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Vanderbilt’s postdoctoral scholars are integral to Vanderbilt’s research and scholarly mission. As postdoctoral scholars continue their research on campus, or transition back to campus, they will be required to adhere to all university protocols related to health and safety. All postdoctoral scholars should work with their managers and affiliated faculty members to determine if and when they may return to on-campus research.

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The evolving COVID-19 pandemic requires that widespread and layered mitigation strategies be employed to lessen the probability of COVID-19 transmission. Vanderbilt will be employing a cohesive collection of comprehensive efforts that, combined, offers a best-in-class solution for the creation of a healthy, equitable and safe environment within classrooms.

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These protocols were established based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading subject matter experts across our campus, and a range of faculty leaders including John McLean, co-chair of the University Continuity Working Group and Stevenson Professor of Chemistry, as well as the co-chairs of the University Working Group educational continuity subcommittee: André Christie-Mizell, dean of undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Science, and Mavis Schorn, senior associate dean for academics in the School of Nursing. Many of the resulting protocols apply to classrooms across the entire university.


Course Information and Classroom Protocols

  • Students must wear appropriate face mask/covering while in public spaces on campus, including during class. One (1) face mask/covering will be provided to students.
  • Faculty must wear appropriate face mask/covering while in public spaces on campus.
  • Beginning in January, face shields alone will no longer be allowed while teaching per the university’s updated campus protocols. Faculty must wear face masks/coverings while teaching and while following other classroom protocols.
  • Students and faculty must be appropriately physically distanced in the classroom consistent with the university requirement of six feet of separation.
  • Students will be supplied with sanitizing wipes to take to their desks/seats to clean before class (similar to what one would do with gym equipment, but before instead of after use). Ideally, these materials will be located in areas that do not congest entry or exit from the classroom.
  • At or near the instructor’s location there will be sanitizing wipes for faculty use. At the exit of each classroom, there will be trash cans for students to dispose of used sanitizing wipes, and these trash cans will be emptied throughout the day.
  • Each classroom door will have signage indicating suggested maximum capacity to achieve physical distancing.
  • Students are not permitted to eat or drink in classrooms while class is in session.
  • For classrooms where there is more than one door, there will be a circulation plan and ingress/egress clearly marked.
  • When required by hazardous material safety requirements, students must wear gloves in teaching labs. Otherwise, gloves are optional.
  • For instructors teaching in classrooms with an existing wireless mic set-up to amplify the speaker’s voice in the classroom, the university will provide a personal lapel microphone attachment to use with the wireless transmitter in order to avoid sharing of the microphone.


  • Clear mobile boards should be available for use in the front of the classroom between faculty and students (i.e., around whiteboards, chalkboards, and podiums).
  • Attempt to create as large a buffer zone as possible, but no less than 6 feet, between the instructor and students. This buffer zone, otherwise marked as the instructor’s position, is intended to be a “no enter” zone for students. This distance may also be reinforced through use of the clear mobile boards.
  • An appropriate number of seats will be made available within classrooms to accommodate six feet of physical distancing (as measured from the center of each seat). Chairs that will be unavailable for use will either be removed or, if remaining within the classroom, will be marked with an appropriate and consistent chair strap applied to them to signify they are not to be used. Chairs should not be moved to reduce six-foot spacing.
  • Instructors may choose to assign seats and/or create specific circulation rules and inform students as clearly as possible, such as the first students to arrive should go to the farthest seat down a row and then would be the last student to depart.
  • Instructors are encouraged to take attendance.
  • Instructors may choose to use an omnidirectional boundary microphone that connects to their laptop for purposes of boosting the audio on the laptop for students connecting remotely.


All positive cases and close contacts are tracked by the Command Center. The Command Center is responsible for contact tracing and determining additional cleanings and protocols to implement.

If someone reports to a faculty or staff member that they are positive or a close contact, the faculty or staff member should tell them to stay in their residence, ask if they are working with Student or Occupational Health and if not, tell them to immediately log their positive result or close contact status with the Command Center on the webform. The Command Center will then launch all next steps, including the contact tracing, quarantine, symptom monitoring and any needed testing. Faculty and staff should not send out notifications to other faculty members, staff or students as the Command Center will handle all notifications.

If a positive case is enrolled in their in-person course, instructors are notified; however, the student will not be identified. Instructors will not need to take any further action unless directed to do so by the Command Center. Only those deemed close contacts through contact tracing will be notified. All students in quarantine (close contacts) or isolation (positive cases) will not attend in-person classes.


Individual colleges/schools have developed (or are developing) their own processes to match the pedagogical demands of their courses to the spaces available for physically distanced teaching.

The provost’s office reaffirms that these are decisions best made on a course-by-course basis at the local level by the department chair and the school/college deans. Making such curricular and pedagogical decisions at the school/college level is a fundamental part of our shared governance system. It is also absolutely necessary due to the diversity of our teaching norms and expectations. Further, because each school/college determines their own standards for academic excellence, the deans are uniquely situated to assess the pedagogical demands within each class and to align those with the available resources to support them, even in this challenging time.

We support these efforts to balance the excellence in teaching and learning for which we are known with the highest standards of protecting against the spread of COVID-19, as outlined in our Return to Campus protocols.

If you are unsure about your own college’s/school’s process for curricular decisions, you should reach out first to your chair or other immediate academic officers, or to your dean.

We are especially grateful to be able to re-emphasize Vanderbilt’s commitment to in-person teaching, when teaching in person is both physically safe and pedagogically sound under the safety protocols for our classrooms and campus for the fall semester. We commend the ongoing efforts of the college-/school-level teams to identify those opportunities to the greatest extent possible.

Class sizes

To promote safety and good public health, most large undergraduate classes will be online. Working closely with VUIT and the Center for Teaching, faculty are exploring ways to engage directly with students even if instruction is online in whole or in part. 

For graduate and professional programs, colleges and schools are taking different approaches to large classes based on available space, the nature of the class, and the faculty’s pedagogical commitments. 


We are extending the amount of time between undergraduate classes to twenty minutes.


Our framework for holding in-person classes on campus is supported by several components, including the continued need for physical distancing, the need to continue pursuing virtual and alternative teaching methods (even in the event of in-person classes) for all classes and the understanding that many curricular decisions will need to be made on a local level, taking into account the unique standards and expectations across our different schools and colleges.

We must continue to plan for a hybrid teaching model that includes a combination of in-person, virtual and alternative learning methods. This approach accommodates members of our community—including both faculty and students—who will not be able to return to campus because of travel and visa restrictions as well as health concerns and other personal concerns.

Decisions and discussions regarding courses that will fully need to be taught using virtual and alternative platforms should be made in your colleges and schools. Adaptive learning could include implementing a variety of techniques from postings of lecture recordings to leveraging on-campus recording spaces for asynchronous instructional videos. To support faculty, we have increased resources including enhancing and expanding classroom IT, CFT resources. More information can be found on our adaptive learning webpage.


Link to this FAQ

Summer Sessions

All summer sessions for undergraduate and graduate students, including Maymester courses, will be offered online only. This summer’s course schedule offers a robust selection of options providing students enhanced flexibility.

Professional students can expect information about summer sessions directly from your respective school leadership in the coming weeks.

Experiential Learning and In-person Research Activities for Undergraduates

We will continue to support faculty-directed experiential learning and in-person research activities for undergraduates over the summer, including Immersion Vanderbilt. However, out of an abundance of caution, the university will not be offering Maymester courses that involve travel or GEO’s study abroad programs. As an alternative, remote global internships—and funding—for undergraduate students who want to engage internationally are available.

Currently enrolled Vanderbilt students participating in Immersion Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program (VUSRP) will have the opportunity to work and live on campus this summer. Students who are seeking to conduct in-person research activities on or off campus should discuss their ideas and plans with prospective faculty mentors, who will receive further details in the coming weeks about how to submit new or revise existing Phase II+ plans for in-person research activities in summer 2021 through the existing research ramp-up review and approval process. Further guidance on in-person research activities will also be posted on the Research at Vanderbilt website.

After faculty mentors and their students have received approval for their summer in-person research activities through the research ramp-up review and approval process, students who choose to live on campus this summer may apply for housing through OHARE beginning Thursday, April 1. These students will be required to submit a signed COVID-19 acknowledgment form in order to work and live on campus.

As a reminder, any research activities involving in-person interaction, whether on campus or off campus (e.g., going out into the local community), require advance review and approval through the research ramp-up process. Advance approval is not required for research activities that are strictly remote and involve no in-person interaction. Faculty mentors and their students who are not sure whether their planned research activities require advance approval through the research ramp-up review and approval process should consult the FAQs for Phase 2+ Ramp-Up or contact for guidance.

At this time, due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations against travel, the university will not offer opportunities to conduct nonresearch experiential learning in locations other than on campus and in students’ home communities.

Students who have applied for VUSRP awards can expect to receive further details in late March and early April. Students who receive other forms of university funding to support experiential learning and summer projects should contact the undergraduate associate dean’s office of their home school.

Residential Housing

At conclusion of the spring 2021 semester, residence halls will close for the summer:

  • May 12 at 9 a.m. for nongraduating students
  • May 16 at 1 p.m. for graduating students

In addition to undergraduate students participating in faculty-led experiential learning or in-person research, undergraduate students with verified special circumstances will be eligible to remain on campus during the summer. The summer housing application will be available online Thursday, April 1, and additional information will be provided prior to that time.


Progress is being made as our community continuesto manage the challenges of the pandemic. Yet, we must remain cautious, and it is for that reason Vanderbilt University will not be hosting summer programming for children and adolescents on campus at this time.As an alternative, several programs, including Vanderbilt Summer Academy (VSA) and Summer Academy at Vanderbilt for the Young (SAVY), are offering virtual learning opportunities. We look forward to resuming our on-campus day and overnight programs in 2022.

Note: We’re currently exploring options to host athletics summer camps consistent with NCAA and SEC rules while working with our campus partners and local health officials. This includes opening preliminary registration to accurately determine feasibility and prepare appropriately. All camp dates are tentative and subject to change.

Summer programming for Nashville’s youth is invaluable, providing opportunities to experience something new, discover new interests, advance academic pursuits, hone athletic skills and make new friends. We look forward to a very near future past COVID-19 when we can, once again, come together to support our children through these endeavors.

Continued COVID-19 Protocols

Despite encouraging progress in addressing the pandemic, we must continue to take COVID-19 protocols seriously to help protect the health and safety of our campus and Nashville communities as much as possible.

All Vanderbilt students and non-Vanderbilt students or volunteers participating in faculty-led experiential learning or research on campus this summer will be required to participate in the university’s mandatory asymptomatic COVID-19 testing and contact tracing programs and submit a signed acknowledgment form.

Students will be expected to continue safety protocols, including wearing face masks/coverings and maintaining physical distance.

Link to this FAQ

Campus Life and Housing

The Campus Visitor Policy for the spring semester will remain the same as outlined during the fall semester. 

Vanderbilt University deeply values its neighbors, community partners and visitors that make our community so vibrant. However, as part of our comprehensive efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 at Vanderbilt, throughout the city of Nashville and beyond as much as possible, we have made the difficult decision to limit the presence of visitors on campus for this academic year, and to impose certain heightened expectations for those visitors who are permitted. 

In an effort to de-densify our public spaces, individuals including prospective students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows, non-Vanderbilt interns and observers, recruiters and family members of students, faculty and staff—among others—will regrettably not be permitted in campus buildings until further notice, unless specific permission has been granted in advance by the appropriate university office, dean or vice chancellor. 

