This article was updated at 12:32 p.m. EST on July 6 to reflect the latest developments.
After claiming its first life in Wuhan, China, in mid-January, COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus strain, has killed more than 535,185 people and infected at least 11 million worldwide as of July 6, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Governments, businesses, and schools have undertaken efforts to contain the disease and are struggling to deal with the economic and psychological strains of life on standby. As many countries ease into reopening after managing to contain the virus, the United States is being consumed by another wave of infection. The United States leads the world in total COVID-19 cases and deaths, tallying upwards of 2,800,000 confirmed infections and at least 130,000 fatalities. At least 10,482 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Washington, D.C. as of July 6. In the United States, there has been a “disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 health complications range in severity from mild respiratory illness to more serious complications, including death. More mild symptoms include cough, fever, and trouble breathing. The CDC recommends that anyone experiencing symptoms isolate themselves and reach out to a healthcare provider. Georgetown students can contact the Student Health Center at (202) 687-2200.
Georgetown students began circulating a petition calling on administrators to reduce tuition and extend the deferral deadline for the fall 2020 semester amid ongoing uncertainty about the university’s plans to restart on-campus operations in the fall.
“For $28,000 a semester, we the students and customers expect to receive a world-class education supported by in-class debates, healthy discussions outside the classroom, field trips to engage with primary source material, and extra-curricular enrichment, among a number of other factors,” the petition reads. “A Zoom education taken either in your dorm room or your parents’ basement is objectively not worth a $28,000 per semester commitment.”
University officials are considering four possible reopening options for the fall semester, according to official slides obtained by The Hoya. Three of the plans entail bringing some students back to campus; however, campus life and classroom learning will transform dramatically as the university plans on enforcing strict health guidelines. In January, university officials announced a 3.5% hike in tuition, driving up costs to $28,692 per semester.
The petition has garnered 155 signatures as of Tuesday night.
Earlier in the day, D.C. moved into Phase Two of its reopening plan after meeting several key health criteria.
Under Phase Two of the plan, restaurants, libraries, retail stores and other establishments can restart limited in-person services so long as they follow social distancing rules and limit occupancy to half of normal capacity.
Places of worship are encouraged to continue services online but may resume in-person practices if they maintain social distancing between guests, limit occupancy to below half and refrain from practices that might facilitate the spread of germs, such as choir singing.
Colleges and universities can also resume in-person services under Phase Two so long as they have reopening plans approved by the city. Georgetown has not yet submitted plans to the city to reopen its main campus, according to a June 20 message from Provost Robert Groves.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed university community members with COVID-19 rose to 68.
Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies will host all its classes online in the fall, according to a message from Kelly Otter, the dean of the SCS.
“As much as we would like to open up our building and welcome you back for classes in the fall, a deep analysis into our full- and part-time course offerings, student population, and concentrated evening class schedule have led us to this difficult decision,” Otter wrote.
Other Georgetown graduate programs and the Georgetown University Law Center will be hosting classes online and in person.
Georgetown’s undergraduate academic councils, which consult with administrators on academic policy, sent a list of proposals for the fall semester to University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) and other high-level university officials.
The letter urges administrators to “prioritize equity and flexibility” in its academic policies and outlines specific recommendations for the fall 2020 semester. The letter recommends, at minimum, that the university continue with the satisfactory, credit or no credit system of the previous semester and allow students to opt-in to the system after final examinations.
The letter also calls on schools to eliminate grade curves, expand access to online academic resources and refrain from the use of testing surveillance systems like Proctorio. The letter also encourages the administration to adopt asynchronous learning cycles for students who may live outside the Eastern time zone, a proposal put forth in an earlier petition from international students.
Meanwhile, the city government announced that the District is on track to enter Phase Two of reopening as early as Monday. The city has met several key health standards that would enable it to commence Phase Two, including a continued decline in community spread of the coronavirus and hospital occupancy below 80%. The city has yet to meet certain contact tracing standards, according to government officials.
Phase Two of reopening would allow retail spaces to open for limited in-store service and give the go-ahead for universities and places of worship to open for in-person activities.
University administrators published slides detailing four possible plans for the undergraduate fall 2020 semester. The slides provide greater specificity about the scenarios currently under university consideration and offer a glimpse of potential on-campus life during the pandemic. The four possible scenarios for the fall semester are:
- A fully virtual semester — a continuation of the latter half of the spring 2020 semester in which all classes are online and no students return to campus.
- A rotational semester in which half of the student body returns to campus with 2,900 students living on campus in single rooms and 450 students living off-campus while the other half take classes online. Some students would reside in D.C. in the fall while others would move to campus in the spring.
