Dear undergraduate students,
As a follow-up to today’s community message, we write to share an update and important guidance ahead of the spring semester, which will now begin Monday, Jan. 17, when we will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a series of virtual events.
Campus residence halls and Greek houses will open on Saturday, Jan. 15, and regular, in-person classes will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Please read below for important details that will help you prepare for arrival back to Nashville and campus.
Before arriving to campus
We want students to return to campus as healthy as possible. Before arrival, all students must follow CDC guidance on gatherings and travel. Students are required to prepare by checking for symptoms, adhering to safety protocols and minimizing in-person interaction before arrival on campus.
Beginning Jan. 18, a booster will be required to be exempted from regular asymptomatic testing and possible quarantine requirements for close contacts per new CDC protocols. Submit your vaccine or booster record by Monday, Jan. 10, to vu.edu/submit-vaccine to be added to the appropriate testing program.
We will require return to campus testing for all members of the campus community who are returning to campus in January. There are many free locations to get tested in each state and in Nashville, and we encourage you to research your options now and contact the Office of the Dean of Students if you have questions about access.
Before arrival, students will:
- Take a COVID-19 test approximately 72 hours before arriving on campus (either a PCR or rapid antigen test); and
- Upload the results to this form.
- If your test result is negative, you can return to campus.
- If your test result is positive, you must isolate at home consistent with the latest CDC guidance before coming to campus and should notify the command center of your positive test result.
Commodores Care period
All students returning to campus for the spring semester, including students living in residence halls, in Greek houses or off campus, will be required to participate in a Commodores Care period immediately upon their return to support the health of our community and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
The “quiet” Commodores Care period will continue through at least Monday, Jan. 24. Students with negative test results and without symptoms may:
- Leave their residences to attend in-person classes;
- Pick up to-go food or supplies;
- Seek medical attention;
- Perform essential work or research for the university; and
- Engage in outdoor activities that do not involve close contact, such as walking, hiking or running.
Students with positive test results or with symptoms must follow the university’s quarantine and isolation requirements.
During this period, all other university programming and student organization activities will be virtual. Student interactions should also be virtual during this time frame. Students must not participate in gatherings of any size or engage in in-person social interactions with anyone other than their roommates/housemates. This includes attendance at athletic events. Student organization and other sponsored travel will not be permitted in January, and all planned trips during the month will be canceled; the only exception is pre-approved undergraduate study abroad.
To help reduce any potential spread, Campus Dining will operate in a “to-go” format during this period. Students are encouraged to eat either outside if weather permits or in their residential space. Libraries and residential common areas will not be open during this time frame; libraries will offer services and support virtually.
Additional in-person activities may resume on Monday, Jan. 24, unless students are otherwise notified by the university.
Protocols to remember
We are ramping back up our masking protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required indoors on campus at all times, except when roommates who are vaccinated are together in their residence hall room or suite. Physical distancing should be practiced when possible, such as when eating or drinking in your residence hall room or outdoors.
Make sure you have a well-fitted mask that completely covers your nose and mouth, preferably a KN95, KF94 or FFP2 version. Information about improving how your mask protects you can be found on the CDC website.
In addition to return to campus testing, we will expand our testing program for the spring to support the health and safety of our community.
The university is expanding the requirements for the existing asymptomatic testing program for faculty, staff, students and postdocs. Effective Jan. 18, individuals must provide proof of a booster, if eligible, to be exempt from the asymptomatic testing program. Testing protocols will be as follows:
- Individuals who have not provided any vaccination documentation will be required to test twice a week. These individuals will not separately be included in the sentinel testing program.
- Individuals who have provided documentation of completed vaccination but not of a booster will be required to test once a week. These individuals will not separately be included in the sentinel testing program.
- Individuals who have provided documentation of completed vaccination and a booster will be exempt from asymptomatic testing. These individuals will be included in the sentinel testing program.
Sentinel testing for on-campus community
Beginning Jan. 18, we will implement a sentinel, or random sampling, testing program to test groups of asymptomatic students who are on campus on a rotating basis, regardless of their vaccination and booster status.
- Testing will be provided through the university’s Testing Center at the Recreation and Wellness Center. Hours are posted on the Health and Safety Protocols website.
- You will be notified when it is time for you to test.
Our public health experts will continue to evaluate all testing protocols based on trends in positivity rate and case counts and will update them as needed to protect health and safety as much as possible.
We are enhancing our compliance efforts surrounding health and safety protocols. Any violations will be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity, and swift action will be taken for any verified incidents of noncompliance.
Mental health and well-being support
The pandemic has challenged us all, and we know the first few weeks of the spring semester will be especially difficult for some students. We will plan to expand virtual mental health and well-being appointment options and availability for drop-in consultations, and we also encourage students to learn more about our other online and self-directed tools available.
We know this is a lot of information, but it’s important to give you details now so you have plenty of time to prepare for the semester.
In the weeks to come, we will continue to carefully monitor the data and metrics and work closely with our team of health experts to guide plans for the spring semester and share updates regularly. We would also encourage you to attend the virtual town hall for undergraduate students and families scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m.
We hope you have a great break and safe travels heading back to campus.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Residential Faculty