Category: Messages to the Community

Title: An Update on Our University’s Response to COVID-19

Date Published: March 25, 2020

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Alumni Community:

I write to share with you an update on our University’s ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19—the novel coronavirus that has been spreading throughout the world and the United States. These past few weeks have brought forward significant new challenges, and I am deeply grateful for the ways that our community has come together to support one another and the health of our community.

Since mid-January, we have been engaged in an effort to respond to and prepare for the impacts of the spread of the virus. Guidance from national and local health agencies, as well as public health experts, has provided important direction on the actions necessary to address the continued transmission of the disease, and to protect, to the best of our ability, the most vulnerable members of our community.

Over the course of these weeks, we have sought to identify the most appropriate ways for our University community to respond in this moment. Our actions have been guided by two fundamental commitments: (1) ensuring the health and safety of the campus community; and (2) ensuring the continuity of academic programs.

On March 11, we announced our decision to transition to a virtual learning environment, which we have now extended through the end of the academic year. Students have returned to their permanent addresses to continue their coursework in this new virtual environment. Campus remains open with limited services for a small number of students who have indicated a compelling need to stay on campus. Our faculty and staff have moved to a telework environment, with key staff remaining on campus to support vital services and campus operations.

Over the course of the past few weeks, we made additional decisions regarding travel and study abroad, events and gatherings, and our May ceremonies of Commencement.

Travel and Study Abroad: Throughout this process we have worked in accordance with guidelines from public authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State. Consistent with these guidelines, we have restricted all international travel and most domestic travel for faculty, staff, and students, and we have also canceled our study abroad programs and worked to bring our students back to their permanent home addresses.

Commencement: After careful consideration, we have made the determination that it will be necessary to postpone Commencement activities to a time in which we can safely convene as a community. For Georgetown students, and their families, the experience of Commencement represents the culmination of years of work and significant academic achievement. We are committed to ensuring that the Class of 2020 and their families have the chance to experience this special milestone, and celebrate all they’ve accomplished.

Events and Gatherings: We have now canceled all University events through May 15th, including John Carroll Weekend and alumni events. As we look ahead to Reunion Weekend, May 29-31, we will be reaching out to this year’s Reunion classes with an update in the days ahead.

All of our activities, decisions, and resources for our community are included on our COVID-19 Resource Webpage. I encourage you to visit this page for ongoing updates about our work and to subscribe to a daily digest which provides updates each evening.

This is a time in which our personal and collective actions can have a powerful impact on slowing the transmission of this virus and reducing its impact on our global community. The actions we are taking at Georgetown seek to mitigate transmission of the virus—to slow “community spread”—and to protect the most vulnerable from its worst impacts.

We are a global community and the impacts of COVID-19 have affected many aspects of the life of our University community—and the individual and collective work we are engaged in. We have confronted challenging moments before, and I am confident that, guided by our mission and ethos and the strength of our community, we will work through this moment with the care for one another and for the common good that has defined us throughout our history.

I wish each of you the very best in this challenging time.

Please join me in keeping those impacted by the virus in our thoughts, as we are called to respond with care and compassion for those within and beyond our community.


John J. DeGioia