Jan. 11, 2021 -Virtual town hall Jan. 13; spring semester updates
Dear undergraduate students,
We look forward to welcoming you back to campus soon for the spring semester.
We are writing today to invite you and your families to attend a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. Central time, where we will share important details about the spring semester. The town hall will cover several topics, including what you need to know and do before returning to campus, as well as details about the university’s testing program and new protocols. The event will feature faculty and medical experts from Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center and will include a live Q&A session. Registration is required to attend. (A recording will be available for those who are unable to attend the live event).
We know that we did not take an easy path when we decided to reopen for the fall semester, nor in choosing to return this January. But it was, and continues to be, the right path. We do not underestimate the risks of the pandemic, but we are committed to the residential college experience. We have the resources, the expertise and the shared values to keep our campus open to learning and teaching, research and discovery, even as the number of COVID-19 cases across the country reaches all-time highs. We have been working constantly on our plans, in consultation with our valued partners at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, public health experts, the School of Nursing and others across campus, to do so in a way that is as safe as possible.
We also want to reiterate our commitment to our students who have chosen to study remotely or have not been able to return to campus due to the pandemic. Your perseverance to continue forward with your academics and other responsibilities during this unprecedented time has been inspiring.
For students who are returning to campus this month, we want you to return to campus as healthy as possible. We have numerous protocols in place to support the health of our community and reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID virus. Last week you heard from the Office of the Dean of Students about pre-arrival and arrival requirements, which include arrival testing, shelter-in-place protocols and the new mandatory, bi-weekly undergraduate testing program. Our testing turnaround times have also been enhanced this semester, with results expected in approximately 36 hours.
While many aspects of the fall semester were a success, we know that we can do even better this spring. We must all continue to Anchor Down and Step Up for our community. Our success will depend on what you do in the very short time you have left before returning to campus and what you do once you arrive. Everyone must take the same personal responsibility we took in the fall to protect ourselves and others.
Before you arrive, continue to mask, physically distance yourself from others, avoid gatherings and keep yourself safe during travel.
Once you get here, you must continue those efforts. It is imperative that you follow university protocols to protect your health and safety and that of others this semester. Wearing your mask and practicing physical distancing are the most effective and only preventative measure available to help slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have tested positive in the past, you must continue to follow university protocols to prevent yourself from contracting the virus again. Even as the vaccine becomes more available, we all need to continue to follow safety protocols to protect ourselves and one another from COVID-19 as much as possible.
More information about arrival testing and the new mandatory bi-weekly testing program is on the Return to Campus website.
Although it will be cold in Nashville during the first part of the semester, which may limit certain outdoor options, we will strive to provide you with opportunities to connect with others. Faculty and staff are working on programming, and we are here to support student initiatives for their own programming—whether that includes physically distanced meetings, activities, socials or other ideas.
We know this academic year has been incredibly challenging. We also know that you are capable, resilient and strong—you have shown that time and again. You are the reason that we are able to return to campus this spring. Together, we can and will thrive this semester.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs