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Nov. 2, 2020 – Return to Campus Update

Posted by on Monday, November 2, 2020 in Community Messages.

The Vanderbilt community continues to Anchor Down and Step Up to help slow the spread of COVID-19. In a letter sent on Friday, Provost Wente thanked undergraduate students for how seriously they are working to help one another and the entire Vanderbilt community. As shown on the university’s public dashboard updated this morning, the undergraduate students’ efforts flattened their positive case curve last week.

However, the university continues to see positive cases—especially a rise in graduate and professional student COVID-19 cases over the last week. The majority of these cases are attributed to off-campus clusters of graduate and professional students involved in social activities. The Public Health Central Command Center and the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity are managing these cases and have taken proactive steps to contain these clusters.

Importantly, no cases of classroom transmission have occurred. Yet, the continuing rise of positive cases in the general Nashville population remains especially concerning. This heightens the need for closely observing protocols regarding physical distancing and face mask wearing in both off-campus and on-campus personal situations.

As the Vanderbilt community enters the final weeks of in-person classes for the fall semester, everyone must continue to stay strong to stay healthy together.

There are many ways to engage socially under conditions that are as safe as possible. This weekend, undergraduates participated in many university-hosted events on campus and virtually that followed campus protocols. The events ranged from a haunted tour of the Vaughn Home with self-guided audio, to pumpkin painting and a special, one-time, in-person Halloween movie event, complete with free food trucks and much more. Given Vanderbilt’s residential campus, the university planned these events to give students a chance to relax, connect with one another and have fun through safer alternatives to hosting or attending off-campus parties or attending gatherings downtown that would violate the university’s safety protocols.


In the final weeks of this semester, there will be more opportunities to come together—whether in person following campus protocols or virtually. A number of these events are detailed below. All members of the Vanderbilt community are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities. Everyone is asked to continue to look out for themselves, one another and those who are most vulnerable.

What’s Coming Up

Vanderbilt University pilots indoor dining on campus

With outdoor temperatures cooling off, beginning Monday, Nov. 2, the university will launch an indoor dining pilot consisting of approximately 125 seats at Sarratt Student Center, Rand Hall and Central Library Community Room. The university plans to add approximately 50 seats to the indoor dining pilot in The Commons Center Dining Center before the end of the semester, bringing the total number of seats to around 175.

As part of the pilot, all dining furniture has been arranged to accommodate 8 feet of physical distance between diners, and additional signage has been placed throughout the dining areas. It is important that all members of the campus community who use these dining spaces strictly adhere to campus protocols and posted signage, including only removing their face masks or coverings while actively engaged in eating or drinking. Face masks or coverings should be put back in place immediately after eating and before moving about. Similar to the outdoor dining tents, disinfecting wipes will be provided, and diners are asked to wipe down the table before and after each use. Individual use of these indoor dining spaces will be limited to 20 minutes.

 Learn more about the new indoor dining pilot>>

Student Care Network offers ideas, resources to support student mental and physical well-being

The Student Care Network recognizes that many students are experiencing stress and grief due to the ongoing global pandemic, anxiety about the U.S. presidential election, and ongoing stress related to academic coursework. Given these myriad stressors, it is important to set aside time to support mental and physical well-being, which can include going for a walk, joining the Center for Student Wellbeing for their Weekly Wellbeing Practices or committing to get a free flu shot from the Student Health Center.

Below are a few ideas to support students’ mental and physical well-being as the end of the fall semester approaches:

  • If a student would like to speak to someone about an immediate concern, the University Counseling Center offers Urgent Care Counseling Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To speak with a counselor, students can contact the UCC by calling 615-322-2571 to be seen virtually with an on-call clinician.
  • Students feeling anxiety due to the presidential election should consider reviewing this Headspace article on election anxiety and log in to their free Headspace account for a moment of meditation.
  • The Office for Inclusive Excellence is partnering with multiple offices and identity centers, including the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, the University Counseling Center, The Ingram Commons and the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, to offer post-election support programming.
  • Join the Center for Student Wellbeing for their Weekly Wellbeing Practices, which offer virtual well-being support resources, including meditation, drop-in well-being coaching in partnership with the Black Cultural Center, drop-in academic coaching, Vanderbilt Recovery Support meetings and yoga.
  • Get a free flu shot from the Student Health Center before returning home for the extended winter break. No appointment is necessary; students can drop in from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students must bring their Vanderbilt ID.
  • Prioritize physical well-being by scheduling a routine annual physical exam or STD testing. To make an appointment, call 615-322-2427 or visit the Student Health Center website to schedule a visit that best meets your needs.
  • Before winter break, reach out to health care providers to assess the need for medication refills.
  • Schedule an appointment with the Office of Student Care Coordination care coordinator to review all of the Student Care Network resources available to students on campus and remotely.

