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Faculty

We understand the stress and disappointment in having changes made to when and how classes are held and the cancellation of university events and gatherings. Please know that we are making decisions based on our desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Following is important information to assist you as we seek to respond to this unprecedented public health issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Academics

The minimum required format for these electronic gatherings should entail the student and the committee members.

For dissertation defenses, the student should prepare and deliver the standard presentation, which will then be followed by questions from the committee.  The presentation can be viewed by a larger audience (i.e., public component) if desired and if the technology can accommodate this option.  The private portion of the defense entails only the committee members.

Prior to any of these meetings, visit VUIT’s Zoom webpage for instructions on setting up and using the application, and be sure to test connectivity, audio and video beforehand. 

Exam results are considered grades; to remain FERPA compliant, do not email these approvals.  However, the Graduate School will accept electronic signatures and the document may be securely delivered using Vanderbilt Box.

  • Committee Chair: complete the fillable results form and share with the entire committee and DGS in Vanderbilt Box
  • Committee Members: sign for approval, electronic signature is accepted
  • DGS: sign for approval, electronic signature is accepted
  • Committee Chair, DGS, or Program Coordinator: upload form to Graduate School Submission folder in Box with file name Defense Results – Student’s Last Name (or Qualifying Results – Student’s Last Name)

Vanderbilt launched online/remote classes on Monday, March 16. Assignments and assessment resumed that week. Faculty are aware of the difficulties many students are facing as they move off-campus or cope with other significant changes in their lives resulting from the current crisis. Faculty too are trying to manage many challenges, and we are asking students to be patient as faculty work to continue to teach.

The Office of the Provost has developed a Faculty Online and Alternative Education Resources page with information about in-person training sessions and on-demand content. There is also information about Brightspace, creating a recorded video, video conferencing, audio conferencing and additional faculty teaching guides and resources.

Communicating with Students

Are there examples of how to communicate with my students at the beginning of the transition? This blog post from the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching shares an example of introductory emails. Can I use email? Yes. You should use the tools for interaction that are comfortable for you and accessible to your students. Do I have to make videos for my courses? No. Video is one way to present information, but we can also present information through readings and links to other resources, including videos created by others. The most important piece is to make sure you are communicating with your students so that they know you are present and they know what to expect, with a clear message that that plans can evolve. How do I hold office hours?  There are several ways to offer office hours.
  • Zoom: Set up a Zoom meeting that your students can opt into if they want.
  • Virtual classroom: Set up a Virtual Classroom meeting that your students can opt into if they want. Note: Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom are videoconferencing tools that are integrated into Brightspace. Both can work well for this purpose; just pick the one that you are most comfortable with.
  • Chat: Set up a chat room in Brightspace that your students can opt into. If you normally have appointments for office hours, you can continue to do that and to interact in one of the ways above or simply via phone.
Faculty can hold in-person office hours as they usually would. The office meetings can be one-on-one or with a small group of students – again as would usually be scheduled. Faculty should recognize that some students are no longer in Nashville or may feel uncomfortable coming to office hours. In those cases, faculty should provide alternative ways of asking questions, such as phone calls, video conferencing, emails, discussion boards, and so on.

Virtual Tools (including Brightspace, Zoom and Zoom)

How can faculty arrange a conference call? We recommend using one of three options:
  • Zoom (Vanderbilt’s license): The guides here walk you through the steps of using Zoom through Brightspace, from creating an account to setting up and then hosting a meeting from within Brightspace. You can also use Zoom outside of Brightspace by logging in through https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/. Whether you access Zoom via Brightspace, through the Zoom website, or through a Zoom app, you can create, host, and schedule meetings. For more help with Zoom, see VUIT’s page on Zoom.
  • Skype (Vanderbilt’s license): A description of Skype can be found here.
  • Vanderbilt conference call service: Information can be found here.
I previously had an individual Zoom account using my Vanderbilt email. How do I associate my Vanderbilt email with the Vanderbilt Zoom license?
  • 1. Log out of zoom.us if you are currently logged in.
  • 2. Navigate to https://vanderbilt.zoom.us and click Sign In.
  • 3. You will receive an invitation email. Accept the invite when it comes.
  • 4. If you are asked to switch your account, you should do it.
Faculty: Can I set up breakout rooms in Zoom? Yes. This video tells you how. How do I arrange a small group meeting for student projects? All students have full access to Zoom, inside and outside of Brightspace. Therefore, you can set up groups of students in Brightspace, give them information about how to set up Zoom meetings, and tell them to set up their own meeting, inviting you as a participant. This allows students to start the meeting without your presence but also allows you to drop in if needed. Alternatively, you can set up student groups and a discussion within each group.

