Important Fall Update: Adjusting GW’s On-Campus Plans

GW leadership announces all undergraduate and most graduate classes to be online in fall semester.

July 27, 2020

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To the George Washington University Community:

Throughout this pandemic, we have been grateful for your flexibility, patience, and resilience, as together we have navigated the uncertainty and change of these challenging times while supporting our foremost priority—our community’s health and safety.

Many in our community have worked tirelessly to prepare plans for the fall, and we have been evaluating numerous contingencies as the pandemic has evolved this summer.  Most recently, we have been reviewing these plans in the context of some very important considerations: the latest data on the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many areas of the country, guidance from our public health experts, and impact on our residential experience.  We have also listened to the ongoing feedback from the GW community, including a sentiment of growing unease among our faculty about in-person instruction and among our students about living on campus.

Based on these considerations, we have made the difficult decision to hold all undergraduate courses online for the fall semester, with limited exceptions.  We will provide housing on campus only for a limited number of students who have extenuating personal or academic circumstances.  Residential students will attend courses online and will be expected to comply with public health and safety measures including social distancing, mask wearing and regular testing for COVID-19.  Additionally, most graduate programs will be conducted online, with certain programs holding discipline-specific in-person classes.

We know just how much many of you were looking forward to being on campus this fall, and we understand that this news is disappointing.  However, we must always make the decisions that best support the health, safety and care of our community while fulfilling our core academic mission.  While this has been an extraordinarily hard choice, we believe it is the best path forward for GW.

Commitment to the GW Experience

As we have shared previously, knowing the dynamic nature of this pandemic, we have been preparing for fall scenarios that rely on a strong online operation.  We have learned from the spring and summer and used our experiences and additional time to further enhance our teaching, learning, and community engagement at a distance.  We directed considerable resources into virtual instructional technology, and our staff and faculty have been actively collaborating to develop innovative ways to continue to provide a rigorous and high-quality academic experience for all students.  Similarly, our Student Affairs teams are developing more ways to help students continue to engage virtually with one another and with the broader university community.

GW is proud of the robust resources and services it has provided, and will continue to provide, to students online.  We recognize, however, that many undergraduate students will not have access to certain in-person resources they would have had as residential students.  And we further recognize that the pandemic has caused unprecedented financial dislocation for many members of our community.  We have accordingly decided that we will provide a 10 percent tuition reduction to Foggy Bottom undergraduate students who do not live on campus.

More Information

We know you will still have many questions.  While we are working expeditiously to provide more detailed information, we felt it important to provide this news to you now, understanding the urgency of the situation and your need to plan for the fall.   

We have posted Frequently Asked Questions to provide initial guidance for fall planning.  You will receive more information relevant to your individual situation soon, including regarding the application process to request on-campus housing and what to expect if approved to live on campus, and guidance for those in certain undergraduate programs that may have limited components in person.  We also will be in contact with our first-year students and their families to provide additional support and virtual resources specific to their transition into the GW community.  Graduate programs will provide more guidance to their students directly.

We are working immediately to plan several virtual question-and-answer forums for members of the community, and they will be held over the coming days and weeks.  You will receive information on how to attend these forums as soon as they are scheduled.  We will continue to update the COVID-19 website with fall information and will have available a live-answer information line for all GW community members with questions.

Thank You

It will be hard to still not be together on campus come fall.  But as we continue to manage these and future challenges, we remain committed to delivering the world-class GW experience that our students and all members of our community expect and deserve.

Thank you for your understanding as we adjust to these latest changes and work quickly to provide more information.  We will be in touch again soon.  In the meantime, stay safe and stay well.


Thomas J. LeBlanc, President

M. Brian Blake, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Mark Diaz, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

M.L. “Cissy” Petty, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students