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Oct. 5, 2020 – Return to Campus Update

Posted by on Monday, October 5, 2020 in Community Messages.

We have reached the halfway point of the semester. The hardest work, both academically and personally, of this fall is now ahead of us. We have had so many successes to celebrate thus far, but we also know there are issues to address to ensure the rest of the semester continues successfully and that our plans for spring, which we will be announcing shortly, may proceed.

Faculty have responded in extraordinary ways to provide our Vanderbilt educational experience to students in person and to those learning remotely. And staff members have adjusted to new ways of working, designed to keep our campus running smoothly and as safely as possible during this challenging time.

The vast majority of our students are following our university protocols and guidelines. Thank you immensely for Anchoring Down and Stepping Up to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Friday evening, Dean of Students Mark Bandas sent a message to all undergraduate students about ensuring everyone steps up this semester.

There are some students who are not following university protocols and are not being forthright during contact tracing efforts. In his message, Dean Bandas emphasized the need for all students to follow closely all health and safety protocols, and the immediate and potential lifelong consequences of not doing so. We urge all students to read and internalize that message and to continue to do their part to ensure our community’s ability to live and learn together on our beloved campus.

What’s Coming Up

Tips to secure your Zoom meetings, avoid ‘Zoombombing’

With the increased use of Zoom at Vanderbilt, there have been instances of bad actors trying to interfere with classes and meetings. “Zoombombing” occurs when uninvited guests join Zoom meetings with the intention of disrupting the meeting or sharing unwelcome content. The university has received reports of some recent incidents. Most of these incidents are perpetrated through publicly available Zoom links, but that is not always the case. The Office of the Dean of Students has been notified and is working with VUIT to address these situations.

Faculty and students can report these incidents by contacting VUIT Support at 615-343-9999 or by submitting a help request at The information that is most useful is the meeting ID, the date and time of the meeting, and the username, if known, of the unwanted guest. The VUIT security team will investigate these incidents.

VUIT offers the following tips for Zoom hosts to secure their meetings:

  • Avoid sharing your meeting links publicly. Instead, schedule a meeting or event that requires participants to register with their name and email address.
  • Require a password  that participants must enter before being allowed into a meeting.
  • Enable a Waiting Room so you have control over who can enter your meeting.
  • Use a Co-Host or an Alternative Host to help monitor activity during your meeting.
  • Encourage the use of virtual backgrounds so participants’ personal environments are not shown.
  • Disable file sharing through Zoom and instead use services like Box for Vanderbilt and Brightspace course pages to deliver materials.
  • Allow only authenticated users to enter Zoom meetings. If you click on this option, only Zoom users who have signed into their accounts can get into the Zoom meeting. This will make it more difficult for anonymous participants to Zoombomb your meeting, and easier to track anyone who does arrive uninvited.
  • Lock the meeting. One of the most effective ways to deter Zoombombing is by locking the meeting once the meeting has begun and all attendees are in the meeting. Much like locking the door of your classroom so no one else can enter, locking your meeting disables the ability for any more participants to join even if they have the password. First click on the “Manage Participants” button at the bottom of your screen. Then choose the “More” option and click “Lock Meeting.”

Zoom has disabled participant screen sharing to minimize the potential for Zoombombing. If you need to share your screen, the meeting host must enable screen sharing within the meeting or adjust their settings to override this default.

What You Might Have Missed

Vanderbilt Phase 2+ of Return to Campus Plan remains in place as Nashville moves to Phase 3

Although the city has transitioned to phase 3 of its Roadmap to Reopening Nashville plan, the university remains in Phase 2+ of the Vanderbilt Return to Campus Plan. Vanderbilt community members are expected to abide by university protocols at all times, whether on or off campus. This includes wearing face masks/coverings, limiting gathering sizes and maintaining physical distancing.

The university’s contact tracing reveals that several cases of COVID-19 transmission among Vanderbilt community members have occurred due to interactions at off-campus residences and restaurants, and potentially other off-campus locations. The university has not had any COVID-19 transmission reported within classrooms, research spaces or dining halls.

