmen, will be held virtually on Sunday, August 23.  Additional details will be shared with students closer to the event date.


  • If you are not feeling well, please don’t travel back to campus until you are well. If you have been tested for COVID-19 or have recently been exposed to someone who has tested positive, please communicate with us so that we can provide the resources for you to succeed academically, but also to protect your health and the health and safety of others.
  • Consider quarantining at home in advance of your return to Wise. According to the Virginia Department of Health, quarantining means staying home as much as possible, limiting your contact with other people and monitoring your health closely.
  • Masks/face coverings will be required when you are on campus – in buildings (including classrooms) and in areas where you cannot social distance (i.e. if you are outside and not able to distance appropriately).  Noncompliance with this policy may result in you being asked to leave class/building and/or student conduct charges.
  • Knowing how extremely important that social distancing will be for the fall semester, consider participating in activities and events in which you can engage that pose minimal risk – participate in a Student Recreation sponsored activity; hang out on the lawn in a small, socially distanced group; go for a hike on one of the many local and regional trails that call Southwest Virginia home; and continue to look for more opportunities to explore on campus, local and regional activities.
  • Small groups and campus sponsored events allow us to convene as members of our college community. I encourage you to avoid large group gatherings or social events where social distancing is not possible. I understand how difficult it is not to hang out with groups of your friends each day and on weekends, but please understand that there is a high risk of infection in large group gatherings. Limit guests, whether you live on campus or off campus. As a member of the UVA Wise community, please consider your role in helping to protect your peers, your faculty and the staff members who work with you. We are in this together.
  • If you will have a car on campus, you can register your vehicle and purchase your decal in the Portal, and then pick it up when you arrive on campus.  Be sure to do this either online or in the Campus Police Department when you arrive on campus because ticketing will begin when classes start.

What happens if I test positive or am exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19?
If you are a residential student and you experience COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, you may be required to relocate to an alternate housing assignment on-campus. You are required to follow the UVA Health Wise Clinic/Virginia Department of Health instructions regarding isolation and quarantine.

If you are a commuter student and you experience COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, you may be required to self-isolate or quarantine at home. You are required to follow the UVA Health Wise Clinic/Virginia Department of Health instructions regarding isolation and quarantine. Students who do not reside on campus will not be permitted to isolate or quarantine on campus.

I’m an international student or am returning from abroad. Will I need to quarantine prior to moving on campus or attending classes?
Yes, you will need to quarantine for 14 days prior to attending classes or coming to campus. If you are a residential student, you will be permitted to move into a quarantine space on campus to complete the 14 day quarantine period.

Residential students who will need to quarantine on campus will need to contact the Office of Housing & Residence Life at wisehousing@uvawise.edu at least 5 days prior to their return to campus to make arrangements. You may return in enough time to complete your quarantine before the start of classes, but do contact us to arrange for that option.

Students whose quarantine period will overlap with the start of classes will be able to manage their classes remotely.

How will dining services differ from previous academic years?
UVA Wise Dining Services has been working closely with the Virginia Department of Health LENOWISCO District on all operational matters and has been inspected for use. The Office of Dining Services has made modifications to the facility to adhere to social distancing standards. Clear signage will be posted to direct patrons through the facility. Dining Associates are undergoing training and are required to meet all health and safety standards and protocols.

How will new policies and procedures be communicated to all students?
All new and returning students will be required to complete a virtual orientation and training designed to reinforce policies, procedures and practices that are required of all UVA Wise students in the fall 2020 semester, including but not limited to the Return to Wise plan. The training will include information about daily symptom tracking and COVID-19 prevention strategies. The training will also address the importance of community cohesion and clearly prohibits stigma, prejudice, or bias on the basis of one’s perceived or actual COVID-19 status.

This year, the Student Handbook has been updated to include a “COVID-19 & Student Responsibility” statement. It is the responsibility of the student to read, understand and follow the expectations outlined in the Student Handbook, which pertains to curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular settings such as student organizations and fraternities and sororities. Students who violate the outlined policies, procedures, and practices place the College community at risk and may be cited and referred to the Student Conduct process.


What will the Fall 2020 Academic Calendar look like?
The College has made three adjustments to the fall schedule. We will start classes a week early, on August 12, complete the semester before Thanksgiving, and eliminate a week of fall break. View the complete 2020 Academic Calendar.

How will my courses be scheduled this fall?
Courses will be taught in one of two 8-week blocks (Block A or Block B) or will be taught as a full, 16-week semester course (Block C). All Block A and B courses will meet on MWF and all Block C (full semester) courses will meet on Tuesday and Thursday. Three-credit hour courses in Block A and B will meet for 2 hours in each session and three-credit hour courses in Block C will meet for 1.5 hours in each session. Classes will be held throughout the day and in the evening.

We expect most of you to have a mixed schedule of 4-6 courses distributed across the blocks (e.g., 2 courses in Block A, 2 in Block B, 1 in Block C) to help balance the demands of simultaneous courses, especially if we find it necessary to move all instruction online.

