Georgetown announces Fall 2020 virtual semester

July 29, 2020

Illustration by Deborah Han

In an email to students on July 29, President John DeGioia announced that all Fall 2020 undergraduate courses will be conducted remotely due to a national increase in COVID-19 cases. 

According to the new plan, only students who have already been approved through the Housing Stability Application, students whose academic requirements can only be met on-campus, members of the incoming Class of 2024 with F-1 visas, and a limited number of Residential Assistants will be allowed to live on campus. 

First-year students will also be given the opportunity to apply for on-campus housing through the Housing Stability Application if continuing their studies at their permanent residence poses major barriers. 

Graham Hillman (SFS ’24) hopes that first-years living off-campus will still be able to build connections virtually. “The Class of 2024, perhaps fortunately, has already become pretty tight knit through social media largely thanks to the uncertainty of quarantine,” he wrote in an email to the Voice. “Hopefully we manage to keep that up in the coming months to allow for some semblance of a social scene.”

This announcement comes as a change to the original Fall 2020 plan released July 6, in which the university announced that approximately 2,000 undergraduate students would be invited to return to campus, including incoming first-years, current students with unstable home situations, high financial need, or large time zone differences, and a select number of Residential Assistants. 

Graduate students, who were originally allowed to return to campus for in-person courses, will now have the first three to four classes weeks of classes online, followed by a reevaluation by the university after Sept. 28. 

President DeGioia cited surging cases nationwide and new travel restrictions put in place by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, as well as an extension of the District’s state of emergency to Oct. 9. “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,” he wrote.

As of July 28, Washington D.C. has had 11,999 cases of COVID-19 with 584 deaths. Georgetown’s new plan for the fall comes after George Washington University announced its online-only semester. American University is still planning on a hybrid semester with both in-person and online elements. 

In a slight change from an earlier announcement, all undergraduate students will receive a 10 percent tuition reduction regardless of where they will be living, while graduate students will be offered a 5 percent discount. Students living on-campus will receive a 20 percent reduction in the costs of room and board. However, the Expected Family Contribution for students receiving financial aid has not been changed. 

According to a follow-up email from Provost Robert Groves, the university hopes to add in-person elements to the fall semester if changing 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,” Groves wrote.

Bernardo Medeiros (COL ‘24) reflected on the sudden news that he would likely not be able to live on campus this fall. “I’m definitely feeling blindsided by how sudden of a decision this was, and I’m not optimistic about how well I’ll adapt to online learning, but I guess there’s not really anything anyone can do about it,” he wrote in an email to the Voice

“Even though I think this semester is going to be a social and academic disaster, at this point I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping it all works out.”

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 story has been updated to include quotations from members of the Class of 2024. Annemarie Cuccia and Max Zhang contributed reporting.

Caroline Hamilton
Caroline Hamilton is a junior in the SFS studying Culture & Politics. She’s a half-ironic fan of Arcade Fire and an earnest fan of Paul Simon, as well as the features editor for the Voice.

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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