Darden's return to Grounds in fall 2020 and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have created a number of changes to the School's operations and questions for Darden stakeholders. This webpage provides answers to frequently asked questions relevant to students in the Darden School's degree programs.
The FAQ provides answers based on the latest plans and information available. Information may change based on the spread of COVID-19, the advice of public health experts or an order by the Virginia Department of Health. The top priority will always be keeping our community safe — and we will continue to update FAQ pages and other communications to inform you as circumstances require adjustments. Questions for leadership? Fill out this form. For communication questions or to offer suggestions related to the Return to Darden Grounds website, please write to [email protected].
How are Darden and the University of Virginia keeping students, parents, faculty and staff informed?
Darden is communicating regularly with our community through email, alerts and this website. The University is communicating on a broad array of topics for students, student families, faculty and staff, and managers and supervisors on its Return to Grounds website and Fall 2020 Student Resource site.
Please direct specific questions NOT addressed through these resources as follows:
- Staff: Refer specific questions to your immediate manager or supervisor.
- Faculty: Refer questions to program or faculty leadership.
- If you need medical attention, contact UVA Student Health at +1-434-982-3915 or +1-434-297-4261 after hours.
- For housing-related questions, student groups or general safety, contact a member of Darden’s Office of Student Affairs or UVA’s Office of the Dean of Students at +1-434-924-7133.
- For issues related to advising, credits or course registration, contact the relevant dean for your program or Darden Registrar Terri Smith.
- Questions about accommodations because of physical or mental disabilities would go to SDAC in Student Health at +1-434-342-5188.
What do I need to do prior to arriving on Grounds? What should I do after I arrive?
All UVA undergraduate and graduate students who are planning to return to Grounds, including those living in UVA residence halls and those living in Charlottesville or Albemarle County who will attend classes or labs, either in-person or fully online, must submit COVID-19 test results to the University before they are allowed to return. Students who do not complete the test and submit their results will not be allowed to return. UVA has contracted with Let’s Get Checked, a commercial medical testing laboratory, to provide the test kits and process them in their lab. Students are encouraged to order a free kit through the vendor’s site by end of day on Wednesday, 5 August to ensure that it can be shipped in time. Students may still order after 5 August, but should be prepared for a potential delay in delivery. Students should open the test kit, take a sample and return the kits when they are about seven days away from returning to Grounds.
Students are also encouraged to quarantine at home for 14 days before returning to Grounds.
All travel has some inherent risk of exposure, but some pose less risk. Traveling by personal automobile has the lowest risk. Airline travel can be safe if you chose a carrier that requires masking and adheres to social distancing. Bus and train travel may have higher risks.
After you arrive, refer to the guidelines developed by the University of Virginia, which highlight the need for “The Big Four”:
- Wear a face covering on Grounds at all times in buildings or outside when in the presence of others.
- Maintain a distance of six feet (two meters).
- Practice regular handwashing, hand sanitizing and safe hand hygiene.
- Stay home if you are exhibiting any symptoms of sickness.
Every individual who is allowed on Grounds must not exhibit symptoms and comply with UVA health and safety requirements before coming to Grounds. Download the HOOS Health Check app to phones from the Apple App Store or Android Google Play Store, or access the website via personal computer. The app helps the University community prevent the spread of COVID-19. It will help individuals be aware of their symptoms, encourage personal responsibility, and provide resources and next steps for testing for individuals who report symptoms.
Darden community members are also encouraged to download the COVIDWISE app from the Virginia Department of Health to help protect the broader UVA, Charlottesville and Virginia communities. COVIDWISE uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to quickly notify users who have likely been exposed so you can reduce the risk of infection for your friends and family and help Virginia stop the spread.
Do Darden students need to review and agree to UVA's risk mitigation requirements?
All UVA students who plan to return to Charlottesville will be required to review and agree to several COVID-19 risk mitigation requirements, including signing a “rules and norms agreement” committing to following public health measures. All of the requirements are listed in the Student Information System and must be agreed to by 25 August.
In brief, the agreement asks students to commit to:
- Wear a mask at all times indoors, except when alone (or with roommates) and in private spaces (e.g., dorm rooms or apartments).
- Wear a mask outside when a physical distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained.
- Remain six feet or more from others when outside your home.
- Gather socially in groups of 15 or fewer, or not at all
In addition, visitors to students in Charlottesville and on Grounds will be limited, and extracurricular activities will be modified in ways that comport with health and safety protocols.
How can I reduce risks of COVID-19 transmission related to travel?
Some guidelines relevant to reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission include:
- Avoid travel during the academic quarter to essential purposes, particularly to high-incidence areas during on-Grounds teaching.
