GU Reopening Taking Shape … or Not?

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Georgetown University's main campus at 37th & O Streets NW. Georgetowner photo.

Georgetown University President John DeGioia’s June 9 update on plans for the fall 2020 semester in the light of COVID-19, posted on the university’s website, did not include specifics.

While many universities around the country are planning to end in-person fall classes by the Thanksgiving holiday, sending students home to finish the semester online, DeGioia’s letter left the timing open, saying: “given our first priority is the health and safety of our community, and how much we are still learning about the virus, we will work closely with members of our student body, faculty and staff to consider and address particular challenges they anticipate with a return to campus.”

Like others here, the university is taking its lead from ReOpen DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s reopening plan for the District, according to which, local colleges and universities can restart on-campus activities during Phase Two (which began June 22). Plans for the return of students must be approved by the District government.

Though the letter was dated nearly three weeks ago, it stated that within the next few days the university would issue a series of communications regarding campus reopening plans. Students have yet to receive any concrete information.

At a June 10 Georgetown Business Improvement District meeting, DeGioia joined Mayor Muriel Bowser and Emerson Collective CFO Dan Tangherlini to headline a virtual discussion, “Rebuilding, Reopening, Recovering.” DeGioia said the university would open in late August and, working with ReOpen DC, take “a hybrid approach” to opening. “It will be different,” he said. “There will be no big public events.” More specifics are expected by July 1.

A Georgetown senior, Caitland Love, currently in Texas awaiting news of GU’s next steps, was interviewed in the Washington Post. “Kind of a scary feeling,” she said. “Not knowing where I’m going to be in two months.”

According to DeGioia, it is in the interest of GU’s academic mission “to welcome as many students as is safely possible to in-person instruction in the fall.”

Of course, even with a fall reopening date announced, things can change based on the trend in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

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