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Fall 2020: Academics

Find answers to the most asked questions about Return to Campus

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Details regarding the academic calendars for individual graduate and professional schools—some of which are further tailored to programs’ unique curriculums—are available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

  • Orientation events for most programs will occur remotely prior to the start of classes. See school-specific info below for detailed information. 
  • The academic calendar for graduate Ph.D. programs will align with the undergraduate calendar. The calendar has these notable changes from previous years:
    • Classes will start on August 24 (two days earlier than planned).
    • In-person classes will end before Thanksgiving break, and remaining course content will be delivered via alternative platforms.
    • Breaks are eliminated to reduce travel and minimize risk of increased exposure to COVID-19.
    • Many professional degree programs will have these same or similar modifications but may vary based on the unique nature of each program (see school and college websites for these specifics).

In-person, on-campus undergraduate classes will begin on Monday, August 24, and will conclude on Friday, November 20. All undergraduate students will complete the final week of classes and then take final exams remotely through virtual and alternative platforms, with the semester concluding on Sunday, December 13.

There will be no fall break this year. In addition, we ask that students stay in the Nashville area and not travel away from campus for weekend trips through the end of in-person classes on Friday, November 20. Read more on travel here.

Undergraduate residential students who are able to do so will leave campus for the Thanksgiving holiday and will not return to campus until the start of the spring semester. We are adopting this plan based on current public health guidance regarding risks associated with coming and going to and from campus, and models suggesting a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases with the onset of influenza season.

Fall 2020

Aug 24, Mon First day of classes for undergraduate schools
Nov 20, Fri End of in-person classes
Nov 21-Nov 29, Sat-Sun Thanksgiving holidays in most schools
Nov 30, Mon Transition to remote instruction
Dec 4, Fri Undergraduate classes end
Dec 5-13, Sat-Sun Remote for exams and reading days

*Calendars are subject to change.

University students will receive performance instruction in person unless the student or instructor needs to be accommodated in online instruction.  A distance of six feet will be maintained between instructor and student in non-wind areas; plexiglass acoustic shields and a distance of 10 feet will be required in voice and wind instrument studios.

While it is helpful to reinforce the university protocols, language in a syllabus on this topic must be general. Faculty will not be able to modify the university safety requirements at the course level and requirements may change during a semester, so it is not recommended that pandemic-specific guidelines be included in syllabi.

A&S respects and values the individual preferences of faculty and how they would like to teach their courses this fall. As such, the college has put a college-specific accommodations process in place in addition to the university’s formal accommodations process through the EEO.

The purpose of the A&S accommodations process is to account for faculty who prefer to teach online but don’t have a specific medical condition that would clearly grant them this through EEO. As part of this process, we are automatically granting an accommodation to any faculty member over age 65 who requests it. We have been collecting these preferences from faculty and are close to meeting all requests. We are working closely with the URO to make sure these requests are reflected in the final fall schedule.

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. Faculty and students will get more information during the registration adjustment period in July. 

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. Those individual schools will communicate directly with their faculty and students.

The updated fall 2020 undergraduate class schedule will be published in YES in late July. Students will be given a registration window and will have the opportunity to review the new schedule options in advance of their schedule readjustment period. Open enrollment for undergraduate students will occur from August 10 to August 31.

The revised schedule of classes will reflect the enrollment capacity for all sections, including in-person and online classes. Class sizes will be determined by a number of factors, including the physical distancing capacity of the classroom. Students who are studying remotely will not be counted against the physical distancing capacities but will be counted toward the overall enrollment capacity.

Information about any weekend and evening classes will also be reflected in the revised schedule.

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.

Scientific reasoning for the face mask and face shield requirement with data embedded can be found here>>

FULL CLASSROOM PROTOCOLS

Requirements

  • 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 and must wear a face mask/covering or face shield during class. Face shields are offered to faculty because 1) instructors may be required to project loudly and may not have access to amplification in all classrooms and 2) there may be students with hearing impairments who rely on being able to see the instructor’s face when speaking. One (1) face shield and one (1) face mask/covering will be provided to faculty.
  • 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.

The Commons Reading is still required for the 2020-21 academic year.

The Commons Reading will be The Person You Mean to Be by award-winning author Dolly ChughIn years past, the Commons Reading has been distributed to all incoming first-year undergraduate students the summer before they arrive on campus. For the first time, incoming transfer students will be included in this year’s recipient group. While first-year students will continue to discuss the Commons Reading through the Vanderbilt Visions program, transfer students will engage with the book through informal dialogue facilitated by peer mentors throughout the fall semester. 

The Commons Reading is an integral part of the Vanderbilt Visions program and The Ingram Commons experience. It serves to unify all new students as it brings to light important themes that will be discussed over the course of the year. All new students are still required to complete The Commons Reading, along with a corresponding reflective essay. When you receive the reading in July, you will also receive instructions on how to complete the essay. This year, the deadline by which you will need to do both has been extended to accommodate for present circumstances. 