- Avoid or limit visitors from outside your household during the quarter. A mainstay of public health is to limit travel, thus limiting visitors in general. This is of critical importance, especially for visitors from high-incidence areas during on-Grounds teaching.
Who in the Darden community will be on Grounds? Who will not be on Grounds?
Degree and non-degree program leaders are reaching out to students and program participants to inform them who will be returning to Grounds.
Faculty and Staff:
HR is currently reaching out to supervisors to inform faculty and staff who and when certain job functions will be required on Grounds to support teaching in August with the expectation that most Darden staff will continue working remotely through the initial stages and those who come to work on Grounds will do so in rotation. Faculty will have access to Grounds as required to carry out essential teaching, research and other activities.
Requests to return to Grounds made by faculty and staff who are not yet approved to return will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If you believe you have an essential reason to access Grounds in either location, you must continue to reach out to your manager first. Requests must be approved by the Dean’s Office.
The Darden School of Business will follow University guidance (currently under development) covering everyone who is not a student, faculty or staff member and what is required/allowed for those individuals to be on Grounds (or not). Every individual who is allowed on Grounds must not exhibit symptoms and comply with UVA health and safety requirements before coming to Grounds.
Anyone who is uncomfortable with being or unable to be on Grounds will be provided opportunities to experience the Darden community virtually from home.
How can I ask a question that is not answered in this FAQ?
Students should contact a member of the Office of Student Affairs with questions.
Academic Programming & Support
When will in-person classes begin again?
Darden is planning to start degree program classes on-time and as planned in August, in a mix of in-person and virtual instruction. Students will hear from their program leadership what this mix will look like and next steps. Class start dates are:
- Master of Science in business analytics — 15 August
- Executive MBA — 17 August
- Full-time MBA — 24 August
We will offer as many in-person classes as we can, and there will be a remote option for students who are not on Grounds. We will also have other in-person engagements outside of the classroom to support the Darden community and student experience. Regardless of where students are, our aim will be to provide all of them an engaging and enriching academic experience. Some classes may be entirely virtual, but many will have in-person content (simultaneously offered in hybrid format). The degree-program leadership, the faculty, and Darden Instructional Design and Media have been hard at work learning from our rapid transition to virtual this spring and outfitting all of our facilities with new technology and approaches to our virtual and hybrid options.
Can I use the Darden Grounds for meetings or to study?
Yes, but students are asked to follow all health and safety guidelines, including "The Big Four."
Where can I find information about technology to learn remotely?
- Visit Darden’s Technical Support for Remote Learning and Work website, which includes Zoom best practices such as video and audio tips and general etiquette.
- Increased use of Zoom creates new security threats to your computer and Darden. All faculty, staff and students are asked to authenticate to https://darden-virginia.zoom.us before class or meetings. Authentication will provide access to Darden’s Pro version of Zoom. In addition, the Darden community should stay up-to-date with the latest software updates from Zoom. Due to the severity of Zoom security risks, you should verify that you are running the latest version of Zoom and download any missing updates manually. Click here to learn how to check what version of Zoom you have and how to initiate the update process manually.
- For technology assistance, contact the Darden Service Desk team.
- If you would like technical support for a virtual event or meeting, please reach out to the IT team ([email protected] or at +1-434-924-3276), Joanne Meier or Jarrod Tibbs. They can point you to resources that you can use to meet your needs.
Will Darden refund a portion of my tuition and fees?
No. Tuition and fees will continue to pay for the faculty’s delivery of instruction, as well as all the associated costs with educational delivery.
I am worried about my internship/job offer. How can the Darden Career Center support me?
The Darden Career Center continues to provide career coaching and other services and resources virtually, and the team welcomes all feedback and ideas. It is staying in close contact with recruiters and students to understand the evolving job market landscape and will provide updates to students directly.
For more information on the resources available to students while learning remotely, read the Career Center FAQ on virtual support.
What will happen to Darden Worldwide courses and other global academic experiences?
The Darden School continues to firmly believe in the transformational experiences that global academic opportunities provide students. The School also places a priority on the health and well-being of students. Darden is committed to continue offering global learning opportunities, as long as there are no perceived significant health or safety risks in the locations planned for students to visit. Over the next few months, Darden will continue monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation around the world and how this pandemic is impacting each country’s entry/exit requirements, travel restrictions and openness to foreign visitors.
If the COVID-19 situation abates and if it is deemed safe for students to travel internationally in the 2020–21 academic year, the School plans to offer a robust portfolio of Darden Worldwide courses in May 2021 for First Year students. Similarly, a wide variety of Darden Worldwide courses, running in January and March 2021, plus Global Consulting Projects and exchange programs, will be available to Second Year students. Global residencies for the Executive MBA classes will be offered in October, January and February. The School’s goal of every student having at least one global experience by graduation remains.
