The spread of COVID-19 significantly impacted operations at the University of Richmond, just as it impacted the rest of the country and the world this spring. Circumstances were still unfolding as we prepared this issue and went to press. Here is where we stood in late April.

Consistent with guidance from health experts and government officials, the university extended spring break in March and then quickly moved to remote instruction for approximately 1,450 spring semester classes and planned for remote instruction for summer classes. Nearly all students moved off campus.

The university also canceled the spring sports seasons and postponed commencement exercises and Reunion Weekend, consistent with widespread action by universities and colleges across the nation.

“These are decisions that we do not take lightly, but that we nevertheless believe are important,” President Ronald A. Crutcher wrote to the campus community. “Please know that caring for our community and delivering on our educational mission will always guide our decisions.”

During this period, faculty and staff switched to working remotely as much as possible. Hourly employees who were unable to work remotely because of the nature of their jobs continued to receive pay based on their regularly scheduled hours.

Approximately 80 to 90 essential staff members worked on campus each day to maintain critical operations and support the 51 students (as of mid-April) still on campus, generally international students who could not return home because of travel restrictions.

Planning for safely resuming operations has also begun. The form that any “new normal” takes will follow guidelines from state and federal officials and health experts as they become available.

This is not the first time a health emergency has impacted university operations. The city’s health board closed Westhampton College for the month of October during the worldwide influenza epidemic in 1918. More than 250 students fell ill, but there were no fatalities, according to A Gem of a College by Claire Millhiser Rosenbaum, W’54.