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Sept. 7, 2020 – Return to Campus Update

Posted by on Monday, September 7, 2020 in Community Messages.

The new routines for the fall semester are rapidly becoming the “new normal.” Students, faculty and staff are adapting to the current reality of campus life during the COVID-19 pandemic—and learning to thrive and support each other while doing so.  

From following health and safety guidelines for in-person experiences to finding new ways to interact with their fellow Commodores who are learning remotely, students are taking up the call to “Anchor Down and Step Up.” The university’s nearly 130-acres of outdoor space serves as the focal point for many physically distanced activities. Students enjoy meals together and use the circles on our outdoor lawns while hanging out, enjoying music or simply relaxing. Students can be seen playing spike ball or frisbee—with their masks on—while others have formed a running group to recharge through physical exertion and to take advantage of our city and explore Nashville. 

There are many ways to socialize and interact with each other while following all the health and safety protocols. For in-person activities, just remember, they need to be in physically distanced groups of less than 10 people with all wearing masks. (If masks are removed to eat, this should be for as limited amount of time as possible).  

See a full list of ideas for socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic>> 

In August, Vanderbilt Student Government President Veer Shah and Vice President Shun Ahmed released a video encouraging students to support one another and to be unafraid to ask for help when needed. 

To reiterate this message: the university WANTS students to build community and spend time with their friends. Faculty and staff want to connect with and get to know the students. The health and safety protocols and other changes to this semester should not stop interactions with fellow Commodores amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It only changes how connections now need to be made through new and meaningful ways. 

This semester is different, and at times will be harder than previous semesters. Even when someone only has a short break for a walk between classes or appointments or virtual meetings, those small moments are key to times to reset, recharge and reflect. 

For those times when students are feeling overwhelmed or need support, there are a range of resources available to provide strategies for resilience across all demographics. Supporting the overall health and well-being of the entire campus community is of the utmost importance. 

For students who are in quarantine and isolation due to COVID-19, there is enhanced support for counseling through a collaboration with the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing.  

The Student Care Network, a holistic network of wellness services and resources available to all Vanderbilt students, provides mental health and psychiatric services, well-being and academic coaching, care coordination and follow-up, and other health and wellness services. 

Learn more about all the Student Care Network’s updated services>> 

Building a further network of support amongst instructors, mentors, colleagues and friends that will sustain us throughout this semester and the ones to come. While we pride ourselves on academic excellence and the rigorous pursuit of learning and discovery, the bonds built throughout our community are more vital than ever to the Vanderbilt experience.  

What’s Coming Up


If a student receives a negative COVID-19 test result, it is critical to remember that the negative test result reflects ONLY their status at the moment the test was taken. 

After receiving negative test results, individuals must continue to closely follow campus protocols. Do not assume that interactions with another person who tested negative are now safe. If a student tests negative, they probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. The test result only means that the student did not have a detectable COVID-19 infection at the time of testing. Students must continue to take steps to protect themselves and others as much as possible. 

When students receive their test results, they should always consider the big picture of following the university’s protocols and our collective responsibility to keep each other as healthy and safe as possible this semester. Students must bring their Vanderbilt ID and phone to testing appointments or when picking up a testing kit. All testing appointments for students are mandatory and the university is strictly monitoring attendance.


All students who have been authorized to be on campus are required to conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room using the symptom assessment tool within the VandySafe app. If incorrect symptoms are accidentally entered into the app or a student has been cleared by Student Health, or if a student experiences technical issues with the app, they should email between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for assistance. 

Student symptom monitoring details>>  


Beginning today, Sept. 7, free flu shots will be available to all students at the Student Health Center (SHC). Shots are available on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary. We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of this free opportunity and get their flu shot this year. The SHC has increased its staffing to allow for proper physical distancing within the clinic and to minimize wait times. For added convenience, there will also be three Saturdays when flu shots will be made available to students: Sept. 12, Sept. 26 and Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  

Faculty, staff and postdocs who may be familiar with the one-day mass vaccination event, Flulapalooza, held in prior years should stay tuned for a modified version of the event. A new strategy will be deployed that will focus on bringing the flu vaccine to employees by offering it through various physically distant locations on and off campus over the next three months. More details on this year’s FLUla-2-Uza will be available in the coming weeks. 

Student flu shot details >> 


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 people who test positive, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person who tested positive is isolated.  

Things to Remember: 

  • Incidental exposure such as walking by someone in the hallway, using the same equipment or the same area/room is not close contact. 
  • Surface contamination is not a primary pathway of concern per the CDC. Public areas will be frequently disinfected by Facilities/Plant Operations. 

If an individual is considered a close contact, they will receive direct communication from the Command Center about their quarantine period and will be instructed to contact Student Health or Occupational Health if they develop symptoms. 