Timing of Online Courses

Should I hold my class at the same time and try to do a live class? Or should I change the timeline? If you’re going to host a synchronous online class session, you should schedule that session during one of your scheduled class meeting times to prevent conflicts with other class meetings. However, you may find that running synchronous online class sessions isn’t necessary for your course. You could post videos and/or readings for students to engage with asynchronously, and even handle faculty-student and student-student interactions asynchronously through email, discussion boards, blogs or external tools like Flipgrid. If your students have limited bandwidth or are spread out over multiple time zones, asynchronous activities could be particularly useful. If I plan on holding synchronous class meetings, when should they be? They should be during the scheduled class time so that they don’t conflict with other course meetings students have.
We made the decision to cancel classes on Monday, March 9, because several students returned to campus who have since reported being exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The individual who tested positive is being treated at home and did not return to campus. Based on our desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), all university classes are canceled March 10-13. Out of an abundance of caution and based on public health recommendations and best practices, we will move fully to online and alternative learning for the remainder of the semester. Online and alternative learning will launch Monday, March 16, for undergraduate, graduate and professional students.
No. In-person classes, regardless of size, are suspended for the semester.
The university is further reinforcing its remote work policy in light of the new Safer at Home Order issued by the Nashville Metro Public Health Department on March 22, which went into effect Monday, March 23. Remote teaching on campus is not an absolute necessity and should be conducted off campus. All faculty should work remotely unless provided an exception from their dean or department chair based on the absolute necessity that they be on campus to do their work, such as those responsible for lab safety, care for lab animals, and simulation lab instruction in medicine and nursing. Faculty should have retrieved materials needed to work from home by Monday, March 23.
Accommodations may change as classes move from in-person to remote. The SAS Faculty page has information on remote accommodation implementation as well as information on how to ensure your online content is accessible, including applying extra time for exams. Contact SAS for any questions or concerns at studentaccess@vanderbilt.edu.
Moving labs online is one of the most challenging parts of completing the semester online. This post shares some ideas, emphasizing the importance of thinking through your goals for the course and focusing on the ones—like data analysis, data presentation, etc.—that can be accomplished remotely. Adam List, who leads the Organic Chemistry labs at Vanderbilt, is planning to videotape a graduate student completing experiments, posting the video in short segments that are accompanied by questions. For example, if a student is purifying a product, the video might show an extraction procedure. The accompanying question might ask students which fraction their product would be in. This approach can enable students to approximate the cognitive work of the lab.
No. In countries that censor content, students cannot be confident that they will receive all course content, even with the Vanderbilt VPN.
There are several ways to offer office hours.
  • Zoom: Set up a Zoom meeting that your students can opt into if they want.
  • Virtual classroom: Set up a Virtual Classroom meeting that your students can opt into if they want. Note: Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom are videoconferencing tools that are integrated into Brightspace. Both can work well for this purpose; just pick the one that you are most comfortable with.
  • Chat: Set up a chat room in Brightspace that your students can opt into. If you normally have appointments for office hours, you can continue to do that and to interact in one of the ways above or simply via phone.
Teaching remotely with children at home is one of the challenges many of us will be facing over the coming days and weeks. It might be useful for caregivers to think about how they can maximize asynchronous learning activities, meaning activities that can be created by the instructor at one point in time, and then students can engage with that learning activity afterwards at a different point in time. Here are some examples:
  • Instead of delivering live lectures or demonstrations, consider using a screencasting tool to record ahead of time when the house is quiet, and then add the lecture video to your course for student viewing.
  • Instead of facilitating live discussions, consider asynchronous discussions. Students can post when they are able, and the instructor can review the posts and add to the discussion when they are able.
This blog post explores these and other more ideas for asynchronous tools you can use in your remote teaching. Vanderbilt Child and Family Center has created a webpage that lists care resources and will continue to update it as more options become available.
There are multiple guides for students here, and they can ask for help from VUIT for connectivity issues and for pedagogical purposes from brightspace@vanderbilt.edu.
Consider using asynchronous activities to a significant degree. When thinking about presenting information, consider posting videos or readings with guiding questions for students to engage with in their own time. When considering interactions your students have with you and each other, consider using a discussion board or blog for some of the interactions. Using the announcement tool within Brightspace regularly can help students recognize that you are present and interacting, even if they can’t interact “face-to-face.” For synchronous activities that you schedule, be sure to be flexible for students who can’t attend. Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom allow instructors to record live sessions for later viewing by students, which is sometimes easier than participating live. These tools also allow users to turn off their own video as they participate, which can make it easier for participants on limited bandwidth.

