Report of the COVID-19 Contingency Task Force Submitted to: President Will Dudley, June 4, 2020

Background, Key Findings and Next Steps

History, Formation and Background

After suspending on-campus instruction and activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, President Dudley appointed a COVID-19 Contingency Task Force to develop a set of scenarios and options for the University's operations beginning in the 2020-21 academic fall term. President Dudley shared his hope that students could return to campus in a safe and healthy environment; however, the University needs to prepared for a fall in which the prevailing public health guidance might impede that goal. The Task Force was developed with working groups devoted to the following core areas: Academics, Student Life, Admissions and Enrollment, and Finance and Employment. The original Task Force was comprised of: Marc Conner, Tim Diette, Sidney Evans, Brant Hellwig, Steve McAllister (Chair), Elizabeth Oliver, Lynn Rainville, and Sally Richmond. This group would evolve to include the following individuals as part of its membership: Lena Hill, Craig Owens, David Saacke, Rob Straughan and Jessica Willett. The group began meeting no less than weekly beginning April 9.

The Working Groups soon realized the need to supplement the four core teams with a number of groups that focused on special topics that would inform the contingency planning work. The twelve new groups brought an additional forty-eight members of the community to the planning process. The Working Groups have also reached out to members of the University community through surveys, forums and direct solicitations. They did so both to gather information and hear concerns as each group considered the various scenarios and how to provide the highest quality education under each. In addition, there have been two town hall sessions to allow the Task Force to provide updates on their work and hear questions and concerns from faculty and staff relative to the pandemic and the University's response to it. The Working Groups and the membership of each are included at the end of this report. A compilation of the key findings and recommendations of the Working Groups is also included in this report.

The Contingency Task Force and working groups acknowledge that there has not been sufficient guidance to institutions of higher education on factors that need to be considered and planned for in order to bring students back to campus safely in the fall. While we are aware that such guidance is starting to be released, the work to date has necessitated making educated assumptions, trusting national, state and local experts as well as members of our own community whose careers provide them insights into the relevant challenges. Over the coming weeks, planners and the University community will need to remain flexible and able to pivot as more and better information is known.

A safe return to campus in the fall is the baseline scenario. Much of the Task Force's and Working Groups' efforts are focused on overcoming the challenges believed to exist for a safe return to campus. That is not at the detriment of planning for the other three scenarios but in recognition that the challenges of a return to campus are logistically the most difficult to resolve. If it is our hope to do so, greater attention to those details is only natural.

Finally, The Contingency Task Force would like to acknowledge the expert advice and contribution from University Physician, Dr. Jane Horton, in helping each of the groups better understand the epidemiological nature of this virus and the actions or those that most likely will have to occur to in order to safely navigate the pandemic. Her calm and thoughtful approach to our questions as well as the ability to parse the various agency actions and guidelines has been invaluable.


The baseline case assumes that students will be able to return to campus in the fall and that the steps to mitigate the spread of the virus will be sufficient to allow the term to be completed on campus. Against this baseline the Task Force considered three additional scenarios.

  1. Students can only be on campus for a part of the term. This scenario assumes either that students are not able to start the term immediately on campus but come to campus at some point later in the term, or more likely, that students must leave campus mid-term due to either spread of the virus or governmental guidelines or orders.
  2. The University must reduce the density of the campus community by opening the campus for some students while others participate through virtual instruction.
  3. The campus cannot be reopened to students for the Fall term, and the entire term is conducted through virtual instruction.

The Contingency Task Force recognizes that these three scenarios may not be limited to the Fall term but may extend into the Winter and Spring terms. The work done to prepare for each of these scenarios should allow the University to meet such a challenge if needed.

To date, the Task Force remains cautiously optimistic about the baseline scenario. There are still questions that must be answered to ensure that we can proceed in such a manner, and the most significant of those will be discussed below. Likewise, if the baseline case can be achieved, then the first two scenarios are simply derivations of the baseline even though they each provide a set of additional challenges. Finally, the Academic Working Group has concluded that if it is absolutely necessary to conduct the full term through virtual instruction, it can be accomplished. Nonetheless, certain disciplines will be significantly hampered relative to some of their offerings - leading to the possibility that elements of the curriculum may need to be offered in creative ways, if they can be offered at all.

