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Mar. 9, 2020 – Classes suspended and new guidelines

Posted by on Monday, March 9, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt University community,

Due to new information received today, and based on our desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), I am cancelling all university classes for the remainder of this week.

In addition, beginning Monday, March 16 and through at least March 30, the university is suspending all in-person classes and is moving to online and other alternative learning options. Students will hear directly from their respective deans and/or faculty instructor regarding any specific instructions.

To be clear, the university will remain open, and we will be actively reviewing the situation to determine if and when in-person classes may resume. We may extend the alternative learning approach through the end of the Spring semester (April 30) if necessary. We will keep in touch with you every step of the way.

Since some students may need to remain on campus during this period of in-person class suspension, the campus will remain open with limited or reduced services. Remaining in residential campus housing is up to each individual student depending on their personal situation.

We are making this decision today because several students returned to campus who have since reported being exposed to an individual who tested positive today for COVID-19. The individual who tested positive is being treated at home and did not return to campus.

We take great pride in our residential living-learning model, which provides invaluable connections, camaraderie and support. Although this is one of Vanderbilt’s great strengths, we also recognize that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects us all.

Again, faculty will communicate with students through their usual methods of communications, such as the course webpage on Brightspace or by email.  Starting Monday, March 16, all coursework will be handled using methods other than in-person, on-campus instruction.  Each course and each instructor will make a decision about the appropriate means in light of the nature of the course.  Please monitor your Vanderbilt email and your course webpages for details.  Students who find themselves with limited internet or computer access during this period of alternative instruction are encouraged to let their dean’s office know so that we can provide support.

In addition, effective immediately and until further notice, we are suspending all university-sponsored non-Athletics events and gatherings, including events sponsored by any registered student organizations, through April 30. We will seek opportunities to enable certain events through live-streaming or other platforms. This policy is based on current best-practices regarding social distancing as a prevention strategy for disease transmission. We are also reviewing Vanderbilt and conference policies for fan attendance at Athletics events and will update all in forthcoming messages. We currently plan to hold Commencement on May 8, but we will continue to evaluate that decision and keep you informed of any changes.

The university is also changing its travel policy and restricting university-sponsored international travel to any country effective March 10 through April 30. As part of this change, Vanderbilt will also have restrictions on hosting new visitors to campus during this period. Detailed guidance will be available on the university’s web site before Wednesday, March 11.

For information and updates related to the broad set of actions Vanderbilt University is taking to address this public health situation, please visit

We recognize that these actions create significant challenges for students, faculty, staff and families, and we ask for your understanding as we respond to this unprecedented public health issue.

Now, more than ever, we will pull together and do what Vanderbilt does best – collaborate, find solutions, and move forward, together. I know we are up to the task and that we will emerge from this stronger than ever as a community. Thank you in advance for your support.

Most sincerely,

Susan R. Wente
Interim Chancellor and Provost