The provost has established a small working group to begin developing any proposed changes to the Spring 2021 academic calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the undergraduate/graduate calendars, the group composed of vice provosts Vanessa Beasley, Doug Christiansen and William Robinson, as well as the Undergraduate Associate Deans, will develop at least two alternatives for the spring semester calendar. These will undergo review and incorporate feedback throughout September by faculty groups in the four undergraduate schools and colleges.

Proposals for the professional school/college calendars will be developed by the respective individual schools, as was done for the fall semester. The final spring 2021 academic calendars will be announced in early October. More details will be available on Thursday, Sept. 10, in the provost’s Open Dore newsletter.  


Adjustments have been made to use of the tents on campus located at Alumni Lawn, Library Lawn and Peabody Esplanade to enable better utilization of these outdoor spaces by members of the campus community. Reservations are no longer required to occupy the tables in the tents, and there are no time limits for how long individuals may stay inside the tents. Members of the Vanderbilt community are not required to purchase a meal from Campus Dining to enjoy time in the tents.   

Outdoor spaces: Sidewalks, campus pathways and outdoor amenities>> 


Campus Dining has expanded its Taste of Nashville partnerships, with nearly 40 restaurants participating. Food trucks will be on campus every weekday starting today, allowing the campus community to enjoy a wide and healthy variety of food. Meal Money or Commodore Cash can be used for Taste of Nashville and food truck options. Campus Dining is also hosting nightly pop-up events at Commons and Kissam featuring signature entrees provided by Taste of Nashville partners; students can redeem meal swipes at these events. 

Students’ delivery options have been further expanded this semester with Campus Dining’s partnership with Grubhub. Online ordering from more than 300 restaurants in the Nashville area can now be made using Commodore Cash.  

Campus Operations: Campus Dining>> 


Undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be able to reserve access to the outdoor lower tennis courts (7-10) beginning Sept. 14. Students will need to bring their own racquets, balls and appropriate footwear, as well as their own water. Access to the Currey Tennis Center building cannot be permitted at this time. Staff will be present at the lower court entrance to manage court access, and students must present their Vanderbilt ID. Reservations will be available from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.  

To access reservations, students should email Students are also advised that courts will close in the event of inclement weather and should plan accordingly. 

Tennis court reservation details>> 

What you might have missed


Vanderbilt University provides a public dashboard of new positive COVID-19 tests among members of the Vanderbilt community. This dashboard shows daily positive tests reported, in addition to weekly data summaries. Additional information is also provided regarding pre-arrival testing results. Positive test report breakdowns are shown 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. These results are recorded on the day the test result is received and not on the day the test was taken. The university will not send updates about each positive case or clusters of cases; the dashboard is the best source of information about positive cases on campus. 

COVID-19 public dashboard>> 


Students are expected to be forthcoming and honest when providing information to contact tracers. A student who provides information about their prior possession or use of alcohol or other drugs and any resulting intoxication, or prior violation of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 protocols, during contact tracing will be eligible for immunity from disciplinary action in order to facilitate accurate information reporting. Similarly, a student who provides information in a Title IX investigation about their prior possession or use of alcohol or other drugs and any resulting intoxication or prior violation of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 protocols, will be eligible for immunity from disciplinary action in order to facilitate accurate information reporting during the investigation. On the other hand, failure to be truthful and forthcoming during contact tracing will result in disciplinary action. 

Contact tracing details>> 


Vanderbilt’s libraries have reopened with card access for the VU community only. Check the libraries’ webpage for current opening hours and additional information, including new services and resources. While staffing on-site has been de-densified, librarians are fully available via live chat, Zoom, email, phone or text. 

Designated libraries, buildings and specific rooms available to take online courses and to study are listed on the Return to Campus website, and each room’s capacity is listed to aid students in identifying a study space that best fits their needs. Each of these study spaces is specifically set up to maintain appropriate physical distance, and students should follow all campus protocols, including wearing a face mask/covering, at all times. Students should 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 they arrive. 

Libraries, study rooms and other resources details>> 


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.

Immersion Vanderbilt details>> 

Video Spotlight 

WATCH: Building community during COVID-19 

WATCH: Stepping up during COVID-19 

WATCH: Stay the course during COVID-19 

Upcoming events and activities 

Sept. 4-22: The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons hosts Homegrown Activism: Nashville, Civil Rights, and Justice Series, various events to be hosted Sept. 4-22. 

More information can be found on Anchor Link. 

Sept. 7-11: Vanderbilt Programming Board Presents Virtual Palooza Week 

  • Sept. 7: Trent James Magic, 7 p.m. CDT 
  • Sept. 8: Playlist Bingo, 7 p.m. CDT 
  • Sept. 9: Mark Toland Mind Reading, 7 p.m. CDT 
  • Sept. 10: Text Breakers Game Show, 7 p.m. CDT 
  • Sept. 11: Comedic Q&A with Jordan Klepper, 7 p.m. CDT 

More information can be found on Anchor Link.