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Oct. 12, 2020 – Return to Campus Update

Posted by on Monday, October 12, 2020 in Community Messages.

As announced to the campus community last Wednesday, Vanderbilt will continue to offer in-person, on-campus classes—governed by current safety protocols—during the 2021 spring semester. The requirements for requesting remote study via virtual/alternative platforms in the spring semester also have been released on the Return to Campus website.

The academic calendar for the spring semester was designed to sustain the momentum the Vanderbilt community has established throughout the first six weeks of the fall semester. It also takes into consideration the most recent data and guidance from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the School of Nursing, as well as that of public health officials. The first day of classes will be Monday, Jan. 25. Instruction will conclude on Friday, April 30. On-campus housing will reopen on Friday, Jan. 22, for all students with on-campus housing assignments.

There have been many questions regarding winter break housing and this year’s academic schedule.

Winter break

There has been some confusion regarding prior university communications about on-campus housing options during the winter break for undergraduate students. As announced in June, in order to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and forecasts regarding the winter flu season, the university must close housing on Nov. 22, after which undergraduate in-person classes and activities will move to fully virtual/alternative platforms.

A thoughtful process has been developed for undergraduate students with unique circumstances to apply for an on-campus housing accommodation to stay after Nov. 22. Homeless students, and students with demonstrated financial need, will not be charged for university housing provided from Nov. 22 through the winter break.

To be completely clear, Vanderbilt fully supports its homeless students, and students with demonstrated financial need, and will continue to do so.

Intersession and spring break

As part of the university’s efforts to protect the community as much as possible, the time period between the end of on-campus instruction in the fall and its resumption in the spring semester has been extended in the undergraduate and graduate academic calendar; professional schools’ calendars may vary. Likewise, there will not be a spring break this year. This was a difficult decision, but one that was made to limit transmission of the virus through off-campus travel. Many of the university’s peers are taking the same precaution. As in the fall semester, the university will ask students to stay in the Nashville area and not travel away from campus for weekend trips through the end of in-person classes.

The university understands the importance of breaks for everyone—as a change of pace and a chance to wind down or catch up. The pace of a normal semester is demanding on its own, and current circumstances bring new challenges. The university is committed to supporting student, staff, postdoctoral fellow and faculty well-being during this time while also protecting the safety of the Vanderbilt community at large.

We will all work together to consider ways to protect and support student, faculty, postdoc and staff physical and mental well-being. As part of this effort, campus leadership will be asking faculty in the coming weeks to consider the rate and pace of the spring semester in their design of course curricula, and the range of needs that might arise from having a 15-week block schedule without a spring break will be considered as much as possible. There also will be opportunities for students to give input into creative approaches to building wellness breaks and activities across the entire spring semester calendar in the different schools and colleges.

Visit the FAQ page of the Return to Campus website for more information on this year’s academic schedule and winter break.

What’s Coming Up

Missouri game postponed

Due to a lack of available scholarship student-athletes, the Oct. 17 football game at Missouri will be postponed to a later date. The action is consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements developed by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, which includes a minimum threshold of at least 53 scholarship student-athletes available to participate. The shortage of available scholarship student-athletes is due to the quarantining of individuals with positive tests and those designated as close contacts, along with injuries and opt-outs. The process for rescheduling the Oct. 17 game at Missouri is underway in partnership with conference officials.

Read the full announcement>>

Students encouraged to check in through drop-in consultations, workshops this fall

The overall well-being of the entire Vanderbilt community is paramount. During this time, the university encourages all Commodores to check in not only with themselves, but also with their friends, classmates and colleagues. All students are encouraged to connect with the many resources available through the Student Care Network when in need. 

One of those resources is the University Counseling Center’s drop-in consultations, which provide easy access to informal, confidential consultations with UCC counselors through Zoom. Speaking with a counselor at a drop-in consultation can provide insight, solutions and referrals to other campus resources. Appointments are first-come, first-served, and there is typically not much of a wait. The counselor will listen closely to a student’s concerns and provide support, perspective and suggestions for resources.

In addition, the UCC’s identity-based drop-in consultations provide students with historically marginalized identities support around these concerns in an affirming space. Black, international and/or LGBTQIA+ students are also always welcome to visit any drop-in consultation space for any non-urgent concern.

Schedule of UCC drop-in consultations

See a full list of workshops hosted by the University Counseling Center and the Center for Student Wellbeing this semester>>

Vanderbilt employees encouraged to access wellness resources

Faculty, staff and postdocs also have resources when they are in need of assistance. Individuals seeking mental health and wellness support have access to  individual counseling or coaching. The program offers telehealth appointments for short-term counseling, coaching and other services. A full list of wellness resources available for Vanderbilt employees can be found on the Human Resources wellness webpage.

Central Library and Divinity Library extend weekday building hours

Building hours will be extended in the Central and Divinity libraries until Nov. 20 to provide study space for students, who are expected to follow all campus COVID protocols while inside the libraries. Building hours during this time period will be:

  • Mondays through Thursdays: 7:30 a.m. –10 p.m.
  • Fridays: 7:30 a.m. –6 p.m.
  • Saturdays and Sundays: 11 a.m. –6 p.m.

As a reminder, library resources are available 24/7 and research help from a librarian is always available through live chat on the library webpage or by contacting your subject librarian.

VandyRide Point to Point service provides off-campus students with free ride home

Undergraduate students living within a half-mile from campus this semester can get a free ride home with VandyRide’s new Point to Point service. Point to Point allows students who live off campus and are registered with the Dean of Students Office to schedule a shuttle ride from a campus VandyRide stop or designated ridehail pickup location to their residence within a half-mile of the university.

The service, available from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. seven days per week, is one-way and designed to deliver students safely to their off-campus residences. The program is being piloted this semester and is subject to change based on demand and available resources.

The free shuttles will not transport students to locations other than their registered off-campus residences, and they will not pick up students and bring them to campus. In addition, Point to Point shuttles will not transport students who live on campus—all passengers must be confirmed as living at an off-campus address prior to boarding a shuttle.

Steps to use the Point to Point service>> 

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Upcoming Events and Activities

Domestic and Dating Violence Awareness Month, hosted by Project Safe
Various events throughout October

Indigenous Peoples Day and Dia de la Raza, hosted by Vanderbilt’s Latino and Latina Studies Program, the Indigenous Scholars Program and the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity
4 p.m. today

First-Year Friday: Connect with Your Career Coach!, hosted by the Career Center and The Ingram Commons
Noon–1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16

Saturday Free Flu Shots, hosted by the Student Health Center
10 a.m. –2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17