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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.

FULL CLASSROOM PROTOCOLS

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.

Recommendations

  • 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.

NOTIFICATIONS

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.

COURSE DECISIONS

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. 

TIME BETWEEN CLASSES

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

TEACHING RESOURCES

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.

 

Academic calendars for graduate and professional programs will largely follow the undergraduate schedule, beginning Aug. 25 and concluding Dec. 10. Students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams, if applicable, in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18.

Specific schools may have slight schedule variations. All students will receive additional information from their respective schools with full calendar details. Undergraduate and graduate students will receive an additional reading day Dec. 8 to supplement regular reading days Dec. 1112 during final exams. 

Graduate and professional schools to follow the undergraduate calendar include:

  • Peabody College
  • Divinity School
  • The Graduate School
  • School of Engineering

Other program dates:

  • Law School: Aug. 23-Dec. 10, 2021
  • Owen Graduate School of Management: Aug. 16-Dec. 16, 2021
  • School of Nursing: Details are forthcoming and will be shared directly with students
  • School of Medicine
    • Graduate PhD programs in Basic Sciences: orientation is Aug. 18-20, semester Aug. 23-Dec. 17
    • Students in all other degree programs will receive additional information directly

 

Vanderbilt University this week announced that fall semester classes will be offered in person.  

Positive trends related to COVID-19 case counts and vaccinations continue, and recent progress on campus is encouraging—made possible in part through diligent observation of safety protocols.  

While the decision signals a step toward the life we recognize, it was made with an eye to the dynamic reality of the pandemic. The university’s priority remains ensuring the health and safety of students, postdocs, faculty and staff as much as possible, and current COVID-19 testing and safety protocols remain in place. Should the status of the pandemic change dramatically over the spring and summer, or should public health guidance advise against in-person instruction, an alternative option may be required.  

University leaders continue to monitor the pandemic to inform the full fall semester plan, and additional information will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Fall academic calendar

  • In-person, on-campus undergraduate classes will begin Aug. 25 and conclude Dec. 10. Pending updated public health data and travel guidelines in the fall, all undergraduate students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18. 
  • Academic calendars for graduate and professional programs will largely follow the undergraduate schedule, beginning Aug. 25 and concluding Dec. 10. Students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams, if applicable, in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18. Specific schools may have slight schedule variations. All students will receive additional information from their respective schools with full calendar details. 
  • The university will observe Fall Break Oct. 1415. Information about travel guidance and restrictions during that time will be determined based on updated public health travel guidelines in the fall.   
  • Undergraduate and graduate students will receive an additional reading day Dec. 8 to supplement regular reading days Dec. 1112 during final exams. 
  • Students must request a Leave of Absence through the appropriate school official if they cannot engage in in-person instruction on campus and do not have an approved accommodation. 

Study abroad programming

In anticipation of improved conditions for international travel, the Global Education Office will be offering a limited number of study abroad programs for fall 2021. Vanderbilt’s Global Safety & Security team and GEO will closely monitor identified programs through the spring, and final decisions about whether travel can proceed will be made on a location-by-location basis this summer. Applications are open now; for more information, visit GEO’s website. 

Fall housing for Continuing Upper-Division Students

Vanderbilt will welcome as many students back to campus as is possible. The university is a residential campus for undergraduate students, and that experience is an integral part of a Vanderbilt education. Information was shared March 18 about the fall housing assignment process. 

Housing registration for the 202122 academic year will begin April 1 and close April 5 at 6 p.m. CT. All students who plan to enroll in courses at Vanderbilt for the fall 2021 semester must register for the process during this time using the online Housing Portal. 

Students currently authorized to live off campus will be permitted to reside off campus for the 202122 academic yearonly if they properly register and re-apply between April 1-5. Failure to apply for off-campus authorization will result in a loss of authorization for the 202122 academic year, and the student will be required to reside on campus.  

Fall Housing for 2021 First-Year and Transfer Students

Vanderbilt plans to provide on-campus housing to all incoming first-year and transfer students. Additional information will be announced in the coming weeks.

The  Return to Campus website includes ongoing updates about the university’s pandemic response and protocols. 

Additional Questions

COVID-19 Protocols 

Q: Will COVID-19 bi-weekly testing, masking and physical distancing continue? 

We will share detailed information about our fall COVID-19 safety protocols as we get closer to the beginning of the semester in order to provide guidance based on the status of the pandemic and the best public health information available at the time 

Other Campus Activities 

Q: Will in-person extracurricular activities and events return?  

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we are still determining what extracurricular activities and events will look like in the fall. We are hopeful that positive trends in case counts and vaccinations continue, and we are planning for a fall semester closer to a life we recognize. We also are prepared to adjust our plans to ensure as much as possible the ongoing health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Additional details will be forthcoming. 

Q: Can we travel outside the county without approval during the fall? 

Unfortunately, we cannot say for certain what guidance will be around travel in the fall. Many factors remain unknown and as the pandemic is evolving, we are prepared to adjust our plans to ensure as much as possible the ongoing health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Additional details will be forthcoming. 

Housing 

Q: Will the university have quarantine and isolation housing? 

 We plan to have quarantine and isolation housing available for the fall semester for on-campus residents and are determining our testing protocols based on the evolving pandemic as well as vaccination rates. 

Q: I’m a current 2020-2021 transfer student. Do I have to live on campus? 

We will welcome as many students to on-campus housing as is possible. Although adjustments were made last year to meet evolving COVID-19 safety protocols, our residential requirement has remained and will continue in the fall. Fall 2021 incoming transfer students will be required to reside on-campus.

Q: Can I request a roommate who has been vaccinated? 

As a reminder, information was shared March 18 about the fall housing assignment process. Upper-division student housing registration for the 2021-2022 academic year will begin April 1 and close April 5 at 6 p.m. CT.  Roommate requests can be made during the housing assignment process, however, vaccination status, which is considered private health information, will not be a consideration.  

Vaccines 

Q: Will the university begin vaccinating students and faculty? Will all students and faculty be vaccinated by the fall return to in-person learning? 

Vanderbilt University is not a distribution site for the vaccine. At present, we are not eligible to become a distribution site because we are not a health care organization. Encouraging progress is being made in vaccine availability within our community. In Tennessee, vaccine rollout is managed by the Tennessee Department of Health in coordination with local county health departments. As has been the case in recent weeks, we are hopeful as vaccine supply continues the state will quickly progress through eligibility phases. When you are eligible to receive the vaccine, we strongly urge you to explore every option available, including the local health department and other community providers, to get it – not just to protect yourself, but to help achieve a broad level of immunity in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.  

For more information, please visit the following: 

 

In-person, on-campus undergraduate classes will begin Aug. 25 and conclude Dec. 10. Pending updated public health data and travel guidelines in the fall, all undergraduate students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18. 

The university will observe Fall Break Oct. 1415. Information about travel guidance and restrictions during that time will be determined based on updated public health travel guidelines in the fall.   

Undergraduate and graduate students will receive an additional reading day Dec. 8 to supplement regular reading days Dec. 1112 during final exams. 

Students must request a Leave of Absence through the appropriate school official if they cannot engage in in-person instruction on campus and do not have an approved accommodation. 

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.

LIBRARIES

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.

STUDY ROOMS AND OTHER RESOURCES

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

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 ovpr@vanderbilt.edu 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.

SUMMER CAMPS FOR MINORS

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.