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.

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

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

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

The calendar question was received multiple times

The deans, associate deans, and Provost team considered many different possible iterations of the fall calendar, and ultimately settled on this plan after due deliberation about numerous factors. Our objective was to apply all available information, including that from our faculty’s experiences and the requirements of our numerous accreditation bodies, and to be strategic regarding our resources. The key components of the new calendars are no breaks during the semester and the end of in-person classes on November 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Through these changes, we eliminate the uncertainties inherent in travel to and from campus.

With respect to online exams, Cynthia Brame, Associate Director of the Center for Teaching, has written a helpful guide to Giving Exams Online: Strategies and Tools.  The University is working to provide support for online exams, including new digital tools. 

The COVID-19 Return to Campus Acknowledgment Form for faculty and for staff informs employees about the safety protocols that have been in place and asks for their commitment to support and follow those protocols for the safety of everyone in our community. Faculty and staff are not asked to waive any liability the university may have if they become ill as a result of their work at Vanderbilt. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit to employees of the university who suffer an injury or occupational disease resulting from their work. Workers’ compensation rights are protected by law and cannot be waived. For more information, please visit the HR Workers’ Compensation webpage.

Expect to see a variety of approaches to final exams this fall. Some instructors will replace their final exam with a final project; some will give “open book” exams in which students can use textbooks and other resources; some will provide extra time for exam completion; and some will give timed, closed book exams similar to their usual exams. All final exams, however, will be administered online, often through the Brightspace Quiz tool. 

Check with your instructor for details, and visit this page for things to keep in mind when taking a quiz or exam on Brightspace.

Financial Aid

  • Financial aid awards for undergraduate students will be ready by July 6. The financial aid award will reflect the student’s desire to take classes remotely or on campus.

OPPORTUNITY VANDERBILT STUDENTS

We have specifically received questions from Opportunity Vanderbilt students about receiving financial aid for living expenses during the last two weeks of the semester. We will provide $310 for food and housing costs for the last two weeks of remote instruction for the fall semester. These funds will disburse to your student account on November 9.

OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

We have received questions from students living off campus about credit balances for rent and other expenses. Information regarding the refund process is available on the Office of Student Accounts website. We encourage you to follow the instructions to setup direct deposit through the YES system to receive your refund electronically. 

Student Accounts 

  • The payment deadline for fall 2020 charges is August 31, 2020.
  • Late payment penalties, such as late fees and registration and academic record holds, may be applied to unpaid balances at any time after the due date.
  • Tuition will remain the same for both remote and on-campus course work. There will be no discounted tuition rate provided for students who cannot be on campus regardless of the reason.
  • The Student Services Fee is a mandatory fee and may not be waived via student petition.
  • If a student withdraws during the term, tuition will be adjusted/prorated based on the approved Student Account Withdrawal Schedules located on the Student Accounts website:
  • We will begin processing undergraduate financial aid on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
  • Vanderbilt currently partners with AWG Dewar to offer a tuition insurance program for students who experience a serious illness or accident and have to leave school for medical reasons before the semester is completed. View detailed information for the tuition insurance plan.

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.

Contingency planning for whether students residing on campus might remain on campus if any possible shift to online-only instruction might occur is ongoing.

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.

COST OF ATTENDANCE

Our estimated cost of attendance for on-campus, off-campus and with parents is available here.

We expect normal increases in the cost of attendance each year. If you are studying remotely, which has a lower cost of attendance, this will be increased if you move on-campus or are living off-campus (not with parents).

OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

The cost of living on campus is part of the normal cost of attendance used in determining eligibility for financial aid. That amount does not change for students who are living off-campus (not with parents). Students who are living off-campus will need to complete a form attesting that you are not living with parent(s). Falsifying the form will be considered a student conduct issue that could lead to suspension or expulsion. 

REMOTE STUDENTS

The cost of attendance for those students studying remotely is less than for those studying on-campus, reflecting lower housing and meal costs than those incurred for living on campus. However, your eligibility for need-based assistance is based upon the following formula: Cost of Attendance minus Expected Family Contribution = Demonstrated Need

What your family is expected to pay does not change based upon which method of learning you will choose.

QUESTIONS

  • In what situation can a student appeal their financial aid package?

The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships has provided Information regarding the appeal process, including examples of circumstances that can be reviewed.

  • Will students studying remotely be expected to pay the same tuition? What, if any costs, will be adjusted?

The tuition amount charged will be the same for students without regard to the method of instruction that is selected.

The Student Services Fee will be charged to students who are remote-only. The fee includes remote access to services such as Immersion advising sessions, career coaching, the Campus Connection program, mental health counseling (only for students residing in states where remote counseling is allowed by law), student virtual activities, etc.