Key Findings

  1. Testing, isolating, contact tracing and quarantining procedures must be fully defined and adhered to throughout the community. Without these procedures, we will be unable to contain the virus, which could result in the least favorable scenario (#1 above) of sending all students home and returning to 100% virtual instruction. Testing will need to be provided by a third-party contractor that has capacity for quick response and multiple individual testing equipment. Testing will need to include initial screening and on-going surveillance in order to best mitigate the spread of the virus. Likewise, the University should be prepared to hire contact tracers who can work with local and governmental health authorities to aid in comprehensive and timely contact tracing.
  2. A return of students to campus for the fall is not a return to normal. Faculty and students will need to be prepared that there will be likely be in-person instruction in the majority of classes. However, some classes will be taught virtually due to individual faculty health issues as defined in the "Return to Work" guidelines. Other faculty may supplement in-person teaching with limited amounts of virtual instruction for pedagogical reasons. Likewise, faculty will need to prepare to provide instruction virtually to students who are required to quarantine, isolate or experience health conditions that may limit their ability to be on campus.
  3. Community compliance with established guidelines will be critical to our success. Such guidelines will likely initially include daily self-monitoring, maintenance of close contacts diaries (for interactions of ten minutes or more), social distancing when possible and the use of face coverings. These guidelines will be adjusted through the year based on prevailing health guidance and community conditions.
  4. Certain activities will be curtailed. It is still too early to know what Athletics will look like in the fall. Likewise, public performances in the performing arts will most likely be impacted. The student social culture will need to find alternatives to the "normal" party scenes. Major in-person events such as Young Alumni Weekend create too much risk for potential virus spread within the community and will have to be cancelled.
  5. Faculty will need to spend a significant amount of time this summer preparing their courses to be taught both in-person and virtually.
  6. Classroom space will be challenging in a return to campus as classrooms lose between 50-75% of the seats in order to provide for appropriate social distancing. Spaces that have not typically been used as classrooms will need to be repurposed so that they can meet the demand. The class day will also probably need to be extended using one of the alternative class blocks the faculty approved at its May 26, 2020 meeting.
  7. Dining facilities will need to convert to served operations, with relatively minimal seating in comparison to the number of individuals served. Evans Hall will need to be deployed as a student dining venue while all retail outlets will simply shift to "take out" venues with no seating.
  8. As learned this spring, a virtual environment hinders our ability to support students in the ways that we would want and that they expect. Efforts to improve student support can be made from this past experience; however, there simply is no substitute for in-person services. If we must be virtual, we acknowledge that certain experiences and support for students, faculty and staff are simply not viable.
  9. Enrollments will likely be impacted under any of the scenarios including the baseline case. Students and families may seek a deferral or leave of absence based on constraints on certain campus activities that may have to be in place or over health and safety concerns. The effect on enrollment will be exacerbated if virtual instruction has to be deployed for a significant part of the fall term.
  10. The return of only a portion of students to campus creates a number of challenges for the academic program including the likely need to reimagine registration for the fall and the need for some classes to be available both in-person and virtually. Establishing cohorts that could return will be critical, and the sooner such a decision can be known, the better in terms of preparation.
  11. Flexibility will need to be the mode of operation for the foreseeable future. Each Working Group witnessed a shifting landscape in terms of guidance, thoughts and concerns related to the subject of their planning. That is the norm with this pandemic, and the community needs to accept that what might be in place today may have to change by tomorrow to mitigate risks and exposures.
  12. The scenarios are expensive. The baseline has a relatively modest impact to the budget, but each of the scenarios increase that cost with a term of virtual instruction potentially impacting revenues by $21 million. Expense reductions to offset this impact are painful and would include furloughs, salary reductions, additional retirement plan changes and operating budget cuts.


Working Groups' recommendations universally relate to the ability of the University to meet the challenges whether in-person or through virtual instruction. Evaluation and decisions around these in the next few weeks will be important to allow the University to continue its planning efforts. It should be noted that by the time that you receive this report, a number of items will have been addressed including the calendar for the fall and the "Return to Work" guidelines. But there are a handful of recommendations that warrant extra attention as they will increase the level of confidence within the community, provide a path for additional decision-making and aid our ability to work through issues over the rest of the summer.

  1. The University should develop and distribute a "Statement of Community Principles/Expectations." If the University is able to return to campus in the fall, it is imperative that all community members understand and value the importance of their role in managing behaviors that help to mitigate the spread of the virus. This recommendation has been identified by both Academics and Student Life working groups. The rationale and importance to have such a document in place is compelling. While the best ways to manage compliance to such standards can be debated, the Task Force strongly supports the development of this document.
  2. A COVID-19 Committee should be put in place soon and serve the University until the pandemic subsides. This committee would be tasked with implementing the recommendations that you accept from the report, continuing to monitor the situation while identifying/managing issues that emerge in the months ahead. In addition, the committee should provide guidance on when restrictions that may be necessary at the outset of a return to campus can be eased. The committee may include members from the existing Task Force but should likely be a combination of both policymakers and those most familiar with day-to-day operations in key areas. In addition, we believe a number of the Special Topic Working Groups should continue their work to help resolve questions remaining and address issues as guidance becomes more prevalent. These working groups include: Athletics, Classrooms and Teaching Spaces, Academic Technologies and Virtual Instruction, Testing and Contact Tracing, Events and Visitors, Opening of School, and Greek Life. In addition, there may need to be additional work completed by the Finance and Employment and Admissions and Enrollment working groups as the summer unfolds and with it greater clarity on what the fall environment looks like. The COVID-19 Committee should look to these Working Groups to provide needed guidance and information as the University works through the pandemic.
  3. Designated COVID-19 contacts should be made available to students and employees. For students, this is likely to be an individual in Student Life while for employees, the individual should be in the Human Resources Office. These designated contacts provide the community with the ability to go to a single source with questions or issues that emerge. These individuals will be familiar with policies, guidelines and approaches to a variety of COVID-19 matters but will also reach out to others in the community to assist when they do not have an answer or are not familiar with the specific subject matter.
  4. The University should develop a communications plan that proactively feeds information to the community on the planning efforts and decision-making process. The Task Force recognizes that this is and has been challenging due to the changing environment and lack of clarity from external groups and agencies on a number of issues that will help form the University's plans. At the same time, this can be used to help improve the lines of communications within the Lexington/Rockbridge communities to help ensure that W&L is proactively working to ensure that the campus and community's health and safety are priorities in our efforts.
  5. Faculty should be strongly encouraged to use the summer to prepare for the fall using the resources provided by CARPE and ITS and taking advantage of the robust schedule of summer (new this year) and fall academy sessions.
  6. The administration should engage with the Board of Trustees on the development of guidelines for adjustments to tuition and fees (if any) should the term or portion of the term have to return to virtual instruction. The Finance and Employment Working Group debated this matter in the development of financial models only to conclude that such guidance needed to engage senior administration and the Board of Trustees.

