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COVID-19: FAQS

A team of University officials continues to closely monitor this evolving global public health situation. We remain committed to keeping our community informed about the University’s actions and the best way to stay healthy as events develop. Here are commonly asked questions regarding COVID-19, how it might affect the University of Virginia community, and resources for additional information. 

Q. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about COVID-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Q. What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Read about COVID-19 symptoms.

Q. How does the virus spread?

This virus probably emerged from an animal source originally, and is now known to spread from person to person. It is unclear how easily the virus spreads among people. Other human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, close personal contact (such as caring for or living with an infected person), or touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth or eyes before washing your hands.

Q. Has anyone in the University community been infected?

No case of COVID-19 has been reported among UVA students, faculty, staff or the local community. Should a case be positively identified, appropriate communications as guided by the Virginia Department of Health will occur. For additional information regarding locations impacted by COVID-19 visit the CDC’s global map and the Virginia Department of Health’s surveillance data.

Q. How can I help protect myself?

The best preventative steps for any communicable disease include simple but important measures to practice as part of your daily routine, but especially during flu season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Additional information is available from the CDC.

Q. I plan to travel outside the U.S. What should I do?

  • Visit the Student Health Travel Clinic, UVA Health Traveler’s Clinic or your primary care physician in advance for current travel health and vaccination recommendations.
  • For students, register all University-related travel through the International Studies Office.
  • Enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, to receive current embassy alerts and messages for your destinations.
  • Note: At UVA, student international travel for University-related purposes is subject to UVA’s policy on student international travel. Travel must be registered and student travelers must have international health and emergency assistance insurance. The following travel is not allowed: a destination under a CDC alert of level 3, a U.S. Department of State travel advisory of level 3 or 4, sanction by the U.S. Department of Treasury, or a University of Virginia Travel Restriction. Exemptions for proposed travel can be made following a thorough review by the University’s Risk Management Committee for Education Abroad and final approval by the Vice Provost for Global Affairs.

At this time, UVA has no faculty-led or UVA-administered education abroad programs in China planned for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. UVA students in China for University-related purposes were advised to depart following the change in the CDC alert and State Department travel advisory on Jan. 27. Students whose spring term of study in China had not yet begun are receiving assistance with revising their plan of study for spring 2020.

    Q. What if I traveled in mainland China in the last 14 days and returned to the U.S., or had close contact with someone I believe to have coronavirus (COVID-19)?  

    • Take your temperature twice a day and remain alert for fever, coughs, or difficulty breathing.
    • If you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing:
      • Students: Contact Student Health right away: 434-924-5362 (or 434-297-4261 after hours).
      • Faculty and Staff: Contact your primary care physician via telephone or email.
      • We request that you self-isolate pending further instructions from medical professionals.If employees have questions about leave, they can contact the HR Solution Center at 434-243-3344 or askhr@virginia.edu.
    •   For further guidance, see the CDC pageInterim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential COVID-19 Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings.

    If you are a student who self-isolates:

    • Contact your instructors via email or telephone to discuss appropriate class adjustments or accommodations.

    If you are an instructor with a student who self-isolates and who asks for class adjustments:

    • We ask that you consider appropriate adjustment or accommodation.
    • Examples include: 
      • Allowing students to Zoom into class lectures or use lecture-capture technology to record lectures.
      • Granting some flexibility with course attendance policies.
      • Helping secure a copy of course notes.
      • Modifying deadlines for assignments or exams that normally take place during the course meeting time.
    • Faculty members who have questions about how to make appropriate adjustments/accommodations may find assistance with the Student Disability Access Center by emailing SDAC@virginia.edu.

    Q: Will students, faculty, or staff arriving from China be isolated?

    The U.S. government announced the following protocol effective 2/2/2020:

    Any U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. who has been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, to ensure they’re provided proper medical care and health screening. This applies only to U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days.

    Any U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. who has been in the rest of mainland China within the previous 14 days will undergo proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.

    Foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled to China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. for this time. 

    Q: What will the University do if there is a possible case identified among students, faculty, and staff?

    Should a case be positively identified, appropriate communications as guided by the Virginia Department of Health will occur. Student Health has made arrangements for quarantining students if needed. Protocols are in place for cleaning on-Grounds residences of affected students and work spaces of affected faculty and staff. Administrators will work with faculty to make accommodations for extended student absences. 

    Q. Can the University provide masks?

    The CDC has recommended steps people can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this illness. The CDC is not recommending the wearing of masks at this time.  

    Q. I am ill and need to miss class. What should I do?

    Students who are ill should not attend class. They should contact their instructor via email or telephone to discuss appropriate adjustments. Instructors are encouraged to make appropriate adjustments based on their courses. Examples may include: allowing students to Zoom into class lectures or using lecture-capture technology to record lectures, granting some flexibility with course attendance policies, help secure a copy of course notes, and modifying deadlines for assignments or exams that normally take place during the course meeting time. Faculty members who have questions about how to do this may find assistance with Student Disability Access Center at SDAC@virginia.edu.

    Q. Where do I go for more information?

    How is the University keeping students, parents, faculty, and staff informed? 

    UVA is communicating regularly with our community. You can read UVA's messages to our community.