In certain cases, exceptions may be made for approved users of VU Core Facilities, research participants, visiting researchers, suppliers, contractors, vendors, safety inspectors and others based on individual circumstances. Comprehensive details regarding limitations and possible exceptions can be found in our Visitor Policy Fall 2020. 

Before coming to campus, visitors must review the Campus Visitors Return to Campus Acknowledgement. 

Spaces that normally welcome community visitors, including the Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries, the Fine Arts Gallery, the Wond’ry at the Innovation Pavilion and other spaces, as well as other campus buildings, will not be open to the general public. Exterior doors for administrative and lab buildings will be locked, and access to classroom buildings will be limited to those with a Vanderbilt card/badge. No decision has been made about attendance at fall athletic events. 

In-person campus tours remain suspended for the time being. We encourage prospective students to explore the online resources available through Vanderbilt Admissions and through individual graduate and professional programs. These resources include virtual visit options, webinars, information panels with current students and other opportunities to connect. 

It is important to note that anyone who is on the Vanderbilt University campus for any reason must wear a face mask/covering at all times. These requirements are consistent with our existing requirements for students, faculty, staff and postdocs who have returned to campus in recent months. 

Until we are able to safely welcome the public again in person, we hope all community members will utilize our many virtual resources, which include information about groundbreaking research and innovation in the fight against COVID-19 and enhanced online library services. 

We are grateful to parents and family members, friends and prospective students, and our fellow Nashville residents—as well as anyone else who had planned to visit our beautiful campus in the coming months—for your patience and understanding as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. As we navigate these challenging times, we will continue to find new ways to collaborate and engage with our community and our city. 

Suppliers must submit the Supplier Return to Campus Acknowledgement prior to being granted permission to be on campus. 

Link to this FAQ

Every patron visiting the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore located at 2525 West End Avenue is required to wear a face mask/covering. Follow directional signage and stand on decals signifying 6 feet of distance from the person in front and behind while in line.

Every patron visiting Station B to collect or send package(s)/mail will be required to wear a face mask/covering. The entrance to the operation is through the Rand door, while exit will be accommodated via the fire lane side facing Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. While standing in line, stand on decals signifying six feet of distance from the person in front and behind.

Link to this FAQ


Campus buildings and exterior spaces will include

Vanderbilt students practice healthy behaviors as they mask up and social distance themselves between classes around campus.

signage that should be followed by community members at all times. This includes directional and physical distancing signage signifying flow and where people should stand, as well as informational signage regarding protocols in the Return to Campus Plan.

Examples of the signage community members will see on campus are outlined below.


Accessible Route Signage


Accessible route signage

Accessible Route: Sidewalk stickers that signify accessible routes around campus




Left turn arrow

Left turn:
Sidewalk stickers showing when you should turn left.



Right turn arrow

Right turn:
Sidewalk stickers showing when you should turn right.





Sidewalk stickers showing when you should walk counterclockwise to maintain physical distancing.


Exterior Signage


Dismount and walk your bike signage

Dismount & Walk:
Sandwich boards and yard signs showing when you should dismount and walk your bike or scooter


General etiquette and protocols


General Etiquette:
Sandwich boards and yard signs showing general etiquette and safety protocols



Lawn etiquette and protocols

Lawn Etiquette:
Sandwich boards and yard signs showing lawn etiquette and safety protocols


6 foot distance signage

6” Distance:
Sidewalk stickers marking 6” distance between two points



One way signage

One Way Only:
Sidewalk stickers and sandwich boards showing one way routes


Entry/Exit Building Signage


Entrance only signage

Entrance Only:
Building signs showing entrances to buildings


Exit only signage

Exit Only:
Building signs showing exits to buildings



 No entry sign

No Entry:
Building signs showing areas where you should NOT enter


Yield to others sign

Sandwich boards and building signs reminding individuals to yield and maintain 6’ distance from others


General Signage


General break space protocols

Break Space Guidelines:
Posters outlining main break space protocols


Disinfection Guidelines:
Posters outlining disinfection protocols for both public and private spaces



Elevator Guidelines:
Posters outlining elevator protocols that will be placed outside and inside elevators


Face mask/covering protocols

Face Mask/Covering Guidelines:
Posters outlining protocols for face masks/coverings



Meeting and conference room protocols

Meeting/Conference Room Guidelines:
Posters outlining meeting and conference room protocols


General guidelines to slow COVID-19 spread

Help Slow the Spread:
Posters reminding the general public how to slow the spread



Restroom guidelines

Restroom Guidelines:
Posters outlining restroom protocols that will be placed near restrooms.



Signage specific for research spaces on campus can be found on the Research at VU website.

Entry/Exit Control, Building Access

Entry to buildings will be regulated and monitored in alignment with ACHA guidance. Where applicable, your Vanderbilt card/badge is required for entry to all buildings, and you may not hold or prop open exterior doors for any other person. After entering a building, sanitize your hands at the nearest sanitizer station and follow signage and all physical distancing guidelines outlined herein.

As is always the case, exterior building doors that require card access should not be held or propped open for any other person. Access to academic buildings, or buildings in which in-person instruction is taking place, will generally be open between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and will not require a Vanderbilt card/badge during those hours. Access will be restricted on the weekends.

All residence halls and administrative buildings will require a Vanderbilt card/badge and appropriate access permissions for entry at all times. After entering a building, sanitize your hands at the nearest sanitizer station and follow all posted signage, keeping in mind that directional signage may be posted on the floor, as well as on walls and doors. Building maps, searchable by building name, and additional information on access to buildings on campus, are available on the Return to Campus website.

The university will identify suitable building access points. In alignment with CDC employer guidance, where appropriate, departments and building coordinators should attempt to coordinate arrival and departure times of faculty, staff, postdocs and students to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of a day’s schedule. For example, staff arrival and departures should be scheduled in 15-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, etc. Staggered schedules should be considered for lunch and break times.

Once you have been authorized to return to campus, you should arrive and depart campus through the designated building access points. Staff should also report at the designated time, where applicable, to limit the number of people entering and exiting buildings at any one time.

Building entrance and exit points are being mapped for every building on campus, including ADA accessible circulation. In alignment with CDC and ACHA guidance, buildings will include signage and visual markers, including directional signage signifying flow, physical distancing signage showing where people should stand (in certain buildings), and informational signage regarding protocols in the Return to Campus Plan. Be mindful of following the directional signage, and be prepared to change your daily routine to adhere to the new circulation patterns. As building maps are finalized, they will be added to the list below.

Buildings in which signage and visual markers have been installed will also be noted in the list below with this symbol .

Please contact your building manager or facility officer with any questions or feedback on these plans.

1025 16th Ave S (ISIS Labs) 
1101 19th Avenue
1114 19TH AVE S
1202 18th Ave S 
1207 17TH AVE S  
17th Ave MUMS Lab 
2007 Terrace Place 
6 Magnolia (fka Home Ec)
Admissions & Financial Aid 
Alumni Hall 
B Quad: Lupton
B Quad: Scales
B Quad: Stapleton
B Quad: Vaughn
Baker Building 
Baker Garage
Baseball Field House
Benson Old Central 
Benton Chapel
Biomolecular NMR 
Bishop Johnson Center
Blair School of Music 
Blakemore House
Branscomb Market - Dining 
Bryan Building 
Buttrick Hall 
Calhoun Hall 
Carmichael 1 & 2
Center Building 
Center Garage
Central & Divinity Libraries 
Cohen Memorial 
Cole Hall
Commons Dining 
Curb Center 
Currey Tennis
Divinity School 
Drug Discovery - Cool Springs 
Dyer Observatory 
Dyer Residence 
E. Bronson Ingram 1st Fl Dining 
E. Bronson Ingram College
E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts 
ELC Annex 
Engineering Science Building (ESB) 
English Language Center 
Eskind Medical Library 
Featheringill-Jacobs Hall 
Frist Hall 
Furman Hall 
Garland Hall 
Godchaux Hall 
Godchaux Nursing Annex 
Golf Hitting Bay
Golf Team Lockers
Grins - Dining 
Hank Ingram
Hendrix McGugin - Dining 
Hobbs HDL 
Jesup Psychology 
KC Potter Center
Keck FEL 
Kirkland Hall 
Kissam Center 
Kissam Market - Dining 
LASIR at MetroCenter 
Law Cafe - Dining 
Law School 
Lewis House
Link Building
Local Java - Dining 
McGill Hall
McGugin Complex 
McTyeire - Dining 
McTyeire Hall
Memorial Gym
Moore College
Morgan House
Morgan Market - Dining 
MRB III and Learned Lab 
Music Rehearsal
Neely Auditorium 
Old Gym 
Olin Hall 
One Magnolia Circle 
Owen Garage
Owen Graduate School of Mgmt 
Payne Hall 
Peabody Administration  
Peabody Library 
Pub (Sarratt Third Floor) - Dining 
Rand - Dining 
Rand Hall 
Residence 7
Sarratt Student Center 
SC Chemistry (SC7) 
SC Lecture (SC4) 
SC Library (SC3) 
SC Math (SC1) 
SC Molec Biology (SC2) 
SC Physics & Astronomy (SC6) 
SC Science & Engineering (SC5) 
School of Nursing Addition 
Seigenthaler Center
Sony BMG 
Station B Post Office 
Student Life Center
Suzie's at Featheringill - Dining 
The Commons Center 
The Hill Center 
The Office for Religious Life
Tolman Hall
Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center
Vaughn Home 
Village Apartments
Warren College
Wilson Hall 
Women's Center
Wyatt Center 
Zeppos - Dining 
Zeppos College

Sidewalks, Campus Pathways and Outdoor Amenities

Maintaining space between you and others is a best practice according to the CDC and is required on the Vanderbilt campus to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread. Because people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others whenever possible, even if you have no symptoms. Physical distancing and face mask/covering wearing is especially important for people who are at higher risk.

Everyone on campus should follow these physical distancing practices:

Students around campus practice healthy behaviors.

Physical distancing practices and face mask/covering wearing should be followed in all outdoor spaces. Appropriate use of face masks/coverings is important in minimizing risk to the wearer and those around them. A face mask/covering is not a substitute for physical distancing.

In the interest of creating a culture where health and safety are promoted and realized, face masks/coverings must be worn by all individuals on campus in public indoor settings (e.g., common workspaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, restrooms, etc.).

Physical distancing must be maintained at all times when outdoors. Face masks/coverings must be worn at all times when outdoors, with the following limited exceptions:

  1. While engaged in vigorous outdoor recreation, such as biking or running, so long as physical distancing is maintained at all times including with those walking on campus paved paths, sidewalks, plazas
  2. While actively engaged in eating/drinking outdoors, so long as physical distancing is maintained

Goals for outdoor spaces on campus include:

  • Creating an environment that maximizes safety and legibility while moving through campus
  • Making it possible on major routes to maintain a 6-foot distance while moving through campus
  • Using minimally invasive, maximally effective techniques
  • Designing all indoor and outdoor circulation plans with accessibility and mobility needs in mind

Wayfinding will be phased in aligned with the Vanderbilt Return to Campus phases. This allows for the university to observe and adjust. The university is aiming to give people room and give people time to react.

The “Gold Path” network is a planning concept Vanderbilt is using to focus its wayfinding and signage efforts and coordinate with similar efforts within buildings. Paths designated as part of the “Gold Path” represent commonly used pedestrian paths. As the community continues to return to campus, the university will place its signage and monitoring efforts on these corridors.

Signage has been prepared aligned with CDC and ACHA guidance and will be placed along the “Gold Path” network. Be mindful to follow the directional signage and be prepared to change your daily routine to adhere to the new circulation patterns.