- A fully in-person semester with students spread out across hotels, dorm rooms and off-campus residences. Roughly 2,900 students would live on-campus in single rooms, 2,600 students would live in nearby hotels and 1,200 students would live in off-campus residences. Students would live in D.C. both semesters and take hybrid classes.
- A fully in-person semester with most students living on campus. Dorms would be under normal occupancy with 5,100 students living on campus, 1,200 students would live off campus and 400 students would live in hotels.
The university has not yet chosen a plan to pursue. Georgetown graduate schools and the Georgetown University Law Center previously announced plans to reopen in the fall and teach students under a hybrid teaching model.
The slides also disclosed guidelines for campus activity should students return in the fall, presenting a drastic transformation of campus life designed to minimize interaction between students and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
If students return to campus in the fall, many classes will be held in hotels or online, according to the slides. There will be no in-person dining; all meals will be “grab and go.” There will be routine screening at campus and building entrances and strict limitations on social gatherings.
All in-person classes must space students roughly 6.5 feet apart, and classes may be organized on a staggered schedule to minimize hallway traffic in between periods. Some classes may be hosted in large common spaces on campus, such as Gaston Hall or the Healey Family Student Center, or in hotel ballrooms to ensure appropriate distance in between students.
University leaders provided a slate of updates about the fall semester.
The university extended its moratorium on university-sponsored student travel into the fall semester, according to a universitywide email from Provost Robert Groves. As a result of the extension, all fall 2020 study abroad and exchange programs have been canceled. The latest update does not affect university-sponsored travel for faculty or staff. In April, the university canceled all fall 2020 study abroad programs set to begin Aug. 1.
“Our decision was made in the interest of the health and safety of our community, taking into account the dynamic nature of the global public health situation, significant current limitations on international travel, and the ability to appropriately support students abroad during this time of uncertainty,” Groves wrote in the email.
In a separate email, Georgetown’s graduate programs announced their intention to reopen in the fall and offer classes in a “hybrid format.” Under the proposed system, which must be approved by the city, graduate students would have the option to take classes online or in person. The university will disclose more details in the coming weeks, according to administrators. The Georgetown University Law Center announced preliminary plans for fall reopening that entailed a similar hybrid learning model June 10.
University health officials also announced that the number of community members known to have been infected with COVID-19 rose to 67.
University officials published plans for a “phased restarting” of in-person research initiatives after the campus shutdown and nationwide lockdowns derailed research activities earlier this year. The plan outlines guidelines for research projects that become gradually more lenient as phased reopening occurs.
Members of “research units”—defined as laboratories, research groups, faculty members or other research facilities—must submit detailed plans to resume their research through an online portal for university approval. Researchers, who can resume their work during Phase Two of the city’s reopening if their plan is approved, must use personal protective equipment, maintain social distance and follow a host of other health rules.
The Georgetown University Law Center published preliminary plans to resume in-person instruction in the fall.
Under the proposal, students can choose to take classes in-person or continue remote learning. The Law Center plans on shifting all classes online after Thanksgiving break before an anticipated second wave of coronavirus cases. The plan would also limit the size of classes for first-year law students to fewer than 40 students. The plan is subject to approval from the D.C. government.
Meanwhile, as protests continue throughout the District, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt encouraged demonstrators to get tested for coronavirus and, if possible, work from home for 14 days to ensure they do not have symptoms. The previous day, two members of the D.C. National Guard patrolling the protests tested positive for COVID-19.
In a lengthy message to the campus community, University President John DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) announced the university’s intention to unveil fall reopening plans in the coming weeks.
The statement included no concrete details about the school’s plans to reopen campus in the fall. DeGioia said the administration was “exploring approaches ranging from fully-virtual to approaches that balance virtual learning with on-campus presence.”
The District will allow the university to reopen for on-campus instruction assuming the city enters Phase Two of its reopening and approves the university’s proposal, according to the email. During Phase Two of the city’s reopening plan, retail stores, gyms, libraries, schools and places of worship will be allowed to resume limited in-person activities. Should the city continue to meet the necessary health metrics, officials expect to begin the next phase June 19 at the earliest, according to Mayor Bowser.
University health officials confirmed that 65 members of the university community have tested positive for COVID-19.
As part of the city’s Phase One reopening efforts, D.C. officials designated seven streets as “slow streets,” designed to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic and ensure continued social distancing practices. The speed limit on these streets is limited to 15 miles per hour. The section of 19th Street NW between Dupont Circle and Biltmore Street NW, which cuts through Wards 1 and 2, is one such street.
The number of university community members that have tested positive for COVID-19 climbed to 64, according to university health officials.
The D.C. government lifted the city’s stay-at-home-order, initiating Phase One of the four-stage reopening process.
