Flexibility in Preparing for the Coming Term

To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: Dec. 14, 2020

I hope this message finds you well. Since students left campus in November, we have been closely following the trajectory of the pandemic here in Lexington and across the country. Last week, the nation recorded new highs for COVID-19 infections and deaths, and public health experts predict the situation will worsen in the coming weeks. Governor Ralph Northam issued additional restrictions for Virginia, including a 10-person limit on gatherings and a curfew from 12–5 a.m., which will be in place through at least January 31.

We will make every effort to resume on-campus instruction as scheduled in January. But I encourage you to prepare for the possibility that the start of the coming term for undergraduates may be conducted remotely, and that virtual instruction for law students – already planned for the first week of the term -- may be extended. Students should make flexible travel plans, and faculty are asked to be ready to teach the opening weeks of the term virtually if necessary. More information addressing questions specific to students, faculty and staff will be forthcoming. The date for returning to campus will be determined during the week of January 4, based on prevailing public health guidance, government restrictions, and the rate of infection among our students and employees.

A successful return to campus is critical to the education of our students and to the livelihood of our employees. Each of us has a role to play in making it possible. Please take all necessary precautions to limit your risk of infection during this unusual holiday season. Good decisions and collective diligence will increase the chances that we can be together in January.

All of us are beyond weary of this pandemic. We crave normalcy and simple pleasures. It is sobering to think that the most challenging months may still lie ahead, and it is difficult to live with ongoing uncertainty. Yet the promise of more frequent testing and effective vaccines gives us hope that we may soon reclaim at least some of what has been lost. We will persevere, make the best of this winter, and anticipate the coming spring.

I wish you and your loved ones healthy and happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in 2021.