Possible Impacts

The Finance and Employment Working Group developed a set of financial models that compare the baseline case and three scenarios against the approved 2020-21 operating budget relative to the budget parameters that are most likely to be materially impacted. The working group identified that these models should represent a sense of magnitude and not be mistaken for final forecasts since there is still information to be learned and translated into the models; however, they should be reasonably representative. As noted above, there are significant reductions in revenues related to the three scenarios while the baseline case reflects a modest reduction in revenue from lower enrollment and only a slight uptick in expenses to accommodate the additional costs associated with being on campus. But beyond the revenue loss is the impact on the University community from the likely need to furlough employees whose jobs simply cannot be done absent a student population on campus, deployment of a salary reduction for employees earning over $150,000, further reductions in retirement contributions and modification of departmental budgets by significant levels. At the present time and based on the information available, the baseline case reflecting lower revenues and higher costs is estimated as a $2.0 million loss to the budget. The lower revenues even when offset by lower costs in the three scenarios generate net losses of $6.0 million, $7.8 million and $10.5 million, respectively. This would need to be funded either through a special draw of the endowment, the Trustee Reserve fund or additional budget reductions, something the Finance Working Group concluded that would be extremely detrimental to the sense of community that W&L values.

One important caveat to all of the work on financial planning, and an area for potential optimism is that the 2020-21 Approved Operating Budget assumed that the endowment would experience a negative 20% return over the last half of the 2019-20 fiscal year, significantly impacting endowment payout in 2020-21. Through April 2020, the fiscal year decline was measured at just -2.2%. If this holds, then there will be a significant improvement in endowment payout that can mitigate some of these losses. Based on our spending formula, this would translate to a $7.1 million increase in endowment payout in 2020-21.

Of course, there are impacts beyond the financial ones. The recommendations and findings from the various Working Groups point to these and include the challenges of building student communities virtually, resources to support students, especially those with significant financial, health or emotional/well-being difficulties, and impact on faculty who must learn and prepare for new ways to teach and interact within the classroom environment.

We must prepare for a fall, even if we are able to return to a campus, in which it is not business as usual. We hope that in the recommendations that follow, you will gain a better understanding of how we are approaching the planning for the fall, areas where we have developed good protocols and plans, and those in which we need to continue to work to develop and prepare. We look forward to reviewing and answering questions on the materials at your convenience.

Summary of Working Groups Findings and Recommendations

Academics Working Group

  1. Classes should begin with an August 24th start date, and the calendar should omit Reading Days. This schedule would allow for the term, including exams, to finish by November 20th and discourage unnecessary travel.
  2. In-person instruction should be strongly encouraged, but some courses will be offered virtually for several reasons, including faculty medical dispensations and instructional limitations of some spaces on campus. Faculty know their pedagogical needs and will continue to adapt a range of class delivery methods to provide W&L's unique liberal arts education.
  3. Class blocks should stay as close to the current schedule as possible, but if needed the faculty passed two alternative class schedules that contain class periods in the evenings as well. The decision whether to use 15-minute passing times or 30-minute passing times will depend on available guidance closer to the beginning of classes.
  4. The university should develop and publish a statement of community principles.
  5. Scenario 2, which requires bringing down the density on campus by only allowing some of the students to return, would be the hardest scenario to implement academically. If chosen, the decision should be made as soon as possible to allow for time to reorganize the course offerings to best meet the specific needs of the situation. If only some students can return, the university should prioritize first years because more classes aimed only at them could be arranged.

