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Aug. 10, 2020 – Return to Campus Update

Posted by on Monday, August 10, 2020 in Community Messages.

UPDATE: Undergraduate students living off campus will pick up their arrival test kits on Aug. 20 and 21, not Aug. 22 as stated in the email.

The university is on track to continue welcoming students back to campus over the next two weeks. In-person classes for several professional degree programs have already launched and undergraduate, graduate and many professional programs will begin in-person classes on Aug. 24. The progress to date is thanks to the collaborative efforts of the entire campus community and their careful and close adherence to extensive protocols that have been implemented to protect as much as possible the health and well-being of the Vanderbilt community.

This summer, the university tracked the COVID-19 test results for nearly 7,000 individuals who were present on campus at different times as part of Phases I and II of the university’s reopening plan. From Jun. 29 to Aug. 4, there were 27 positive test cases among these individuals, and contact tracing revealed that none of the cases were contracted as the result of on-campus contact. These results indicate both the strength of our testing and contact tracing protocols, as well as the effectiveness of the health and safety measures everyone engaged with. Together, these efforts supported the university’s decision to move to Phase II+ and to resume further on-campus activities.

The university continues to carefully monitor COVID-19 developments in coordination with public health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing experts. The university continues to update our COVID-19 testing strategy and a Vanderbilt-specific contact-tracing team is fully in place.

Please see the updates below. While some of this may not directly affect each member of the university community, it is important everyone in our community has easy access to this information.


Symptom monitoring

Beginning today, Aug. 10, all students (undergraduate, graduate and professional) must monitor their symptoms daily using the symptom monitoring tool within the existing VandySafe app. At this time, faculty, staff and postdocs are also strongly encouraged to utilize the tool.

All individuals must be free of any symptoms related to COVID-19 to participate in activities on campus, including move-in and attending in-person classes. Symptoms must be monitored daily before coming to campus or leaving an on-campus residence hall room.

Symptom monitoring details>>

Pre-arrival and arrival testing for undergraduates

All undergraduate students are required to complete pre-arrival testing before coming onto campus for the first time. The preference is for students to complete the pre-arrival test via Zoom Aug. 11-12 or immediately after receiving the kit if received after those dates. If there are unique circumstances where a student cannot complete the test Aug. 11-12, please take it as close to those dates as possible.

Completed test packages should be dropped off at a UPS Store or brown UPS box by 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Aug. 12 or immediately after taking their test if the test was not taken Aug. 11-12. Do not drop off the package at any pharmacy location such as CVS or UPS Access Points as these are not valid drop points for the purpose of test submission. Please check the local pick-up times to ensure timely delivery once the test is taken.

Pre-arrival testing details >>

All Vanderbilt undergraduates attending in-person classes (living on or off campus) will be re-tested after arrival. Please note that this plan has been updated based on the new Vault testing strategy. Undergraduate students moving into on-campus housing will have their test kit waiting in their room. Undergraduate students living off-campus will pick-up their test kit with their health and safety kits at the Sarratt Box Office on August 20 and 22 and the week of Aug. 24-28. All undergraduate students are expected to take the test as soon as possible after arrival on campus or picking up their test kit. As such, the goal is to complete this testing within the first week of arrival.

Arrival testing details >>

Asymptomatic testing and surveillance testing for the university community

As mentioned in last Monday’s update, the university has updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts based on newly released guidance from the CDC. The CDC defines a close contact as any individual who was within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons who have tested positive, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person who tested positive 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 on Day 5 of their quarantine period to order a pre-paid test kit to be delivered to their off-campus location by Day 8.

In addition, all members of the Vanderbilt community (undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, faculty, staff, 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 on-going COVID-19 surveillance testing program which will begin by Sept.1. 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.

Asymptomatic and surveillance testing details >>

Please note that all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should stay home, and immediately contact the Student Health Center (students) or the Occupational Health Clinic (faculty, staff and postdocs) where their health will be assessed and testing completed as determined.

Public dashboard of positive test cases on campus

On Monday, Aug. 17, the university will launch a new dashboard to report weekly, new positive COVID-19 test cases among members of the Vanderbilt community. It will include positive test reports for Vanderbilt students residing on campus; Vanderbilt students residing off-campus who are coming to the university campus; and Vanderbilt University-employed faculty, staff, and postdocs who are teaching, working or conducting research on the university campus. This dashboard is designed to give our community visibility into the current presence of COVID-19 among individuals who are living on or regularly coming to our campus. The dashboard will not include positive cases involving students, faculty, staff or postdocs who are studying, teaching, working, or conducting research exclusively remotely or at experiential learning sites (either in the greater Nashville area or beyond).

Undergraduate move-in

Undergraduate move-in begins next week, Monday, Aug. 17. All students intending to move into campus housing must return a negative result from their pre-arrival test kit in order to come to campus. Students and families should also be prepared to follow campus protocols, including wearing face masks/coverings at all times while on campus.

Upon arriving to campus, students and accompanying family members will first report to their assigned symptom screening location.