Can students host in-person events on Darden Grounds in Charlottesville and Arlington, Virginia?
In-person classes for degree programs, out of class events, Darden Executive Education in-person programs and other events will be enabled for the academic year starting in August, in accordance with UVA advice and subject to the guidance provided by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Darden leadership will communicate timing and other guidelines for events with individual stakeholder groups directly. Events should follow the School's guidance on limiting visitors, guests and travel.
In-person student activities, such as learning teams, club events, section events and use of the library and study spaces, also will be enabled — subject to established public health and University guidelines. We will work with student leaders this fall to clarify these guidelines and make plans that will advance our community in a safe way.
If my learning team wants to meet in-person, can we do so?
Yes. As long as the meeting meets all health and safety guidelines and room capacity requirements, you will be able to meet with your learning team. Because of the small size of learning team rooms, only two students will be allowed to meet in each learning team room. If possible, we recommend that your learning team meet outside.
Will recruiters require students to travel for in-person interviews?
Based on current guidance from employers and their own travel restrictions and protocols, we anticipate that most MBA hiring this year will be conducted virtually/remotely. The Darden Career Center will share regular updates with students.
If I have to travel for an interview or other Darden-related reason, what must I do before and upon returning to the Darden community?
Darden strongly discourages travel outside of your typical day-to-day activities, unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to travel, you may have to self-isolate, be tested or follow other additional protocols before you can return to Grounds.
I do not feel safe being in a classroom. Can I take my classes virtually?
Yes. Remote delivery options will be made available to any student or faculty member who feels unsafe being in a class or is unable to attend in-person class. Some classes may be entirely virtual, but many will have in-person content (simultaneously offered in hybrid format).
Why are there no in-person classes for Charlottesville-based residential UVA students after Thanksgiving?
The greatest risk of disease transmission occurs when mixing populations from multiple different areas. This scenario will occur when classes start in August as students arrive in Charlottesville from all over the world. By not returning to Grounds after Thanksgiving, the University community can avoid this risk a second time.
In addition, there are inherent virus transmission risks in all modes of transportation, but certain modes of travel are preferable to others (e.g., traveling alone in a personal vehicle is safer than using public transportation). Risks of travel include contracting the virus on route or during travel to high-incidence areas and spreading the virus to members of the Darden community.
How many people will be permitted in a classroom?
The number of people in each classroom will be determined by how many people are able to fit in each classroom while maintaining social distancing requirements. Currently, social distancing requires six feet (two meters) between each person. As classrooms vary in size, each room has its own maximum capacity. For instance, Classroom 130 is limited to 20 students and a faculty member, whereas Classroom 50 is limited to 33 students and a faculty member. In Rosslyn, the Capital classroom is limited to 35 students plus a faculty member.
How much distance will be required between individuals in a classroom?
Individuals will be required to maintain six feet (two meters) of distance between one another in the classroom.
Do I need to wear a face covering in the classroom? What about outside?
Yes. Everyone will be required to wear a face covering in the classroom.
Face coverings must be worn on Darden Grounds unless you qualify for an exemption according to the UVA face covering policy. Specific exemptions include:
- A person eating and drinking at a food and beverage establishment on University Grounds.
- A person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible.
- Anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering.
- Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- A person in need of medical or related services may temporarily remove the face covering.
When outside on Grounds, wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.
Do I need to wear gloves in the classroom?
No. Individuals will not be required to wear gloves in the classroom.
What is the protocol for entering and exiting classrooms?
At the beginning of each program, ambassadors will be available to provide guidance on how to enter and exit the classroom. Before entering the classroom, people should sanitize their hands at the sanitizer stations located at the doors to the classrooms. While entering the classroom, everyone must maintain a six-foot (two-meter) distance, file into the room in sequence, immediately go to their seat, and avoid clustering in groups or walking too closely to others. Occupants will be instructed to leave the classroom in a similar manner. Additionally, people should sanitize their hands at the sanitizer stations after leaving the classroom and avoid clustering in groups immediately afterward.
May I use the restroom during class and re-enter the classroom?
Yes. If face coverings are worn, having to pass another student in the aisle for a few seconds does not constitute an appreciable risk for transmission, but please be respectful of others when doing so.
Can I eat or drink in a classroom?
Yes, if this is necessary, however we ask individuals to limit this as much as possible and only eat and drink if required during a classroom session. However, masks should be kept on as much as possible. Moreover, students and program participants will be asked to properly remove and dispose of all trash and containers in designated trash receptacles and wipe down the desk surface with a disinfectant wipe afterward.
