Staggered Return to Campus

To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: Jan. 7, 2021

Yesterday, like so many of you, I watched the chaos and violence that unfolded in the nation's capital in shock and disbelief. The appalling attack on our democratic process and the attempt to thwart the peaceful transition of power cannot be condemned strongly enough. They also underscore the urgency of our educational mission — which includes preparing our students for engaged democratic citizenship — and reinforce the importance of our being together and back in the classroom.

Our goal for the term remains unchanged: to be on campus safely with as many in-person classes and activities as possible. Achieving this goal depends on keeping the incidence of the virus on campus low, so we do not overwhelm our capacity to house, feed, and care for our students.

Toward this end, and in light of the significantly elevated positivity rates in Lexington and Rockbridge County, which have not yet peaked, we will implement a staggered return to campus. This will allow us to manage isolation and quarantine needs in the event a significant number of students test positive upon arrival.

Arrival and Testing

We will schedule arrivals in three stages, with each student assigned a specific day on which to return. The sequence begins with our lowest density housing and gradually progresses to the higher density housing in which the risk of viral transmission is greatest.

  1. The week of Jan. 11: law students, seniors, juniors, all winter sport athletes, Resident Advisers, Community Assistants, and students enrolled in select classes that require in-person attendance (if you are in one of these classes, you will be contacted directly by your class dean)
  2. The week of Jan. 18: sophomores
  3. The week of Jan. 25: first-year students

Pro-rated room and board credits will be issued for students arriving in the second and third stages.

Each student will be tested twice, within 24 hours of arrival in Lexington and again one week later. Students will be asked to avoid all non-academic, non-essential activities for seven days after arriving, even upon receipt of a first negative test result, in accordance with CDC travel guidance.

Additional details on specific arrival dates, testing, and community expectations will be forthcoming by email.


Law School classes will begin as scheduled on Jan. 11, with the first week conducted virtually and in-person instruction beginning on Jan. 19.

Undergraduate classes will begin as scheduled on Jan 19. Students scheduled to arrive after Jan. 19 will start their classes virtually. To accommodate these students, and to reduce campus density at the beginning of the term, undergraduate faculty offering in-person classes may choose to teach the first two weeks virtually.


The staggered return to campus will not impact employment. Employees who are able to work from home are asked to continue doing so to the extent possible. Arrival testing for employees is underway and will continue through the end of next week. Instructions for scheduling a test will be sent by email.

Looking Ahead

This is not the way any of us hoped to begin the term. I appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we work together for the safety of our community. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We anticipate the distribution of vaccines, warmer weather, and the increased opportunities those will provide. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you back in Lexington later this month, and I wish you safe travels.