In the first phase of reopening, nonessential retail businesses may conduct curbside or delivery sales but may not allow customers into the store. Barbershops and hair salons may reopen with stations spaced six feet apart. Restaurants may also reopen for in-person service if tables are spaced six feet apart and no more than six people gather at one table. Playgrounds, public pools, gyms and recreational centers will remain closed. Gatherings of 10 or more people are still prohibited.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that the city would begin gradually reopening after meeting several key health standards. The city recorded a 14-day decline in community spread of the coronavirus, one of the guidelines set by the mayor that, if met, would enable a reopening process. The District’s stay-at-home-order will be lifted May 29.
In the first phase of reopening, nonessential retail businesses may conduct curbside or delivery sales but may not allow customers into the store. Barbershops and hair salons may reopen with stations spaced six feet apart. Restaurants may also reopen for in-person service so long as tables are spaced six feet apart and no more than six people gather at one table. Playgrounds, public pools and recreational centers will remain closed. Gatherings of 10 or more people are still prohibited.
The District’s reopening efforts were thrown into doubt in previous days following a spike in new cases May 24 and a persistently high positive testing rate that hovered around 12% before falling to the 10% maximum threshold recommended by experts May 23.
The first phase of reopening will not impact Georgetown University’s operating status and other campus regulations regarding gatherings and face coverings, according to a message from provost Robert Groves.
University health officials reported that the number of Georgetown community members with COVID-19 reached 61. So far, former NBA star and Georgetown men’s basketball Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) is the only identified case.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced D.C. public schools will resume classes August 31; however, no decision has been made as to whether the classes will be in person or online. The mayor also announced that the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, a popular summer youth initiative that provides subsidized work opportunities, will be primarily hosted online.
Members of the Georgetown University Student Association Executive and Senate met with Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and other senior Georgetown University officials Thursday evening to discuss the school’s plans for a possible fall reopening.
According to GUSA Vice President Bryce Badger, who attended the meeting, the university intends to announce a plan for the fall semester by late June. In the event that the university invites students back to campus, administrators have considered implementing a one-student-per-room policy, in which every student lives in a single, according to meeting notes. Administrators have also weighed reducing in-person class sizes to 30% capacity.
The university declined to comment on any specific details discussed during the meeting. No definitive plans have been determined, according to a university spokesperson.
“During the meeting, university administrators talked through several different tentative scenarios that institutions of higher education are considering for the fall in order to operate in the safest possible way,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “These scenarios are guided by public health information to ensure the health and safety of our entire community. Many factors are still uncertain and evolving, and nothing has been decided.”
Meanwhile, D.C. approached a set of hospitalization and infection standards that would allow the city to begin a phased reopening. The standards, set by the city, require a 14-day decrease in community spread of the virus, a steady, low transmission rate, hospital occupancy below 80% and robust testing and contract tracing before reopening can begin. The city has seen an 11-day decrease in community spread and has met standards for transmission rate and testing as of May 21.
Additionally, a Georgetown graduate student in the McDonough School of Business filed a class-action lawsuit against the university for failing to adequately reimburse tuition money as the school transitioned to online learning. The lawsuit claims Georgetown has been unjustly charging students for services they are not receiving in an online environment. The plaintiff submitted the case, which was filed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, under the pseudonym “John Doe”; the anonymous submission was rejected and the case is expected to be refiled. Similar cases have been brought against other institutions, including Brown University, Boston University and Emory University, for their failure to adequately repay tuition costs. Georgetown has refunded student room and board costs for the remainder of the spring semester after March 16, but the university has not refunded tuition.
Georgetown University issued an ordinance requiring all employees, students and visitors to wear a face covering while on campus, according to an email to the campus community from Provost Robert Groves. The announcement follows a May 13 issuance from the city government requiring people to wear masks when working in close proximity to others or when in public and unable to socially distance.
Later in the day, university health officials reported that the number of Georgetown community members with COVID-19 — including students, faculty and staff — climbed to 55.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also announced that the city has experienced eight days of declining coronavirus community spread. Should community spread continue to decline during the next six days, the city may begin to initiate a reopening process before the end of the month. The city wants to see a two-week stretch of declining community spread before reopening, according to The Washington Post. To date, D.C. has met other standards set by the mayor that would allow reopening parts of the city, including maintaining hospital capacity rates below 80% and increasing testing for high-risk populations. Virginia and Maryland have already initiated phased reopenings.
In a virtual commencement ceremony, 187 newly minted physicians graduated from the Georgetown University School of Medicine. GUSOM graduates will be entering the field during one of the most trying medical crises in recent memory. Many GUSOM students have tried to help tackle the crisis while on campus, gathering much-needed supplies for professionals combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and helping treat COVID-19 patients virtually.