These recommendations are based both on feedback from you and from your professors, and were influenced by research on best practices for student learning. We hope they achieve the need for those in courses to have the opportunity to meet in person; however, we also acknowledge the necessity to create the recommended social distance of six feet apart and recognize that, should infection rates rise, we may have to go fully online.

What will happen to courses if infection rates rise?
All courses will incorporate technology so that faculty and students are prepared to move to a mobile learning platform if coronavirus infection rates rise to an unhealthy level.

  • Some courses will be taught primarily in person, but with the opportunity for students who are immunocompromised to participate in the class via livestreaming and with some aspects of the course delivered online for all enrolled students.
  • Some courses will be “hybrid” – they will meet in person for about half of the time and for the other half, content will be delivered and assignments completed online.
  • Some courses will be fully online, but taught synchronously. In this case, faculty and students will meet via Zoom or another platform at a scheduled time each week. Assignments and activities will all be online.
  • Some courses will be fully online, but taught asynchronously. In this case, most of the courses content will be web-based and completed at the student’s own pace. Occasional meetings of all enrolled students at a designated time may occur.

How will I register for classes or change my schedule for Fall 2020?
New students:  Faculty advisors will work individually with both first-year and transfer students to determine the best schedule for the first semester at UVA Wise. All freshman seminars will be offered as full semester courses.

Returning Students: For returning students who are already registered for fall classes, some changes in the schedule may occur given the new block schedule and different course delivery methods. All students who have registered will receive an email in the next couple weeks with their new schedules and instructions on how to contact an advisor for guidance on changing the schedule, if that is their preference. Changes will only be permitted with an advisor’s approval.

If you are a returning student, but have not yet registered for fall courses, you will receive an email with instructions on how to contact an advisor for guidance on selecting courses. These students will not have access to the system to register until they have met with an advisor.

For questions, please contact the Office of the Registrar at registrar@uvawise.edu or 276-328-0116.

What academic support can I access this fall?
As is true during every semester, the Academic Support Center at UVA Wise will provide academic coaching, tutoring, disability services, and other types of support to you. However, this fall, the Center will expand their offerings to include virtual online office hours, online academic coaching, online tutoring, tech tutors, and more. Academic Support will also continue their first-generation college student programming, bringing awareness, recognition, and support to many UVA Wise students.


How will living on campus differ from previous academic years?
Residential living this year will look different in a number of ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19. All residents must follow the College’s protocols. Housing & Residence Life is working other College partners to assist you with your transition back to campus by implementing the following measures:

  • Additional hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the residence halls.
  • Common bathrooms will adhere to reduced occupancy and stricter physical distancing standards.
  • Some common areas and lounge spaces may be closed off and other areas may be modified to allow for appropriate physical distancing standards.
  • Housekeeping staff will be cleaning common areas, bathrooms and other high traffic areas more frequently. However, keeping common areas clean will require effort from everyone and we ask that all residents do their part, as well. For example, you can help by ensuring that trash is disposed of properly and wipe down any surfaces in common areas before and after using them.

In addition, one residence hall will be reserved for students in case residential students must quarantine or isolate. This hall will be managed in close coordination with the Virginia Department of Public Health.

The UVA Wise Guide to Campus Living outlines all housing and residence life policies and procedures, includes helpful information about life on campus, resources, and information important to know before moving in to our residential community.

If I choose to live on campus, when can I move in to my room?
UVA Wise will implement a phased move in, by appointment, starting Wednesday, August 19 and continuing through Tuesday, August 25. Detailed information about Move-In will be sent via UVA Wise email to residents. During the scheduled move-in time block, you will be allowed to bring two guests to assist you with move in. Masks will be required when in common areas of the residence halls.

Students participating in a College-sponsored athletic camp, band camp, etc., will receive move-in information from their coach or sponsor regarding the date and time they may move In. Early arrivals for non-College sponsored activities will not be permitted.

Information about Move In Day can also be found at the Move-In Day webpage.


Will there be NCAA Division II athletics on campus this fall?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and in the best interest of the health, safety, and well-being of the student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, and our campus communities, the South Atlantic Conference Presidents Council has made the decision to delay the start of all scheduled competition for the 2020 fall sports season until September 26.

What safety measures will UVA Wise Athletics be taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
UVA Wise is following the Virginia Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, NCAA, and National Athletic Trainers Association guidelines to plan a return to practice and competition for our Highland Cavalier athletes this fall. In addition to following the guidelines put forth for all students, some modifications which may be implemented to prevent the spread of disease for student athletes include:

  • Athletic training services by appointment
  • Limited capacity within athletic facilities
  • Virtual team meetings, if recommended by the Commonwealth or the College (dependent upon the reopening phase of Virginia at a given date)
  • New travel guidelines for teams

Additionally, the College is planning enhanced safety measures and clear communications as we evaluate what the athletics game environment may look like.