Campus and General Questions

Administrative meetings should take place remotely through online options such as Zoom or Skype, by phone (Vanderbilt Conference Call services) or by email.

Dining will operate in Rand Hall only for current Vanderbilt students, on-campus staff, residential faculty and the immediate family of residential faculty. Due to enhanced safety precautions, Campus Dining will be open for grab & go everyday during the following hours:
  • Breakfast 8am-9:30am
  • Lunch 11:30am-1:30pm
  • Dinner 4:30pm-6:30pm
For up-to-the-minute changes in Campus Dining service offerings, please follow Dining on Instagram (@VandyCampusDining) or visit the Campus Dining website. 

Note: If you are a current undergraduate student residing in the Commons or Highland areas, and are concerned about traveling across campus, Campus Dining has implemented a meal delivery program. Students can text “VUdining” to 55744, and select the next day’s meals. Orders must be placed by midnight for delivery the following day. Drop off times and locations will be listed in the ordering platform. Vegetarian and allergy-friendly options are available

Camus Dining has implemented new safety protocols to promote social distancing for dining and food delivery on campus.

Read more about the safety protocols Campus Dining has implemented.
  • The Southeastern Conference has announced that all athletics activities, including competitions, team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings, will be suspended through at least April 15, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SEC athletics programs will cease practices, individual and team workouts effective the end of the day Friday, March 13. Team meetings shall conclude no later than 5 pm local time on Monday, March 16.
  • SEC member institutions will continue to provide their student-athletes with care and support to meet needs in areas including academics, medical care, mental health and wellness, nutrition and housing as needed.
  • The program schedules impacted by this announcement are those of baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, and track and field. Events involving two Vanderbilt programs affiliated with other conferences—bowling (Southern Bowling League) and lacrosse (American Athletic Conference)—are suspended.
  • Vanderbilt Athletics has suspended numerous activities. View an ongoing list of what actions have been taken.
Yes. Campus remains open. The changes to campus operations announced March 9 are in relation to in-person classes. We are continuing our cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing and other best practices to keep our campus safe.

Other changes include:

  • All classes moved fully to online and alternative learning for the remainder of the semester.
  • All undergraduate residential students were required to move out by Sunday, March 15.
  • Any remaining students who were granted an extension due to extenuating circumstances must stay in their residences as much as possible, avoid congregating in common spaces, and practice social distancing.
  • The university restricted access to dining facilities and implemented new safety protocols to promote social distancing for all remaining dining and food delivery on campus.
  • Vanderbilt instituted an initial remote work period for staff and faculty and recommended they work remotely following their manager’s and/or department chair/dean’s instructions.
  • On-campus university research laboratories are transitioning to only essential activities by Wednesday, March 18, at the latest.
  • VandyRide service has been suspended. Vanderbilt University Public Safety will continue to provide an on-call medical transportation service.
  • The David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center is closed until further notice.

COVID-19 Exposure, Health and Wellness

  • Those who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-isolate per doctor's guidelines.If someone has come in contact with individuals who are known positives and the individual displays symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately seek medical testing.
  • Students on campus should contact the Student Health Center, while faculty, staff and postdocs on campus should contact the Occupational Health Clinic for further evaluation.
  • The CDC has issued information regarding symptomsprevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

Vanderbilt Occupational Health has health care monitoring in place for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Learn more about the process and self-monitoring REDCap survey here

If you must self-isolate:

  • Staff should contact their Human Resources consultant to discuss how to find the appropriate solution so that they can self-isolate. Staff can find their HR consultant at hr.vanderbilt.edu/hrconsulting.
  • Faculty should contact their dean to seek assistance while they must remain away from work.
  • Postdocs should be in touch with their faculty advisers.
If the person is a student, encourage them to consult with the Student Health Center. If they are a faculty or staff member, or a postdoc, they should consult with Occupational Health. The CDC also advises that many of the same precautions recommended when protecting oneself against the flu, can help prevent COVID-19 infection.