The Georgetown University Class of 2020 graduated. The university hosted a virtual degree-awarding celebration for the graduating class on Facebook Live. The 2020 Conferral of Degrees in Course ceremony, which lasted just over 30 minutes, featured speeches from university administrators and brief sermons from Rabbi Rachel Gartner and Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J. Individual schools distributed awards to graduating seniors the previous day during Tropaia Exercises.
Following a centuries-old procedure, President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) recited the brief commencement dictum, certifying the graduation of undergraduate and graduate students on the main campus and students at the Georgetown University Law Center. The degree-awarding ceremony caps off a turbulent and upsetting spring semester, one which has left some seniors with a missing sense of closure to their Georgetown careers.
Students at Georgetown’s campus in Doha, Qatar, also graduated May 16 after educators and students worked to adapt to an online learning environment.
Washington, D.C., opened applications for the Educational and Academic Retail Shops Pilot, a program which will allow particular retail shops to open for business and deliver goods curbside to consumers. Six shops, including Lost City Bookstores and Politics and Prose, are slated to open. D.C. also expanded its small business microgrant program, allocating an extra $800,000 for businesses in Wards 7 and 8.
Georgetown international students began circulating a petition on social media encouraging the university to introduce academic and logistical reforms to support international students, a campus community that has been adversely impacted by the transition to online learning. The petition, which has garnered more than 200 student signatures and 14 faculty signatures, requests the introduction of asynchronous academic schedules for students living in different time zones and clear procedures for entering and leaving the United States.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District’s stay-at-home order through June 8. The number of cases and deaths in the city continues to climb, with total cases topping 6,500 and deaths reaching 350 as of May 13. Bowser originally issued the stay-at-home order March 30.
Additionally, beginning May 16, face masks will be required on all public transit including, Metrorail, Metrobus, Circulator buses, and MARC trains. Though riders were previously asked to wear a mask, it is now a requirement both in stations and while in transit. All taxi and ride-share passengers must also wear masks. New requirements do not apply to children under the age of nine or for people experiencing homelessness.
University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) announced additional spending cuts to ease the financial burden of the pandemic in a letter to the Georgetown community. The university expects to lose at least $50 million by the start of the fall semester because of refunds and other pandemic-related expenses. To overcome this shortfall, the university will continue its pause on hiring, discretionary spending, and salary increases. The university will also suspend contributions to faculty retirement funds and pause merit salary increases. Additionally, 54 members of Georgetown’s leadership have voluntarily taken pay cuts. The letter also introduced voluntary furlough and pay cut programs, through which university employees can opt to forego pay to support the university financially.
Democratic legislators in the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would grant D.C. a supplementary $755 million in federal funding to weather the pandemic after only being allocated $500 million under the CARES Act. The federal assistance bill offered states a minimum of $1.25 billion in funding.
States bordering the District began putting their reopening plans on hold. Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) issued an executive order allowing counties and jurisdictions in northern parts of the state to delay reopening because of continuing struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As of May 12, Virginia has 25,800 confirmed cases and just under 900 deaths. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) announced plans to introduce similar delays for certain areas of the state.
The number of Georgetown-affiliated people including students, faculty and staff with COVID-19 climbed to 50, according to an alert from university health officials.
Georgetown notified students that it would be distributing $2,600 grants to students who contributed less than $15,000 to their university-related expenses during the academic year. The university received $3.06 million in federal aid from the CARES Act in April to assist students during the pandemic. Students ineligible for federal funding will receive grants directly from the university.
After Georgetown seniors pressed against the cancellation of commencement ceremonies in March, the university announced it would be hosting virtual degree-awarding ceremonies May 16 and 17 ahead of future in-person celebrations at an unspecified date.
The university announced it would use the reformed grading system for the summer semester. Students taking summer classes will have the option to take their classes for a letter grade or a designation of satisfactory, credit or no credit. Additionally, the university announced students would not face suspension or dismissal for poor academic performance during the spring 2020 semester.
The Department of Education published a guidance prohibiting undocumented students and DACA recipients from receiving federal aid that had been doled out to support universities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though Congress did not specify any standards for documentation status, the DOE ordinance decreed that only those students who are eligible for federal financial aid — U.S. citizens and some permanent residents — can receive the newly distributed federal funding, according to The Hill.
The ordinance will also bar many international students from receiving federal support.
The DOE unleashed $6.28 billion of federal funding set aside by Congress to assist U.S. colleges and universities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgetown received $3.06 million in aid. Schools with larger student enrollment received greater financial assistance.
Congress passed a $2 trillion aid package known as the CARES Act to cushion U.S. hospitals, families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, allocating a total of $14 billion to support U.S. universities and colleges.
Universities must use the funds to financially support students during the transition to online learning, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote in a letter to college and university presidents.