The following map shows the “Gold Path” network for the current university Phase II and II+.  Parking locations are noted with non-colored circles and popular destinations with colored circles. Major circulation routes are noted in gold.













Outdoor tents will be open for use beginning Monday, Jan. 25. During the Commodores Care period (Jan. 25 – Feb. 3), tents will be open at half capacity for dining. We anticipate tents will open at full capacity beginning Thursday, Feb. 4. While the reservation system will be open beginning Jan. 25, the earliest available reservations will begin on Feb. 4.

In preparing for the colder and more inclement weather in late winter and early spring—as well as incorporating lessons learned over the course of the fall—the three large tents previously occupying space on campus have been replaced with five tents that are smaller in size, heated, and lighted with several electrical outlets and wireless access. The new tents also include spaces specifically designated for non-dining purposes, with a number of layouts available that are compliant with campus protocol requirements for physical distancing.

New tents include:

  • Alumni Lawn Dining Tent
  • Alumni Lawn Programming Tent
  • Commons Dining Tent
  • Commons Programming Tent
  • Library Lawn Academic Tent*

Toward the end of the fall semester, outdoor tents became integrated into the VU online reservation system, and the programming tents for the spring semester will be available through the same process for university-approved events.

* The Library Lawn Academic Tent is available solely for academic, non-classroom purposes, including faculty office hours, department meetings or other small gatherings and events. These spaces can only be reserved by faculty and faculty will be provided additional instructions by their department chair or appropriate associate dean.

Map of five tent locations for Spring semester 2021.
Dining and programming tent locations across campus include (1) Alumni Lawn Dining Tent, (2) Alumni Lawn Programming Tent, (3)Commons Dining Tent, (4) Commons Programming Tent, and (5) Library Lawn Academic Tent.

All campus protocols must be followed in and around all tent locations, including physical distancing of at least six feet and wearing a mask or face covering at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. Eating and drinking is allowed inside all tents except the Library Lawn Academic Tent. Signage will be posted throughout tent areas to direct circulation and provide protocol reminders, which must be adhered to at all times.

As with last semester, the comprehensive plans for the use of outdoor tents include information regarding fire code compliance and safety; severe weather communication, evacuation, and sheltering; and general safety and security. Occupants of tented areas should follow the instructions provided by tent staff in the event that any enhanced safety or security measures are needed, particularly evacuation for severe weather.

In addition to tents, other outdoor spaces will continue to be updated with painted circles and other markers throughout campus to identify physically distanced locations for use by individuals, including for outdoor dining, studying, leisure and other activities. Due to mowing and lawn maintenance, circle patterns and distribution may vary over the course of the semester.

Link to this FAQ

The university also is applying lessons learned from the fall semester to adjust and enhance its approach to supporting our students academically, socially and emotionally, and protecting their health and safety as much as possible with regard to testing and other COVID-19 protocols.

Building on fall programming, physically distant social activities and virtual opportunities, such as concerts, game nights, crafting sessions, outdoor fitness classes, multiple speaker series and film watch events, also are being planned for students.

COVID-19 has presented new challenges for everyone, and the university is committed to supporting students as they progress toward degree completion. Vanderbilt will continue to provide a robust educational experience for all students—whether they are in person or have been approved for remote study.

The health and safety of the university community are foundational to our efforts in responding to COVID-19. VU’s protocols with respect to “gatherings” prioritize core mission activities central to the university’s mission. “Gatherings” must be conducted in accordance with VU-established guidelines, and some “gatherings” must be approved. .

Beginning Wednesday, March 10, outdoor official campus gatherings may increase from eight to a maximum of 12 people. This update does not change the eight-person rule for indoor campus gatherings or any informal student meetups, on or off campus. Masking and physical distancing protocols remain in place for all gatherings regardless of size or location.

This change recognizes the continued efforts of the campus community to follow campus health and safety protocols and comes as the university continues to take a cautious and incremental approach to its protocols so the Vanderbilt community can finish the semester strong and while the city increases its gathering size limits.

In addition, Vanderbilt Student Government’s Campus Life Committee has worked closely with university leaders to develop creative ideas for outdoor activities. As a result, the university will be adding more amenities, such as outdoor furniture and lawn games, in a phased approach over the coming weeks to help facilitate outdoor engagement opportunities.

Upcoming additions include the following:

  • The university will reinstate painted circles indicating 6 feet of physical distance on campus lawns starting this week. Stickers will be added to various non-grassy areas to remind students of the requirements for using outdoor spaces. No university-owned furniture may be moved from its current location.
  • Vanderbilt community members also are encouraged to bring their own camp chairs and hammocks outside. Only one hammock is allowed per post, and camp chairs must be placed at least 6 feet apart. Students should use the lawn circles to determine 6 feet of space when placing their camp chairs outside.
  • Lawn games will be added in outdoor spaces in the coming weeks. Guidelines will be posted for following campus protocols and for cleaning game equipment after use.
  • VandyRadio music will be broadcast in the campus tents.
  • Campus leaders are working to bring a stage to Wilson Lawn for programming. The stage will provide space for individuals to host showcases, musical performances and more. Once ready, the university will share details for reserving the stage and guidelines for its use.

The university will impose significant penalties for violating the university’s Gatherings policy, whether on or off campus, because such gatherings have potential campus-wide impacts. 

The presumptive sanction applied by Student Accountability if a student is found responsible for hosting a gathering that violates the policy will be suspension for a minimum of one semester; a first sanction may be as severe as expulsion, depending on the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation. Attending, participating in, otherwise supporting, and/or concealing a gathering that violates the policy may also result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense. Additionally, failure to comply with the Gatherings policy may result in a restriction from campus for the remainder of the academic year.

All university community members also should be aware of Nashville’s guidelines concerning gatherings. Failure to comply with the city’s public health emergency orders can result in criminal penalties.

The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity may also implement interim restrictions while students await the formal student accountability process if the university has sufficient evidence to conclude that the reported behavior presents a threat to the health and safety of our university community. Those interim restrictions may include but are not limited to: requiring students to sequester in their residence hall room or off-campus accommodation or elsewhere; prohibiting students from attending in-person classes or activities; restricting student access to university buildings; requiring COVID-19 testing.

Students living on campus who are suspended or expelled for violating COVID-19 policies and protocols will be required to vacate the residence hall. The university will not issue refunds for tuition, housing costs, or fees.

As outlined in the Student Handbook, students are responsible for what occurs in their rooms and residences both on and off campus. To that end, if a student is living in a residence (on or off campus) with one or more other students or non-students and the residence is found by the university to be in violation of the Gatherings policy, all Vanderbilt students who are residents may be subject to corrective action as hosts through the university’s accountability process, even if the conduct of an individual resident cannot be specifically identified.

Faculty and staff should carefully review the below Gatherings policy to ensure they are adhering to the guidelines. The Vanderbilt Faculty Manual provides that faculty may be disciplined for violations of the university’s standards of conduct. The process for reaching a decision to discipline a faculty member is overseen by the dean in consultation with the provost. The university’s progressive discipline policy states that a staff member can be disciplined for violations of protocols and procedures governing safety, and such matters are overseen by Human Resources.

These requirements for in-person “gatherings” are subject to change based on public health guidance and Vanderbilt protocols.

  • VU community members only: Attendance must be limited to VU community members (defined as persons with VU identification cards) only.
  • On-campus gatherings only (unless approved): Generally, off-campus gatherings are not permitted if students are in attendance and/or if VU funds will be used. Exceptions to this rule require approval by the Provost or her designee.
  • Maximum “gathering” attendance limit: The number of total/unique attendees may not exceed the maximum number under the university’s phased Return to Campus Plan, or the VU COVID-modified maximum capacity for the space, whichever is more restrictive. Organizers count as attendees for purposes of the maximum attendance limit.
  • Capacity controls/attendance tracking: Sign-ups and ticket distribution should be managed to maintain a strict maximum number of total/unique attendees. If interest exceeds capacity, develop a clear methodology for determining who will be chosen to attend, and consider using a waitlist or setting up separate pools/pods of attendees that do not overlap. Attendance should be closely tracked to assist in contact tracing, if necessary.
  • Physical distancing: Physical distancing is required. The “gathering” may be held only if attendees can maintain appropriate physical distance given the nature of the activities contemplated. Consideration should also be given as to whether attendees will be stationary or moving around during the event.
  • Face masks/coverings: By default, all participants must wear a face mask/covering. There may be exceptional circumstances when a face mask/covering can’t be worn; in those cases, approval should be granted only if additional physical distance and/or physical barriers can be used.


Core mission activities are not “gatherings.” These events do not require specific approval and are not subject to the VU maximum “gathering” attendance limit. However, other VU COVID-19 protocols (including physical distancing and face mask/covering requirements) must be followed. Core mission activities include:

  • Campus Public Health Events: On-campus public health/infection prevention and response events (e.g., COVID-19 testing center, Flulapalooza)
  • Academic Courses or Co-curricular Events: Academic courses and co-curricular activities when offered in connection with a VU course
  • Mission-Related Meetings Led by Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Dean, Vice Provost, or Department Chair: Meetings of university personnel convened to meet regarding the university’s academic-, research-, and service-related activities
  • Faculty- or Staff-Led Events in Direct Support of Learning/Discovery: University instructional and research support meetings that directly support learning/discovery and are directed by faculty/staff (e.g., lab meetings, journal clubs, poster sessions, programs of an academic/substantive nature hosted on The Ingram Commons or in a residential college and organized by a faculty head, programs of an academic/substantive nature sponsored by an identity-based center organized with its director, recitals overseen by faculty or staff member)
  • Research Lab Activities: University research lab activities, subject to the VU research ramp-up plan phases
  • Use of Libraries: Use of university libraries as an individual patron
  • Dining in Designated Dining Spaces: Dining in designated on-campus dining spaces (including outdoor spaces/tents)

Some personal/social events with members of the VU community are considered “gatherings” and are subject to the guidelines for gatherings while other personal/social events may not be considered “gatherings”:

These personal/social events with members of the VU community are “gatherings” subject to the guidelines under this policy:

  • Organized social events with students present alongside faculty/staff: Any organized social event with VU students in attendance
  • VU-sponsored (funded) faculty/staff get-togethers: Any social event with only faculty/staff in attendance, where VU funds are being used

These personal/social events are not “gatherings” and are not subject to the guidelines under this policy:

  • Non-VU-sponsored (funded) faculty/staff get-togethers: VU encourages all attendees of any event type to abide by any applicable public health orders/guidance.
  • Small, informal meet-up of students (8 or fewer, regardless of phased “maximum”): All individuals reasonably determined to be present at a single address or within a residential unit, including hosts, individuals in different rooms or spaces, and non-Vanderbilt affiliated individuals, count as attendees for purposes of the maximum attendance limit. Attendees must comply with VU’s COVID-19 protocols and applicable public health orders/guidance at “informal meet-ups,” including but not limited to:
    • Physical distancing is required. The “informal meet-up” may be held only if attendees can maintain appropriate physical distance given the nature of the activities contemplated.
    • Face masks/coverings are required. By default, all participants must wear a face mask/covering.
    • Food and drink must be consumed only while maintaining physical distancing. Attendees may remove their face masks/coverings only temporarily to eat and drink as needed.

Students are prohibited from “small, informal meet-ups” of any size in their assigned on-campus residential units, including in individual rooms and common spaces within suites, apartments, and lodges.