The First-Year Experience Fee will not be charged to remote-only students. The Commons leadership will still connect remote-only students to virtual activities in each hall, etc. The Residential College Fee will not be charged to remote-only students. Housing and Dining will not be charged to a student opting for remote only learning through the Remote Study Selection application in YES. 

  • Will students studying remotely receive equitable aid packages to the one they would have received if they were not remote? Will they receive a refund for food and housing if their need-based aid would have previously covered these?

The cost of attendance for those students studying remotely is less than for those studying on-campus, reflecting lower housing and meal costs than those incurred for living on campus. However, your eligibility for need-based assistance is based upon the following formula: Cost of Attendance minus Expected Family Contribution = Demonstrated Need

What your family is expected to pay does not change based upon which method of learning you will choose. Once a student’s financial aid covers their direct charges to Vanderbilt, any funds remaining are available to the student in the form of a refund.

  • How can a student request aid for Wi-Fi or a laptop if they do not have one in the fall?

Contact your financial aid officer at: finaid@vanderbilt.edu.

  • Can a student appeal if their family income has changed recently (due to Covid-19, becoming unemployed etc..) but is not reflected in their 2018 or 2019 tax statements? What information must they present to be considered?

Families may appeal if there has been a significant change in employment. Information regarding the appeal process can be found at: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/financialaid/docs/requestrecon.pdf.

  • Does living off campus affect the total financial aid package given to a student? Will they still receive a grant for dining and housing if they would have previously in their financial aid package?

The cost of living on campus is part of the normal cost of attendance used in determining eligibility for financial aid. That amount does not change for students who are living off-campus (not with parents). Students who are living off-campus will need to complete a form attesting that you are not living with parent(s). Falsifying the form will be considered a student conduct issue that could lead to suspension or expulsion. 

  • How do students living off campus receive the refund? When will it be distributed?

Information regarding the refund process is available on the Office of Student Accounts website. We encourage students to follow the instructions to setup direct deposit through the YES system to receive any refund electronically. 

  • What resources are available to international students who are struggling financially that will be studying remotely in the Fall?

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 theStudent Care Network, a holistic network of wellness services and resources available toall Vanderbilt students.

  • Will international students be expected to pay for health insurance?

Information regarding health insurance can be found on the Student Care Network website.

  • With the increase in travel (especially for students in Level 4 countries who need to quarantine in a third country), will students be able to request more aid in their indirect travel aid?

International students receiving need-based assistance from Vanderbilt who are required to quarantine in a third country can request additional assistance by emailing finaid@vanderbilt.edu.

  • Will refunds be any different if given to an international student who is studying remotely abroad at the time? Will foreign exchange rates affect the refund?

Students who have established direct deposit with the Office of Student Accounts will receive their funds via direct deposit. All other students will receive a physical check mailed to their home address. Foreign exchange rates will not impact the amount of refund.

Decisions about whether courses will be online, in-person, or a mix of both are being made at a local level.  Faculty can discuss specific courses with their department chair or associate dean.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

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

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

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

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

We’ll need to have adaptable courses this fall. To prepare for that, most faculty will want to focus this summer on developing their online teaching skills and the online components of their courses. This will help them prepare for remote students and to pivot more fully online if the situation warrants it.

This is why the Center for Teaching is offering its Online Course Design Institute all summer. Preparing to teach online is a good way to prepare to teach in some kind of hybrid mode.

For faculty who have questions designating courses exclusively online (possibly due to onsite equipment or activities such as labs) or courses that faculty would like to teach exclusively online for all students, follow your normal processes.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

This period of time will be handled differently due to classroom capacity restrictions and the need for compliance with physical distancing protocols. Students will not be permitted to walk-in to classes they are not assigned to. Students will be instructed to work directly with the registrar during the add/drop period.

In July, the University Registrar will asses the fall class schedule and will adjust offerings and capacities. Additionally, every class will have signage that indicates the maximum capacity that will be allowed in the space under physical distancing guidelines.

Faculty will have opportunities to engage in ongoing planning in numerous ways. In addition to the traditional shared governance model that includes the Faculty Senate and university committees, there are new processes in place to engage with faculty. The University Continuity Working Group and subcommittees, which include more than 20 faculty from across all schools and colleges, are meeting weekly to engage with pending issues and make recommendations. We have had several town halls for faculty and expect to have more both at the university level and also in schools and colleges to continue the dialogue.

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. Faculty and students will get more information during the registration adjustment period in late July. 

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. Those individual schools will communicate directly with their faculty and students.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

This policy remains the same as it always has: if a faculty member is unable to continue teaching, they, with their department chair, will find a suitable replacement instructor to cover their class. Keep in mind that the faculty member has access to Family Medical Leave through HR, if needed. We hope our policies will lessen the frequency of these problems.

A&S has implemented, for example, a Flex Teaching Policy for 2020-21 to help faculty meet their individual needs while also continuing to deliver on the school’s academic mission. Under the new policy, faculty have access to: (1) Flexible scheduling. Faculty may schedule their courses at a time that is atypical, but that works for their schedule (e.g., 6:00 p.m., or a 3-hour seminar once per week). (2) Redistributing teaching load. Faculty teaching 3 courses in the fall 2020 may move one of those courses to a Maymester or summer session in 2021. This policy aims to help A&S faculty balance their personal needs with their professional obligations.

The instructor will provide information on how class rosters will work for hybrid classes. The various schools/colleges wanted faculty to have the flexibility to make those decisions for their individual classes.

Due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, undergraduate students in the Class of 2022 will now have a flexible option for the Immersion Vanderbilt requirement.

Immersion Vanderbilt is now highly recommended but not required for undergraduate students who matriculated in the summer and fall of 2018 as well as those who joined this class later as transfer students. This modification was proposed by the Immersion Faculty Steering Committee due to the impact of the pandemic on this first undergraduate class with Immersion Vanderbilt as a degree requirement, especially with regard to their ability to engage in their planned opportunities for experiential learning on and off campus. The proposed change was then accepted by all four of the undergraduate degree-granting schools and colleges.

All students in this select group are strongly encouraged to complete an Immersion project; however, the previously published deadline to submit an Immersion plan proposal by Sept. 7, 2020, no longer applies.

Students who submitted an Immersion plan proposal may still complete that project or adjust it if needed. Undergraduate students in the Class of 2022 who successfully complete Immersion Vanderbilt will still have this achievement, and the title of the final project, noted on their university transcript.

This option is only available to undergraduate members of the Class of 2022, as described above. Undergraduate students who matriculated as first-year students in summer 2019 or later, as well as those who joined this class as transfer students, will still have Immersion Vanderbilt as a degree requirement.

As always, the Immersion portal provides detailed information about events, timelines, FAQs and opportunities for experiences. Undergraduate students are encouraged to schedule an advising appointment with an Office of Immersion Resources adviser to get started or to rethink their plans. Questions can be directed to immersion@vanderbilt.edu or to the dean’s office in the appropriate school or college.

International Undergraduate Students

Undergraduates who cannot be on campus due to personal circumstances or visa and travel restrictions must notify Vanderbilt University if they need or prefer solely remote classes. 

If an undergraduate international student who selects remote study because they do not have a valid visa for study in the United States is able to obtain a valid visa for study before the start of the fall semester, they can contact the Office of the University Registrar to request a change of status to on-campus study. Likewise, if an undergraduate international student who selects remote study because they do not think they will be able to travel to the United States before the start of the fall semester later determines that travel will be possible, they can contact the Office of the University Registrar to request a change of status to on-campus study. Students for whom a change to on-campus study is approved will be placed on a waitlist for on-campus housing, if necessary.

If your situation changes after the start of the fall semester, you may return to in-person classes in the spring. Access to on-campus or VU-controlled housing mid-year cannot be guaranteed, but a waitlist will be established.  

Please note that students will be expected to participate in classes that are taught synchronously in Nashville’s Central Time Zone.

International Graduate and Professional Students

Similar to undergraduates, graduate and professional students will have opportunities to access remote-only courses. Specific details will come from your program directly. Should your travel situation change at any time, you should contact your department chair (or program point of contact) about switching from remote-only to in-person status.

Internships

University-sponsored travel for undergraduate students outside of the greater Nashville area is prohibited during the fall 2020 semester. Residential students in the Nashville area may complete internships in Nashville for academic credit; however, the student must sign an acknowledgement form to follow Vanderbilt University protocols while at their internship location.

Undergraduate students who select remote-only instruction may complete internships in the area that they reside.

Off-Campus Teaching

School districts have indicated that as long as they’re open, Vanderbilt student teachers are welcome. Our teacher education faculty members are in conversation with our partner districts about different scenarios. Right now, schools are planning to open for in-person learning, and they have indicated that as long as they are open, Peabody students will be welcome to pursue fieldwork. When in schools, Vanderbilt students will need to observe school/district guidelines as well as Vanderbilt protocols for being in field placements. Our faculty are also working with local school districts to plan for Peabody students to support online activities, in the event that schools close or Peabody students need to quarantine.

First Year Writing Seminars will operate as any other class will this fall—the instructor will decide the mode of delivery for the class (online, in-person, or hybrid), which will be indicated in YES once the schedule is finalized. We plan to offer approximately the same number of First Year Writing Seminars that we did last year.

If you can teach the course in an online format, talk to your department chair or associate dean about whether the course can just be offered fully online.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

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. The buildings will open on Aug. 24 and the hours will be:

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

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

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

Building and Room No.Capacity
Alumni Hall 20221
Alumni  Hall 20617
Central & Divinity Libraries 2104
Central & Divinity Libraries 21118
Central & Divinity Libraries 21718
Central & Divinity Libraries 22240
Central & Divinity Libraries 4056
Central & Divinity Libraries 40845
Central & Divinity Libraries 41876
Central & Divinity Libraries 500FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 500FR1
Central & Divinity Libraries 5016
Central & Divinity Libraries 5036
Central & Divinity Libraries 600FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 600FR1
Central & Divinity Libraries 6026
Central & Divinity Libraries 60516
Central & Divinity Libraries 61276
Central & Divinity Libraries 612A16
Central & Divinity Libraries 612C6
Central & Divinity Libraries 61412
Central & Divinity Libraries 700FA1
Central & Divinity Libraries 700FR4
Central & Divinity Libraries 7016
Central & Divinity Libraries 7036
Central & Divinity Libraries 800BE55
Central & Divinity Libraries 800FA8
Central & Divinity Libraries 80312
Peabody Library 0036
Peabody Library 0042
Peabody Library 00836
Peabody Library 0092
Peabody Library 0102
Peabody Library 0111
Peabody Library 0131
Peabody Library 0142
Peabody Library 1084
Peabody Library 12032
Peabody Library 2026
Peabody Library 20476
Peabody Library 3024
Peabody Library 30415
Peabody Library 3056
Sarratt Student Center 1126
Sarratt Student Center 11515
Sarratt Student Center 18914
Sarratt Student Center 22022
Sarratt Student Center 3616
Sarratt Student Center 3636
Stevenson 3 (Library) 205140
Stevenson 3 (Library) 20630
Stevenson 3 (Library) 21117
Stevenson 3 (Library) 2123
Stevenson 3 (Library) 2389
Sony Building A107635

There will be variance among non-traditional spaces – each will either be setup according to a standard, enhanced or extra enhanced classroom model. Faculty will have a chance to familiarize themselves with teaching spaces in advance so instruction can be planned accordingly.

During these difficult circumstances, the health, safety and emotional well-being of the Vanderbilt community is at the center of our concerns. Please know that we are here for you, and, if any of Vanderbilt’s resources can be of assistance, we encourage you to draw upon them.

As we look toward an approach that allows us to resume on-campus classes this fall, alternative instruction will be offered to those who are unable to return to campus.

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, regardless of the instruction mode. All undergraduate students whether new, existing or transfer, are expected to return to campus in the fall. For those unable to attend in-person (for example, due to autoimmune disease, visa or travel restrictions), arrangements will be made for alternative instruction.

Undergraduates who cannot be on campus due to personal circumstances must notify Vanderbilt University if they need or prefer solely remote classes.

If your situation changes, you may return to in-person classes in the spring. Access to on-campus or VU-controlled housing mid-year cannot be guaranteed, but a waitlist will be established.

 

College of Arts and Sciences Return to Campus webpage

Classes

Instruction will take place as a hybrid of online and in-person courses and is largely dependent on classroom constraints and faculty accommodations.

Professional remote-only request: Students should contact the director of graduate studies in their respective departments.

Orientation

Orientation will be provided through the Graduate School. This year the orientation will take place in advance of the semester’s starting and will be online.

Contact

Questions can be directed to department chairs or program directors or Director of Graduate Studies David Wright.

 

School of Medicine Return to Campus webpage

Classes

The IGP and QCB will begin earlier than other graduate programs. Orientation will occur in person on Aug 17 and classes will begin on Aug 20. Until Nov 20, instruction for the IGP and QCB will be in person. Then, the IGP and QCB fall semester courses will move to a virtual format.

All other classes for PhD students in the SOM will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual. The locations are still being planned.

Professional remote-only requests: The policy is being developed in collaboration with the graduate school and will be handled by the Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) Office in School of Medicine Basic Sciences.

Orientation

Planning is underway but will likely consist of a mix of in-person, distance, and some in-classroom.

Contact

Questions can be directed to the Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) office.

Divinity School Return to Campus webpage

CLASSES

VDS will deliver classes either by online or by the hy-flex model (whereby the instructor of record will be in a classroom delivering in-person instruction with each session being broadcast simultaneously via Zoom). Students who wish to request to have their classes online, because of pre-existing medical condition(s) or fall into any of the high risk categories, travel restrictions, or needing to isolate or quarantine if exposed to or contract the coronavirus during the semester, will be given an opportunity to state this preference in YES. The application for the Divinity School will be launched after June 26. Please be in touch with Dean Judge (victor.judge@vanderbilt.edu) after that time. The Divinity School will continue to follow the calendar for Arts and Science. 