“The only statutory requirement is that the funds be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care),” DeVos wrote.
To alleviate the financial stresses of the campus shutdown, the university announced a freeze on new hiring, salary increases, and discretionary spending. The university has spent $25 million over the past several weeks to bankroll various pandemic-related expenses, including room and board refunds and emergency funds. New hiring “will be limited to only mission critical roles as determined by the Executive Vice Presidents and the Chief Operating Officer,” according to the university.
The Georgetown University Law Center implemented a mandatory pass/fail grading policy for all J.D. students, according to an email from Executive Vice President and Dean William Treanor sent to all GULC students. Masters of Laws students can choose to take their classes pass/fail.
Georgetown announced a change in grading policy for both undergraduate and graduate students in a universitywide email from Provost Robert Groves.
Under the new system, students retain the option to either receive letter grades for their classes or be graded under a modified pass/fail system. For classes in which students opt in to the alternate grading framework, students will receive a Satisfactory designation for grades A to C, a Credit designation for grades C- to D and a No-Credit designation for an F, according to the email.
Students can make the decision to switch to the modified pass/fail system beginning April 6 and will have the option to do so until the last day of classes April 28. Undergraduate students will be able to make the decision without approval from their academic deans. Graduate students are still required to seek approval from their respective director of graduate studies.
The decision to modify the grading system was meant to take into account difficult circumstances students may face while adjusting to an online environment, according to Groves’ email.
“In our decision-making we were guided by a compassionate consideration of students who are suffering under the conditions of dislocation due to the pandemic and are unable to work or perform at the same level they were before,” Groves wrote. “Through the addition of CR, students who might slip into the C-, D+, and D range are assured of passing and of not having to repeat a course.”
In the preceding days, the Georgetown University Student Association teamed up with student advocates to push for the introduction of a Double A grading system, in which students would finish the semester with an A or A- grade for all of their classes.
Since the announcement of the revised grading system, many students have expressed frustration on social media with the new system, claiming it is too similar to the old one they attempted to reform.
The order offers residents some flexibility, allowing people to leave their homes to buy food and medicine, care for sick loved ones and exercise. Government workers and employees at essential businesses should report for their shifts, the order added.
On the same day, the university reported that 175 undergraduate students and 110 law students are still living on campus, according to a universitywide email. Students were able to apply for on-campus accommodation after the university transitioned to instructional continuity.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses and instituted a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Essential businesses, which include health care providers, supermarkets and banks, are to remain open.
Georgetown’s graduation ceremony was postponed indefinitely, according to an email from University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95).
“After careful consideration, we have made the determination that it will be necessary to postpone Commencement activities to a time in which we can safely convene as a community,” DeGioia wrote. “I share this information with you today to reassure you that we are committed to holding Commencement ceremonies and to ensure that our students and families have as much time to prepare as possible.”
A letter to the administration calling on the university to postpone commencement instead of canceling the ceremony garnered over 1,100 signatures.
“We believe graduating students deserve the opportunity not only to celebrate their accomplishments, but to do so with their family, friends and loved ones,” the letter says. “Commencement, undoubtedly, provides an opportunity for graduates to celebrate their academic achievements and relish the results of their years of hard work. And, in this moment of upheaval, an in-person commencement ceremony would allow graduates an opportunity for closure and reflection.”
Organizers Madeline Charbonneau (COL ’20), Hannah Urtz (SFS ’20), Katrina Schmidt (SFS ’20), Maya Gandhi (SFS ’20) and Erin Doherty (COL ’20) sent the letter to the administration and student leaders Tuesday night. (Full disclosure: Urtz, Schmidt and Doherty formerly served as senior news editors for The Hoya. Charbonneau formerly served as an executive editor and Gandhi formerly served as editor-in-chief for The Hoya.)
Universities around the country, including The George Washington University, have canceled their commencement ceremonies.
Later in the day, the university moved up the mandatory move-out date for students living in university owned housing, ordering campus residents to retrieve their belongings before March 22. Previously, students had until March 29 to move out of their dorms. The university also urged students living off campus to return to their permanent residences in the “strongest terms” in the email to students. Students who applied to live on campus for the duration of the semester will be notified with a decision by March 20, according to the email.
U.S. officials could consider halting domestic flights in the coming days, according to CNBC.
All study abroad programs, regardless of location, were suspended, according to an email sent from Office of Global Education Director Craig Rinker to all students currently enrolled in study abroad programs.
Students are required to make flight arrangements to return to their permanent addresses as soon as possible. The suspension comes amid growing concerns about travel accessibility as countries impose stricter regulation on travel, according to the email.
While some programs may be able to offer instructional continuity through remote learning, the university is creating solutions for other programs that do not have the option for online coursework, Rinker wrote in the email.