Law Academic Working Group (subset of the full Academics Working Group)

  1. It is critical to return to in-person education at the Law School to the greatest extent possible in the fall semester.
  2. All classes should start on Monday, August 17, to permit the 13-week semester and exam period to conclude on Tuesday, November 24 - prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Additionally, Fall Break will be eliminated. This approach minimizes the need for students to travel from distant locations to and from Lexington during the course of the semester.
  3. In connection with the calendar adjustment, the law faculty voted to suspend the Immersion program (which typically runs in small sections during a dedicated 2-week period in mid-August prior to the start of semester-long classes) for the 2020-21 academic year only. The Law School will seek to increase experiential offerings on similar subjects to offer alternatives to the Immersion, but in a different pedagogical format.
  4. To accommodate the greatest number of in-person classes in a manner that will comply with likely physical-distancing requirements, the teaching schedule will need to extend further into the early evening. Additionally, in limited cases, certain sections of multi-section classes will be scheduled on Saturday (with exceptions for religious observations).
  5. It is critical to develop and disseminate a statement of community principles regarding the preservation of a healthy and safe environment at the Law School - one that applies to all members of the Law School community.

Student Life Working Group

  1. At a minimum testing should be done according to public health guidance coming from the Virginia Department of Health. At the present time this is focused on individual testing of individuals who present with symptoms and those with known or suspected exposure. However, it is clear that there is significant anxiety among some in our community about asymptomatic individuals. If feasible, initial screening and ongoing surveillance testing may be a good course of action.
  2. The University will need to stagger move-in into both first-year and upper-division campus residential buildings. Pre-Orientation will be held on campus and will not include any trips. Orientation will be delivered virtually and in small groups without the large gatherings in various campus venues.
  3. Many campus activities will need to transition to virtual and some such as large parties, in person concerts, and dances will not be able to occur.
  4. The University will need to clearly articulate an expectation of community standards for students, faculty and staff.
  5. We will need to engage in ongoing communication and education to encourage compliance. This should begin over the summer for students returning to Lexington.
  6. The Student Health Center needs to be modified to allow for isolation of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. The apartment in Gaines should be used as auxiliary space to support these efforts.
  7. The University should outfit single rooms in Baker to be used as quarantine rooms for students and convert available rooms in Davis to be used for isolation of confirmed cases.
  8. The University will need to provide clear instructions and mechanisms for daily symptom checking and contact logging for all students, faculty and staff.
  9. Seating in dining venues will need to be reduced or eliminated. Food lines will need to transition to served stations rather than self-serve and retail venues will provide take-out only.
  10. Facilities will need to engage in enhanced cleaning and will need to create DIY disinfecting stations throughout campus with hand sanitizer and supplies for wiping down some common area and classroom surfaces.
  11. The feasibility of engaging in athletic competitions remains open question.
  12. The landscape and guidance from public health authorities is constantly evolving. The University should continue to monitor and be as ready as possible to adapt to changing conditions and recommendations.

Admissions and Enrollment Working Group

  1. New Student Enrollment for the Law School and Undergraduate looks promising - As of May 26, the incoming law Class of 2023 consists of 146 students who have made a first deposit. The undergraduate class of 2024 includes 484 students who have made a deposit. Goals for matriculating these students as well as current students scheduled to return this fall will depend on the mode of instruction in the fall and the general economic uncertainty and public health environment. We anticipate greater melt than in typical years due to the level of uncertainty.
  2. Fewer students enroll with distance only education format - We anticipate a further decline of enrollment in an all-remote education format, depending in part on whether other schools are in person.
  3. Groups of undergraduate students who may not be able to enroll in the fall - Across the fall enrollment scenarios, various undergraduate first-year students may reconsider their enrollment. Of these, two groups will not be in control of their access to campus; consequently, we support the university's efforts to offer them matriculation options that could preserve their enrollment:
    • International citizens/residents' whose access to the US could be prohibited.
    • Medically vulnerable students whose health conditions make in- person enrollment ill-advised by medical professionals.
  4. Groups of undergraduate students who may choose to not enroll in the fall:
    • Families' discomfort with in person instruction OR families' disappointment with a virtual experience. For example, fall season athletes may be less inclined to start if their season is cancelled.
    • Families whose financial circumstances grow more tenuous but remain ineligible for need-based aid.
    • Larger than usual waitlist activity among our peers.
    • Regional or state spikes in COVID; continued variety among state stay at home orders that result in a wide and fluid array of college opening prognoses which confuse or worry our families
  5. Enhanced Summer Student Engagement - Both the undergraduate and law schools are actively engaging first-year students in summer programming, such as orientation-like activities with staff and returning students, affinity group introductions, faculty-student small group dialogues/book discussions, faculty and staff presentations. We are proactively creating ways to introduce new students to W&L's distinctive community. Furthermore, the admissions staff is preparing for on-going counseling around deferral policies and considerations, especially immediately following a more formal announcement about the fall's in-person status.