ORIENTATION

New student orientation will take place virtually, Aug. 19-21, with advising taking place from Aug. 17-20. Registration begins on Aug. 21. All newly admitted students will receive detailed information directly via email. For more information on orientation, please contact divinity-admissions@vanderbilt.edu.

CONTACT

Any additional questions may be directed to the Office of the Deans via Marie McEntire, Assistant to the Deans. Email: marie.mcentire@Vanderbilt.Edu

Law School Return to Campus webpage

Classes

The vast majority of classes will be offered in person, though each in-person class will also include an online section for students who wish to take a class remotely.

Professional remote-only request: Contact Dean Chris Meyers at chris.meyers@vanderbilt.edu.

Orientation

Orientation will be delivered remotely and will include synchronous and asynchronous content, including our Life of the Law course.

Contact

For more information, visit the law school-specific Return to Campus page. Questions can be directed to Dean Chris Meyers at chris.meyers@vanderbilt.edu.

 

Owen Graduate School of Management Return to Campus webpage

Classes

Instruction will be both remote and in-person. In-person courses will have options for delivery via virtual platforms for students who are unable to be in the classroom.

Orientation

Orientation will be largely remote; the team is planning a few opportunities for small, physically distant activities.

Contact

Questions can be directed to the Office of the Dean at owen.officeofthedean@vanderbilt.edu or individual program directors.

 

Peabody College Return to Campus webpage

Classes

Courses will be a hybrid of online and in-person courses and other approaches. All courses will have options for delivery through virtual and alternative platforms to provide for students who cannot return to campus because of travel restrictions.

The Peabody dean’s office will contact professional students on June 22 with details on how students may apply to study remotely, should circumstances require them to do so. We ask all professional students who wish to request this option to communicate with us by July 1.

Orientation

Prior to the start of classes, new graduate and professional students will take part in online orientation. Additional information about orientation will be forthcoming from the Peabody dean’s office.

Contact

Contact the Peabody Office of Academic Services with registration questions. For other questions, professional students should contact Associate Dean Catherine Gavin Loss, and graduate students should contact Associate Dean Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez.

 

School of Engineering Return to Campus webpage

Classes

Classes will take place as a hybrid of online and in-person courses.

Orientation

All orientation will be provided through the Graduate School. This year the orientation will take place in advance of the semester’s starting and will be online. individual schools will have supplemental orientations.

Contact

Questions should be directed to Duco Jansen, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs.

 

School of Medicine Return to Campus webapge

Classes

Predominately in-person, with the exception of MSCI and MPH, which will be remote with in-person  research and experiential components, and MSACI, which is a remote program traditionally.

Orientation

Combination of in-person and online. See the SOM website for details.

Contact

Questions should be directed to Donna Rosenstiel, Assistant Dean for Health Sciences Education (donna.rosenstiel@vanderbilt.edu) or to program directors.

 

School of Nursing Return to Campus webpage

Classes

Combination of in-person and online. Please see the School of Nursing website for specifics related to each program.

In the academic programs for advanced nursing practice (M.S.N., Post-Master’s Certificate, and B.S.N.-to-D.N.P.), clinical experiential learning is required to meet accreditation standards. Therefore, students must be present on campus for certain components of the clinical learning sessions and must participate in direct patient care in a clinical setting. There is no option for remote-only instruction.

If students need accommodation for health purposes, they must register with Student Access Services.

Orientation

All orientation will be conducted virtually. There will be several prerecorded modules that students can access online at their convenience. Other sessions will be conducted via video conferencing to encourage student participation. Students will be required to have completed orientation by the start of their classes.

Contact

Visit the Admitted and Current Students sections of the School of Nursing website for more specific information. For questions not addressed online, contact Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Sarah Ramsey, (615) 343-3334.

 

We know that many seniors have questions regarding the availability of classes they need to graduate. In-person classes will also be available remotely but we know some experiential learning opportunities will be limited. We can assure you that your adviser or associate dean will work with you to provide course opportunities that will ensure you stay on track to graduate.

Hybrid can be teaching face-to-face and online simultaneously. It can also be teaching face-to-face some days and online some days. Courses can be taught either way. Please confirm with your department chair or academic leadership as per your usual processes.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

Dates have not been confirmed for the spring semester. A working group is being assembled to make those plans now, now that we have our fall plan. As soon as the information is available, we will share it with you.

Our framework for holding in-person classes on campus this fall 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. Soon faculty will have access to instructional design experts through iDesign (coming soon). More information can be found on our adaptive learning webpage.

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

During these difficult circumstances, the health, safety and emotional well-being of the Vanderbilt community is at the center of our concerns. If any of Vanderbilt’s resources can be of assistance, we encourage you to draw upon them.

As we look toward an approach that allows us to resume on-campus classes this fall, alternative instruction will be offered to those who are unable to return to campus.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Undergraduates who cannot be on campus due to personal circumstances must notify Vanderbilt University if they prefer solely remote classes. To request remote study, send an email to registrar@vanderbilt.edu on or before Friday, August 21.