Students

  • Vanderbilt Student Health Center has monitoring in place for students who have traveled internationally within the past 14 days or otherwise come in contact with a case of COVID-19. Student Health will extend its hours on an as-needed basis and notify the student body through email communications.
  • Students should complete the self-report/self-monitoring survey at https://redcap.link/vustudentcovid if they have been exposed to COVID or have travelled internationally

  • Students who have left the Nashville metro area should contact their local health care provider.

Campus Residents

  • Campus residents who have traveled to or through any country outside of the United States within the past 14 days should self-isolate with their families in the USA.

  • Campus residents who do not have a family home in the USA or who have otherwise come in contact with a case of COVID-19 should contact the Office of Housing and Residential Experience (615/322-2591, ohare@vanderbilt.edu) at least 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus.

  • Any student not complying with Vanderbilt’s notification and self-isolation practices would be subject to immediate disciplinary procedures through Student Accountability.

  • Any student with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection (cough, fever or shortness of breath) should be tested.  Any student who has traveled to a CDC Level-3 country within the past 14 days or has had contact with someone who has been infected with COVID-19 is expected to self-report by completing the self-report/self-monitoring survey at https://redcap.link/vustudentcovid and abide by self-isolation practices.
  • Students who believe other students have failed to comply with self-notification and self-isolation practices should report their concerns to the Office of Student Accountability or the Office of the Dean of Students.
The Office of the Provost is working with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period. Staff should contact their HR consultant to discuss how to find the appropriate solution so that they can self-isolate. Staff can find their HR consultant here: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/hrconsulting. Faculty should contact their dean to seek assistance while they must remain away from work. Postdocs should be in touch with their faculty advisor for assistance.
A team of university officials, including Vanderbilt’s Global Safety and Security Manager and Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) team, is monitoring the outbreak of the respiratory illness COVID-19 worldwide. Since this crisis first began, the university has been working closely with infection control experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and local and state public health officials, and has been reviewing all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as it does with all public health concerns. We are in regular communication with the Vanderbilt community regarding travel restrictions, policies and recommendations. Information has been shared with students, faculty, staff, postdocs and parents, including specific considerations and guidance for international students and scholars. We have developed protocols to limit potential exposure, working with officials in Student and Occupational Health to provide information to returning travelers regarding self-isolation and health care monitoring procedures. The university is also working continues to prevent the spread of illness through enhanced cleaning and disinfection. Staff are cleaning these areas following the normal cleaning protocols for each type of space, followed by application of the disinfectant cleaning products Oxivir Five 16, Oxivir 1 Wipes and PURELL Professional Surface Disinfectant Spray. All disinfectants meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against COVID-19. Facilities has designated additional personnel resources to help assist with this enhanced cleaning and disinfecting process. The university has identified the following priority spaces that are being cleaned and disinfected more frequently due to being located in high-traffic areas:
  • Restrooms, locker rooms and showers
  • Lobbies, lounges, break rooms and hallways
  • Classrooms, conference rooms, lecture halls, dining sitting areas and libraries sitting areas (spaces where large groups of people congregate)
  • Private offices
Certain areas in these locations are receiving increased attention twice a day, including high-touch points such as door handles, light switches, handrails, interior doors, door push plates and the flat surfaces in common spaces. Staff also have begun to power wash restrooms in common areas, locker room showers and multiple-use shower rooms throughout campus. Campus early childhood care and education facilities and athletic facilities locker rooms and showers are being deep cleaned and then electrostatic fogged using a disinfectant product. The university is working with vendors and contractors to maintain these products and services to continue this cleaning schedule moving forward. Free-standing hand sanitizing stations have also been installed across campus. In addition, campus-wide changes include:
  • All classes moved fully to online and alternative learning for the remainder of the semester.
  • All undergraduate residential students were required to move out by Sunday, March 15.
  • Any remaining students who were granted an extension due to extenuating circumstances must stay in their residences as much as possible, avoid congregating in common spaces, and practice social distancing.
  • The university restricted access to dining facilities and implemented new safety protocols to promote social distancing for all remaining dining and food delivery on campus.
  • Vanderbilt instituted an initial remote work period for staff and faculty and recommended they work remotely following their manager’s and/or department chair/dean’s instructions.
  • On-campus university research laboratories are transitioning to only essential activities by Wednesday, March 18, at the latest.
  • VandyRide service has been suspended. Vanderbilt University Public Safety will continue to provide an on-call medical transportation service.
  • The David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center is closed until further notice.
Insurance provider Aetna is taking significant steps in response to COVID-19. Effective immediately, Aetna will waive co-pays and member cost share for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be performed in any approved laboratory location. Learn more on the Aetna website, or contact HR at human.resources@vanderbilt.edu. 