  • Each vehicle will be issued a hang tag that includes a QR code to receive additional details, including a map that will provide directions on where to proceed after symptom screening.
  • Staff will be stationed strategically throughout campus to provide additional directional assistance.
  • Upon arriving at the residence hall, students will have one hour to move belongings from their car to their room and only those individuals who have been screened for symptoms will be allowed to enter the residence hall: the student and one (1) family member.
  • Other family members may help unload the car but will not be allowed to enter the residence hall.
  • A limited number of staff will be available to provide directions and monitor time for unloading.
  • Once the student’s belongings have been unloaded or the hour has expired, vehicles will be directed to campus parking if needed.

Emails with detailed information and instructions will be sent to students later this week.

For those planning to ship items to campus for move-in, the university recommends shipping packages via UPS Ground or FedEx Ground ONLY. We recommend shipping only essential items and insuring packages for the value of the contents. Please note the tracking number for each package and bring tracking numbers to the package pick-up location for confirmation of delivery. Using the address format below, the student’s full given proper name must be clearly marked on all packages. More information can be found on the Mail Services website.

Full Given Proper (Student Name)
PMB 35XXXX (X = your assigned 4-digit PMB number)
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-XXXX (X = your assigned 4-digit PMB number)

Move-in week activities and orientations for incoming undergraduate students

Activities during move-in week will offer a mix of in-person and virtual options. This includes nightly welcome and orientation activities with residential faculty, orientation leaders and Residential Colleges staff, as well as the asynchronous CommonVU orientation modules that will be available on Aug. 15. Students should look for more communications about floor meetings, virtual roommate activities and more.

Parent and Family Orientation, typically hosted the Sunday following move-in, will be held in three virtual sessions this year. Sign-up information will be available on Wednesday, August 12.

  • PAF Orientation: Orientation to The Ingram Commons, Tuesday, August 18 at 7:00-7:45 p.m.
    Since 2008, The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons has provided a unique first-year experience that guides students through their transition to college. You’ll hear from a current faculty head of house, a student VUceptor and a resident adviser to gain insight into how The Ingram Commons structure will provide your student with both roots in a community of care and wings to soar at Vanderbilt.
  • PAF Orientation: First-Generation Student Panel, Thursday, August 20 at 7:00-7:45 p.m.
    This panel will include a group of students, as well as faculty and staff members, who will discuss their experiences as a first-generation college student and their experiences navigating campus. They will share advice and highlight the vast resources designed to support students who are the first in their families to attend college. This session is open to all incoming first-year and transfer student parents and families.
  • PAF Orientation: Health, Safety, and Wellness, Sunday, August 23 at 1:00-2:30 p.m.
    Student support extends beyond The Ingram Commons to include a vast network of professionals from our student services offices who work to keep your student healthy and safe at Vanderbilt. Representatives from Residential Experience, University Counseling Center, Vanderbilt University Public Safety, Student Health Center, Public Health Central Command Center, and the Community Standards area of the Dean of Students office will explain the role that their offices play in our student care network. This session is open to all incoming first-year and transfer student parents and families.

Welcoming transfer students

To support the Fall 2020 incoming transfer cohort, the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs will launch an online Transfer Student Orientation program on August 15. Through this program, all incoming transfer students will complete a series of online modules, designed to meet the academic and personal needs of this specific population. During the two-week orientation period, transfer students will meet virtually with their Transfer Group, a smaller cohort of 13-15 incoming transfers led by an upper-division Transfer Student Leader (TSL).

On August 22, all new transfers will be invited to visit campus for a drop-by welcome event, where they’ll have the opportunity to meet their TSL in person and receive a gift from the university. Before classes begin, they will also be invited to participate in a campus tour, led by an orientation leader.

To continue support for new transfer students as they progress through the fall semester, VPAA will employ a six-week program called Connecting to VU, wherein new transfer students will be invited to attend virtual and small-group in-person gatherings with other upper-division students. As part of this program, they will also have the opportunity to connect with key campus services, such as the Office of Immersion Resources, and learn about opportunities to become involved in student organizations.

Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund and COVID-19 Leave Bank

Vanderbilt University has established the Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to assist employees with financial burdens that have been incurred as a result of COVID-19. Eligible university-employed faculty, staff and postdocs can request reimbursements of up to $500 for expenses related to family care, medical bills from COVID-19 treatment or alternative housing arrangements needed due to personal circumstances linked to COVID-19 isolation or quarantine.

In addition, beginning Aug. 17, Vanderbilt will provide eligible staff members who are required to work on campus access to a one-time bank of up to two weeks (80 hours) of pay to recover from a diagnosed COVID-19 illness or stay home for required quarantine or isolation periods through the newly established COVID-19 Leave Bank.

More details on both the Emergency Relief Fund and Leave Bank can be found on the HR website.

Classroom visits for faculty

Faculty may visit the classrooms in which they will teach undergraduate and graduate courses this fall from this Monday, Aug. 10, through Friday, Aug. 21—during their regularly scheduled class times—as part of their preparation for in-person and hybrid teaching. Faculty who teach professional program courses should contact their dean or department chair regarding the procedure for visiting their classrooms. Before arriving on campus for a classroom visit, faculty must complete the required Return to Campus Acknowledgment in Oracle Learning. Faculty should bring their Vanderbilt ID card to gain access to classroom buildings and must wear face masks/covering, observe physical distancing and follow all university safety protocols while on campus.

