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UVA making adjustments before undergraduates learn in-person Sept. 8

Minor Hall has new plastic shields to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Minor Hall has new plastic shields to prevent the spread of COVID-19.(NBC29)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 3:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Undergraduates at the University of Virginia are scheduled to begin some in-person learning on September 8, and the school is making adjustments indoors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I hope that we’ll have some of our education feel more like our education normally does in a room, with other people asking questions in-person,” Associate Provost for Academic Support and Classroom Management, Wynne Stuart said.

Undergraduate students at UVA who choose to take some classes in-person will be entering new territory. Lecture halls that used to seat students shoulder to shoulder will now be spaced out, and mask wearing is required.

“This particular space normally seats 200, and now we’re able to seat 40 with the required six-foot distancing between people,” Stuart said. “Everyone in the room, unless you’re behind a plastic shield, has to be masked.”

Teaching will also be done behind plastic shields.

“We think it will be effective as it can be. It allows the faculty member if they stay behind the plastic shield to talk without a mask,” Stuart said.

During class, professors will be able to see the students who are learning virtually on Zoom while teaching those who came into the classroom that day.

“We have two screens set up so that faculty members can both see the content they’re delivering and the students that they are seeing virtually through Zoom,” Stuart said.

Stuart says the goal of the new adjustments was to keep the educational experience as normal as possible.

“So that’s much more humanizing for the students especially in a lecture situation,” Stuart said.

Every room chosen on UVA Grounds for in-person learning has been checked and verified for proper air quality.

“We still have a handful of rooms with window air conditioning. Those rooms will not be used because of the lack of really good air quality,” Stuart said.

Behind the scenes, Hubba Wood of the UVA Sign Shop has been working around the clock to make 75 shields before students return to classes.

“It’s an ongoing process. We are getting orders daily. We’re working with our staff to make sure classrooms and dining halls get shields before we open up for students on grounds,” Wood said.

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