Sept. 4, 2020 – Message to Parents
Dear Vanderbilt families,
We have now completed our second week of in-person, on-campus classes for the fall semester. Despite our new guidelines, many things appeared as they normally do this time of year. Students immersed themselves in learning and class schedules, while making new friends and re-connecting with those they haven’t seen in months.
Not everything looked or felt the same, of course. Face masks are required, gatherings are limited, and even classrooms have been redesigned to allow for physical distancing of at least 6 feet. But together, we continue to make it work—and, in the process, we are seeing many signs of hope for the weeks ahead.
To keep it going, we need your help. Your support and encouragement are more important than ever as we navigate through this pandemic. Check in to make sure your student is wearing a face mask and socializing responsibly. And recognize that this is a new and difficult situation for all of us. Please let your student know that you, and our entire campus community, are here to support not just their health and safety, but their emotional well-being, too.
We are thrilled that students are finding creative ways to study and socialize together as safely as possible, even as they encourage each other to “Anchor Down and Step Up.” We have seen students playing Spikeball and Frisbee, or enjoying meals together, all while maintaining physical distancing. Earlier today, we shared a list of ways that students can socialize while adhering to health and safety protocols. As you will see, our students are working together to create a supportive culture for each other and find new ways to socialize.
While the overwhelming majority of our students have stepped up this semester, some have not complied with our protocols. They are taking risks that endanger their own health and safety, and the health and safety of our entire community. As we have communicated previously, we are acting swiftly to intervene and take appropriate disciplinary action when we discover such violations.
Vanderbilt is distinguished among many of its peers by choosing to open our campus to all students. This is not the easy path, but we feel confident we have all the resources to make it work—extensive partnerships with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and School of Nursing; a deeply held conviction that our mission of transformational education and research must continue for the benefit of our students and society as a whole; and, perhaps most important, a culture of collaboration and compassion that assures us the community will step up to any challenge and work for the greater good.
No matter how detailed and thoughtful our reopening strategies may be, our plans simply will not work without the cooperation of everyone in the Vanderbilt community—families included.
For months we have urged our students, our faculty and our staff to make this our proudest moment. Now that the fall semester is underway, we need you to help make this proud moment a reality.
Thanks for all you do as valued members of the Vanderbilt family.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs