Fall 2020: Health and Safety
Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.
In the face of extreme challenges, our community is resilient. Our students and faculty and staff have stepped up. We adapt. We innovate. We lift each other up. That’s who we are. And we’re not done yet.
Our community and our world need us now more than ever. They need our desire for knowledge. Our tenacity to solve problems. They need our compassion and our care. We are willing to sacrifice for the greater good, to step up and put “we” before “me.” That’s the Vanderbilt Way.
It’s up to each of us to help protect our community. Anchor Down. Step Up. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.
YOUR COMMITMENT: MASK UP. BACK UP. WASH UP. CHECK UP.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, you should:
- Mask Up: Wear a face mask/covering in public settings
- Back Up: Maintain six feet of physical distance from others
- Wash Up: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Check Up: Monitor yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms
Find answers to the most asked questions about Return to Campus
For example, type in “move” or “mask” in the search box. The list will filter to show only items that mention those keywords.
Vanderbilt is employing the best practice testing model as recommended by VUMC experts and will continue to evaluate all testing options moving forward recognizing options are continually evolving. At this point in time, antibody tests are not recommended by health experts at VUMC.
All individuals on campus are required to follow posted signage. Signage will communicate important information including, but not limited to:
- Protocol reminders, e.g., mask-wearing, physical distancing and personal hygiene
- Building entrance and exit points
- Circulation guidance, e.g., one-way circulation, both indoors and outdoors
- Floor decals denoting six feet of distance for wait areas and lines
- Occupancy limits
- Occupancy or vacancy of shared spaces, such as restrooms
- Building-specific instructions, such as for laboratory work
The university will also regularly communicate with campus community members about protocols and other changes through emails, MyVU, website posts and updates to the COVID-19 website FAQs and Return to Campus portal.
Faculty are not expected to monitor symptoms of students. Individuals who have been authorized to return to campus must conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room. It is the individual’s responsibility to comply. It is our shared duty as a community to act responsibly.
More details on student symptom monitoring can be found on the Student Symptom Monitoring FAQ. Faculty, staff and post-doc symptom monitoring details can be found on the Faculty, Staff, Post-Doc Symptom Monitoring FAQ.
Specific guidelines for all campus visitors, including parents, are being developed to ensure the safety of our campus community. The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we want those guidelines to reflect the best practices in place once students have returned to campus.
Public Health Ambassa’Dores will be available to answer questions regarding campus health and safety measures as well as provide masks to those in need of them.
We are also working to develop signage around the perimeters of campus reminding visitors of our university guidelines.
Suppliers must submit the Supplier Return to Campus Acknowledgement prior to being granted permission to be on campus.
Someone who has had COVID-19 stops being contagious approximately 10 days after symptom onset and after at least three days without fever.
Student testing for undergraduate students and local graduate/professional students will be conducted at a testing center on campus and results will be available to the clinical team providing contact tracing. Vanderbilt will have robust in-house contact tracing capabilities developed as a collaboration with experts at VUMC, VUSN and Metro Public Health to coordinate timely contact tracing between campus and the Nashville community.
Vanderbilt is attempting to minimize and mitigate risk where possible, but we recognize that the university cannot eliminate risk entirely. Faculty who believe that they or their household members may be at heightened risk are encouraged to consider seeking an accommodation, or as appropriate to request paid Medical Leave (Illness or Other Incapacities of Short Duration) available under the Faculty Manual.
Employees can make changes to their LTD plans at any point. However, if they did not elect LTD during their initial enrollment, they would be required to submit an evidence of insurability form and it would be at Unum discretion to approve the benefit.
We do not have an answer to this question at this time; however, we will update our compliance guidelines as more decisions are made prior to the start of the fall semester.
Regardless of whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Office determines that a reasonable accommodation is medically indicated, Deans are able to consider granting accommodations in light of age and/or other special circumstances (e.g., needs of a household member). Deans also may be able to grant other requests to teach remotely based on the school’s schedule and needs.
It was never made clear whether 6′ social distancing is a recommendation when not using face masks. Could we clarify this from experts and CDC because it is clear from practices like restaurants etc. that 6′ distancing is when not wearing a mask. In addition, WHO seems to recommend 3′ distancing. This would have a tremendous impact on classroom preps.
Following CDC, ACHA and VUMC guidance, Vanderbilt is requiring face masks/coverings in all public settings (e.g., common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, campus outdoor spaces, restrooms, etc.), as well as physical distancing requirements. We are closely monitoring CDC and ACHA guidance, and working closely with VUMC, and will adapt practices if necessary in the future.