“We expect to announce the details of this coursework (including registration procedures) no later than Friday, March 20, 2020,” Rinker wrote. “We understand that this will involve a period of advising and transition in coursework. Your advising deans will work with you to make this transition as smooth as possible.”
The university will also work to alleviate the financial implications for students affected by their program suspensions by collecting travel details and reimbursement requests through an online survey sent to students, according to the email.
The first case of the coronavirus was reported in the Georgetown community, according to a universitywide email from Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins. The student contracted COVID-19 while studying abroad and is seeking treatment at their permanent residence. The student had not been to any of Georgetown’s campuses.
Although the patient’s study abroad program has decided that other Georgetown students in the program do not need testing, the university is contacting other students in the program, according to WinklerPrins.
“The individual’s program has conducted a contact trace of those who were in close contact with the individual and determined that no members of the Georgetown community required any additional testing or evaluation,” WinklerPrins wrote. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to all Georgetown participants in that program.”
A series of changes in academic policy seeking to help students better adjust to online coursework were announced by Provost Robert Groves in a universitywide email. Among the changes, undergraduate students will be offered the option to make any of their classes graded on a pass/fail basis through the last day of classes before finals.
Students will additionally have the option to withdraw from any class through the last day of classes in the spring semester, though deans are still required to approve the withdrawal. Professors have also been advised to delay all assessments during the week of March 16 to a later date.
Professors are also instructed to grant excused absences through March 30 for any complications that may result from students transitioning housing or converting to online coursework. The university is encouraging professors to accommodate students moving to online learning, as well as to ask for student feedback.
Though the transition may be difficult for students, the university will continue to work to provide resources and ensure students’ success in the classroom, according to Groves.
“We understand the sense of difference, dislocation and loss many of you are experiencing and the real challenges of the transition, which will affect each and every one of us in different ways. We know this semester will be challenging,” Groves wrote. “Our faculty are deeply concerned for you and your learning experience. Together, we will be with you every step of the way.”
Georgetown extended online coursework through the end of the academic year, according to a universitywide email from DeGioia. Students will move out of undergraduate residences beginning March 16.
Students living in on-campus dormitories will not have to pay room and board costs for the remainder of the semester, according to a follow-up email from Groves. Other universities pivoting online have introduced similar policies.
Students living on campus must retrieve their belongings sometime before March 29, Groves wrote. Students must fill out an online form by 12 p.m. on March 17 to indicate a time to return to campus and officially move out of their residence for the summer.
All students are required to move their belongings out by March 29. If a student is unable to return to campus by then, the student is required to fill out an application, and the university will ship one box of essential items to the student’s permanent residence. The university will not dispose of personal belongings of those students with accepted applications.
Additionally, any student returning from a country with a Level 3 risk classification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must self-quarantine for two weeks before they will be allowed to return to campus to move out.
Essential services will still remain open on campus. While all students are asked to return to their permanent residences, students with special circumstances may apply to remain on campus, though the university will not guarantee that any students’ applications will be accepted, according to Groves’ email.
The university is additionally reviewing plans for the continuation of the commencement ceremony in May and will make a decision about the event in the near future, according to DeGioia’s email.
The decision to forego in-person classes for the rest of the academic year is meant to further support actions aimed at slowing the transmission of COVID-19, which has ramped up in recent days, DeGioia wrote in the universitywide email.
“Over the past two days, there have been significant developments in the global, national, and local responses to the ongoing spread of the virus,” DeGioia wrote. “The actions we are taking at Georgetown seek to mitigate transmission of the virus—to slow ‘community spread’—and to protect the most vulnerable from its worst impacts.”
After the email announcement, students circulated a change.org petition calling for the university to offer students the option for spring 2020 semester classes to be graded on a pass/fail basis. As of 4 p.m., the petition has garnered over 1300 signatures.
The announcements arrive as professional and personal activity across the United States reaches a standstill. Earlier in the day, organizers postponed the Boston Marathon and the Masters golf tournament. Louisiana delayed its presidential primary election by two months. In addition, millions of students are out of school following statewide closures. Seven states announced the closure of all public schools indefinitely.
Also March 13, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that beginning March 16 all public schools in the district will close for at least two weeks.
Trump declared a national emergency at 3:30 p.m. to release 50 billion of funds to states to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
The OGE recalled all students in study abroad programs through Georgetown in the Schengen Area of Europe after President Donald Trump ordered a ban on all travel from 26 European countries the night before. Under Trump’s order, any U.S. citizen in Europe is allowed to fly back to the United States but must fly back to certain airports to undergo screening for COVID-19.
The CDC risk rating has also been raised to Level 3 for all European countries, not including the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Turkey and Ukraine.