The entire Vanderbilt community is urged to remain vigilant, and to take special care off campus, to keep our numbers low and carry the university’s success through the end of the semester. 

If other members of the Vanderbilt community are not wearing a face mask and/or not physical distancing, speak to them in a respectful way about following Vanderbilt protocols. Those not comfortable approaching an individual or a group should consider contacting the Public Health AmbassaDore (PHA) hotline. The PHAs are available to provide community members with face masks, sanitizer, or more information as needed about best health practices on campus.

Members of the Vanderbilt community who intentionally disregard university COVID-19 policies and protocols will face disciplinary action under the relevant standards for students, faculty or staff.

Vanderbilt Athletics announces new fan engagement initiatives for 2020 season

Although there will be no in-person tailgating for Vanderbilt football games, the athletics department will host the Commodore Tailgate Show before each home contest. Hosted by Kevin Ingram, the show will stream live on Vanderbilt Athletics’ Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel, and on and the Vanderbilt Commodores app. In addition to pregame commentary, the show will include exclusive segments with coaches and special guests.

Fans also can follow along during the game through the Vanderbilt Commodores app and on social media. During each home game, fans can receive live updates through the VUCommodores app, including behind-the-scenes content, the Anchor Drop, starting lineups, live trivia and more, with a virtual T-shirt toss and chances to win prizes and exclusive Commodores gear. Fans can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and should turn on push notifications to receive updates during the game. Highlights and a press conference will be posted after each game.

Vanderbilt also allowed a limited student attendance at its first home football game on Saturday, Oct. 3. Senior undergraduate students were given first priority to attend the game, followed by juniors, sophomores and first-year students, until the limited number of tickets available had been distributed. Decisions about student attendance at future home football games will be determined based on student behavior at the first game.

Vanderbilt community encouraged to receive flu vaccine as the flu season approaches

Free flu shots continue to be available to all students at the Student Health Center on a drop-in basis—no appointment is necessary. We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of this free opportunity and get a flu shot this year. The SHC has increased staffing to allow for proper physical distancing within the clinic and to minimize wait times. The last Saturday when flu shots will be available to students will be Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; however, the SHC will continue to offer flu shots during regular weekday operating hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

During the next three months, there are three no-cost, convenient options for faculty, staff and postdocs to obtain a flu shot. For employees primarily working on campus, small Flula-2-Uza events will be held in the Library Lawn and Peabody tents throughout October:

Thurs., Oct. 8: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Library Lawn)
Fri., Oct. 9: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Library Lawn)
Tues., Oct. 13: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Peabody)
Tues., Oct. 20: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Library Lawn)
Thurs., Oct. 22: Noon to 4 p.m. (Peabody)

These events will be staffed by two nurses and there will be no sign-up required. Flu vaccines will be given on a first-come, first-served basis in a physically distanced line. Those receiving a flu vaccine at these sites must have completed a Return to Campus Acknowledgment and must bring their Vanderbilt ID card.

Employees working remotely are highly encouraged to obtain their vaccination at any Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinic or any of the walk-in clinics (not pharmacies) at Walgreens stores. Flu vaccinations are 100 percent covered as preventive care for all employees who are on a VU health plan. Find your nearest location here.

Additionally, departments may contact Occupational Health to coordinate on-site flu vaccines for their employees. Requests can be made in the “Ask OHC to Come to You” section of the Flula-2-Uza webpage.

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Upcoming Events

Monday, Oct. 5: Dean’s Dinner with LGBTQI Life hosted by The Ingram Commons and the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Life
Wyatt Dining Tent, 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 5: Supporting Survivors in a Pandemic hosted by Project Safe
Zoom, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 8: Cut the Craft! Spirit Week Edition hosted by The Ingram Commons
Commons Center, Room 233, 2 to 3 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 8: Virtual Undergraduate Research Fair hosted by Undergraduate Research
Zoom, 1:30 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9: Free Fridays with Vanderbilt Programming Board, Vandy Fanatics and Campus Dining
Alumni Lawn Tent, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9: Chadwick Boseman Movie Series: Get On Up hosted by The Ingram Commons
Sarratt Cinema, 7 p.m.