In-person events and activities with a primarily enrichment, extra- or co-curricular, or community-building purpose are “gatherings” that must follow the guidelines under this policy. Such “gatherings” include:

  • Meetings or events convened by registered student organizations (RSOs): Including Greek chapter events
  • Lectures or panels not part of a VU course: For example, Chancellor’s Lecture Series, Crawford Lecture, deans’ lectures, RSO-organized lectures
  • Art, dance, music, and theater performances: Including those organized by student organizations and offices
  • Ceremonies and receptions


As described above, small, informal meet-ups of members of Vanderbilt community, whether on- or off-campus, are limited to 8 or fewer people and all individuals must be physically distanced and masked at all times. A student, as an individual, may attend, participate in, or engage with an off-campus service, activity or event that is not hosted, managed, organized or sponsored by Vanderbilt University or Vanderbilt community members. While attending, participating in, or engaging with such services, activities or events, Vanderbilt community members are required to follow Vanderbilt University safety and gathering protocols (including masking and physical distancing from others). This means that if several members of the Vanderbilt community attend the same service, activity or event in the greater Nashville community they must not congregate in a masked, physically distanced group larger than 8.

What is a gathering decision tree























The university wants to provide students with academic and learning opportunities outside of the classroom while following all protocols for campus health and safety. To do so, all student academic or learning events must have an authorized sponsor from an academic department (or school/college) who submits a required plan through Events at Vanderbilt. 

Event sponsors should prioritize holding academic and learning events outside, and all such events must be on campus. Off campus events are not allowed. The authorized sponsor must file a plan and submit it to Events at Vanderbilt at least 14 calendar days in advance of the event. The plan must include in-depth information, including mechanisms to observe and enforce campus protocols. 

Following the university’s campus visitor policy, no non-VU attendees are allowed at such student events. During the event, there must be at least one faculty or staff member from the sponsoring department in attendance; the number required depends on the number of attendees. Their primary role is to ensure all attendees are following all University requirements during the event.

Graduate and professional student events will follow these same guidelines and also continue to be overseen by school and college deans.

Maximum size and related mechanisms to ensure physical distancing:  

  • At this time, the maximum number of total attendees (students plus staffing) will be 25 regardless of the capacity of the space in which the program will be held. This limit may be increased during the course of the semester to, for example, the COVID-19 modified maximum occupancy of the space reserved, or to align with changing Nashville guidance on gatherings, which requires permits for certain-sized gatherings.
  • Approval will take into consideration how the sponsor’s plan addresses maintaining physical both during the event and ingress/egress before and after the event.
  • In some circumstances, the university has already taken steps to help maintain distancing and event flow for specific on campus locations.  
  • For example, for outdoor events in the dining tents, there are set table and chair locations. On a lawn, students can be directed to remain in the circles, one person to circle.  For an indoor lecture, the university may have designed classroom spaces with chair straps in place to signify physical distancing and signage may already be placed to direct proper circulation. If the location for the event already has such measures in place, the plan may specifically refer to and rely on those measures. 
  • If, however, the location does not have such existing measures, the plan must include specific steps that the sponsor will take to maintain physical distancing. Regardless of location, some additional methods to mitigate potential bottlenecks may include ticketed entry and timed entry/dismissals.
  • The tasks of maintaining physical distance and complying with university protocols become more challenging as event size grows and plans for larger group gatherings, if allowed, will receive significant scrutiny, including whether they are generally consistent with Nashville guidance on gatherings. 
  • Ultimately, wherever an event is located, the sponsors must state the expected mechanisms for following all campus protocols, and also state how the sponsor will enforce those protocols once the event is underway in the required plan.   


  • Event sponsors should prioritize holding academic/learning events outside. Many outdoor spaces, like indoor spaces, can be reserved through Events at Vanderbilt. 
  • Physical distancing: All participants, including speakers, must always maintain physical distancing of at least six feet. 
  • Face masking/covering: All participants must always wear a face mask/covering, including any speakers. Attendees must wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking at an event where food or drink has been previously authorized.  
  • Food or drink at event: The default position is that no food or drink will be allowed during any event. Prior authorization may be granted for pre-distributed, pre-placed, and pre-packaged food if the plan explains why food or drink are necessary for the event and how this distribution and placement will be achieved. Even then, three conditions must be met: (a) attendees must wear a mask when not actively eating/drinking; (b) no alcohol is permitted at campus events; and (c) no third-party food servers are permitted.   


  • Consistent with the campus visitor policy, no non-VU attendees are allowed at student events. The only exceptions are guests invited by the sponsor to provide content for the event (such as a speaker or instructor). Any guest must complete all required paperwork (e.g., Acknowledgments) and be approved by the Provost’s office to come to campus. Refer to the Campus Visitors policy on the Return to Campus website for requirements about how food and drink must distributed/arranged for campus visitors, noting the role of Campus Dining. 

Group participation, especially cheering/yelling/singing: 

  • Attendees should avoid activities that might require people to yell, raise their voice, or project their voice, given recent research about how talking loudly can lead to more large droplets/aerosols that spread the virus. 

Anchor Link and RSVP system:   

  • The sponsor must enter events into Anchor Link and use the RSVP feature to ensure that the event does not exceed the stated maximum number of attendees in the plan. All attendees must RSVP at least 48 hours in advance of the event so that appropriate vetting of attendees can occur.  

Swiping in at events:  

  • All attendees at university events (including faculty, students, and staff) must swipe in at every event in to aid in contact tracing efforts if needed. If the event must use a different sign-in approach due to a technological issue, the sponsor must ensure appropriate sanitization between uses for pens/stylus/papers/iPads, or whatever other materials are used.   

Ratios for event staffing and support 

  • For student events, one designated event staff member must be in attendance for every 15 students attending. For the avoidance of doubt, when an event exceeds 15 students, a second staff member must be added (for example, a gathering of 20 students requires two designated staff). 
  • Event staff’s primary role is to make sure all attendees are following all above guidelines and to help maintain compliance. Designated event staff must include faculty or staff from the sponsoring department and may also include Resident Advisers or pre-designated student leaders who are aware of this role and responsibilities therein.  
  • Event staff may not be solely students; at least one professional (faculty or staff) must be in attendance at every event. All designated event staff must be counted toward any maximum occupancy limit for the designated event space.  


  • Graduate and professional student academic and learning events held within buildings specific to the school or college should be carefully reviewed by the dean for compliance. The dean can approve the events but must ensure the following:
    • Attendance must be tracked and be instantly available in the event contact tracing is needed
    • Events must be registered in Anchorlink for DOS tracking
  • Graduate and professional student academic and learning events proposed to be held outside of their specific buildings must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the Dean of Students through the Events at Vanderbilt space reservation process or by otherwise emailing

Guidelines for performing arts student organizations

  • Signing in groups will be permitted with the following restrictions:
    • No more than 12 individuals can gather
    • Singing must take place outdoors (outdoor reservation required)
    • Singers must wear masks at all times
    • There must be 12 feet between people and/or a physical barrier between singers
  • Instrumental groups restrictions:
    • Instruments that require use of air (Woodwinds, Brass) will not be allowed
    • String and percussion instruments
      • No more than 12 individuals can gather
      • Individuals must be no less than 10 feet apart
      • Individuals must wear masks at all times
  • Dancing in groups will be permitted with the following restrictions:
    • No more than 12 individuals can gather
    • Individuals must be no less than 10 feet apart
    • Individuals must wear masks at all times
  • For groups that do not fall under either singing or dancing categories (VUT, TNC, etc.), the following restrictions will be in place:
    • No more than 12 individuals can gather
    • Individuals must be no less than 10 feet apart
    • Individuals must wear masks at all times
  • All groups that can gather should prioritize outside meeting locations rather than indoor.

We are balancing the health, safety and comfort of our constituencies and our community with providing meaningful experiences for students traditionally associated with Vanderbilt. These are temporary measures to deal with the challenging circumstances in which we find ourselves. 

No guests will be allowed within residence hall rooms. Although first-year students will be assigned a single room, we expect that they will make friends on their residence hall floors, sitting in their doorways talking late into the night, or lounging on one of our various campus outdoor areas while physically distancing. Students will also be able to interact with their virtual roommates and other friends in person throughout the academic year, while still following the university’s protocols. 

We hope that community members will be active participants and bystanders in keeping the community healthy, safe, and accountable.  

Students around campus practice healthy behaviors.


Vanderbilt will continue to provide strong support to our incoming transfer students even as they live in off-campus residences. Through our transfer orientation program, students will interact with others through informational sessions and small-group discussions that will help them navigate your academic program, campus resources and student life on Vanderbilt’s campus. Through TSO, they’ll also have the opportunity to connect with Transfer Student Leaders (sophomores, juniors, and seniors who transferred to Vanderbilt themselves) and other incoming transfer students.

Additionally, the new Campus Connection Program will provide undergraduate students with personalized support and guidance as they navigate the various experiential learning and campus services that are part of their collegiate experience at Vanderbilt. The program will engage Campus Connectors, professional staff from Academic Affairs, to serve as liaisons who directly support personal and professional development for their cohort of students from enrollment to graduation.

Link to this FAQ


If you drive to and park on campus, you will be required to have a parking permit; violations are subject to fines and towing. Sophomores, juniors and seniors can purchase an annual parking permit online. In an effort to provide more flexibility for residential and off-campus students, students with F, G, J, VK, and GT permits can park in any of the parking facilities on the expanded list on the Parking Services website. Faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate and professional students who are authorized to return to campus have more options for parking on campus this year including the traditional annual parking permit with the ability to park in any zone, $5 per day hangtags or a new daily parking option (piloted with a limited number of commuters). Once you exit your car, please follow physical distancing and face mask/covering guidelines; view the CDC transportation guidance on protecting yourself when using transportation. Learn about additional transportation options available to you on the MoveVU website.


VandyRide service will return to campus starting Jan. 19 with two shuttles, one on the Gold Route and one on the Black Route, and one or more shuttles designated for Point-to-Point service. Service will run from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. There may be longer wait times for riders due to capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 safety during this time.

To access VandyRide routes in real time, download the VandySafe app and go to the “Maps & VandyRide” section or visit the website. Once users are inside the app, they can select “route” in the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner and select all routes to see the routes on the map.

VandyRide Point to Point Service

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 get 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.

To use the Point to Point service, follow these steps:

  • Students should contact VUPS Communications at 615-322-2745 to request a ride to an off-campus residence.
  • VUPS will verify the student’s name, address and that it is within the Point to Point service area with the Dean of Students Office.
  • Once confirmed, the student will be instructed to proceed to the nearest VandyRide stop or designated ridehail pickup location and wait for a shuttle. Students may track their assigned shuttle using the VandyRide app.
  • Once the shuttle arrives, students must identify themselves by name and address before boarding the shuttle.

Please note that shuttles may transport more than one passenger to more than one location per trip. A maximum of seven passengers will be allowed on each shuttle. All passengers must wear face masks and practice physical distancing.

Students should expect an approximately 15-minute wait from when they request a shuttle to its arrival at a VandyRide stop or ridehail location. In addition, the university is exploring more options to augment its VandyRide program.

VandyRide Safety Protocols

The university has also implemented enhanced safety protocols including:

  • Vehicles: Vehicles are inspected, and high touch areas cleaned and sanitized at the start of each shift and between every trip or as needed, in addition to biweekly cleaning/sanitizing with steam. Vehicles are equipped with signage on wearing masks and other health and safety protocols. All vehicles will operate at 50 percent capacity.
  • Drivers: All drivers are required to wear masks and have their temperatures screened daily. COVID-19 sanitization kits are carried by all drivers.
  • Riders: All riders must wear masks and maintain physical distancing while boarding and riding on the shuttles.

In an effort to de-densify campus for health and safety, the university will continue to implement a campus-wide electric scooter no-ride/dismount zone for the spring semester. We are working with scooter companies to ensure that scooters are not staged on campus and to implement a geofence that turns campus into a no-ride zone. Bikes are a great transportation option to use in place of e-scooters. Bicyclists must follow the circulation patterns on campus, yield to pedestrians in order to maintain physical distance, walk their bikes in dismount zones noted on campus such as the 21st Ave pedestrian bridges, Rand wall and Medical Center Plaza, and park responsibly at bike racks.


Based on CDC transportation guidance, if you must take public transportation, wear a face mask/covering before entering the bus or train, space out as much as possible, and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol as soon as possible. Stay up to date on changes to service and procedures; view WeGo Public Transit’s enhanced modified service plan at

WeGo Public Transit is collaborating with the Metro Nashville Health Department to ensure that all of its practices are in line with recommended efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, general influenza and other viruses. Since the start of the pandemic, the agency has increased the frequency of its vehicle and facility disinfecting program, with a greater focus on surfaces touched most frequently by riders and employees. It also is working with its regional bus and train service providers to ensure they are increasing cleaning efforts as well.

Researchers believe that in addition to wearing masks, physical distancing when possible, and improved cleaning and ventilation, the relative short time of exposure and lack of conversations also reduces the risk of infection. If possible, researchers recommend limiting your time of potential exposure (transit and commute trips are inherently shorter than many other activities and tend to average 30 minutes or less) and limit conversations and talking.

As a reminder, through Vanderbilt’s recently expanded EasyRide program, full-time and part-time faculty, staff and students are eligible for free rides on all WeGo Public Transit local and regional buses and the WeGo Star train. Swipe your Vanderbilt ID card to ride on buses and show your ID card on the train.

Carpool, vanpool and other shared rides

If you are traveling in a shared vehicle:

  • Wear a face mask/covering at all times.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary and space out as much as possible. Avoid pooled rides or rides where multiple passengers are picked up who are not in the same household.
  • Avoid touching surfaces (door frame and handles, windows and other vehicle parts) with your hands.
  • Avoid accepting offers of free water bottles and other items that may be provided for free to passengers.
  • Improve ventilation by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol as soon as possible.

Link to this FAQ

COVID-19 Exposure, Health and Wellness

Vanderbilt University’s policies and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be rooted in safety for staff, faculty, students, invited guests (e.g., contractors), and the public with whom we interact. The health and well-being of our community are critical.


Vanderbilt University Public Safety (VUPS) is committed to the safety of students, faculty and staff. The people within VUPS work diligently to maintain a safe and secure campus, and they are committed to doing so with the utmost care and compassion and under the highest standards of conduct.

More than 300 staff serve in the department, which includes 100 police officers, 135 community service officers and 80 security personnel. The department also continues to protect members of our campus community during the pandemic.

CORE Committee

The Community Oriented Result and Expectation (CORE) Committee continues to meet to make recommendations to the Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD) regarding safety and security on campus. The committee discusses issues including suspected bias, VUPD’s ongoing community relations efforts, police accountability and transparency, pedestrian and bicycle safety and other traffic concerns, and the handling of significant events and incidents on campus while addressing concerns and planning solutions for those issues. 

Representation on this committee includes the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Multicultural Leadership Council, the Graduate Student Council, Vanderbilt Student Government, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, the Office of Residential Education, the Faculty Senate, the Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, the Office of LGBTQI Life, Athletics, International Student and Scholar Services, a community/neighborhood representative, the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC), the Division of Communications, the Office of Risk and Insurance Management, and the Office of the General Counsel.

Evacuation and Shelter Situations

We understand that during these extraordinary times, there may be some concern for safely evacuating or sheltering during emergency situations. We encourage everyone to be aware of the most immediate threat while continuing to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If there is a need to take shelter (i.e. tornado warning, active aggressor) or if there is a need for evacuation due to a fire or other emergency, please do so while exercising CDC recommended precautions as possible.

While there are signs indicating COVID-19 circulation patterns, in the event of an emergency, please take the most direct route to safety.

In the event of a fire alarm or other emergency:

Evacuate Immediately:

  • Leave the building through the nearest exit and establish a rally point away from the affected building. Open areas (indoor and outdoor) where physical distancing is available are preferred. If physical distancing is unavoidable, individuals should wear a face covering if possible.
  • Do not re-enter the building until authorized to do so by Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD) or on-site emergency personnel.

In the event of a Tornado Warning, Active Aggressor, or other emergency:

Shelter in Place:

  • Shelter in place using physical distancing measures.
  • If physical distancing is not possible, individuals should wear a face covering.

Outdoor Tents

The Office of Emergency Preparedness, Fire and Life Safety, in collaboration with the Facilities Review Committee, has developed a comprehensive plan for the use of outdoor tents this fall, which includes information regarding fire code compliance and safety; severe weather communication, evacuation, and sheltering; and general safety and security. Occupants of tented areas should follow the instructions provided by tent staff in the event that any enhanced safety or security measures are needed, particularly evacuation for inclement or severe weather.

Link to this FAQ

Vanderbilt University has revised its quarantine policy based on CDC guidance.

Asymptomatic close contacts will now quarantine for 10 daysThis has been updated from the previous 14-day quarantine, per CDC guidance, but comes with additional requirements for days 10 to 14 following exposure.

  • For days 10 to 14 after last exposure, Vanderbilt community members identified as close contacts must not unmask at any time in public, including in dining locations, and must wear their mask even in the presence of those in their residence.
  • Individuals should eat alone or complete any activities alone that require removing a mask in a private space during those four days.

As a reminder, all individuals should do the following at all times to help slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Perform daily self-monitoring for symptoms using the VandySafe app.
  • Immediately self-isolate and contact the Student Health Center for assessment and testing if you develop symptoms.
  • Wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds and off campus high-risk venues, follow the gathering protocols, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Officials with the university’s Public Health Central Command Center will continue to make determinations of quarantine periods for close contacts and those who reside on-campus will move to quarantine housing. Close contacts who are off-campus students, faculty, staff and postdocs will quarantine at their residences. The Command Center will also provide instructions on following the new policy.

Link to this FAQ

The CDC defines isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, and quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

If a faculty member, staff member, postdoc, graduate student or professional student is instructed by university health officials or public health officials to quarantine or isolate, they should do so in their off-campus residence and follow all instructions from health officials.

Temporary Housing Support for Off-Campus Vanderbilt Community Members

For the convenience of the VU community, the university has negotiated special rates with the Holiday Inn Vanderbilt—a Vanderbilt-preferred hotel—for use by members of the VU community who live off campus and due to their personal circumstances want an alternative short-term residence. A valid Vanderbilt ID must be presented at check-in to verify Vanderbilt affiliation, and the faculty member, staff member, postdoc or student will be responsible for all associated costs. If cost is an issue due to personal circumstances, we encourage undergraduate, graduate and professional students to fill out an application for the Student Hardship Fund.

Hotel PropertyRateCheck In DateDiscount Code
Holiday Inn Vanderbilt *A Vanderbilt-preferred hotel
2613 West End Ave, Nashville
Short term booking
(less than 5 days)
• Long term booking
(more than 5 days)
$50 for longer than 5 days
$75 for shorter than 5 days
08/01/2020 - 01/31/2021$75 rate – VU5
$50 rate – VU6

Link to this FAQ

Health and Safety

The university may issue Shelter in Place Orders to small groups of students who are not positive or identified close contacts, and will require those students to temporarily remain at their residence and switch to online learning for all classes.

The university issues Shelter in Place Orders when it finds, based on the advice of public health experts and assessment of University officials, that developing test results and contact tracing suggest a potential cluster among a concentrated group of students that may present a higher risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

If a Shelter in Place Order is issued, the Dean of Students will notify impacted students and provide additional details and instructions.

  • Students will be required to sequester in their residence hall room or off-campus residence until the Dean of Students releases them to resume normal activities.
  • Students will transition to remote learning during the period they are subject to Shelter in Place Orders and should inform the professor of any in-person courses in which they are enrolled.
  • Students on campus will be limited to leaving their rooms to use shared bathrooms and to collect food from central drop-off locations; students off campus may not come to campus, and should only leave sequester for essential activities or as directed by the University, such as testing.
  • Students should not invite roommates or others into their room; they should maintain masking even around roommates to prevent potential in-residence spread.

Shelter in Place Orders protect all involved when additional time is needed to complete contact tracing and related analysis to assess the scope of a potential cluster, and are in addition to the isolation and quarantine actions already underway. The university will lift Shelter in Place Orders once the necessary analysis is complete.

Triggers for Return to Online Only

Supporting our students is our utmost priority, and the university is committed to providing options and alternatives that allow all of our students access to a world-renowned education, no matter the instruction mode.

All courses will be prepared to be offered both in person and remotely. This gives us flexibility to adapt to remote instruction only should conditions warrant it.

Vanderbilt University may choose to transition to remote-only learning based on the following:

  • Local, state or national shelter-in-place advisories or restrictions that require remote-only learning
  • Quarantine and isolation capacity for the residential population
  • A surge in cases coupled with increased severity of illness among campus demographic cohorts
  • Contact tracing analysis (a surge in cases tied to an event vs. tied to rampant community spread with severe illness may be treated differently, for example)

The decision to begin the semester enrolled in on-campus instruction will be accompanied by an acceptance of responsibility for full payment of tuition, housing costs and relevant fees. No refunds for these costs will be issued if the need to finish the semester fully online arises.

This includes if a student leaves for personal or disciplinary reasons after being on campus, or if the university has to shift to online-only instruction. If the university has to shift to online-only instruction, we hope to be able to allow students to remain in on-campus housing; however, the university reserves the right to require students to vacate campus housing if necessary, including to comply with any applicable government order.

The university may also decide to “pause” in-person classes on a program by program basis for a period of time and move such to virtual/alternative platforms; for example, to allow undergraduate students living on campus to remain in their residence hall rooms. Such a suspension period would also be focused on additional actions to contain any potential spread. The university may also use this approach with specific populations within the University, such as a specific school or program or course, to allow time for additional contact tracing and testing to be conducted.

We know students had many difficult financial and personal decisions to make for the fall semester. To assist with these decisions, we have given students the option to study remotely if it is a better fit for them during this time. We have also allowed upper-division students to choose off-campus housing instead of living in the university’s residential facilities.

In the event of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases that results in a shift to remote learning, Campus Dining will significantly scale back its campus services to match Vanderbilt’s changing needs. Should a ramp down of residential housing occur prior to the scheduled last day of in-person classes (November 20, 2020), Dining will work with Student Accounts on dining adjustments. Meal plan components eligible for adjustments include:

  • Meal Money – all unused meal money will be credited in full.
  • Meal Plans – Students enrolled in the 21 Plan, 19 Plan, or 14 Plan will receive a credit for the unused portion of their meal plan based on the portion of the term remaining


Link to this FAQ


Members of the Vanderbilt community who have received a COVID-19 positive test result or were informed they are a close contact outside of the VUMC system (e.g. Metro Public Health or another public health entity), should complete the following webform*. The webform goes directly to the Command Center to ensure confidentiality and someone will follow-up with you as soon as possible.

Test results of individuals tested by VUMC (Student Health or Occupational Health) or VU’s periodic on-campus testing program also known as “surveillance” testing) are routed automatically.

Individuals will receive direct communication from the Command Center about their isolation (if they tested positive) or quarantine period (if considered a close contact) and will be instructed to contact Student Health or Occupational Health if they develop symptoms. The Command Center will communicate with the individual throughout their isolation or quarantine period to monitor any symptoms that develop and ensure they are well-supported.


The Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center (Command Center) is a collaboration between the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing, Division of Administration, Office of the Provost, Vanderbilt Student Health Center (SHC) and Vanderbilt Occupational Health Center (OHC). The Command Center provides support and coordination for university testing strategies. As a part of these efforts, the Command Center conducts contact tracing with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Along with contact tracing, the Command Center coordinates with supervisors, mentors, leadership and other community members as positive individuals and close contacts are identified, providing support for the workplace, and living and learning communities.

By launching these robust in-house contact tracing, coordination and support capabilities, Vanderbilt has established an organizational and case management structure to ensure timely coordination to protect and support the health and safety of  the campus and Nashville community.

To read more about how contact tracing works, please visit the contact tracing page. To read more about COVID-19 testing strategies, please visit the undergraduate student testing pagegraduate and professional student testing pagefaculty testing page, staff testing page, or postdoc testing page.


Link to this FAQ

Campus-wide approaches to safety and the practice of mask wearing and physical distancing are important as individuals can be without symptoms and still be COVID-19 positive. Individuals who have been authorized to return to campus must also conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus. It is our shared duty as a community to act responsibly. All individuals must be free of ANY symptoms related to COVID-19 to be on campus or participate in activities on campus.

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. These symptoms or combinations of symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

A symptom assessment tool has been created within the existing VandySafe app for daily self-monitoring.  You can also access the symptom assessment tool at: Entering symptoms in the symptom assessment tool is recommended for faculty, staff and post-docs coming to campus (those working remotely do NOT need to enter symptoms in the symptom monitoring tool).

Please note that this symptom assessment tool is to determine if you meet criteria for a medical evaluation for COVID-19.  If you have an underlying medical disease or an ongoing chronic condition that has similar symptoms to COVID-19, then you do not need to record this if your symptoms are unchanged. **Please only record symptoms that are new or worsening in the daily symptom monitoring tool.**

New features of the VandySafe app include:

  • Self-Assessment Tool: users are provided recommended actions based on answers to a series of guided questions
  • Return to Campus Plan
  • Vanderbilt University COVID-19 Updates
  • Report a Concern
  • Support Services

If faculty, staff or postdocs develop new/worsening symptoms, they must call the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic and notify their supervisor/mentor/department chair that they are reviewing their health status prior to the start of any scheduled work period or time on campus; Occupational Health will instruct the individual on appropriate next steps. For staff, time spent in dialogue with Occupational Health is not considered working time.

VandySafe Symptom Monitoring FAQ

How do I login to complete my symptom assessment?

To login to complete your daily symptom assessment, you will use your Vanderbilt email address and password. If you need to reset or change your password, visit the VUIT website for assistance.

Duo multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also required to access the application. Instructions on how to download and enroll in Duo are available on the VUIT website.

What do I do after I log in?

Once on the main menu, tap the ‘hamburger’ icon in the upper left-hand corner and tap ‘Symptom Assessment.’ Then, tap ‘Add Another Assessment’ and follow the prompts.


I am receiving a message asking me to “Authenticate.” What do I do?

The following message appears for iPhone users when the application tries to open in Safari:

Go to settings, locate and select Safari, scroll down to Privacy & Security, and toggle off “Private Cross-Site Tracking”. This should allow you to launch the web page.

What do I do if I am experiencing issues with the app?

If you are experiencing technical issues with the application, please email between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for assistance.

What if I do not have a cell phone to do the symptom assessment?

You can also access the symptom assessment by going to from a computer or laptop.

What if I am having issues connecting to the wireless network VUNET?

VUIT updated the wireless networks in early July. Personal smart devices, such as smart phones and tablets or other non-Vanderbilt issued devices, will need to be onboarded to the network by the user. You can onboard your devices by visiting, clicking “I have a VUnetID,” and selecting “Connect laptop, tablet or smartphone.” It is not required to be on campus to complete this process. For more information about Vanderbilt Wi-Fi networks, visit

Why do I have to complete a daily symptom assessment? 

Campus-wide approaches to safety and the practice of mask wearing and physical distancing are important as individuals can be without symptoms and still be COVID-19 positive.  Individuals who have been authorized to return to campus must also conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus. It is the individual’s responsibility to comply. It is our shared duty as a community to act responsibly.  All individuals must be free of ANY symptoms related to COVID-19  to be on campus or participate in activities on campus.

What should I do if I am experiencing new/worsening symptoms?

If you are faculty, staff, or a postdoc, call Occupational Health .

What if I currently have symptoms from a chronic condition that are similar to COVID-19 symptoms?

This symptom assessment is to determine if you meet criteria for a medical evaluation for COVID-19. If you have an underlying medical disease or an ongoing chronic condition that has similar symptoms to COVID-19, then you do not need to record this if your symptoms are unchanged. Please only record symptoms that are new or worsening in the daily symptom monitoring tool.

What do I do if I accidentally entered symptoms in the app that were incorrect and need the app cleared?  What if I was sick and have talked to Student Health and have been cleared?

Please email between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for assistance and they will clear the app for you.

Link to this FAQ

To mitigate the risk to others of potential exposure and to protect all on campus as much as possible, a Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center (the Command Center) has been established to manage contact tracing and notifications across VU communities. This Vanderbilt Command Center is a collaboration between the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing, the Vanderbilt Student Health Center (SHC) and the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Center (OHC), and it will conduct contact tracing with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. By launching this robust in-house contact tracing capability, developed in collaboration with experts at VUMC, VUSN and Metro Public Health, Vanderbilt ensures coordinated contact tracing between campus and the Nashville community that is as timely as possible.

Faculty, staff, postdocs and students who live off campus and test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at their home/current residence and follow current CDC guidance as directed until they have recovered. Residential students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate as directed by the dean of students until they have recovered.

Contact tracing generally works as follows:

  • If an individual develops symptoms and is awaiting a COVID-19 test, receives a positive COVID-19 test result, or is identified as a close contact by contact tracers, then the individual stays home (or in the case of residential students, goes to quarantine space as directed by Dean of Students) until released.
  • When a positive COVID-19 test result is identified, a contact tracer will be assigned immediately to the case. The contact tracer will interview the individual and identify all contacts. Close contacts are defined specifically as noted below. Close contacts are entered into a database and notified by phone and email. Information on how to proceed is relayed to each individual who is a close contact, as well as to the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) director.
  • The EHS director will coordinate information among entities and activate support from the Office of the General Counsel, Dean of Students, Human Resources, Facilities/Disinfection, VEHS, and Communications.
  • The contact tracer will relay information about any non-VU close contacts to the Metro Public Health department.

Please note that during this process the name of the index case will be disclosed to possible contacts, but protected health information will not be disclosed.

Per both VU Return to Campus protocol and CDC guidance, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person is isolated.

Things to Remember:

  • Incidental exposure such as walking by someone in the hallway, using the same equipment or the same area/room is not close contact.
  • Surface contamination is not a primary pathway of concern per the CDC. Public areas will be frequently disinfected by Facilities/Plant Operations.

Immunity eligibility for students

In the Return to Campus Acknowledgement, students agree to cooperate with Vanderbilt and public health officials’ contact tracing efforts. Students are expected to be forthcoming and honest when providing information to contact tracers. A student who provides information about their prior possession or use of alcohol or other drugs and any resulting intoxication, or prior violation of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 protocols, during contact tracing will be eligible for immunity from disciplinary action in order to facilitate accurate information reporting. Similarly, a student who provides information in a Title IX investigation about their prior possession or use of alcohol or other drugs and any resulting intoxication or prior violation of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 protocols, will be eligible for immunity from disciplinary action in order to facilitate accurate information reporting during the investigation. On the other hand, failure to be truthful and forthcoming during contact tracing will result in disciplinary action.


Link to this FAQ

The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) currently provides access to the following COVID-19 services:

  • Testing. The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) currently provides access to COVID-19 testing free of charge as long as the test is ordered by a licensed medical provider and FDA authorized. Free access to testing is currently being offered through April 20, 2021.
  • Treatment. Beginning February 1, 2021, deductibles and copays will apply for students seeking COVID-19 treatment from in-network and out-of-network providers. If a student would like assistance finding an in-network provider who accepts the student health insurance plan, they may reach out to
  • Vaccinations. During the national public health emergency period, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge to you, no matter where you get it.

Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance

The Vanderbilt University Health Insurance Plan for Postdoctoral Trainees currently provides access to the following COVID-19 services:

  • Testing. The Vanderbilt University Health Insurance Plan for Postdoctoral Trainees currently provides access to COVID-19 testing free of charge as long as the test is ordered by a licensed medical provider and FDA authorized. Free access to testing is currently being offered through April 20, 2021.
  • Treatment. Beginning February 1, 2021, deductibles and copays will apply for postdoc trainees seeking COVID-19 treatment from in-network and out-of-network providers. If a postdoc trainee would like assistance finding an in-network provider who accepts the Vanderbilt University Health Insurance Plan for Postdoctoral Trainees, they may reach out to
  • Vaccinations. During the national public health emergency period, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge to you, no matter where you get it.


Link to this FAQ

The university is using a streamlined process to evaluate an individual’s concerns about how their personal circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may place them at greater risk. That risk may be the result of their own underlying health condition or age, or it may be due to the health condition of a family member for whom the individual provides care. Vanderbilt is taking every appropriate precaution to protect our entire community as we return to campus and classrooms.

Individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. According to the CDC, people at increased risk include:

Students coming to campus

For on-campus students requesting accommodations for the first time, or for those students requesting a change to an accommodation, please log into the Commodore Access Portal and make the request.

Each student will make the decision, based on their personal circumstances, to either return to campus or study remotely. Students should keep in mind that there will be students on campus this fall who may have underlying conditions rendering them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. It is the responsibility of each community member to fully commit to protecting the Vanderbilt community’s collective health and well-being.

students opting for remote-only instruction

See: Undergraduate Students Not Returning/Opting for Remote-Only

STAFF AND POSTDOC accommodations

Staff and postdocs can submit a request for COVID-related accommodations, and the request will be evaluated based on an individualized assessment of the basis for the request and the requirements of the individual’s professional position. To initiate a request for a COVID-related accommodation, go to the Equal Employment Opportunity homepage on the Vanderbilt University website and select the COVID-19 Accommodation Request image on the right side of the page. Requests should be submitted to EEO as soon as possible to facilitate preparation for fall 2020.

The Roadmap for Reopening Nashville acknowledges higher-risk groups as a specific subpopulation, and Vanderbilt acknowledges that we may need to make special contingency plans for the voluntary return to campus by members of those groups, for example, by allowing members of those groups to continue to work remotely when possible. If members of higher-risk groups return to campus voluntarily even when the Roadmap for Reopening suggests they may be safer at home, we will ask them to acknowledge the risk associated with being on campus.


We all share the goal of protecting, as much as possible, the health and safety of our faculty, their families and all members of our community as we prepare for the start of the fall semester. If you are affected by a situation that increases your health risk (or that of a family member) by your returning to campus, you should submit a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form to the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Although medical information is routinely and normally required for the accommodations process, for many of us this is a new experience. It might feel uncomfortable to disclose to the EEO Office personal information about our vulnerabilities or those of our family members. Using the EEO accommodations process is the very best way to ensure your medical information stays separate from those that make decisions about your faculty appointment. The EEO policies and process protect your rights.

The medical details of your request for an accommodation are not a part of your employment history, nor will this medical information ever be shared with your dean. The EEO team, and HR as needed, will keep your personal medical information confidential. The information is only used by the EEO team to evaluate your request for an accommodation and to determine the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation to ensure you are as safe as possible. Your rights, both to privacy and to safety in the workplace, are paramount in this process. If you have any questions at all about how to submit a request, how requests are processed or what resources are available to you, you should reach out to EEO Director Anita Jenious or her staff.