General Information about COVID-19

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

Research

Study Abroad

We are recommending students return to their homes. This recommendation is based on the unpredictable nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, where cases can spike quickly in any region, as described by the World Health Organization and within the CDC Global COVID-19 Outbreak Notice. This unpredictability also puts stress on existing health systems in regions with COVID-19 cases, which may make obtaining other medical care much more difficult. Likewise, we are aware that local and international travel is increasingly challenging due to transportation disruptions or cancellations as well as rapidly changing immigration regulations and border restrictions. The university will work with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period.

Travel

No new visitors should be hosted on campus during the remote work period that lasts until April 11, 2020.  Once visitors are allowed back on campus, any visitor who has traveled abroad within the past 14 days must self-isolate for a total of 14 days before coming to campus.

According to the VU Travel & Expense Policy (pg. 3), situations like this that result in airline, hotel & car rental imposed penalties for changes to an airline ticket for business reasons or circumstances beyond the traveler’s control are reimbursable.
No. However, the university strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel abroad at this time.  Anyone returning from international travel will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning campus.
Before booking new travel, please reach out to the meeting planner and/or conference organization to see if the meeting is still scheduled to occur or being postponed to a later date. Travelers should not book reservations too far in advance.
Hotels will typically allow for cancellation with no charge from 24-72 hours prior to the date/time of check-in. Please check the policy as each hotel has different cancelation policies.
Many airlines have altered flight schedules and capacity to highly affected areas for both domestic and international destinations. All cancelled reservations are being reviewed and compared to the airline’s current rules and will be refunded if applicable. If the airline has issued a waiver of the exchange fee, this will be noted in the traveler’s profile long with the unused ticket. Any unused ticket will be listed in your profile as unused and applied on a future ticket for that airline.
Standard travel insurance policies will not cover flight cancelations and delays due to coronavirus unless it is specifically written into the policy. Travel insurance is not reimbursable for university business travel.
If you have registered for a conference and the conference organization announces that it has been cancelled, the conference may be reimbursing registration, and conference hotel bookings/deposits.  Review information posted on their website for direction. (Airfare is typically not reimbursed by the conference and is the responsibility of the traveler to cancel.)

All university-sponsored international travel, including travel to Canada and Mexico, is restricted (effective March 10).

  • Travel to State Department Level 4 countries was restricted on February 14.
  • Travel to CDC Level-3 countries was restricted on February 25.

All university-sponsored domestic travel is restricted (effective March 12).

We strongly encourage everyone to postpone all non-essential personal travel.

These restrictions are in place through at least April 30.

Exceptions to these university policies may be requested by contacting your dean or vice chancellor. Granting of exceptions to the travel restrictions require a reasoned consideration of all factors.

University-sponsored travel includes any travel covered by or reimbursable from university funds or extramural grant funds. This includes travel by faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, students or visitors.

Vanderbilt Occupational Health has monitoring in place for those who have traveled internationally or otherwise come in contact with a case of COVID-19 (including a patient). Learn more about the process and self-monitoring REDCap survey here.
If cancelations are made by the airline, the airline will typically reimburse the airfare cost or allow the full value of the ticket to be used for future travel within one year of the booking date.
Consistent with CDC guidance, Vanderbilt is instructing those community members to self-isolate for 14 days. Those who need to self-isolate are being instructed to notify the university in order to receive healthcare monitoring and support and to protect the health and safety of our community.

Any individual returning from international travel (either university-sponsored or personal) must self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus and gain approval from your supervisor for working remotely.

University-sponsored travel includes any travel covered by or reimbursable from university funds or extramural grant funds.  This includes travel by faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, students or visitors.

For travel cancelations, please contact travel@vanderbilt.edu For expense reimbursement questions, please contact paymentcardsexp@vanderbilt.edu
According to the VU Travel & Expense Policy (pg. 3), situations like this that result in airline, hotel & car rental imposed penalties for changes to an airline ticket for business reasons or circumstances beyond the traveler’s control are reimbursable.

 

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