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Aug. 28, 2020 – After a strong first week, let’s keep it going

Posted by on Saturday, August 29, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt community,

We’ve successfully concluded what was the first week of classes for many of our students—a week of immersion in new courses and schedules, meeting new friends and reconnecting with others after long months apart. In the lead-up to this week, we asked you to do your utmost to keep each other safe and healthy so we can continue with our vital scholarly mission. We are pleased to say that you have done that.

Students answered the call to adhere to the university’s safety protocols and guidelines. Faculty responded in extraordinary ways to provide our Vanderbilt educational experience to students in person and to those learning remotely. And staff members adjusted to new ways of working, designed to keep our campus running smoothly and as safely as possible during this challenging time. We are confident that you will continue to be careful and attentive.

Nevertheless, the hard facts of this pandemic are that small spikes and clusters of hot spots are expected and will continue to occur. This is something we anticipated, and we are managing well. We will continue to publish data about positive cases to our COVID-19 dashboard to keep our community informed.

The strength of our plan comes in how we react to these incidents. We have a robust contact-tracing and quarantine system in place that has been critical to containing the cases we have had. Our pre-arrival and on-campus testing program allowed us to identify asymptomatic undergraduates, preventing wider spread. And perhaps most important, individuals have exercised personal responsibility by wearing masks, physically distancing, washing their hands, not gathering in large crowds either on or off campus, and strongly encouraging their peers to do the same.

We are now implementing a requirement that all undergraduates who have chosen on-campus instruction undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. This increased testing means we may see congruent upticks in identified positive cases in coming weeks. We are committed to continue monitoring data and trends and adjusting and fine-tuning our processes.

This week has given us all many reasons for hope. Learning and working in the midst of a pandemic such as this is new for everyone. What we are doing together has never been done before. Yet your actions are setting a positive tone and a responsible example. We should all be proud of the work we have done.

As we proceed further into this semester, let’s stay vigilant and not fall into a trap of complacency. As always, we urge you to Anchor Down and Step Up.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and all that you do to make Vanderbilt a remarkable institution.

Daniel Diermeier

Susan R. Wente
Provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs

Eric Kopstain
Vice chancellor for administration