To be clear: The provost and the deans will not have access to your confidential personal medical information.

Link to this FAQ

Plant Operations, a unit within the Vanderbilt University Facilities Department, will operate in accordance with the increased cleaning and disinfection protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, using Environmental Protection Agency-approved products that are effective against the COVID-19 virus. Throughout the pandemic, Plant Operations has monitored and adopted CDC recommendations.

The CDC’s “Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education,” May 30 updated guidance specifically recommends routine disinfecting and cleaning of surfaces and objects that are frequently touched using the cleaners typically used, according to the directions on the label. The CDC says that most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

At a minimum, there will be twice daily disinfecting of high-touch areas throughout campus. Classrooms will be disinfected daily during routine cleaning. Disinfecting wipes will be provided in classrooms and other spaces for use by the occupants. Facilities is also implementing zone-based disinfectant teams who will be easily identifiable.

Facilities will follow CDC guidelines for cleaning of outdoor areas, which calls for routine cleaning.

Plant Operations staff received cleaning and disinfection protocols training at the onset of the pandemic and will attend future training sessions on the latest protocols. In accordance with CDC and university guidelines, all staff members will wear the required personal protective equipment including face masks/coverings while on campus.

In addition to normal cleaning routines, custodial staff will also disinfect frequently touched surfaces or high-touch points and objects using EPA approved products. Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will receive the minimal twice-daily disinfection are:

  • Tables in common spaces
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Door handles
  • Hand railings
  • Bathroom stalls
  • Sink handles
  • Grab bars
  • Water fountains

Cleaning services for public/common spaces such as restrooms, lounges, lobbies, and hallways will be increased. Other duties such as emptying trash, vacuuming/cleaning of floors of private offices once per week will continue. Otherwise, cleaning/disinfecting of private offices and work areas will be the responsibility of occupants.

The following will NOT be cleaned by custodial staff.

  • Desks
  • Keyboards
  • Touch screens
  • Remote controls

Disposable wipes will be made available through each school/college’s and department’s building or facilities officer so that commonly used surfaces and objects can be wiped down before use. For soft surfaces such as carpeted floors or fabric in seating areas, guidance indicates to continue cleaning with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces and disinfecting with appropriate product for the specific surfaces; vacuum carpets as usual.

Hand Sanitizing Products and Touchless Features

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located at key areas within all campus buildings.
  • Sanitizing products such as hand pumps and wipes will be available at key locations (ingress/egress, elevator lobbies, etc.) and can be obtained through each school/college’s and department’s building or facilities officer.
  • Foot pulls will be installed on doors of high-use areas such as restrooms.
  • Plant Operations will gradually replace hand-operated paper towels and soap dispensers with touchless products in restrooms.

These practices will continue to evolve as the CDC releases new recommendations.

Disinfecting protocols after a known covid-19 positive case

Facilities staff will follow these protocols when disinfecting a space after a known COVID-19 positive case:

  1. If possible wait 24 to 72 hours before cleaning while increasing ventilation in the space (office, suite, floor[s] or building).
  2. Plant Operations personnel entering the space will use the appropriate protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.).
  3. All personal items (dishes, toothbrush, etc.) will be relocated and contained for later disinfection.
  4. The entire space will be cleaned using EPA-standard approved cleaning products.
  5. High-touch areas will be wiped or sprayed with additional disinfecting products.
  6. The entire space will be fogged using EPA disinfecting products.
  7. Reoccupancy may occur 12 hours after the space has been fogged.
  8. Before occupants are allowed to return, the space will receive a thorough inspection to include (as applicable):
  • Operation of all plumbing fixtures
  • Flushing of the HVAC system
  • Lighting
  • Elevator operation
  • Identification of any nonperforming building systems
HVAC and Ventilation

The Vanderbilt University Facilities Department, in alignment with the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control concerning building system operations to stop the spread of COVID-19, as well as guidance from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, is committed to providing the safest environment for students, faculty, staff and the entire Vanderbilt community.

The guidance from these sources is very similar and falls into three basic categories:

  • Increasing the amount of outside air being delivered to spaces
  • Using high-efficiency filtration in systems that circulate air around large numbers of spaces
  • Maintaining temperature and humidity levels within spaces

The university is implementing strategies to comply with these guidelines. The Facilities Department is also working to implement an overnight cycle during which buildings are flushed with an increased volume of outside air without exceeding the heating and cooling system capacities.

The Facilities Department will continue to adhere to ASHRAE published guidance for safe and healthy buildings, which emphasizes increased fresh-air ventilation and close management of indoor air quality, temperature and humidity.

To keep the Vanderbilt community as healthy as possible, indoor conditions will be maintained at temperatures ranging from 68 to 76 degrees and relative humidity of 45 to 50 percent.

Although the university is implementing these extra safety measures, it is up to each member of the Vanderbilt community to practice physical distancing, washing or sanitizing hands, and using face masks/coverings in all public spaces on campus to limit the spread of COVID-19, as recommended by the CDC.

Link to this FAQ

In addition to these personal safety practice applying to on campus behaviors, they also apply to students when they are off campus.


Face masks/coverings (e.g., disposable masks or cloth face coverings) must be worn by all individuals on campus at all times in public indoor settings (e.g., common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, restrooms, etc.).

Beginning in January, face shields alone will no longer be allowed while teaching per the university’s updated campus protocols. Faculty must wear face masks/coverings while teaching and while following other classroom protocols.

If physical distancing is possible, individuals working in private offices that do not otherwise require face masks/coverings may remove their face masks/coverings while in such spaces.

Physical distancing must be maintained at all times when outdoors. Face masks/coverings must be worn at all times when outdoors, with the following limited exceptions:

    1. While engaged in vigorous solo outdoor recreation, such as biking or running, or under the supervision of relevant recreation staff or instructors, such as an outdoor fitness class through the Recreation and Wellness Center
    2. While actively engaged in eating/drinking outdoors, so long as physical distancing is maintained

Appropriate use of face masks/coverings is important in minimizing risks to the wearers and those around them according to both CDC and ACHA guidance. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The face mask/covering is not a substitute for physical distancing. This applies to off-site and leased building space, as well as on the main Vanderbilt campus, both indoors and outdoors.

An individual who is having difficulty wearing a face mask/covering should contact Occupational Health (faculty, staff, postdoc) or Student Health (student) for direction. A faculty member, staff member, or postdoc who cannot wear a face mask/covering because of medical or other reasons should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity office for possible accommodation measures.  Students should contact Student Access Services for possible accommodation measures.

Type and Intended Use of Face Masks/Coverings

Each faculty member, staff member, postdoc and student will be provided with one cloth face covering. Individuals and departments can contact their assigned building manager or liaison in their college, school or department to acquire cloth face coverings.

Disposable masks will be provided, if needed. A disposable mask must not be used for more than one day.

Staff face masks/coverings are work attire. Face masks/coverings must be clean, plain and free of writing, logos or images other than those of Vanderbilt University. Departments may have additional face masks/coverings guidelines. 

Based on CDC guidance and recent updated studies, face masks/coverings need to fit the following criteria:

  • Face masks/coverings must adhere to CDC guidance.
  • Cotton face masks are allowed as long as they have multiple layers.
  • Any face mask/covering with a one-way exhalation valve is prohibited. These masks allow the wearer to directly exhale into the air, and do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.
  • Neck gaiters are not recommended.  The fabric used in neck gaiters has demonstrated through various studies as not being effective. Many neck gaiters are stretchy knit, synthetics or fleece. Those are the least tightly woven fabrics which are least likely to provide a high filtration efficiency. A mask should have a tight weave and low porosity. Other studies can be found here, here, here and here.
  • Scarves and bandanas are not recommended, as based on studies they do not provide enough layers to be effective.
TypeCloth Face CoveringDisposable MaskMedical-Grade Surgical MaskN95 Respirator
DescriptionHome-made or commercially manufactured face coverings that are washable and help contain wearer’s respiratory emissionsCommercially manufactured masks help contain wearer’s respiratory emissionsFDA-approved masks to protect the wearer from large droplets and splashes; helps contains wearer’s respiratory emissionsProvide effective respiratory protection from airborne particles and aerosols; helps contain wearer’s respiratory emissions
Intended useRequired for campus community use in all settings (common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, breakrooms, campus outdoor spaces, in restrooms, etc.) Not required when working alone and physical distancing is possible.These masks are reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with task-specific hazards determined by OESO.

Use and Care of Face Masks/Coverings

Putting on the face mask/covering

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face mask/covering.
  • Ensure the face mask/covering fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face mask/covering properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
  • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face mask/covering.

Taking off the face mask/covering

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the face mask/covering.
  • When taking off the face mask/covering, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing.

Disposal of face masks

  • Keep face mask stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Disposable face masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in a trash receptacle.
  • Dispose of a face mask if it is visibly damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured materials), dirty or visibly contaminated.

Care, storage and laundering of cloth face coverings

  • Keep face covering stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings may not be used longer than one day at a time and must be washed after use.
  • Disinfecting method: Launder cloth face coverings with regular laundry detergent before first use and after each shift. (Disposable masks are not washable.)

Gloves are not necessary for general use and should not replace good hand hygiene. Washing your hands often with soap and water is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks. Please speak with your supervisor to determine if gloves are necessary.

Goggles/Face Shields

Individuals are not required to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are generally sufficient for non-health care environments.


Maintaining space between you and others is a best practice according to the CDC and is required on the Vanderbilt campus to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread. Because people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others whenever possible, even if you have no symptoms. Physical distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk. Individuals on campus should follow these physical distancing practices:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
  • Do not gather in groups.
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.

For individuals in a private setting and not wearing a face mask/covering, the CDC recommends to always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or using the inside of their elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.


The CDC recommends that community members should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after they have been in a public place or used the restroom; after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing; and before and after eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Individuals using hand sanitizer should cover all surfaces of their hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.


Custodial crews will continue to clean offices and workspaces, classrooms and public spaces based on protocols developed with CDC guidance in mind, and individuals should take additional care to wipe down commonly used surfaces after use. It may not be possible for the university to provide product for personal use, but before you leave any room in which you have been working or eating, it is recommended that you swab down all work or eating areas with EPA-registered disinfectant. This includes a private workspace or any shared-space location or equipment (e.g., computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, copiers, desks and tables, chair arms, light switches, doorknobs, handles, etc.). To the best of your ability, you should clear desk and table surfaces in personal offices and workstations to aid in thorough cleaning. Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is also effective after contacting commonly used surfaces.


It can be uncomfortable to ask a fellow Commodore to put on their mask or to move 6 feet away. You may feel nervous or embarrassed to confront others—yet you feel compelled because you want to protect yourself and our community.

There are techniques that you can use to encourage compliance by others. The keys to success are to first approach someone with respect and kindness, and not make assumptions about why they are not complying. Here are some tactics or phrases you can use to encourage compliance:

  • Let people know that Public Health AmbassaDores can provide masks.
    Example: “I notice you’re not wearing a mask. Do you need one?”
    Details: There are Public Health AmbassaDores who can provide masks. To find a PHA, contact the AmbassaDore Compliance Hotline at 615-343-1352. It is good to know where your local PHA is located so you can prepare ahead of time. Contact the hotline to find out who is closest to you.
  • Tell them who you mask up for.
    Example: “Could you wear a mask when you are near me? I wear a mask to protect my family.”
  • Let people know how their choices impact you.
    Example: “I feel protected when you wear your mask. Could you put one on?”
  • Provide positive reinforcement that will also encourage others.
    Example: “I really like your mask. Where did you get it?”
  • Kindly encourage people to wear masks correctly for effective protection.
    Example: “Could you please put your mask over your nose and mouth?”
  • If a person is within 6 feet of you, back up and tell them why.
    Example: “I want to be sure I stay 6 feet from you so we both are protected.”
  • If a person continues getting too close to you or others, respectfully request distance.
    Example: “Please take a step back. I think you are too close.”