Finance and Employment Working Group

  1. Due to the number of variables that are at play, financial projections should be viewed as providing a sense of magnitude of outcomes rather than defined results. Projections should continue to be evaluated and updated throughout the summer as better information is known.
  2. The baseline case has the least financial impact on the University. However, even with it, there is likely to be increased budgetary pressure as enrollment is likely to fall modestly short of expectations and additional expenses are incurred to ensure a safe opening of the campus.
  3. A fall term that has to be conducted through virtual instruction leads to the most significant financial impact. Revenues could experience as much as a $21 million hit while expenses would be reduced through a series of reduction strategies. Nevertheless, the net financial loss could be an additional $10 million.
  4. Administration should engage with Board of Trustees on the development of a decision-making process for discounts should the Fall Term need to include a substantive or complete term employing only virtual instruction.

Classroom and Learning Spaces Working Group

  1. The university should identify enough classrooms (or potential classrooms) that meet physical spacing requirements and set them up with appropriately spaced furniture and technology. Faculty have requested the option of tents for discussion classes as well.
  2. The university should continue to monitor and regulate the air quality in the buildings so that it meets American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards to protect the inhabitants' health and safety.
  3. Facilities will continue to work with the individual departments with lab and studio spaces to determine how to achieve the faculty's curricular goals while maintaining everyone's safety.
  4. Facilities will procure additional protective equipment for faculty, such as plastic face guards and plexiglass barriers that could allow faculty to teach without wearing a mask.
  5. Department heads should work to set caps at expected levels and reduce caps to 19 on courses that currently range from 20 to 25, if they are not yet filled.
  6. Associate deans, Faculty Executive Committee, and Registrar's Office should not allow overloads for anyone except seniors who need credits to stay on the path to graduation.

Academic Technologies and Virtual Instruction Working Group

  1. The university will file a prospectus with SACSCOC supporting our request to continue distance learning past December 31, 2020, if it is necessary that the University must continue virtual instruction beyond the Fall term.
  2. Due to the multiple instruction scenarios that will be prevalent in the fall, demand for in-person classroom technology is expected to be high. Therefore, professors who must teach virtually due to health concerns should plan to move their classes completely online unless they are partnering with another professor who will actually meet with the class in person. There are not resources to staff classrooms with no professor present.
  3. CARPE will survey faculty about experiences with virtual instruction between June 1 and June 6.
  4. The normal two-week Fall Academy will become Summer Academy with offerings every week beginning the second week in June with an abbreviated one-week Fall Academy to begin two weeks before the start of classes.
  5. The offerings will include special topics specifically designed to deal with the issues the faculty face. CARPE will work with outside presenters and consultants to determine additional effective means of supporting faculty needs, particularly in terms of building online community, instructional design, and teaching in times of trauma.
  6. Beyond the sessions, presenters will work with interested faculty members as they have specific questions about developing materials for their courses.
  7. Lecture capture should be expanded in advance of the fall.
    1. Faculty will be encouraged to use the summer to pre-record lectures as possible, whether they know they will be instructing virtually, or simply preparing to shift to a virtual format during the term if they or their students must isolate or quarantine.
    2. YuJa is the primary software tool that can be downloaded and used from any computer to capture video, audio and the computer screen; an elaborate or studio-grade setup is not required. Classrooms provide higher quality equipment with the added ability to capture black/whiteboards. YuJa is available on all classroom computers.
      1. All YuJa content can be accessed through Canvas courses or directly in YuJa.
      2. Some equipment works better than others depending on multiple variables, ITS can help instruct and provide equipment to optimize lecture capture quality for those needing to manage from home.
      3. Classrooms will be made available throughout the summer for those wishing to prerecord in familiar settings with higher-end equipment including cameras designed to capture black/whiteboards. (ITS is working directly with YuJa to increase resolution for better visibility of black/whiteboards).
    3. Zoom may also be used to record lectures and provides the ability to migrate the resulting video content to Canvas/YuJa.
    4. Other lecture capture equipment and software is available for specialty needs, including iPads/apps and presentation capture through Microsoft PowerPoint.
    5. ITS will be available to actively support faculty throughout the summer on all options.
  8. Equipment and software needs should be monitored and met.
    1. Through results from a delivered faculty survey, ITS is assessing additional equipment and/or software that would be beneficial to increase quality in virtual instruction and directly responding to those faculty requesting support.
    2. Focus will remain on adapting course content to online learning without overcomplicating by using too much technology.
    3. Summer Academy sessions may expose other tools for procurement consideration.
  9. Classroom technology needs to meet the demands of the expanded classrooms.
    1. ITS has begun the annual summer refresh of classrooms, including all new configurations for Newcomb Hall, and is expecting to repurpose retiring equipment for use in ad-hoc learning spaces required to support a larger number of course sections.
    2. Classroom inventory will be proactively supplemented with technology designed to achieve as close to a true lecture capture room as possible. It is expected many spaces may be less than ideal depending on the class configuration of students attending live vs. virtually and the faculty's desire to capture for a/synchronous instruction.

Athletics Working Group


  1. The size, complexity and variety of athletics contingency issues warrant a longer planning trajectory. There will be on-going work for this committee through June.
  2. Regardless of fall enrollment scenarios, coaches will be engaged with their student athletes individually and collectively.
  3. National-level, conference-level and sport level guidance has been slower to emerge than more general higher education guidance.
  4. The committee is invested in discerning all possible means that students may engage with varsity and other team athletic activities at some level during the coming academic year.
  5. The means and access students will have with their team may differ depending upon that sport's level of risk and adaptation methods.
  6. Managing athletics facilities will require close coordination between the department's facilities team, athletic training services and university facilities.
  7. The fall calendar adjustments, notably the term break between Thanksgiving and January winter term start, will require close conversation about winter athletic schedules.


  1. Led by Director of Athletic Training Services and Sports Performance, the Department of Athletics will produce contingency planning recommendations to the Student Life Working Group by season and by sport the week of June 8.
  2. Establish a mission-critical team to manage contingency recommendations- and likely adjustments- throughout the summer and fall including health and safety procedures, facility management, and communication.
  3. Engage with the Opening of School working group to understand how student athletes, especially fall student athletes, should be invited to return.
  4. Mindful that the entire community has enjoyed access to fitness facilities, some facilities should engage in "soft openings" to prepare for and follow industry best practices prior to any return to campus phases.
  5. Participate in conference-level (ODAC and Centennial) leadership conversation, input and documentation related to athletic engagement that reflects W&L's health and safety priorities, notes other members' behaviors and priorities and identifies potential challenges and risks between institutions.

Opening of School Working Group

  1. Pre-O experiences should limited to on-campus and done in "family groups" that are also residential groups. Family groups would be limited to ten people and would be based on where students live. They would move in their group through the Orientation programming. This would limit prolonged exposure to a wider variety of students which could reduce the risk of spreading the virus if it is present in one of the students.
  2. Orientation should be combination of video, virtual and the small famiy groups defined above. The large gatherings that have been held in Keller and Lee Chapel will not be held, but the programs can be recorded and provided to students via video.
  3. International students must quarantine for 14 days after arrival in the US pursuant to CDC guidance.
  4. International student orientation should also be video, virtual and done in small groups.
  5. We should consider whether international students should be housed together to facilitate quarantine and to allow for the creation of small family groups for the international orientation experience.
  6. Traveller should not operate. With appropriate social distancing the vans will not accommodate more than a 4-5 students. This renders it impossible to transport a significant number of students within a reasonable timeframe. In addition, the large off-campus parties currently violate the Executive Order of the Governor of Virginia as well as guidance from VDH and the CDC with respect to social distancing, large groups, etc.

Testing, Contact Tracing and Student Health Working Groups

  1. The University will need to develop a protocol and vehicle for daily symptom checking and logging for students, faculty and staff. We will need to consider possible consequences for failure to comply.
  2. We also need to develop a protocol and vehicle for logging daily contacts for students, faculty and staff. This information will be critical if a case is suspected or confirmed and contact tracing is required.
  3. We recommend using the rooms in Baker Hall and a section of Davis Hall as residence for quarantine or isolation of students. We should also consider other possible options should quarantine of additional students become necessary.
  4. The University should follow public health guidance at a minimum but should continue to explore options related to screening and surveillance testing. Ongoing testing of wastewater from campus buildings appears to be viable and would provide an additional tool for early detection of the presence of the virus on campus.

Greek Life Working Group

  1. Under current guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia, VDH and the CDC, we can not hold large events on campus. This would include parties in fraternity basements or large parties in other residential facilities or in other venues on campus.
  2. The IFC and Panhellenic should consider consequences for organizations who violate guidelines for social events and recruitment activities.
  3. The messaging to students needs to be sent well in advance of the beginning of school so that students have time to digest the new landscape and social scene expectations.
  4. We need to consider a student survey and/or forums over the summer to engage students in the development of community standards.

Dining Working Group

  1. Dining venues will have to shift from self-service to fully served delivery of meals. To do so, Sorority dining venues will not be open in the fall; however, Evans will be brought online for student dining throughout the week.
  2. Social distancing will require that seating capacity will be diminished. Only the Marketplace and Evans will have dine-in seating availability. Even with Evans, student dine-in capacity will be significantly diminished. Carry out will become primary method of distribution until guidance eases.
  3. To follow distancing guidelines in queuing and pickup areas, Dining has worked with Facilities to engineer one-way traffic flow and alter the layout of all venues. Mandatory spacing of students in lines may make these lines appear long, but Dining should be able to move students through lines efficiently.
  4. Dining has developed a set of guidelines for Fraternity Dining that has been shared with House Corporations to ensure that each organization understands and certifies that they can meet those guidelines. Dining services will assist organizations in providing meal service to those students in houses that cannot meet these requirements.
  5. Compliance with COVID service guidelines will require both physical modifications to dining venues (sneeze guards, barriers) and significant additional staff. Progress is on track for the physical modifications to be in place by August 1. Dining will need to begin recruiting and hiring part-time staff in late-June to meet expected needs.
  6. Dining has worked with Dr. Horton on all best practices, and in interpreting the best way to implement Virginia guidelines on our campus. Dining is also working with SHC staff to develop a strong plan in place to deliver meals to students in isolation and quarantine rooms if and when they become occupied.

