The University of Richmond had to change plans for just about everything in the near future following the global spread of COVID-19 and its transition to remote learning.
Many details are still being adjusted by the UR administration but students can expect updates on how UR will continue to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks.
Picking up belongings
President Ronald A. Crutcher told students in an email on March 16 that they should wait to pick up their belongings from campus for the time being. If they had “an immediate need for academic materials or medications,” students could fill out a form for permission to retrieve their items or to have their items shipped to them, according to Crutcher's email. It is unconfirmed whether students will have to pay for shipping costs.
Vice President of Student Development Steve Bisese sent an email on March 18 with more detailed information on how and when students could pick up the rest of their belongings from their on-campus dorms and apartments. Belongings will have to be picked up in a specific time frame determined by dorm building or apartment block.
As stated in the email:
- “April 13–19: Students living in Lora Robins Court, Keller Hall, Westhampton Hall, Thomas Hall, Robins Hall, and Marsh Hall may return;
- “April 20–26: Students living in Gateway Village Apartments, Jeter Hall, Moore Hall, Gray Court, and South Court may return;
- “April 27–May 3: Students living in Dennis Hall, Wood Hall, North Court, and University Forest Apartments (blocks 160, 470, 472, 474, 476, 481, 483, 486) may return; and
- “May 4–10: Students living in Freeman Hall, Lakeview Hall, Atlantic House, Pacific House, Law Housing, and University Forest Apartments (blocks 162, 164, 166, 168, 170, 172, 191, and 193) may return.”
Students who wish to store their belongings over the summer will have to wait for more details on how that process may operate, according to Bisese’s email.
Housing and dining
As late as March 26, there were still some students staying on campus, though not all of them will stay much longer.
“[As of March 26,] we still have roughly 170 students on campus,” said Patrick Benner, director of residence life and housing. “Many have plans to leave this week. Some students, a small number, will remain on campus for the remainder of the semester due to need.”
The Office of International Education and the deans of Richmond and Westhampton colleges are working with students to offer travel assistance, Benner said. The administration is also working with nearby hotels and other housing options to provide off-campus housing at discounted rates for remaining students.
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To reimburse students for housing costs, Chief Operating Officer David Hale calculated the time away from campus as 43.75% of the semester. Using this calculation, UR will issue a credit equal to that proportion of the Spring semester room rate to all students who paid for housing, according to an email from Hale on March 26.
This will also be adjusted to reflect the portion of UR scholarship or grant aid for the semester. Students living in UR housing will receive a minimum of $330, according to the email.
This same 43.75% will be applied to meal plan credits, except for dining dollars, which will be paid back dollar-for-dollar to each student for the amount they had left as of March 25, according to Hale’s email.
Students will also be compensated for their parking permits and graduation fees. Parking permit costs will be paid back 43.75% of the total cost for the spring semester, and graduation fees will be paid back in full for students who applied to graduate in May, according to Hale’s email.
Refunds will be issued by April 3, as stated in Hale’s email, and checks would be mailed to student’s off-campus addresses if they did not have direct deposit set up.
The Heilman Dining Center is still serving students on campus, according to an email from Terry Baker, executive director of dining services. Even as most students leave, dining services will stay open in a limited capacity.
“Everyone is in positive spirits and the team work is fantastic as we pull dining staff from various retail locations to help with staffing needs,” Baker wrote. “We are still in a transition phase and all staff have been working full time thus far.”
Everything Convenience is still open, and there are breakfast, lunch and dinner options for students from the dining hall, Baker wrote.
“Because we had to respond so quickly we initially put into place an emergency action plan,” Baker wrote. "We offered a cold menu in two locations on campus. We then heard from our main vendor about some supply chain issues which changed things.
"The following week we had time to plan adequately with all our vendors and food production team and campus dining to come up with a hot menu option.”
Breakfast in the morning was not a popular option, so the dining hall moved to a breakfast pick-up during dinner for students to take with them for the following morning, Baker wrote.
The current menu has two lunch options every day, with a hot lunch offered three times a week, and two dinner entrée options every day, according to Baker’s statement.
Summer classes online
Summer course registration was pushed back until March 24 but is now open, with many courses being offered virtually.
Registration for summer courses was so popular that UR Summer School added courses, according to an email sent to the UR community on behalf of UR Summer School. Updates are available at the school's webpage.
“In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we've made the decision to transition most Summer School classes online,” according to UR Summer School's statement. “And for this summer, Field of Study requirements for General Education can be fulfilled with online coursework.”
The decision to allow Summer 2020 courses to count toward field of study requirements for the general education curriculum was made by the Faculty Senate on March 20, according to an email sent the same day from executive vice president and provost, Jeffrey Legro.
This is the fifth installment of a five-part series to be published about COVID-19.
Managing editor Emma Davis and copy chief Caroline Fernandez contributed to reporting.
Contact opinions and columns editor at email@example.com.
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