International students studying abroad in Fall 2020 who initially waived the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) must enroll in the Student Health Insurance Plan if they enter the United States at any point during the 2020-2021 academic year or Summer 2021.
Specifically, you will be required to email email@example.com two weeks in advance of your arrival date to the United States and provide your date of entry to the country so that we may enroll you in coverage. Your Student Health Insurance Plan coverage will be effective retroactive to the first day of the month that you arrive in the United States, and your premium will be prorated to reflect your active coverage period. You will be required to pay for your premium through your Student Account on YES.
All symptomatic individuals will be tested through VUMC. Extensive capacity for testing asymptomatic individuals will be established at the VU testing center. This capacity will be maintained throughout the semester and will be expanded if needed.
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.
Each faculty member, staff member, postdoc and student will be provided with one cloth face covering. Disposable masks will be provided, if needed. Individuals and departments can contact their assigned building manager or liaison in their college, school or department to acquire cloth face coverings or disposable masks. More details can be found on the Face Masks/Coverings FAQ.
We are currently exploring ways to make the Vanderbilt logo mask available in retail locations and exploring options for campus departmental ordering.
The university is providing face shields to schools and colleges based on their assessment of which faculty and teaching assistants will use the face shields under the university’s guidance. https://www.vanderbilt.edu/coronavirus/face-shields-used-by-faculty-in-classrooms/
Under the Faculty Manual, faculty are eligible for up to six months of paid leave when they qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Paid leave includes both salary and benefits. As explained in the Faculty Manual, “When a faculty member must be absent from their/her/his duties because of their own illness or incapacity of short duration (six months or less), other members of the faculty, with knowledge of the department chair or division director and the dean, customarily assume their duties on a temporary basis. If the illness becomes extended so that this is no longer feasible, other arrangements are made by the department chair in consultation with the Dean and the Provost or the Dean of the School of Medicine in the case of Faculty in the School of Medicine Clinical Departments. Like family leave, the period of illness or incapacity runs concurrently with leave under FMLA and Occupational Health must receive a Certification of Health Care Provider form.” https://www.vanderbilt.edu/faculty-manual/part-vi-faculty-benefits/ch4-leaves-of-absence/
This question was asked multiple times
Each faculty member, staff member, postdoc and student will be provided a cloth face covering. Disposable masks will be provided, if needed. Individuals and departments can contact their assigned facilities officer or liaison in their college, school or department to acquire cloth face coverings or disposable masks. You may also wear homemade cloth face coverings that adhere to CDC and other public health recommendations. More details can be found on the Face Masks/Coverings FAQ.
A number of classroom protocols are being finalized through careful study and close consultation with experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and our School of Nursing, as well as national, state and local public health officials. Academic leaders, faculty and students are all contributing to those protocols. This includes examining the use of face shields, Plexiglas and more. Deans will share additional details by July 1.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several changes to benefit offerings have been instituted to support faculty and staff. A detailed list of items is available on the Human Resources website.
Some enhanced health/pharmacy benefits services include:
- Faculty and Staff on VU health insurance who are tested for COVID-19 have not been charged for the test, the university is subsidizing the cost of the test.
- For those identified as having COVID-19, Aetna will send a Healing Better COVID-19 kit the member’s home within 1-3 days of Aetna receiving notification of diagnosis. Members diagnosed with COVID-19 will be identified using inpatient hospitalizations and by self-reports. Note: This could change depending upon the numbers of identified members.
- VUMC has made telehealth visits available for all VUMC clinicians via My Health at Vanderbilt.
- VUMC also has a dedicated hotline to conduct phone screening for those who think they may be exhibiting symptoms associated with the coronavirus, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. The hotline number is (888) 312-0847.
- Use of the Vanderbilt Mail Order Pharmacy saves time and keeps you safe during the COVID-19 Safer at Home order. Mail order is an easy way to purchase a 90-day medication supply delivered directly to your door. Prescriptions can also be picked up at the Vanderbilt Pharmacy of your choice.
Student Health Insurance Plan
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 October 22, 2020. The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) also provides access to COVID-19 treatment free of charge through October 22, 2020. After October 22, 2020, the student’s insurance benefits as outlined in their insurance brochure – including their deductible and copays – will apply. Students on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) should reach out to Vanderbilt’s on campus insurance liaison, Kristy Miller, at 615-343-4688 or Kristina.firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
The Student Care Network typically provides coordinates satellite services for a number of other offices in various spaces across campus. These are strategically placed in locations to provide convenient access for various student populations. Whether we will be providing these in-person or as virtual drop-in opportunities will depend on what phase we are in, what physical distancing and safety protocols are in place, and what spaces are available and can accommodate us in light of those protocols. For example, the University Counseling Center has been holding virtual drop-in hours this spring and summer. More information will be provided about support services as details are finalized.