If your situation changes, you may return to in-person classes in the spring. Access to on-campus or VU-controlled housing for the spring semester cannot be guaranteed, but a waitlist will be established. 

The Student Services Fee does not include dining and housing. Housing and Dining are separate, stand-alone fees from each other and the Student Services Fee. Housing will not be charged to a student opting for remote-only learning through the Remote Study Selection application in YES. 

The Student Services Fee will be charged to all students, including those who are remote-only. The fee includes remote access to services such as Immersion advising sessions, career coaching, the Campus Connection program, mental health counseling (only for students residing in states where remote counseling is allowed by law), student virtual activities, etc.

The First-Year Fee will not be charged to remote-only students. The Commons leadership will still connect remote-only students to virtual activities in each hall, etc. The Residential College Fee will not be charged to remote-only students.

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

The deadline for switching from on-campus to remote-only study is no later than Friday, August 21. A student cannot switch from on-campus to remote study after they have checked into their residence hall without incurring all related costs for on-campus living (housing and other fees). Please note that scheduled move-in begins on Monday, August 17 and runs through Sunday, August 23, so some residential students may have a deadline earlier than Friday, August 21, to switch to remote study.

In the event a student decides to leave campus and attend classes remote-only after checking into a residence hall, the student will be required to vacate the residence hall, bearing any costs associated with departure. The student will also be responsible for full payment of tuition, housing costs and all relevant fees.

All students who elect for remote-only study are not allowed on campus at any time for any reason during the semester. Please note that students will be expected to participate in classes that are taught synchronously in Nashville’s Central Time Zone.

Faculty who are in quarantine but not sick will be expected to teach remotely. If a faculty member is too sick to teach, your department leadership will step in to help make arrangements in the same way faculty sickness is normally handled. There are also discussions in progress about how to support faculty who may have difficulty teaching because of child care issues. More will be shared as the resources are finalized.

Due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, undergraduate students in the Class of 2022 will now have a flexible option for the Immersion Vanderbilt requirement.

Immersion Vanderbilt is now highly recommended but not required for undergraduate students who matriculated in the summer and fall of 2018 as well as those who joined this class later as transfer students. This modification was proposed by the Immersion Faculty Steering Committee due to the impact of the pandemic on this first undergraduate class with Immersion Vanderbilt as a degree requirement, especially with regard to their ability to engage in their planned opportunities for experiential learning on and off campus. The proposed change was then accepted by all four of the undergraduate degree-granting schools and colleges.

All students in this select group are strongly encouraged to complete an Immersion project; however, the previously published deadline to submit an Immersion plan proposal by Sept. 7, 2020, no longer applies.

Students who submitted an Immersion plan proposal may still complete that project or adjust it if needed. Undergraduate students in the Class of 2022 who successfully complete Immersion Vanderbilt will still have this achievement, and the title of the final project, noted on their university transcript.

This option is only available to undergraduate members of the Class of 2022, as described above. Undergraduate students who matriculated as first-year students in summer 2019 or later, as well as those who joined this class as transfer students, will still have Immersion Vanderbilt as a degree requirement.

As always, the Immersion portal provides detailed information about events, timelines, FAQs and opportunities for experiences. Undergraduate students are encouraged to schedule an advising appointment with an Office of Immersion Resources adviser to get started or to rethink their plans. Questions can be directed to immersion@vanderbilt.edu or to the dean’s office in the appropriate school or college.

First, we can all expect some students to shift from in-person to remote learning during the semester (e.g. for quarantine or isolation reasons). If they are healthy and in quarantine, we can expect them to participate online with the class as scheduled. If they are sick, we will accommodate them as we currently do any student who is sick and cannot make it to class.

Second, for undergraduate students we can expect some students who know this summer that they need to participate remotely in the fall. (Students must request remote-only status by this Friday, June 26.) It is expected that classes will be taught in the Central Time zone for all students. If faculty have unique situations about teaching remote, or exclusively online, students, check with your local chair or dean.

Graduate and professional schools have unique needs related to teaching students exclusively online. Graduate and professional school faculty should check with their department chairs or associate deans if they are not certain whether students will be allowed to register for courses completely online.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

Students will not be prohibited to eat or during class. The reasoning behind this protocol is to discourage the removal and adjustment of masks during classroom sessions. This protocol does not apply to faculty but in consideration of students and of the need to be keep shields/masks in place, faculty are asking to limit drinking in the classroom when possible.

Undergraduate students receive key messages from the University Registrar’s Office about registration. They have also received information for the Interim Chancellor and Provost Wente and those messages are posted on our website. For the most part, students also get follow-up messages from the dean’s office of their college or school.

Undergraduate students are being given the choice to come to campus or take classes remotely this fall. The deadline for them to make their choice clear is June 26.