Events and Visitors Working Group


  1. The campus will be closed whenever the term is taught virtually.
  2. In order to meet classroom social distancing guidelines if some or all students return in the fall, most campus spaces - especially those that host larger programs and events - may be required for class meetings.
  3. To meet contact tracing expectations, any visitor would need to be registered either through the host office or by creation of some digital means of tracing their campus movement.
  4. Large social gatherings are not likely to meet state health requirements or campus preventative expectations.
  5. Outside use of campus spaces will still involve university employees and may therefore exacerbate contact and risk to the employee and campus.


  1. In any scenario where students are on campus beginning in the fall - and as long as we are in limited contact guidance from the State of Virginia - our recommendation is that the university remain closed to most visitors, shift events to virtual format where possible and cancel major campus events, especially those that are not discretely tied to our goal of safely providing a high quality in person education.
  2. Major lecture series, e.g. Mudd Center programming, should be shifted to a virtual format.
  3. Visitors who have appointments related to the academic work of our faculty and students, e.g. Law Clinic, should develop protocols for limited interactions that uphold social distancing requirements.
  4. Visitors who have ties to students, faculty and staff and reason to be on campus, e.g. move -in or to visit an office, should limit indoor access. Save move-in/out, residence hall access should be limited to student residents.
  5. Campus departments with frequent visitors, such as the Bookstore, Leyburn Library, Lenfest Center and the University museums, begin to identify visitor exposure and establish practices that prioritize students, faculty and staff.
  6. Both undergraduate and law admissions may host small sets of prospective students provided their visit protocols comply with university requirements.
  7. Parents and Family Weekend in September will not occur on campus. The University will offer key programming virtually.
  8. Cancel on campus alumni-related gatherings.
  9. Sustain University Facilities protocols for outside contractor and vendor access.
  10. Outdoor spaces will be accessible according to VDPH guidance.

Sourcing and Procurement Working Group

  1. The Student Activities Pavilion is being brought online as a warehouse to store a campus stockpile of supplies related to the pandemic. The creation of a campus stockpile will mitigate concerns about supply chain issues and will ensure that W&L is able to furnish essential supplies for its community throughout the year. Central sourcing will also provide for economy of scale and save W&L money versus individual departmental purchasing efforts.
  2. The Sourcing and Procurement Working Group has vetted dozens of potential vendors to establish a handful of key vendor relationships. Through these relationships, W&L will be able to obtain sufficient supplies on all key items.
  3. Among the items sourced, W&L has secured adequate inventory of medical grade PPE including N95 masks and gowns to ensure our Student Health Center staff are protected. The group has also worked with SHC staff to identify and procure needed supplies for isolation halls.
  4. Face masks will be purchased and provided for certain key front-line staff, to include Dining, Public Safety, Student Health, and some Facilities staff. In general, W&L will not provide masks for all students and employees, but will make these available inexpensively for purchase and ensure an ample supply is on hand.
  5. W&L will provide key supplies (hand sanitizers, cleaners, sanitizing wipes) in communal and public facing areas across the university. To supplement these university-funded items, individual members of the community will be encouraged to purchase their own supplies (personal sized hand sanitizers, wipes, masks, etc.), which will be made available at cost through the University Store.

Return to Work Working Group

  1. University Facilities is in the process of a multi-pronged approach to meet the health and safety challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare buildings to welcome back faculty, staff and students to a sanitary and clean environment.
  2. Everyone in the University community must follow public health recommendations consistently to minimize the risk of exposure to and transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 illness.
  3. As employees return to campus, the need to encourage social distancing will remain a priority. Office spaces may need to be rearranged, meeting spaces closed off, and clear circulation patterns for high traffic areas considered and identified. External building doors will remain key card access only to assist with contact tracing.
  4. There will be a system in place for every employee (faculty and staff) to attest to any symptoms of possible COVID-19 or exposure history on a daily basis. Employees will be required to maintain a daily workplace contact log in the event the University needs to trace employee contacts for public health infection exposure investigation.
  5. Employees required to be in quarantine or isolation at home will be monitored by phone by a Human Resources representative. Return to work will depend on completion of recommended days of quarantine after exposure, negative COVID-19 testing at an appropriate point in time, clearance to return to work by a healthcare provider, and/or completion of an appropriate period of isolation for COVID-19 infection.
  6. All non-essential University business travel is restricted. Meetings and conferences are considered non-essential unless presenting scholarship or recruiting and must pre-approved by the appropriate Dean or Vice President. For all other travel, Deans and Vice Presidents will determine if travel is essential to meeting the business needs of the University.
  7. Administrative departmental staffing plans during phased return should be approved in advance by the Executive Director of Human Resources.
  8. Employees who are in a high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19 may request a temporary modified work arrangement, which could involve special personal protective equipment, modifications to workstations or spaces, partial or full remote work, or other temporary modifications.
  9. There are three phases of return. Phase One begins June 11, 2020 and is a preparation phase. Phase Two begins July 13, 2020 and approximately 35%-60% of employees return during this phase. Phase Three is full or nearly full return (some will continue to work remotely) and begins August 10, 2020.

