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Accommodations Process for Those in High-risk Health Groups

Posted by on Monday, June 8, 2020 in .

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

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

Students coming to campus

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

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

students opting for remote-only instruction

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

STAFF AND POSTDOC accommodations

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

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


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

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

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

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