Reminders about voting safely on Election Day

As Election Day approaches on Tuesday, Nov. 3, all Vanderbilt community members are encouraged to exercise their right to vote—and to do so as safely as possible.

Below are a few important reminders regarding Election Day:

  • Those who plan to vote in person on Election Day should remember to bring a required approved form of ID and consider bringing proof of residency, especially if this is their first time voting in Davidson County or Tennessee.
  • Most students registered with an address on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons will vote on Election Day at Murrell School (1450 14th Ave. S.); Most students registered with an address on main campus will vote on Election Day at Eakin School (2500 Fairfax Ave.).
  • Don’t wear clothing or accessories or carry signs or literature supporting a particular candidate. These items are prohibited within 100 feet of a polling place.
  • VandyRide will provide a free shuttle for students to two voting locations on Election Day, Nov. 3. See details and sign up for a time slot>>

For additional information, visit

In addition, Vanderbilt community members must follow the university’s COVID-19 protocols while voting:

  • Wear a face mask/covering at all times and maintain physical distance to the extent possible.
  • As a reminder, Vanderbilt community members cannot gather in groups of more than 10 people, in accordance with the university’s gatherings policy. This includes gatherings at locations off campus.

Vanderbilt has long fostered an environment in which diverse ideas and opinions can be expressed, as the university seeks to both model and teach the principles of open discourse. In this highly charged political environment and with these values in mind, Vanderbilt urges you to maintain civil discourse, now and after the election. It’s also important to realize that friends and colleagues might be processing a lot of information and varying feelings and emotions right now; sometimes it can be as important to listen as it is to talk.

Session to focus on how students traveling domestically, internationally in November can best prepare for campus departure

Students can hear from members of the Vanderbilt Travel and Global Safety and Security teams on how best to prepare for departure from campus in November during the Traveling During COVID-19: Preparing to Leave Campus online session at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The session will cover changes to the travel landscape, including major changes at Nashville International Airport, TSA procedures and airline health and safety protocols. It also will address domestic and international entry/exit requirements and review key campus resources to assist with travel planning and incident response. There may be travel requirements for certain states; check requirements before departure.

Specific travel-related questions can be submitted prior to the webinar via the AnchorLink RSVP form or to


Important reminders about end-of-semester exit testing

As a reminder, undergraduate students should attend their regularly scheduled mandatory COVID-19 test this week, Monday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 7. The final mandatory exit test is next week, Nov. 8 through Nov. 10, and does not replace the regular weekly test for students that will occur this week.

The last mandatory test for undergraduate students, their exit test, will be conducted Nov. 8–10. The testing center will be open for extended hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to accommodate exit testing during Nov. 8–10.

The exit test schedule for undergraduate students is as follows:

  • If a student had an assigned weekly test day of Wednesday or Thursday during the semester, they should go to the testing center on Sunday, Nov. 8, for their exit test.
  • If a student had an assigned weekly test day of Monday or Friday during the semester, they should go to the testing center on Monday, Nov. 9, for their exit test.
  • If a student had an assigned weekly test day of Tuesday or Saturday during the semester, they should go to the testing center on Tuesday, Nov. 10, for their exit test.

If, for any reason, a student cannot make the test date assigned to them for their exit test, they still must take an exit test and should visit the test center on one of the other dates listed above. Exit testing is mandatory; the Public Health Central Command Center will be monitoring attendance.

Undergraduate students who signed up for an optional test between Nov. 16–18 still should complete their regular mandatory test this week as well as complete the mandatory exit testing next week. The optional test does not replace earlier required tests.

If a student previously was COVID-19 positive and is within 90 days of their positive test date, they do not need to report to exit testing.

Fall semester exit testing details>>



Centering in Chaos, hosted by the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3, in the Alumni Lawn Tent

Feel Your Feelings: Coming Together Post-election, hosted by The Ingram Commons
1 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, in the Library Lawn tent (1–3 p.m.) and the residence backyard of the dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons (3 –7 p.m.) and via Zoom (7 –9 p.m.)

iChats: Customs, Cultures and Commonalities, hosted by The Ingram Commons
7 to 8 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, Online

Getting to Know Our Campus: The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, hosted by the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence and InclusAbility
11 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Nov. 5, Online

Autumn Amusements: Pot and Paint a Succulent, hosted by the Upper-Division Residential Colleges
Time slots from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, at the Kissam Center Patio

Candid Conversation with Professor Rosevelt Noble, hosted by the Vanderbilt University Libraries
1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, Online

Chadwick Boseman Movie Series: Black Panther, hosted by The Ingram Commons
7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, at Sarratt Cinema