All students in affected programs are expected to return to their permanent addresses; however, plans to make up academic content may vary by program, a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“Students with a permanent address in a CDC Level 3 country should return to an alternate permanent address outside of their home country,” the university spokesperson wrote. “Some students may have the option to continue their current program through instructional continuity or remote learning. That should be a first choice for completion. For all other students, the University is designing academic continuity solutions for undergraduate students to ensure that students will be able to earn a full semester of credit through new online coursework scheduled to run from the end of March through mid June.”
All students, faculty and staff returning from travel to affected European countries are required to self-quarantine at an off-campus residence for two weeks before they are allowed to return to campus, according to a March 12 email from WinklerPrins to all students.
While the status of other study abroad programs is still uncertain, the OGE sent an email to all Georgetown students currently enrolled in a study abroad program urging them to return to their permanent addresses.
Also on March 12, Georgetown canceled all spring athletics practices and competitions, according to a university news release. The decision comes after the NCAA and the Patriot League announced the cancellation of their spring sport tournaments.
Though the decision may come as a disappointment for student-athletes, Georgetown is prioritizing the safety of all athletes, according to Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed.
“We recognize the deep disappointment that will be felt by our student-athletes, coaches, and communities — especially our seniors, who have contributed so much to the success of our programs over the last four years,” Lee wrote in the news release. “Please know this decision was made out of the utmost consideration for the health, safety and well-being of all.”
DeGioia announced in a universitywide email that all classes will take place online until further notice beginning March 16 in response to growing international concern around the spread of COVID-19.
The university additionally recommends that all students complete the online coursework at their permanent addresses; however, campus buildings and some services, including the Georgetown University Police Department, the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the Fresh Food Company buffet, will remain open for students who decide to stay on campus.
Students who make the decision to remain on campus must fill out a form with the Office of Residential Living before March 17 at 12 p.m. to receive permission from the university to remain on campus, according to an FAQ page on the university’s website.
The Department of Planning and Facilities Management has also increased cleaning on campus, deploying additional staff to clean frequently touched points on campus. Facilities will also add 23 hand sanitizer dispensers around campus, according to the FAQs. University drivers are required to use disinfectant on high-touch points on all vehicles both before and after each ride.
Though there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Georgetown community, some members may have come into contact with the virus in recent days, according to DeGioia’s email.
In a separate universitywide email, Groves outlined policies for faculty, staff and both graduate and undergraduate students as a result of the announcement. A more comprehensive explanation of the policies will be sent at a later time, according to the email.
Also on March 11, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program announced the cancellation of the early action GAAP Weekend. A decision on the two regular decision GAAP weekends in April will be made at a later date, according to an email sent to undergraduate GAAP ambassadors.
The university will provide admitted students with online resources to present them with information that would have been communicated to them during GAAP weekend, a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“In the coming weeks, Georgetown will make available a series of online lectures, chats, and experiences designed to connect future students with our academic life and campus community,” the university spokesperson wrote. “Our hope is to replicate much of the programming they would have experienced during the Open House.”
The OGE announced a policy change for upcoming summer study abroad sessions in an email sent to students accepted to the programs. The office changed the deadline for students to commit their program from March 16 to March 23. The withdrawal period was also pushed to April 1 to allow students to withdraw from the programs with full refunds.
Georgetown also suspended all current study-abroad programs in Madrid, according to an OGE email obtained by The Hoya. The day before, the Spanish government closed Madrid universities for 15 days, leading to Georgetown’s decision. Other programs in Spain have not been suspended and will be reviewed on a program-to-program basis.
American University announced March 10 that all classes would shift to online only through April 3. All Maryland public universities released a similar decision March 10 to move to online coursework effective after their spring break.
GW announced that classes would move online through April 5. Students are able to remain on campus during their spring break, which runs from March 16 to March 21, though after March 21 students must apply to remain on campus, according to an email obtained by The Hoya.
Georgetown Day School, a private school in Northwest D.C., closed for the day on March 10 to deep clean the campus. The school’s administration came to the decision because of the number of community members who attend Christ Church Georgetown, according to a message posted on the school’s website.
Dean of Georgetown-Qatar Ahmad Dallal announced the suspension of all in-person classes and a conversion to online instruction at the Qatar campus effective March 11, according to an announcement on GU-Q’s website. All events at the campus have also been canceled.
GU-Q’s campus has been monitoring the situation since January, according to GU-Q Chief Communications Officer Moamer Qazafi.
The school is working to address students’ concerns and will adjust its response if needed as it continues to track the spread of the disease, according to Qazafi.
“Student requests for improved internet connectivity are being addressed and they are being supplied with the tools and information to connect their devices to continue their studies,” Qazafi wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We will continue to monitor the situation and inform our community as appropriate.”