If a person ignores your concerns or becomes aggressive, leave and call the AmbassaDore Compliance Hotline at 615-343-1352.

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During this time of uncertainty,  Vanderbilt is committed to supporting the overall health and well-being of the entire campus community through resources that offer support, stress management and strategies for resilience across all demographics. Vanderbilt recognizes that COVID-19 has magnified disparities in a number of areas (e.g., housing, technology, finances, access) among and between various populations of students, which can lead to negative effects on personal wellbeing. 



Vanderbilt’s Libraries are reopening with card access for the VU community only. The Libraries are following University protocols to enhance safety and promote physical distancing, while delivering excellent services and resources for learning and research. Remote resources and services have been expanded over the course of the last few months as most of the Libraries services will remain remote.

Researchers often need access to original, primary source materials. So far, the library has been able to provide e-texts or scans for 83.2 percent of all requests. The university has invested resources to increase accessibility, and library staff have scanned thousands of items, so that many items that were unavailable previously are now available digitally.

Some library spaces are being used as classrooms, while others are open for individual study—check the Libraries’ webpage for current opening hours.

On the website you will also find tips for using the libraries in “What to Know Before You Visit” and see more information about new services and resources in “Frequently Asked Questions.” Staffing on site has been de-densified, but librarians are fully available via live chat, zoom, email, phone or text. When in doubt, please reach out to our librarians.

The libraries homepage will continue to offer the latest updates to library hours, resources and services.

Learn more about remote teaching, learning and research support available through the Vanderbilt Libraries.


Central, Science & Engineering and Peabody libraries will be open for undergraduate students living off-campus to use to take their online courses if they need a place on campus. VUID card access is required to enter these buildings. Headphones or earphones will be required when utilizing these spaces. The buildings will open on Aug. 24 and the hours will be:

  • Central, Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Peabody, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Science & Engineering, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If more spaces are needed for off-campus student support, updates to students and faculty will be provided through this Return to Campus Update.

In addition, study rooms are available across campus in buildings that include, but are not limited to, libraries. Designated buildings and specific rooms available for study are listed in the searchable chart below and include the room’s capacity. Each room is specifically set up to maintain appropriate physical distance, and students should follow all campus protocols, including wearing a face mask/covering, while using these spaces. Be mindful of following all posted signage, including circulation patterns, and be prepared to change plans in the event a space is at capacity when you arrive.

Building and Room No.Capacity
Alumni Hall 20221
Alumni  Hall 20617
Central & Divinity Libraries 2104
Central & Divinity Libraries 21118
Central & Divinity Libraries 21718
Central & Divinity Libraries 22240
Central & Divinity Libraries 4056
Central & Divinity Libraries 40845
Central & Divinity Libraries 41876
Central & Divinity Libraries 500FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 500FR1
Central & Divinity Libraries 5016
Central & Divinity Libraries 5036
Central & Divinity Libraries 600FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 600FR1
Central & Divinity Libraries 6026
Central & Divinity Libraries 60516
Central & Divinity Libraries 61276
Central & Divinity Libraries 612A16
Central & Divinity Libraries 612C6
Central & Divinity Libraries 61412
Central & Divinity Libraries 700FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 700FR4
Central & Divinity Libraries 7016
Central & Divinity Libraries 7036
Central & Divinity Libraries 800BE55
Central & Divinity Libraries 800FA8
Central & Divinity Libraries 80312
Peabody Library 0036
Peabody Library 0042
Peabody Library 00836
Peabody Library 0092
Peabody Library 0102
Peabody Library 0111
Peabody Library 0131
Peabody Library 0142
Peabody Library 1084
Peabody Library 12032
Peabody Library 2026
Peabody Library 20476
Peabody Library 3024
Peabody Library 30415
Peabody Library 3056
Sarratt Student Center 1126
Sarratt Student Center 11515
Sarratt Student Center 18914
Sarratt Student Center 22022
Sarratt Student Center 3616
Sarratt Student Center 3636
Stevenson 3 (Library) 2123
Stevenson 3 (Library) 2389
Sony Building A107635

To address this reality, we are enhancing support for our students’ health and well-being through collaboration with the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing, which will provide counseling for any students who are in quarantine and isolation. We are also providing new tele-health options and additional programming through theStudent Care Network, a holistic network of wellness services and resources available toallVanderbilt students. 

The University Counseling Center provides students with access to professionals who have experience helping specific identity groups. The Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence, through its identity centers and identity initiatives, will also continue its commitment to fostering a safe and welcoming community that is inclusive and respectful of differences. Inclusive Excellence is launching identity initiatives this academic year to support international students as well as first-generation students. 

Parents and students with questions can call a new dedicated hotline at 615-322-4357 for any question related to the fall. Vanderbilt has expanded capacity to take these calls, and, from this line, calls will be routed to the right unit as/if needed.

Student Care Network will:

  • Provide clinical mental health and psychiatric services, well-being and academic coaching, care coordination and follow-up, and other health and wellness services
  • Provide access to counselors with expertise for specific identity groups
  • Enhance staffing and training
  • Increase tele-health/self-directed app options
  • Implement targeted programming
  • Re-formulate “drop-in” services
  • Revise collaborative follow-up models
  • Continue financial assistance
  • Support virtual community-building efforts

An updated list of the available student services and resources for both our remote student population and for those students who remain on campus is available on the Student Care Network website.


We are also offering a dedicated helpline to help answer your questions at 615-322-4357. The help line will be staffed by counselors between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday.

Faculty, Staff and Postdoc SUPPORT

Vanderbilt is committed to supporting your overall health and well-being. Faculty, staff and postdocs should visit the Vanderbilt health and wellness website for more information and resources that offer support, help manage stress and enhance your resilience.

Vanderbilt community members with children SUPPORT

For parents in the Vanderbilt community who are managing both work and home responsibilities, there are specific university resources available for support.

The Vanderbilt Child and Family Center has a number of resources ranging from family life to baby’s best start to backup care. The center continues to seek input on what working parents need to create pathways to these resources. Two examples that grew out of parents’ expressed interest are:

  • The Vanderbilt Caregivers Network online forums continue to be a resource to help facilitate and support collaboration.
  • The Art Adventures Enrichment Program was created for children in kindergarten through fifth grade to provide Vanderbilt University parents with respite two to three days per week.The Vanderbilt Child and Family Center has announced that it will extend its Art Adventures Enrichment Program through Dec. 18 to continue to support Vanderbilt University community members with children in kindergarten through fifth grade.The extension comes in response to an announcement from Metro Nashville Public Schools that all Metro students are likely to return to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break due to rising COVID rates.Starting Nov. 30, Art Adventures will be offered Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the exclusion of university holidays.

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center has a number of support initiatives and programming, including three parent groups which are open to parents of all genders. The Parenting Group is for parents and caregivers and meets once each month. Each meeting focuses on a specific topic, with an invited discussion leader. Last month the group connected with Jessika Boles, a Child Life Team Lead at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, who explained how to talk to kids about COVID-19. Pandemic Parenting is a subset of the Parenting Group and meets Oct. 22 and Dec. 4. The Single Parent Group meets once a month. As a support group, the meetings are unprogrammed and offer a space for single parents of all genders to seek help from other parents while a member of the Employee Assistance Program joins.

The Women’s Center also hosts monthly Work-Life Workshops that cover a range of professional development and self-care topics. Future sessions for this fall will focus on mentorship and isms in the workplace. The Women in the Academy series, aimed at graduate students and postdocs but open to all, will have sessions focusing on trust and boundaries in the classroom, parenting and the academy, and interviewing in a virtual world. The monthly Kitchen Table Series is an undergraduate student-run discussion series that addresses a range of gender-related topics, with the Nov. 17 session focusing on women’s roles in the pandemic.

In addition, please be sure to consider our many existing resources, including the support for remote work and employee engagement recently announced by Human Resources, along with the HR Guide to Supporting Leaders and Staff, which encourages flexibility with staff work schedules. For staff, as always, we encourage you to talk to your supervisor or your HR consultant if you have any questions about your particular situation. For faculty, we encourage you to reach out to your department chair or dean. For students and postdocs, we encourage you to talk with your mentor and dean’s office.



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Policies and Compliance

Before returning to campus or participating in any on-campus activities including in-person classes, work, or research, all faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students must complete online or physically sign the COVID-19 Return to Campus Acknowledgment. All faculty, staff, students and postdocs must complete a spring Return to Campus Acknowledgement before returning in January.

The Acknowledgment explains the university’s guiding principles and related plans associated with the return to campus, describes certain guidelines and protocols that campus community members will be required to follow, and requests each person to confirm that they will cooperate to protect the health and safety of our campus community.

At the conclusion of the online module/Acknowledgment document, the individual will be asked to acknowledge that they have been informed of the risks and responsibilities associated with the return to campus and agree to follow all Vanderbilt University guidelines related to reducing the spread of COVID-19 infection.

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Vanderbilt’s Return to Campus Plan follows a phased and data-driven approach and considers the city of Nashville’s phases, adapting them to be applicable to a college campus.

Compliance serves as an important aspect of the Return to Campus Plan, reminding campus community members of their responsibilities in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With the understanding that campus life will look very different with compliance in place, guidelines have been developed to promote the health and safety of the campus community as much as possible.


Students, faculty, staff and postdocs will be expected to comply with all university policies and protocols designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection and promote the health and safety of the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities.


Any intentional, significant, pervasive, or repeated violations of COVID-19 policies and protocols, including requirements related to face mask/coverings, physical distancing, travel, and the maximum gathering size, will be addressed through the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.

The potential campus-wide impact of violating the University’s Gatherings policy, either on- or off- campus is severe. The presumptive sanction applied by Student Accountability if a student is found responsible for hosting a gathering that violates the policy will be suspension for a minimum of one semester; a first sanction may be as severe as expulsion, depending on the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation. Attending, participating in or otherwise supporting, and/or concealing a gathering that violates the policy may also result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense. Additionally, failure to comply with the Gatherings policy may result in a restriction from campus for the remainder of the academic year.

Students also should take note of Nashville’s guidelines surrounding gatherings. Failure to comply with the city’s public health emergency orders can result in criminal penalties. 

The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity may also implement interim restrictions while students await the formal student accountability process if the university has sufficient evidence to conclude that the reported behavior presents a threat to the health and safety of our university community. Those interim restrictions may include but are not limited to: requiring students to sequester in their residence hall room or off-campus accommodation or elsewhere; prohibiting students from attending in-person classes or activities; restricting student access to university buildings; requiring COVID-19 testing.

Students living on-campus who are suspended or expelled for violating COVID-19 policies and protocols will be required to vacate the residence hall. No refund for tuition, housing costs, or relevant fees will be issued.


The Vanderbilt Faculty Manual provides that faculty may be disciplined for violations of the university’s standards of conduct. The process for reaching a decision to discipline a faculty member is overseen by the dean in consultation with the provost.


The university’s progressive discipline policy states that a staff member can be disciplined for violations of protocols and procedures governing safety. The policy outlines a process for correcting single and repeat episodes of employee failure to comply with rules. Safety violations will be handled under this process.

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Additional Information