Spring 2021 Wake Washington students and families,

As we communicated with you yesterday, we have been working with a team of campus administrators and DC officials to make an informed decision about the semester schedule, continuing to keep your safety and health as our chief priority.

After consultation and careful consideration of your safety and well-being, we have decided to begin the Wake Washington semester virtually, with an arrival date in D.C. of Saturday, January 30. We believe this approach will provide the best opportunity for the program to remain safe and allow for the best experience possible.

Some key factors were considered when making our decision, including:

  • A current D.C. order that restricts indoor gatherings to 10 people or less. While this order is presently scheduled through January 15, with COVID cases continuing to remain steady or rising across the country, we believe the DC order could very well be extended through the end of the month. This could prevent us from gathering as a group (except outdoors) for any meals, orientation, classes, etc.
  • Safety and security during the inauguration will be considerable, and there is already talk of more protests and unrest in D.C. on inauguration Day. Wednesday evening Mayor Bowser extended the DC public emergency order for 15 days in anticipation of additional unrest up to and throughout the inauguration ceremonies. DC officials are encouraging non-residents not to travel to D.C. We believe it is judicious not to be in the city and risk violence or unsafe activities.
  • When we originally scheduled your arrival to be able to be in D.C. for the inauguration, it was with the great hope that our country would have reduced COVID numbers and cases and that there would be some modified events you might participate in and or observe. However, we now know that the Inauguration will be a very small, very controlled event, and nothing will be open to the public. Even the normal Inaugural parade will not occur – the President’s travel from the Capitol to the White House will be virtually broadcast and in-person observers will not be allowed. Thus, it doesn’t make sense, in our opinion, to bring you here for something that will only be viewed virtually, and curfews and other restrictions are likely to be in place for all DC residents.
  • Many of our colleagues at other universities with DC programs have indicated they plan to shift arrival dates until at least after the inauguration as well.


  • Wake Washington apartments will open on Saturday, January 30. Prior to arrival, you will receive more detailed information on the timeline for move-in, what to bring with you, etc.


  • For those of you who have already secured virtual internships, your start-date will not change, and you will begin on January 25 as previously planned.
  • For those of you still interviewing for internships, the goal is for you to still begin your internships on January 25, but that may depend on when you accept an offer and the timeline of your employer.

Orientation and Classes

  • We will postpone many orientation activities until you are in D.C.
  • We will continue with our plan to front-load some of your classes the week of January 18th, virtually.
  • No classes will be held Monday, January 18 (MLK Day), or on Wednesday, January 20, during the hours of the Inauguration, in order to allow you to view the ceremony.
  • In addition to classes the week of the 18th, we will also hold 1-2 Zoom internship-prep meetings with OPCD. These meetings will be required.
  • Dr. Lee and I will send you the schedule for the week of the 18th to include the classes and the internship-prep meetings.
  • For the week of January 25, classes will be held virtually in the evenings, Monday and Wednesday, from 6:30-8:30, which is the same schedule you will have for the remainder of the semester once you arrive in D.C.

COVID Compliance

  • As stated in the pre-holiday email, you are required to complete University guidelines for COVID compliance, to include a pre-departure test, self-quarantine prior to travel, and another test after your arrival in D.C. (which Wake Forest will arrange for you on site).
  • Under separate cover, we will send you the dates, details, and requirements for submitting these tests to the University.
  • You are also required to have on file with the University a record of a flu vaccine. We will send you this information when we send you the COVID testing information.


  • We will move forward with mentoring relationships for those of you who have indicated you would like a mentor.
  • Under separate email, we will send you a questionnaire related to your mentor preferences and begin working on securing mentors for each of you.
  • Our goal is to have most mentor matches made no later than January 30.

We know you are likely to have many questions, and we are happy to spend as much time as you need going over the plans for the semester. With this in mind, we will host a Zoom (for students) this afternoon at 4:00 p.m (Friday, January 8th). We hope all of you can attend, but we will record it in the event you have an unavoidable conflict. Either way, please let us know if you can attend by sending Jennifer an email.

We want to reiterate that we are excited you will be in D.C. this semester and look forward to a great semester in a historical time in our nation’s history. Our alumni and Wake Forest family in D.C. are eager for your arrival and want to meet you virtually and in person throughout the semester. As we expressed before, we are all living in a time that requires patience and flexibility. Our promise to you is that we will always be transparent with you and alert you of changes as soon as we possibly can. We are dedicated to making this a fun, enriching, and transformative experience in many ways. We look forward to seeing you at 4:00 today!

Jennifer Richwine
Exec. Director
Wake Washington Center

Katy Harriger
Faculty Director
Wake Washington Program