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Jan. 14, 2022 – COVID-19 updates for graduate and professional students

Posted by on Friday, January 14, 2022 in Community Messages.

Dear students,

As we approach the start of classes next week, I am reaching out with additional updates and reminders since my last communication. First, I want to thank the graduate and professional students who attended this week’s town hall and asked our panelists important questions. If you have not had a chance to watch the town hall recording, I encourage you to do so.

Additionally, I want to thank Associate Dean Bunmi Olatunji for participating in the town hall as a representative of the Graduate School. Questions not addressed in the town hall will be answered on the Health and Safety Protocols website by next week.

While we cannot predict fully what may happen, if our experiences here in Nashville are like those across the globe, we hope to see cases start declining rapidly by the end of January. Recent data is showing that while the COVID-19 omicron variant is more infectious, its virulence is lower. We have still yet to have any reported cases of in-class transmission. We are cautiously hopeful that this is a signal to more normal operations during the rest of the semester.

Some of the key takeaways from the town hall that I wanted to share include:


As an investment to help us get through this omicron surge, we will be providing up to three KN95 masks to our on-campus community members. Graduate and professional students will receive their masks within their school’s dean or departmental offices.

Masks are always required indoors on campus, except when eating or drinking. Physical distancing should be practiced when possible, such as when eating or drinking, and when outdoors.


As a reminder, you must take a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before the start of classes (either a PCR or rapid antigen test) and upload the results to this form. At-home tests will be accepted.

  • If your test result is negative, you can return to campus.
  • If your test result is positive, you must isolate at home consistent with the latest CDC guidance before coming to campus and should notify the Command Center of your positive test result.

If you have tested positive in the last 90 days, you are exempt from a pre-semester test and mandatory testing for 90 days if a positive test result is submitted to the command center. You must submit proof of your positive test result if you tested outside of the Vanderbilt Testing Center to the Command Center for your exemption to be processed. At the end of 90 days, you will be automatically placed into the appropriate testing protocol based on vaccination status at that time.

If you have had difficulties finding a test, you can test at the Testing Center on Monday, Jan. 17. You should receive your results by the next morning in time for the start of classes.

Students will participate in our expanded testing program this semester. You can read about the asymptomatic and sentinel testing programs on the Health and Safety Protocols website.

Questions about testing should be directed to


We know that the past two years have caused difficulties and hardships for every member of our community—increased stress and loss but also resilience. We should acknowledge our feelings—and they will evolve and change. We should strive for patience and tolerance for ourselves and others and practice acceptance. I encourage you to connect with others however you can and practice self-care.

Our data shows that we have had a 16 percent increase for mental health appointment requests in the past two years, so we have expanded our staff to increase availability, support and care for our students. We have also hired staff with diverse identities and expanded our specialized care options for students in marginalized communities. During the town hall, we discussed support resources for students that I wanted to include here.

If you have any questions or need assistance, we are here to help. Please contact us at I hope you have safe travels back to campus and look forward to welcoming you back in the coming days.

C. André Christie-Mizell
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate School
Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Centennial Professor of Sociology