Washington and Lee University moves classes online for rest of academic year

The decision impacts both undergraduate and law students and comes as a response to the growing impact of the new coronavirus


Huntley Hall, where the Williams School is located. Photo by Kaelan McCabe, ’21.

Hannah Denham

Washington and Lee University Provost Marc Conner announced on Saturday afternoon that the university will suspend in-person classes during spring term and move to remote teaching online for the rest of the academic year.

The decision impacts both undergraduate and law students and comes as a response to the growing impact of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. As for now, Conner said, law and undergraduate graduation plans are still on.

Conner announced the change in a campus-wide email after University President Will Dudley announced on Friday night that the university will suspend in-person classes immediately and move to remote teaching online for the rest of winter term.

“As I have sat in planning meetings and worked with people across campus this week who were attending to the many issues arising from this unprecedented situation, I have been deeply impressed by the collective dedication of our faculty, staff and students,” Dudley said in the email. “Thank you all for your understanding, your compassion for one another, and your shared commitment to keeping our community together, especially during the upcoming period when many will be physically distant from campus.”

Conner announced changes to the academic term in a campus-wide email on Wednesday, March 18. Students will be able to choose how they want to be graded, including sticking with conventional letter grades and a new credit/no-credit option. A decision on grading will be shared no later than Monday, March 23, Conner said.

  • The university will take a two-week recess from classes to allow students time to relocate and faculty time to prepare for virtual instruction. Classes will resume remotely on Monday, March 30 and continue through midnight on Wednesday, April 22.
  • Students may choose to take winter term exams on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, April 23-25. Final exams may also be embedded into the class sessions, at the faculty’s discretion.
  • Winter term grades for seniors will be due by 12 noon on Tuesday, April 28 (in case seniors need to make adjustments for spring) and the remainder of spring grades are due by 12 noon on Monday, May 4.
  • Spring term classes will begin on Wednesday, April 29, and spring term will conclude on Friday, May 22. The standard drop/add period of just two days will remain in force, with waiting list offers ending on the first day of class, and drop/add ending Thursday, April 30.
  • Spring term grades will be due for seniors by 12 noon on Monday, May 25, and for all other students by 12 noon on Friday, May 29.

“I appreciate how much thought and time people gave to this during an already hectic time,” Conner said in the email. “Thank you also for your patience as we work out these academic questions.”

All students except those with express permission from the Residence Life Office were asked to leave their on-campus residences no later than 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18.

“We will accommodate and support students on campus if they are unable to return to their homes, and will provide financial assistance for travel expenses to those who need it,” Dudley said. “Students in need of financial assistance should contact Sidney Evans, vice president of student affairs and dean of students.”

The university adjusted campus services for senior students and law students living off-campus, as well as a small group of students living on campus with permission. For now, Evans said in an email on Wednesday, these students can register with the university for swipe access to take-out food service from the Marketplace, also known as D-Hall, seven days a week; limited hours in Leyburn Library, Monday through Friday; and the Student Health Center.