Graduate and professional students also get messages that are to the Vanderbilt Community from the Interim Chancellor and Provost. Valuable information also comes to graduate and professional students from the graduate school as well as their college or school.

In general, graduate students are required to be in residence similar to faculty; however, their situations are being handled at the local level – that is, the college or school levels.

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

Information on the undergraduate student and graduate and professional students academic calendars can be found on the Academic Calendar FAQs.

As always faculty may reach out to or answer the questions of students at any time. We would suggest that faculty take the time to review the FAQs that have come through the Chancellor and Provost’s Offices to make sure they have the most up-to-date information for students. As I would ask for your patience during our process of planning for the fall, please ask students to be patient, keeping in mind that our main goals is to help them make academic process and have a quality educational experience. With respect to fall, students will have ample opportunity to adjust their schedules (mid to late-July) and to have open registration (Aug 10-31).

The Office for Faculty Affairs is working with VUIT and CFT on a training schedule, which should be available by mid-July. Trainings will include the new classroom technology and the use of existing hardware (including classroom AV systems and the faculty member’s laptop) in late July and August. The trainings will be offered in person, livestreamed and recorded.

All of the digital tools will be accessible from their own computer, including current tools, such as BrightSpace, Zoom, and Virtual Classroom, and new tool that will be announced soon. CFT also will offer “trial run” sessions in August in which faculty can see what it will be like to teach their classes.

You can set up Zoom to automatically record to the cloud, then make those recordings (audio + video, or just the audio) available to your students via Brightspace. Instructions for doing so are available on the CFT’s Brightspace support site, vanderbilt.edu/brightspace.

CFT has created a step-by-step guide for the process for both Zoom and Virtual Classroom.

Faculty will be provided with opportunities to learn how to teach in the new setting of in-person and remote classes simultaneously through training sessions in July. More information will be shared soon about the dates of those training sessions.

The schedule for fall 2020 is the most complicated schedule that we have had to create. The current pandemic has required that faculty, administrators, departments, and programs be more flexible than ever. The University Registrar’s Office and all ten schools and colleges are working together to produce the Fall schedule. Each school/college has determined procedures for working with faculty and determining what they will teach and the primary modality.

No, in-person classes will not only be on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. There will be classes on Tuesday and Thursday as well. There will also potentially be other non-standard days. 

Yes, guidance on when faculty may return to familiarize with the various classroom setups will come directly from deans and schools.

Faculty will be offered training in using the new classroom technology, and the Center for Teaching will offer additional workshops on hybrid teaching techniques in July.

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.

Most staff who can do so will continue to work remotely. Those who are needed on campus may fill out a COVID-19 reasonable accommodation form for a workplace adjustment if their age or health conditions fall within one of the CDC High Risk categories or if they have other special circumstances.

Undergraduate students are being given the choice to either come to campus or to select remote-only instruction for the fall semester.

Graduate and professional students will take courses that will be a hybrid of online and in-person learning and other approaches. Depending on the nature of the program, faculty will have options for delivery through virtual and alternative platforms to provide for students who cannot return to campus because of travel restrictions.

See also: Course Decisions FAQ

The university is not providing funds for employee internet access. Faculty may request assistance from their department chair or dean, who have discretion over the use of faculty funds.

The university is prepared to make adjustments based on what preliminary testing and trials reveal.

Though we are returning to on-campus, in-person classes, these classes will look and operate differently from the way they have in the past because of the need for physical distancing, current classroom space, and accommodation for those who cannot come to campus. Each student’s individual curriculum selections may include some evening and weekend classes, a hybrid of virtual/alternative and in-person learning, and other approaches.

To accommodate reduced class capacity and physical distancing measures, many class schedules and timelines will be adjusted.

Incoming first year students and transfer students should have continued to register for fall classes through June 26 using the current fall schedule. This helped capture class demand and inform schedule revisions.

UPDATE AS OF JULY 8: We are currently in the period when the Fall 2020 schedule of classes is being adjusted. Revisions are being made to the fall academic schedule to facilitate the return to campus plan. During this schedule adjustment period, you may see changes in YES to the schedule of classes and your schedule (if you are already registered for the fall semester). As mentioned on the Return to Campus website, each student’s fall schedule may include a hybrid of virtual/alternative and in-person learning, and other approaches. Students will receive notification when the changes to the fall schedule of classes are finalized in late July.

Continuing and incoming undergraduate students will be given the opportunity to make adjustments to their fall schedule. More information about that process is available here: https://registrar.vanderbilt.edu/registration/registration-info.php#ScheduleAdjustment.

Later in July, a revised undergraduate fall schedule will be published in YES. Students will be given a registration window and will have the opportunity to review the new schedule options in advance of their registration window.

Open enrollment for undergraduate students will occur from August 10 to August 31.