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Dec. 15, 2020 – Graduate and professional students: An update on our spring semester COVID-19 testing

Posted by on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear graduate and professional students,

We want to thank you again for a successful fall semester—one that could not have happened without your willingness to follow health and safety protocols. Your participation in our rigorous testing program, as well as physical distancing, mask wearing, following our gatherings policy, washing hands and more helped us slow the spread of COVID-19.

Guided by the lessons we learned this fall, we are updating our spring semester testing program and adjusting our quarantine guidelines based on new CDC guidance.

Graduate and professional students who participate in regular in-person, on-campus, academic-related activities will be included in the mandatory spring semester testing program. We are increasing testing for graduate and professional students for the spring semester based on current trends we are seeing in Nashville.

Key components of the graduate and professional student spring testing program include:

  • Taking extra precautions before returning to campus
    • We ask all students to take extra precautions to stay as safe and healthy as possible during winter break and before returning for in-person, on-campus activities.
    • Students’ highest risk activities prior to returning to campus are likely to be traveling to campus and engaging in social activities.
  • Arrival testing in January at the Testing Center
    • You will receive an email to sign up for your arrival testing time slot by Jan. 5.
    • You must have a negative test result to begin in-person activities in the spring.
    • Students will shelter in place until they receive a negative test result. Shelter in place means that you must not participate in in-person campus activities, including classes or group activities, until you receive a negative test result.
  • School or college deans will determine the effective start date for January in-person activities. Until further notice, graduate and professional students participating in regular in-person, on-campus, academic-related activities will then be tested on a mandatory weekly basis at the Testing Center.
    • Testing days will be Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • More details about your specific participation and how to register for testing will be shared by early January.
    • You will not receive missed test emails. It is your responsibility to make your test time.
    • Students who do not make their testing date and do not make it up will receive a formal warning the week after they missed.
    • If a student misses two tests (scheduled date and makeup date), they will be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.
    • Please review the compliance section of the Graduate and Professional COVID-19 Testing FAQ carefully.
  • Positive test samples will be retested automatically before you get your test results back to confirm the positive result. There will no longer be a separate retesting program.

If you have symptoms: You should continue to be tested at the Student Health Center, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If Student Health is closed, call the VUMC COVID-19 hotline at (888) 312-0847 for information about after-hours assessment site availability.

Asymptomatic close contacts will now quarantine for 10 days. This has been updated from the previous 14-day quarantine, per CDC guidance, but comes with additional requirements for days 10 to 14 following exposure.

  • For days 10 to 14 after last exposure, Vanderbilt community members identified as close contacts must not unmask at any time in public, including in dining locations, and must wear their mask even in the presence of those in their residence.
  • Individuals should eat alone or complete any activities alone that require removing a mask in a private space during those four days.

As a reminder, all individuals should do the following at all times to help slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Perform daily self-monitoring for symptoms using the VandySafe app.
  • Immediately self-isolate and contact the Student Health Center for assessment and testing if you develop symptoms.
  • Wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds and off campus high-risk venues, follow the gathering protocols, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Those who receive a COVID-19 vaccination during the spring semester must continue to participate in the testing program and follow all campus protocols, including mask wearing and physical distancing. However, we will re-evaluate if additional public health information is released suggesting that those vaccinated should no longer participate in the periodic testing program.

For more information about our spring semester student testing, quarantine and isolation protocols, visit the Return to Campus website.

Have a wonderful winter break. We look forward to welcoming you back in January.

Susan R. Wente, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Eric Kopstain, Vice Chancellor of the Division of Administration