During classroom visits, faculty can practice using classroom technology and review the modified setup of the rooms. Faculty may want to consider having their files available on Brightspace or the cloud rather than planning to connect their own laptops in classrooms given the varying set-ups in each classroom space. Each visit is limited to 45 minutes to allow for transitions between different faculty using the classroom in the following class period.  Faculty may report issues with their classrooms by completing this form.

Remote work continues

The university is now in Phase II+ of its Return to Campus Phases. This phase allows for on-campus residential living, activities and education, including multiple course delivery options, as the university hosts in-person classes for the fall semester. Staff will be recalled to campus when needed on campus to directly support research, instruction and residential living. Staff who are to be recalled to campus will be notified by their supervisors. All other staff should continue working remotely and plan to do so through the end of the calendar year.

Healthy living, studying, working

As the university prepares to welcome more students, faculty, staff and postdocs back to campus, it’s important for all to closely follow all campus protocols:

  • Mask Up: Wear a face mask/covering in public settings indoors and outdoors
  • 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

These protocols are required at all times while on campus and are also critically important to follow while off campus to enhance the safety of the VU community, as well as the surrounding Nashville community. To date, all positive cases among members of the VU community have been the result of off-campus contacts and activities. To limit the spread of COVID-19 among the VU community and to maintain our ability to continue on-campus activities, it is critical that each of us do our part to decrease the risk of infection for others.



Now that the schedule adjustment windows have concluded, an additional Open Enrollment period begins today, Aug. 10 and will continue through Aug. 31. More information can be found on the University Registrar website.


Each year, off-campus residents are asked to adhere to the university’s Good Neighbor Guidelines and submit their off-campus address to the University Registrar through YES. Students received an email last night with details and instructions related to both of these items. Of particular note, students should review the Gatherings section of the Vanderbilt Return to Campus protocols to ensure that their residence is in compliance. Any intentional or reckless disregard for the COVID-19 policies and protocols on- or off-campus will be addressed through the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, utilizing the existing sanctioning considerations found in the Student Handbook.


Campus Dining services will begin next Monday, Aug. 17. Students can receive Campus Dining news and information by texting the word DININGNEWS to 55744. These DiningNews Alerts! will provide important service updates and notifications, Campus Dining news, and even special events like Free Friday. Standard data and messaging rates apply.

Students are also encouraged to download the GET app to check their account balances, add Commodore Cash, order food, and to use their phone to enable touchless payment at registers in lieu of their card. Campus Dining fall semester details>>


The university requires onsite temperature screenings when individuals 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 guidelines>>


Aug. 10 Download VandySafe app to start daily symptom monitoring
Aug. 10-31 Open enrollment class registration
Aug. 11-12 Complete your pre-arrival test via telehealth Zoom meeting between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CDT
Aug. 12 Drop your pre-arrival test kit off at the UPS store or brown UPS drop box by 4 p.m. CT
Aug. 17-23 Move-in
Aug. 24 First day of classes for undergraduate students
Aug. 24-28 Undergraduates living off campus can pick up their health and safety kits at the Sarratt Box Office between 10 am and 6 pm on the day assigned to them according to last name


Aug. 12 School of Medicine Master of Genetic Counseling program launches
Aug. 15 Orientation for Owen Graduate School of Management Master of Management in Healthcare begins
Aug. 17 Law School classes begin
Aug. 17 Owen Graduate School of Management programs (except EMBA and MMHC) launch
Aug. 17 School of Medicine Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program launches
Aug. 17-21 School of Nursing PhD Intensive program
Aug. 19 Divinity School orientation begins
Aug. 20 Owen Graduate School of Management Master of Management in Healthcare program launches
Aug. 21 School of Nursing Prespecialty (M.S.N.) program launches
Aug. 24 School of Nursing Specialty Level (M.S.N.) program launches
Aug. 24 Divinity School classes begin
Aug. 24 Graduate School classes begin
Aug. 24 Peabody College classes begin
Aug. 24 School of Engineering classes begin
Aug. 26 School of Medicine Doctor of Audiology, Doctor of Medical Physics, Master of Science in Medical Physics, Master of Education of the Deaf, Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology programs launch
Aug. 27 School of Medicine Master of Science in Applied Clinical Informatics program launches
Aug. 31 School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice program launches
Sept. 1-4 Divinity School Doctor of Ministry Virtual Intensive Program

The Return to Campus Update is part of our ongoing effort to provide you with the latest information regarding the fall 2020 Return to Campus Plan. While some of this information may not impact you directly, we want to ensure everyone in our community has easy access to this information.

You’ll receive this update via email until the start of the semester, and then we will switch to running it as the top story in MyVU once classes begin, continuing through the end of the fall semester. Each edition also will be posted on the Return to Campus website under the Community Messages section.