Legal and Liability Exposures Working Group

  1. Working group met and reviewed potential legal and liability exposures presented by reopening/not reopening campus and discussed risk mitigation and management measures.
  2. General Counsel's Office has been consulted during the planning process by numerous working groups for guidance and direction relative to legal, compliance and risk management matters.
  3. General Counsel's Office has advised President Dudley, the Rector and the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees on potential legal and liability exposures relative to reopening/not reopening campus. General Counsel will continue to apprise the President and the Board on developments and further guidance as it becomes available.

Members of Task Force and Working Groups

COVID-19 Contingency Task Force

  • Conner, Marc
  • Diette, Tim
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Hellwig, Brant
  • Hill, Lena
  • McAllister, Steve
  • Oliver, Elizabeth
  • Owens, Craig
  • Rainville, Lynn
  • Richmond, Sally
  • Saacke, David
  • Straughan, Rob
  • Willett, Jessica

Core Working Groups

Academic Working Group

  • Oliver, Elizabeth
  • Conner, Conner
  • Hellwig, Brant
  • Hill, Lena
  • Straughan, Rob
  • Rainville, Lynn
  • Casey, Jim
  • Eastwood, Jonathan
  • Levy, Jemma
  • Locy, Toni

Law Academic Working Group

  • Hellwig, Brant
  • Baluarte, David
  • Belmont, Beth
  • Hasbrouck, Brandon
  • King, J.D.

Student Life Working Group

  • Evans, Sidney
  • Calhoun, Chase (student)
  • Dance, Caleb
  • Hellwig, Brant
  • Horton, Jane
  • Leonard, Dave
  • McCray, Lauryn (student)
  • O'Brien, Brooke
  • Richmond, Sally

Enrollment/Admissions Working Group

  • Richmond, Sally
  • Diette, Tim
  • Hellwig, Brant

Finance and Employment Working Group

  • McAllister, Steve
  • Diette, Tim
  • Hess, Drew
  • Main, Mary
  • Rainville, Lynn

Topic Specific Working Groups


  • Richmond, Sally
  • Amaden, Grace (student-athlete)
  • Hathorn, Jan
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Hill, Lena
  • Mize, Ned (student athlete)
  • O'Brien, Brooke
  • Williamson, Josh

Testing and Contact Tracing

  • Horton, Jane
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Kirkland, Sally
  • Saacke, David
  • Hamilton, Bill
  • Marsh, David
  • Whitworth, Greg

Classrooms and Learning Spaces

  • Oliver, Elizabeth
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Kalasky, Tom
  • Latimer, Hugh
  • Locy, Toni
  • Saacke, David
  • McAllister, Steve

Events and Visitors

  • Richmond, Sally
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Jensen, John
  • Kipnes, Ethan
  • Mollica, Barb
  • Murchison, Brian
  • Webster, Mary
  • Willett, Jessica

Academic Technologies and Virtual Instruction

  • Oliver, Elizabeth
  • Hanstedt, Paul
  • Knudson, Julie
  • Saacke, David
  • Youngman, Paul

Return to Work

  • Main, Mary
  • Kirkland, Jennifer
  • McAllister, Steve
  • Straughan, Rob


  • Schaefer, K.C.
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Hickey, Jen
  • McAllister, Steve

Sourcing and Procurement - COVID-19

  • Schaefer, K.C.
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Horton, Jane
  • Kalasky, Tom
  • Leonard Dave
  • Weinerth, Debbie

Opening of School

  • Leonard, Dave
  • Arana, Lourdes (student - head CA)
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Kipnes, Ethan
  • LeCompte, Donald (student - head RA)
  • Rodocker, Jason
  • Simurda, Maryanne
  • Weinerth, Debbie
  • Woodzicka, Julie
  • Youngman, Paul

Legal and Liability Exposures

  • Kirkland, Jennifer
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Kozak, Lauren
  • Main, Mary
  • McAllister, Steve
  • Shewey, James (RCM&D)

Greek Life

  • Hobbs, Megan
  • Beard, Leah
  • Castleman, Rives (student IFC president)
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Reid, Chris
  • Winslett, Jamie (student NPC president)

Student Health Services

  • Horton, Jane
  • Crance, Matt
  • Evans, Sidney
  • Kirkland, Jennifer
  • Shewey, James (RCM&D)