Why did Darden install plastic barriers at reception desks, the IT desk and cashier stations?
This is now a standard precaution for staff who interact with multiple different people every day. Such partitions protect against droplet spread from sneezing, coughing and talking. Placing physical barriers in public spaces, such as reception areas, IT desks and at cash registers, reduces the risk of spread for staff who frequently encounter numerous individuals throughout the day.
Floor markings in front of these public areas are installed to remind individuals to remain six feet away, per social distancing requirements.
Unlike in public spaces, partitions were not installed in the classrooms. If face coverings are worn, six feet of distance is maintained and members of the community self-isolate if they are sick, then partitions in classrooms do not appreciably decrease the risk of exposure any further than these existing measures.
How will Darden clean its facilities?
Darden will comply with all CDC cleaning guidelines, which can be found here.
Currently used facilities and equipment will be cleaned by designated Darden staff at least once a day and the beginning and ending of group sessions in a space, following CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting. This is in addition to cleaning high-touch surfaces at the end of daily work.
Additionally, when group sessions of any kind begin and end, designated Darden staff will clean work areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant or disinfecting wipe. This includes shared items located in shared spaces.
Finally, every community member will be required to clean the spaces they use (for example, after they use a table for lunch, use a learning team room table, use a copy machine, etc.).
Will the parking garage be open on Darden Grounds in Charlottesville?
Yes, the parking garage will be open. However, even when in the garage, individuals are expected to maintain six feet (two meters) of social distance and follow other health and safety precautions.
Will the elevators be operational?
Yes. Elevator capacity is limited by cab size. For most elevators, this will mean only one person per elevator. More than one person can use an elevator if the six feet (two meters) of social distance requirement is met. Unless you need to use the elevator for a particular reason, please avoid using the elevator.
Will Darden offer food and beverage services?
Darden will offer modified food and beverage services. Self-serve buffet lines and communal food and beverage supplies will not be in use. Food will be prepared and served by hospitality staff. Use of self-serve beverage stations will require wearing disposable gloves, which will be provided at the beverage station.
To maintain appropriate social distancing, meal and break times will be staggered, and specific food and beverage areas will be designated, utilizing outdoor seating when possible. Common areas surfaces will be wiped down with disinfectant after use.
Moreover, Darden will observe the following protocols:
- Food services will be boxed and sealed for safety, including no open buffet lines, self-serve, shared containers, etc.
- All service staff will wear gloves and masks.
- Signs will be installed to promote social distancing.
- Social distancing cues will be installed on floors.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be available.
- Designated trash and dish disposal areas will be available.
Certain water fountains and other equipment may not be in use. Please follow all appropriate signage.
Will self-serve First Coffee still be available in the lobby until noon?
No. For the time being, food and beverages will be prepared and served by hospitality staff only.
If I’m passing someone inside a Darden building, do we both need to be wearing face coverings?
Yes. UVA requires you to wear a face covering while inside a building on University Grounds or anywhere else on Grounds when in the presence of others (e.g., outside, common workspaces, meeting rooms, etc.). This is in addition to keeping six feet (two meters) of distance and hand hygiene.
Housing & Accommodations
How is Darden helping students with housing to start the 2020–21 academic year?
Although many admitted students have secured housing in Charlottesville already, Darden has established an administrative team to work with students on housing needs and is already communicating with property owners to advocate for increased flexibility to help prevent any financial duress.On 17 June, the University of Virginia provided an update outlining plans for returning to Grounds and launched two new websites to provide updated information and answer key questions, including those related to housing:
What support will Darden provide to safeguard the student experience to start the academic year in fall 2020?
Darden School leadership is considering the potential impact of the ongoing crisis and virtual delivery on other key components of the Darden experience, including career advancement, financial aid, housing and meals.
Career — The industry experts at the Darden Career Center are well-versed in navigating uncertain terrain and will begin working immediately with all incoming students of the Class of 2022, providing early preparation for recruiting success through a powerful tool called CDWhy.
Financial Aid — The financial aid team will continue to work with Class of 2022 students to meet the full cost of attendance to Darden through scholarships and loans. The School is also deploying additional need-based aid through a hardship fund given the challenges many are facing, as well as new scholarship resources.
Housing — Although many admitted students have secured housing in Charlottesville already, Darden has established an administrative team to work with students on housing needs and is already communicating with property owners to advocate for increased flexibility to help prevent any financial duress.
Meals — To build community and help offset the cost of meals when students arrive on Grounds, a new student experience fund will provide lunch each day of class for all First Year students throughout the core curriculum. Second Year students will also receive this new meal plan, allowing the classes to come together over meals in a refreshed and renovated Darden meal facility, due to be upgraded this summer.