Planning for Summer and Fall

To: W&L Students, Faculty, and Staff
From: President Will Dudley
Date: April 1, 2021

As we enter the final weeks of the term, I write to update you on our plans for the remainder of the academic year, as well as the coming summer and fall.

Undergraduate Spring Term

Our undergraduate students are eager for spring break and a respite from classes before Spring Term begins. You deserve this time to relax and refresh. Wherever the break takes you, please remember that our ability to complete Spring Term in person and host commencement on campus for our seniors depends on you. Enjoy yourselves, but exercise good judgment and continue to practice COVID-19 common sense. Avoiding a spike in cases when students return to campus is the key to a successful Spring Term for everyone. Three-quarters of Spring Term classes will be partly or fully in person, and we look forward, as we do every year, to this distinctive portion of our academic calendar.

Commencement

We are excited to host in-person commencement ceremonies for the law and undergraduate classes of 2021 on May 7 and 27, respectively. These events will be held on Wilson Field in accordance with state guidelines governing commencement activities. Due to restrictions on venue capacity, law graduates will be allowed to invite four guests. Seniors will be allowed to invite two guests. Both events will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend in person.

We are working with advisory committees for the law and undergraduate classes of 2020 to schedule and plan their commencement celebrations, which could not take place in person last spring.

More details will be shared via email to the graduates and on our commencement website.

Summer

Summer on campus will look somewhat different than in years past, but we do expect that a number of students will be here conducting research with faculty, and W&L coaches will host athletic day camps. Other programs, including AIM, Admissions MAZE, Alumni College, and the Virginia Governor's World Language Academies, will take place virtually.

COVID-19 precautions will remain in effect through the summer months, including testing, physical distancing, face coverings, and limits on the size of social gatherings.

Fall Term

We are actively planning for a full return to in-person instruction in Fall Term with some limited exceptions for faculty members who may still be at risk. And we anticipate the resumption of the orientation activities that bond our incoming class, the athletic contests and performing arts events that showcase our students' talents, and the social interactions that we treasure with friends and colleagues.

Of course, as we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, much depends on factors outside our control, including nationwide vaccination rates, the emergence of new variants, statewide restrictions, and the local conditions here in Lexington. But if positive trends continue, we are optimistic that life on campus next fall will look very different than what we experienced this year, even if some precautions remain in place. It is encouraging that nearly 40 percent of our faculty, staff, and students are at least partially vaccinated, and I encourage each of you to get a vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

We will continue to follow prevailing public health protocols and will share more details about what you can expect next year as they become available. Should conditions unexpectedly worsen, we will allow students to adjust their Fall Term plans accordingly.

My Thanks

When we first sent our students home a little over a year ago, none of us could have predicted the toll this virus would take on so many, in so many different ways. It has been a long year of sacrifice, uncertainty, and disappointment. But it has also been a year of resiliency, determination, and ingenuity. Thank you for your patience, persistence, and positive attitudes as we have all adapted, time and again, to the ever-changing requirements of this pandemic. I am proud of, and grateful to, everyone who has contributed to making the best of exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Enjoy this beautiful season in Lexington, and I look forward to celebrating a successful conclusion to this extraordinary year with you in the weeks ahead.