Important Changes to Fall 2020 Plans

July 29, 2020

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
Over these past few weeks, we have been carefully monitoring the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our Fall plans. I write to share with you the difficult decision that, based on current pandemic and public health conditions, we will be amending our plans for the Fall.
Courses for all undergraduate and graduate students will begin in virtual mode. Due to the acceleration of the spread of the virus and increasing restrictions on interstate travel we cannot proceed with our original plans for returning to campus this fall. 
This was a very difficult decision—and one that I know will disappoint members of our community who have been eagerly anticipating a return to campus. In early July, we had announced our intention to bring approximately 2,000 undergraduate students, including the members of the first-year class, to our Main Campus.  Today, we are revising this approach based on current pandemic conditions. We will not be able to bring to campus the members of the entering undergraduate class, the class of 2024, at this time.
We plan to introduce in-person course elements as soon as health conditions permit. We will continue to monitor pandemic and public health conditions to determine when it may be possible to resume in-person courses and other in-person, on-campus activities. Specific guidance regarding a transition from all-virtual mode will be shared by academic leaders.
Select activities—such as biomedical, life and physical sciences research—will continue to take place on-campus according to our established plans. Specific details will be shared by appropriate campus leaders.
Since the emergence of the pandemic in mid-January, we have been preparing, tracking, and responding to possible impacts on our community. In the months since, we have been forced to adjust, as the pandemic has spread. As we have encountered difficult moments and faced many challenging decisions, we have remained steadfast in our deep commitment to our academic mission and to the health and safety of our community. Members of our community have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and resilience over this time—supporting the health of one another, our communities, and our families. We are now confronting another challenging moment, as the pandemic accelerates across our country.
This past week, Mayor Bowser extended Washington, D.C.’s emergency declarations through October 9 and added new restrictions on travel into the District of Columbia—requiring quarantine for 14 days for travelers from designated “high risk areas.” Travelers from 27 states are currently under this restriction, including those from California, Texas, and Florida. These new D.C. restrictions reflect a growing awareness and concern about the accelerating spread of the virus in the United States and the speed at which COVID-19 test results can be delivered. These developments indicate a strain on our public health framework. In addition, the DMV—the District, Maryland, and Virginia—are designated as “high risk areas” by states throughout the country.
In preparing for the Fall semester, we anticipated the possibility that a transition to a virtual mode might be required and have planned accordingly, with more than 1,600 of our faculty participating in summer programs and workshops to enhance virtual learning experiences. Events and co-curricular activities are also being adapted for students to succeed and thrive in a virtual environment.
This decision impacts many aspects of our planning for students, faculty, and staff. We will be providing additional information later today, and in subsequent days, on the adjustments to our plan. Our centralized Fall 2020 website provides important information and includes frequently asked questions that we will continue to update as new information becomes available.
I wish to offer my deep appreciation to each member of our community, as we work to adjust and respond in these changing and uncertain circumstances. This is a moment in which our compassion, our understanding, and our flexibility can demonstrate the depth of our care for one another and for the well-being of our community.
John J. DeGioia