POSITIVE CASE / CLOSE CONTACT WEBFORM
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.
PUBLIC HEALTH CENTRAL COMMAND CENTER
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 page, graduate and professional student testing page, or faculty/staff/post-doc testing page.
Faculty, staff and postdocs who have symptoms related to COVID-19, have received a positive COVID-19 test result outside the VUMC system, or have been officially notified that they are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person must call the Occupational Health Center (OHC) at 615-936-0955 to receive guidance for their symptoms, possible testing, isolation/quarantine period, and return to campus criteria. If after-hours, OHC should call back within 30 minutes once a message is left. If OHC is not open and the symptoms are severe enough, the individual should go to the VUMC emergency department.
An individual awaiting test results must remain at home off campus in quarantine and keep their department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status.
If an individual believes they have contracted COVID-19 after exposure to a known COVID-19 positive person on campus and/or while performing job duties, OHC may direct the individual to complete a First Report of Work Injury or Illness.
Members of the Vanderbilt community that include undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, staff and post docs who are authorized to be on campus, and are engaged in on-campus, in-person activities, will be included in the institution’s COVID-19 periodic on-campus testing program. The sampling of Vanderbilt community members selected for testing will be based on analysis of COVID-19 test outcomes in segments of the community and other factors that will ensure a representative, meaningful and targeted sample of the VU community. Frequency of the testing during the fall semester will be based on the analysis of the outcome data being surveilled. If you have previously been COVID-19 positive in the last three months, you may be exempt from COVID-19 testing for a period of time. Please complete the waiver request form and upload relevant documentation, which will go to the Public Health Command Center for review.
Learn more about the Voluntary Faculty COVID-19 Periodic Testing Program.
Those enrolled in VU’s health insurance plan may be aware that our insurance provider, Aetna, is taking significant steps in response to COVID-19. Aetna will waive co-pays and member cost share for COVID-19 testing. This will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be performed in any approved laboratory location.
ASYMPTOMATIC CLOSE CONTACT (ACC) TESTING
The university has also updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts. 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. Asymptomatic close contacts will be tested on day 8 of the required quarantine period. This applies specifically to all faculty, staff, post docs, and students who are authorized to be on campus and are participating in on-campus activities.
How test kits for asymptomatic close contacts are delivered will vary slightly based on the individual’s quarantine location. If an individual identified as a close contact is in on-campus quarantine housing, a pre-paid test kit will be delivered to the person’s quarantine location to be completed on Day 8 of their quarantine period. If an individual identified as a close contact lives off-campus, a weblink will be emailed during their quarantine period to order a pre-paid test kit to be delivered to their off-campus location by Day 8.
Positive Case and RECOVERY
Faculty, staff or postdocs who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home* and follow current CDC guidance. To help determine the risk of potential exposure to co-workers and others on campus, as part of the Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center, Occupational Health will conduct contact tracing with the individual who has tested positive. Those individuals determined to be a potential close contact will be given the name of the individual who tested positive so that their risk can be further assessed. Occupational Health may contact the supervisor/mentor/department chair if further contact tracing information for the COVID-19 positive individual is needed; however, the actual test result (and any other protected health information) will not be disclosed. For more information on contact tracing, please visit the contact tracing page.
Individuals who are defined as a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person are entered into Occupational Health’s symptom monitoring survey that is completed daily. The objective is to closely monitor each individual to ensure that any signs of infection are addressed early.
Vanderbilt is following CDC’s recommended recovery strategy. If an individual had symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, recovery status (and clearance to return to campus/work) is assigned when: 1) the individual remains fever free without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours, 2) symptoms have improved, and 3) it has been at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared. If the individual tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, the individual can be cleared to return to campus 10 days after the test as long as the individual does not develop symptoms. If the individual develops symptoms, then the individual must follow the recovery strategy for those with symptoms. Notification for return to on-campus activities is directed through Occupational Health.
*On-campus residential faculty and staff will receive separate guidance from the Office of Academic Affairs and Residential Faculty.
COVID-19 Scenarios for faculty
I HAVE SYMPTOMS
- STAY HOME: Notify Occupational Health Center (OHC) for assessment and testing. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.
- PAUSE: Stay off-campus and quarantine while awaiting test result.