Also on March 9, Julia Farr (CAS ’88), executive director of the Georgetown University Alumni Association, emailed graduates and parents to cancel John Carroll Weekend in Bermuda. The annual graduate gathering event was scheduled to take place in Bermuda after being relocated from Hong Kong because of ongoing protests in the area.
No plans exist to relocate John Carroll Weekend to another location, and all persons set to receive awards will be recognized at a separate date, Farr wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“John Carroll Weekend is a cherished tradition, and the time we take to connect, celebrate, and honor service to our community is irreplaceable. Above all else, we prioritize the health and safety of our alumni, friends, families, employees, and contributors to the weekend,” Farr wrote. “We look forward to honoring our awardees in the future and will provide more detailed celebration plans as soon as we are able.”
School Without Walls High School, a D.C. public high school in Foggy Bottom, closed one day for a deep clean after a staffer came into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
In a schoolwide email, WinklerPrins announced that MedStar Georgetown University Hospital was treating the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in D.C.
Patient Timothy Cole, the reverend at Christ Church on 3116 O St. NW, was the first reported COVID-19 case in the District. Hundreds of individuals who attended services March 1 or who were at the church Feb. 24 or between Feb. 28 and March 3 have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to The Washington Post.
Both the university and Medstar Hospital are working with officials to ensure the safety of all members of the Georgetown community, according to a March 8 email.
“While no one in the Georgetown community has tested positive for COVID-19, MGUH is working closely with the CDC and DC Health and following all CDC protocols for patients and any staff and medical students who may have been impacted. Their health and safety is our top priority,” WinklerPrins wrote. “We will continue to provide regular updates as we take additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.”
Spring break officially begins for Georgetown students.
The University of Washington announced that all of its classes would no longer be held in-person through the end of its winter semester, which ends March 20. UW released plans to resume normal operations and in-person classes March 30 but may reassess the decision pending further information, according to the university’s website.
All students who had traveled to affected locations were asked to self-quarantine for two weeks before returning to campus. Students who self-quarantined are also required to receive clearance from WinklerPrins before they can return to Georgetown’s campus, according to the March 5 email to students.
The university suspended all university-sponsored international travel, extending the moratorium to May 15.
In addition, the university canceled all international alternative break programs, service learning spring break trips sponsored by the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service for students, faculty and staff, because of concerns about the spread of the virus.
The university announced a suspension of all university-sponsored travel to countries with the Level 3 risk classification from the CDC. At the time, the countries on the list include Iran, China, South Korea and Italy. The university also suspended all international travel unrelated to for-credit academics through April 1.
Georgetown announced a suspension of all university-related travel to South Korea for students, faculty and administrators after the CDC raised South Korea’s threat level to Level 3, advising against all nonessential travel. South Korea had reported more than 2,000 cases of the disease, the largest reported outbreak outside of China at the time.
Study abroad programs at Villa Le Balze in Italy were also canceled amid outbreaks in Northern Italy after the death toll reached 11 people and the CDC categorized the country as Level 2, recommending travelers practice enhanced precautions when traveling to these countries. Students in the programs were instructed to return to the United States and will complete instructional continuity to account for coursework missed because of the program’s termination.
The OGE postponed the School of Foreign Service Centennial Lab spring break trip to Cambodia because of concerns about the spread of the virus. The affected program, titled “Politics and Performance: Confronting the Past, Shaping the Future,” was canceled after reports that a cruise ship passenger who disembarked in Cambodia had tested positive for COVID-19.
Faculty leaders hoped to reschedule the trip for May, but a new date has not been announced.
Georgetown asked students and faculty who had traveled to China in the previous two weeks to complete a survey documenting their interactions with those with novel coronavirus and potential symptoms in a statement on the university website.
The first COVID-19 death outside of China — in the Philippines — was reported two days earlier, according to The New York Times.
The university issued an online statement to faculty and staff about potential measures to inform students about the COVID-19. The statement suggested that future instructional continuity online may become necessary. The same day, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called the outbreak a public health emergency.
The statement came the day after the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
Georgetown announced a suspension of all university-sponsored or related travel to China. The university also canceled all spring study abroad programs in China after the CDC and the U.S. Department of State raised their travel advisories to recommend that people avoid nonessential international travel and reconsider travel to China.
Seven Georgetown students were affected by the program cancellations. The university assisted students who wished to return to Georgetown for the remainder of the semester.
The university issued a statement warning students and faculty against traveling to Wuhan after the outbreak of COVID-19. The preliminary statement included information about symptoms and preventative measures for the Georgetown community. The statement came one day after Chinese authorities quarantined the city of Wuhan.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Hoya Staff Writers Clara Grudberg, Sophie Haber and Riley Rogerson contributed reporting.