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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.


As of now, regular grading policies will be in effect for undergraduate students for the fall 2020 semester. If there are changes to the grading policies for undergraduate students for the fall, undergraduate students will be notified.

Most, if not all, classes will have an online component. More information about how labs will be scheduled will be available when the revised undergraduate class schedule for fall 2020 is published in late July.

Students will be able to work in on-campus labs this fall, subject to an approval process and limitations related physical distancing.


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.

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

Commencement for the Class of 2021 is planned for Friday, May 14, 2021. Diplomas and Commencement programs will be mailed to graduates after Commencement.  Details for the event will be announced once finalized. 

Commencement for the Class of 2020 is being planned. Details for that ceremony will be shared when decisions are finalized. 

To promote our collective well-being, we will designate four new in-class reading days this spring for undergraduate programs and the Graduate School. These periods will take place on Feb. 23-24 and April 7-8, and they will occur in addition to the regular reading days at the final exam period scheduled for the end of the semester. We are also working closely with the deans of our professional degree programs to provide appropriate opportunities in their specific spring activities for their students.  
During the Feb. 23-24 and April 7-8 in-class reading days, Vanderbilt does not intend to hold any extracurricular required programming, and classes will still meet on these in-class reading days. However, these days will offer a change of pace within the semester, an opportunity to reflect and to care for one another. To this end, we have asked faculty teaching undergraduate and Graduate School classes to refrain from scheduling exams or major assignment due dates on these days or immediately following these periods. We are also asking students not to travel outside of the greater Nashville area at any time during the semester, including during any of these reading days.  

Faculty remain the arbiters of how best to conduct their classes and how to structure these days into their educational plans.   

Students are also encouraged to utilize the many mental health resources and campus organizations that offer continuing support. 

Deans and faculty are continuing to develop and review course schedules, and the university plans to offer more in-person courses in the spring. Students who want to take a greater number of in-person classes are encouraged to work closely with their adviser to develop their class schedule. 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.

Our academic calendar for this spring, as detailed below, is designed to sustain the momentum our community has worked so hard to establish, while also taking into account the most recent data and guidance from our colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the School of Nursing and that of public health officials. As always, our success hinges entirely on your continued dedication and accountability in the weeks and months to come.  

  • The first day of classes will be Monday, January 25. Instruction will conclude on Friday, April 30 
  • On-campus housing will reopen on Friday, January 22, for all students with on-campus housing assignments (more details on housing are below). Vanderbilt Housing and Residential Experience (OHARE) will manage the move-in schedule.  
  • There will be no spring break this year, in a continued effort to limit travel-associated disease transmission. In addition, we ask that students stay in the Nashville area and not travel away from campus for weekend trips through the end of in-person classes and finals.

  • Students studying remotely must be prepared to take classes that are offered synchronously on Central Time. 
  • Four reading days and six exam days will follow the last day of classes April 30. Exams will conclude May 10.  
  • Commencement for the Class of 2021 is planned for Friday, May 14.  

Review the full undergraduate academic calendar on the University Registrar website.

Graduate and professional academic calendars

  • Graduate and professional school/college calendars for the spring also will be released this week. Some may differ from the general university academic calendar. 

Review the full graduate and professional academic calendar on the University Registrar website.

If you studied remotely during the fall semester, but have been approved to switch to on-campus study for the spring semester, you should email the Office of Student Financial Aid at to inquire how your aid will be adjusted. 

If you are currently living on-campus but plan to move home and study remotely during the spring semester, you should email the Office of Student Financial Aid at to inquire how your aid will be adjusted.  

The cost of attendance for those students studying remotely is less than for those studying on-campus, reflecting lower housing and meal costs than those incurred for living on campus. However, your eligibility for need-based assistance is based upon the following formula: Cost of Attendance minus Expected Family Contribution = Demonstrated Need. What your family is expected to pay does not change based upon which method of learning you will choose. 

student hardship support

The COVID-19 Student Hardship Relief Fund is available for students who need technology to support online learning.

Due to the disruption that the COVID-19 virus has had on our students, there is a tremendous financial need to provide emergency assistance to undergraduate, graduate and professional students with demonstrated financial need. There is a $500 limit per student in this Hardship Fund.

The application is available on the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships website.


For the purposes of course registration, the classification of “remote study” applies to those undergraduate students who are living outside of Davidson County, inside Davidson County with their family, or have a medical condition that presents a contraindication for returning to campus. Undergraduate students who choose remote study: 

  • Take all academic courses through virtual and/or alternative platforms;  
  • Pay tuition and Student Services Fee;  
  • Are prepared to take classes that are offered synchronously on Central Time; 
  • Have no access to campus or any university-controlled buildings;   
  • Are not required to participate in mandatory COVID-19 testing program for undergraduates because they are not living in Davidson County and have affirmed that they are not coming to campus and are not interacting with other students. 

If you are currently studying remotely for the fall semester but wish to change and study in person in spring 2021: 

All undergraduate students will automatically be defaulted to in-person learning for the spring semester.

  • Undergraduate students, excluding transfer students, who currently are enrolled for remote study or are on a leave of absence this fall and plan to return to on-campus instruction for spring semester must apply for on-campus housing. Applications will open October 15 and close November 23.  Detailed information about how to apply for on-campus housing will be shared soon.  
  • Vanderbilt’s Residential Requirement, established by the Board of Trust in 1959, states that “All unmarried undergraduate students are required to live in residence halls on campus during the academic year, May session, and summer sessions. Authorization to live elsewhere is granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments in special situations, or when space is unavailable on campus.”   
  • Students will be assigned on-campus housing on a space-available basis. If on-campus housing space fills, students may apply for off-campus housing authorization. 
  • Move-in for students with on-campus housing assignments will begin on January 22, three days prior to the start of undergraduate classes. More details about move-in schedules will be shared soon. 