- ALL CLEAR: My test is negative so I can return to campus as long as I am not a close contact.
I HAVE A COVID-19 POSITIVE TEST RESULT
- STAY AT HOME: Notify OHC and fill out Public Health Central Command Center (PHCCC) webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher. Complete contact tracing with OHC as soon as possible.
- PAUSE: Remain off-campus for isolation period, usually 10 days but length can vary.
- ALL CLEAR: I completed isolation and can return to campus when released by OHC.
I AM A CLOSE CONTACT
- STAY AT HOME: Complete PHCCC webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.
- PAUSE: Remain off campus for quarantine period, usually 14 days after last contact but length can vary.
- ALL CLEAR: I completed quarantine and can return to campus when released by OHC or PHCCC as applicable.
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.
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 January 20, 2021. The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) also provides access to COVID-19 treatment free of charge from in-network providers through December 31, 2020. Beginning October 22, 2020, the out-of-network deductible and copays will apply for students seeking COVID-19 treatment from 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 Vanderbilt’s on campus insurance liaison, Kristy Miller, at 615-343-4688 or Kristina.email@example.com.
Vanderbilt University requires onsite temperature screening when children, students, faculty, staff, or post docs are at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 due to their daily activities resulting in close and/or frequent contact with others. Temperature screenings of individuals facing an increased risk of exposure can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Vanderbilt community.
Departments or schools with identified risk activities are required to implement temperature screening. These include:
- Vanderbilt University Public Safety
- Vanderbilt Athletics
- Vanderbilt Child & Family Center (VCFC)
- The Susan Gray School
- Vanderbilt Facilities
- Vanderbilt Campus Dining
- Vanderbilt Mail Services
In addition to onsite screening, everyone on campus must perform temperature screening by taking their own temperature prior to work or school each day.
Two primary technologies are being used for on-campus temperature screening: Non-contact infrared handheld thermometers and thermal infrared cameras. The handheld device requires screeners to stand within six feet of the person being tested. The infrared camera, currently being used by Vanderbilt’s Department of Public Safety and Athletics, allows screeners to maintain a distance of six feet or more.
Individuals designated as temperature screeners will also monitor other symptoms. Screeners will evaluate individuals for flushed cheeks, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and cough prior to screening. Anyone that seems sick will be provided information about next steps.
Individuals who have been screened and have a temperature of 100.0 F or higher will be required to follow directions provided by the screener. These include:
- Wearing a face mask/covering if they are not doing so already
- Separating from others
- Faculty, staff and post docs should first notify their supervisors, then contact the Occupational Health Clinic (615-936-0955) for further instructions
- Students should visit the Student Health
- Children in childcare or schools should follow the policies set forth by their respective centers
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:
- Age 65 years and older
- People with underlying medical conditions
Students coming to campus
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
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.
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.
Facilities staff will follow these protocols when disinfecting a space after a known COVID-19 positive case:
- If possible wait 24 to 72 hours before cleaning while increasing ventilation in the space (office, suite, floor[s] or building).
- Plant Operations personnel entering the space will use the appropriate protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.).
- All personal items (dishes, toothbrush, etc.) will be relocated and contained for later disinfection.
- The entire space will be cleaned using EPA-standard approved cleaning products.
- High-touch areas will be wiped or sprayed with additional disinfecting products.
- The entire space will be fogged using EPA disinfecting products.
- Reoccupancy may occur 12 hours after the space has been fogged.
- 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
- Elevator operation
- Identification of any nonperforming building systems
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.). Faculty may opt to wear face shields in lieu of masks/coverings while teaching and while following other classroom protocols. If physical distancing is possible, individuals working in private offices or laboratory environments 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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
|Type||Cloth Face Covering||Disposable Mask||Medical-Grade Surgical Mask||N95 Respirator|
|Description||Home-made or commercially manufactured face coverings that are washable and help contain wearer’s respiratory emissions||Commercially manufactured masks help contain wearer’s respiratory emissions||FDA-approved masks to protect the wearer from large droplets and splashes; helps contains wearer’s respiratory emissions||Provide effective respiratory protection from airborne particles and aerosols; helps contain wearer’s respiratory emissions|
|Intended use||Required 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.
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.
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.
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.
In an effort to guide the university community in practicing healthy behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vanderbilt has launched the Public Health AmbassaDore program to address questions regarding campus health and safety measures.
