Georgetown announces Fall 2020 plans

July 6, 2020

Illustration by Deborah Han

This plan is no longer in effect. An article on the new plan can be found here

The university will open campus in a very limited capacity this fall, with all classes offered online and some with an in-person option. Only about 2,000 students will be allowed to return to live on campus due to a need to reduce density on campus. 

Georgetown announced its plans for the fall semester in a university-wide email on July 6, after over two months of meetings with student leaders and anticipation from the student body. The email provided information on academics, housing, and health policies, though more information will be provided in the coming weeks. No information was provided about changes in tuition or financial aid based on the new operating status. 

According to the email, the university will operate on a hybrid model with most classes online and limited space on campus for students. The university will not utilize a rotational model or hotels, as had been previously considered. Depending on the situation on campus and D.C., more students—with a priority of seniors—may be allowed to come back throughout the semester. Plans will be reevaluated for the spring. 

Groups prioritized for returning to campus include incoming freshmen (but not transfers), students whose home situations present challenges to learning at home, a limited number of students who need requirements to be met on campus to graduate, and some RAs.  Prioritized students will also include some ROTC members, according to GUSA President Nicolo Ferretti (SFS ’21). More information on the process to apply to live on campus will be available later in the week. 

Students on campus will live in single rooms and have the option to attend at least some of their classes in person, depending on if they are enrolled in classes offering hybrid learning. No student will be forced to return to campus if they do not want to. Those on campus will mainly be asked to vacate the residence hall following Thanksgiving break in November. 

In-person classes will be physically distanced and staggered to reduce the density in hallways between classes. According to the website, the grading policy for the semester is “under review.” 

Students who will not be on campus will learn in a virtual environment. Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to remain at their permanent addresses and discouraged from seeking residence in the Georgetown neighborhood. Students with leases in the neighborhood may return but will not be allowed to attend classes in person on campus, though they must still adhere to university health and safety guidelines. Any rising junior who lives in the neighborhood will be required to live on campus in their senior year, though they may choose to live in other parts of D.C. Students who will not be returning to campus and had their belongings stored by the university in the spring will continue to receive free storage through the end of the semester. 

Off-campus students in the Georgetown neighborhood will be required to participate in the same testing protocol as those students on campus, though the university will not provide a space for them to quarantine if the need arises. Social gatherings will remain limited to ten people. 

All faculty, staff, and students on campus will be required to complete an at-home COVID-19 test provided by the university upon arrival. Two more tests will be conducted, within the first twenty-four hours and five days on campus. 

Those on campus will be asked to provide updates on their health daily via an app. This data will be used to determine conditions on campus and identify individuals who may need to quarantine.

Any students on campus who test positive for COVID-19 or have come in close contact with an infected person will be required to self-isolate in spaces provided by the university. 

Students both on and off-campus will have access to Georgetown telehealth services, including the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychiatric Services. No information has been provided about the GU Student Health Insurance for students outside of D.C.

Georgetown will also provide face covering to those on campus. The university will adapt Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles busses to ensure physical distancing. 

The freeze on furloughs for campus staff and faculty will continue, as well as the freeze on raises, according to Ferretti. Student workers will only be paid if they continue to work, unlike the end of the spring semester. Jobs will be offered virtually and in-person.

The email did not provide specifics on the regulations student activities will face, though it stated the university would work to ensure hybrid and virtual options. No decision on fall athletics has been made, according to the email. 

The email also did not specify policies for international students following an announcement earlier in the day by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it did state, “Our Office of Global Services, along with senior academic leaders, are closely monitoring government guidance affecting our international students, and will be communicating additional information as soon as possible.” Because the school is operating under a hybrid model, students may be allowed to maintain their visas. 

University reopening plans must be approved by the D.C. Health Department as part of the city’s Phase 2 reopening. The plan Georgetown submitted to D.C. can be found here

The School of Medicine, Graduate School, and Law Center will all resume on-campus activities in phases beginning in mid-July. 

Georgetown is one of the last area schools to release a tentative plan. George Washington University will be opening and allowing students to return to campus through Thanksgiving with flexible instruction and social distancing restrictions. American University will be welcoming freshmen and some sophomore students back to campus with modified operations, and other students are encouraged to seek off-campus accommodations. Howard University is planning for a hybrid academic model. 

According to the website, students can apply for a leave of absence through their academic website, though students are encouraged to move to part-time enrollment. 

Bryce Badger (MSB ’21) reflected on the process of meeting with administrators at a press conference following the announcement. “They’re handling the situation the best way they can,” he said. ‘They hear what we say but I will say that there have been times where I still have felt like they’ve gone directly in opposition of what we’ve brought up.”

Updates to the plan based on changing health conditions and additional information are expected according to the email. This could include moving to fully virtual and further reducing the number of students on campus. 

More information on the university’s reopening can be found on their website. Follow the Voice’s coronavirus live blog to stay up to date.

This post was updated to include further information from GUSA and the university. 

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is an avid Voice reader and former editor-in-chief. She hopes she left the magazine better than she found it.

Sarah Watson
Sarah is the former Spring 2022 Editor-in-Chief and a senior in the SFS studying Regional and Comparative Studies. She is a national park enthusiast and really just wants to talk about mountains.

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