If you are currently studying remotely for the fall semester and wish to continue remote for spring 2021: 

An undergraduate student’s fall semester status as remote does not automatically carry forward; it must be approved by the university for the spring semester. Students who wish to continue remote study in spring 2021 must register this intent on or before November 20. The remote study application in YES will be available November 9-20.

If you are studying on campus for the fall semester but wish to change to remote study for spring 2021: 

Undergraduate students who wish to begin remote study in spring 2021 must register this intent on or before November 20. The remote study application in YES will be available November 9-20. The November 20 deadline applies regardless of whether or not the student is currently living on campus or off campus.

  • Details on how to declare remote status for spring 2021 will be communicated through the Office of the University Registrar in the coming weeks.    
  • Students switching from on-campus housing and study to remote study must check out of and completely vacate their rooms by November 22. Detailed check-out procedures will be announced later in the semester. Students who fail to check out of and completely vacate residential spaces before November 22 will be charged the full rate for spring semester housing. 

Because the CDC does not currently require a 14-day quarantine period for travelers to the United States from abroad, Vanderbilt will not require this for students who are abroad during the winter break and plan to arrive for in-person on-campus activities for the spring semester. However, a quarantine is required if the person was exposed to the virus during travel. If the CDC or other local guidelines change for travelers from abroad before students return, the university will implement those changes.

Note that for countries that have specific travel restrictions, students will need to abide by CDC or other federal agency guidance. ISSS is available to support students if additional guidance is needed.

The university currently plans for all students, whether returning to campus from abroad or from locations within the United States, to follow all of the same arrival protocols for the spring semester.

The CDC has released information about international air travel. We encourage you to review the Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States webpage.

To facilitate quarantining, the university has negotiated special rates with the following local hotels and will continue to update this information in the event that additional options become available. International students must present proof of eligibility to hotels, which will be provided by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). The student is responsible for all associated costs.

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 - 05/11/2021**

**Special rates are not available 04/29/2021 through 05/01/2021
$75 rate – VU5
$50 rate – VU6
Hayes Street Hotel
1909 Hayes St, Nashville
$6507/15/2020 - 02/14/2021STUDENT
Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt
1715 Broadway, Nashville
$7908/01/2020 - 01/25/2021
Home 2 Suites
1800 Division St, Nashville
$7908/01/2020 - 01/31/2021INT
Homewood Suites by Hilton Nashville Vanderbilt
2400 West End Ave, Nashville
$8908/01/2020 - 02/07/2021VUI
Hyatt House Nashville Vanderbilt
2100 Hayes St, Nashville
$8907/16/2020 - 05/30/2021VUINTL
Residence Inn by Marriott Nashville Vanderbilt/West End
1801 Hayes St, Nashville
$7507/17/2020 - 05/10/2021
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Nashville Vanderbilt/West End
1800 West End Ave, Nashville
$5007/17/2020 - 05/10/2021
Student personal travel

Students are required to stay in the Nashville/Davidson County area and not travel away from campus for weekend trips or otherwise through the end of the semester.

Undergraduate students

  • If an undergraduate student wishes to leave the Nashville/Davidson County area during the semester because of extenuating circumstances (e.g., to receive medical treatment or to attend a family wedding or funeral), the student must complete a travel request form at least 72 hours prior to the proposed travel. Requests will be reviewed and the student will be notified as to whether the travel will be permitted.
  • Students who travel away from the Nashville/Davidson County area without express permission will be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. The presumptive sanction for violating the student travel policy will be suspension from the university for a minimum of one semester.
  • Students should continue to abide by COVID-19 safety protocols during approved travel.
  • Upon return from approved travel, students must shelter in place and not attend in-person classes or other on-campus activities until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result from their next scheduled test in the weekly asymptomatic testing program. While sheltering in place, students must limit personal contact with other Vanderbilt community members and should only leave their room or residence for their testing appointments and essential activities, such as picking up food or attending medical appointments. This is because travel to/from locations outside of Nashville/Davidson County and participating in events with individuals outside the Vanderbilt community can increase the risk of introducing the virus to the campus community.
  • No refunds for tuition, housing costs, or other relevant fees will be issued if a student finishes the semester through online participation in coursework for any reason – including if a student chooses to leave Nashville/Davidson County for personal reasons after being on campus.

Graduate and professional students

Graduate and professional students should communicate with their program advisors about any request to leave the Nashville area during the semester because of extenuating circumstances, and to discuss methods to mitigate risk of transmission upon their return to Nashville. 

study abroad

While many countries around the world have made progress in combating COVID-19, the course of the virus remains hard to predict, as do potential responses from other governments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of State continue to recommend that all nonessential travel be reconsidered over most of the globe. Continuing uncertainties exist related to mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, visa processing, access to health care, and flight availability. Regardless of efforts to plan around these challenges, foreign governments may implement or change restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously classified as low risk. 

As we weigh these factors and the wide range of potential measures that might be needed to keep our students as healthy and safe as possible around the world, the university has decided to continue its restriction on university-sponsored international travel for undergraduate, graduate and professional students for the 2021 spring semester. This includes all study abroad programs; undergraduate students who had previously expressed interest in study abroad for spring 2021 should contact the Global Education Office at 

Faculty, staff and postdoc travel

All university-sponsored domestic and international travel is restricted until further notice.

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

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

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


Pandemic Travel Guidance