The program has been established as an additional resource for the Vanderbilt community to navigate changes on campus. As identified representatives of the university, the Public Health AmbassaDores will help promote social norms to create a safe working and learning environment for all within the Vanderbilt University community. AmbassaDores will model exemplary adherence to all university protocols, serve as peer models and sources of information for individuals on campus, assist with knowledge dissemination and help communicate across specific sub-communities, and more.
The first AmbassaDores selected for the program are VUPS community service officers, and the program will expand prior to the fall semester to include other individuals (e.g., facility/building managers, volunteers among staff, faculty, students).
The Public Health AmbassaDores will receive training, resources, and support to prepare them for the role.
The expectations of a Community PHA are that you are willing to provide community members with masks, sanitizer, or more information as needed about best health practices on campus. This volunteer position is a way for members of the VU Community to have the best available information to keep themselves and this campus healthy and safe.
Becoming a Public Health AmbassaDore
You can submit this form yourself with departmental approval or have your department leader or manager submit on your behalf.
Once a form has been submitted you will receive a link to the Oracle Learn training that is mandatory to become a Community PHA.
After the training and quiz has been completed, you will receive a confirmation email that it has been completed.
Finally, a PHA team lead will reach out to you regarding next steps and how to receive PHA supplies.
Thank you for your interest!
Frequently asked questions
What is a Public Health AmbassaDore?
As identified representatives of the university, the Public Health AmbassaDores will help promote social norms to create a safe working and learning environment for all with the Vanderbilt University community. AmbassaDores will model exemplary adherence to all university protocols, serve as peer models and sources of information for individuals on campus, assist with knowledge dissemination and help communicate across specific sub-communities, and more.
Who is eligible to become an AmbassaDore?
Any Vanderbilt faculty and staff can take the training online. However, officially designated Public Health AmbassaDores should seek approval from the supervisor and/or department leader.
How do I apply to become an AmbassaDore?
Those who are interested in becoming an AmbassaDore should fill out the online form above and you will receive a confirmation email with next steps to become an approved AmbassaDore.
If you have additional questions, contact Brittney Whatley in Vanderbilt University Public Safety at brittney.m.whatley@Vanderbilt.edu.
Is there required training to become an AmbassaDore?
Yes. After you or your supervisor/department leader have completed and submitted your information through the form available on the website, you will receive a confirmation email with how to complete the online training through Oracle Learn.
What are the expectations/responsibilities of AmbassaDores?
- Serving as a source of information to promote the university’s expectations for reopening during COVID-19
- Assisting with building circulation
- Encouraging face mask/covering usage
- Encouraging physical distancing
- Providing directions to hand sanitizer stations or hand washing locations; and
- Distributing COVID-19 packets that include masks and hand sanitizer upon request.
Do I need approval to apply?
Yes. To become a designated Public Health AmbassaDore, you will need approval from your supervisor and/or department leader.
Will I be compensated for being and AmbassaDore?
No. This is a voluntary program and AmbassaDores will not receive additional compensation.
How are AmbassaDores identified?
Public Health AmbassaDores will be identifiable with attire and materials made specifically for the program.
What are the time commitments of a Community PHA?
The time commitment as a Community PHA is dependent on your availability and the events of the fall semester. It is important to communicate with your department leader or manager your availability to be able to volunteer as a Community PHA during the week.
Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
Contact Captain Leshaun Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What number can I call to ask protocol questions or report a concern?
The PHA hotline number is operated by dispatch. They are able to answer questions regarding COVID-19 safety protocols, return to campus questions or connect you with a Community PHA to deliver masks, sanitizer or other information to you. The hotline number is 615-343-1352.
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 well–being.
To address this reality, we are enhancing support for our students’ health and well-being through a 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 the Student Care Network, a holistic network of wellness services and resources available to all Vanderbilt 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
ADDITIONAL CAMPUS SUPPORT
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.
- Office of Housing and Residential Experience
- Campus Connection Program: Launching in late July
- Student Care Network
- Public Health AmbassaDore Program
- Student Access Services
- Office of Inclusive Excellence
- International Student & Scholar Services
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.
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.
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 enhanced 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 compounds the negative effects on well-being.
We are enhancing support for our students’ health and well-being by enhancing Student Health’s ability to best serve the student population through collaboration with the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing. We also are providing new telehealth options, additional programming and more through the Student Care Network, a holistic network of wellness services and resources available to all Vanderbilt students.
The University Counseling Center provides access to professionals with experience helping specific identity groups. The Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence, through its identity centers and identity initiatives, will continue its commitment to fostering a safe and welcoming community that is inclusive and respectful of differences. The office is launching identity initiatives this academic year to support international students as well as first-generation students.