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• VSU Health and Safety Updates
• VSU Facilities Updates
• VSU Instruction and Academic Support Updates
• VSU Campus Life: Housing: Dining Updates
• VSU Faculty and Staff updates.
June 18, 2020
Greetings Virginia State University Family!
We hope this update finds you well and safe. As we look back over the past three months, we are grateful for what each of you have done to ensure that we could continue providing a quality and transformative educational experience for our students. COVID-19 presented a sudden and unexpected adjustment to our life. Thank you for stepping up to meet the challenge during this transition. Job well done.
The VSU administration endeavored to remain transparent throughout this crisis while consistently sharing messages with up-to-date information as quickly as possible. We created a webpage dedicated solely to providing you COVID-19 related information. In addition, we created an email account to address student academic related questions and concerns.
We are now focusing on moving forward. The goal of Virginia State University is to provide transformative educational experiences for our students and to prepare them to change the world. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have sidetracked our normal operations, it did not alter our mission or our goals. We will continue providing our students with access to a high quality and affordable educational experience in the upcoming fall 2020 semester. We are here for our current students who are working toward their degree; and we are here to welcome our new Trojans, the class of 2024.
As the University continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, our goal is to reopen our campus in the fall semester. While that is our desire, our priority is to do what is in the best interest of our Trojan family.
In our efforts to remain transparent and incorporate shared governance in our decision making process, we sought feedback from all sectors of the University community. That feedback began with a University-wide survey targeted at students, faculty and staff.
On May 4, 2020, Dr. Donald E. Palm, Provost and Sr. V.P. for Academic Affairs introduced several Sub-Committees of the Task Force to Explore VSU Re-Opening for Fall 2020.
This committee was empowered to explore a number of scenarios and provide recommendations for how VSU could move forward in fall 2020. Please click HERE to read their report. In addition, we sought input from our Faculty Senate on how we could best meet the needs of our students in fall 2020. Please click HERE to read the Faculty Senate report. I have met weekly with my administration to vet each scenario and devise a comprehensive plan that would allow us to proceed in the fall.
I would like to thank all of those involved as this process was not an easy feat. Aside from the ability to only meet virtually, those involved had to prioritize this daunting, yet supremely important task as they also worked to manage their other day to day responsibilities to keep the University functioning during this pandemic. Due to the dedication and collaboration of those we charged to see us through this effort, we are now able to begin sharing the initial details of our plans.
As we begin our multi-phased approach to reopening for the fall semester, we will do so in accordance with State recommendations set forth by Governor Ralph Northam who says, “As institutions implement the guidance provided here, their campus plans are crucial and must address the following items: repopulating the campus; monitoring health conditions to detect infection; containing the disease when detected; and shutting down if necessary. The Virginia Department of Health will be a lead partner to help institutions open through providing best practice guidance on screening and testing and coordinating contact tracing.” In addition to the Governor’s mandate, we will continue to adhere to the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
We realize that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may necessitate an adjustment to our plan; and we are prepared to alter it as necessary. However, at this point, Virginia State University has committed to the following key decisions regarding our fall 2020 semester:
Forward in Fall: Our Approach to Reopening Campus:
Our plan is to begin fall 2020 face-to-face classes on Monday, August 17, 2020. We will, however, limit the capacity of our on-campus community. We are working to prepare for your safe return to campus. Prior to the campus reopening, there will be thorough sanitizing of campus facilities, including classrooms and common/public spaces with scheduled routine maintenance throughout the semester. In addition, we will implement the below plan.
Health and Safety:
The VSU Department of Student Health Services continues to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community. With the plans of reopening campus, all faculty, staff, students and administrators will be required to complete COVID-19 training prior to the start of the semester. In addition, preventive care and education programs will be conducted in the residence halls and throughout campus. All students will receive a welcome back kit that contains a cloth mask or gaiter, disposable masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and a safe touch tool that allows students to open doors and push buttons without touching.
Student Health Services is equipped to triage students, provide routine care, and facilitate screening and testing for COVID-19. Student Health Services will continue to collaborate with Residential Life to provide safe and confidential housing for positive COVID-19 student(s) in the event that it is needed. We have an established partnership with the Virginia Department of Health in regards to contact tracing and Bon Secours Mercy Health-Southside Regional Medical Center should a student require emergency services. The Commonwealth of Virginia has secured a contract with LabCorp to provide FDA approved COVID-19 testing. If a student is tested, they will be required to self-isolate until results are confirmed (typically within 72 hours). Our team is working to develop safe daily clinic workflows in order to continue to care for and educate our students in the climate of the new normal. We encourage all faculty, staff, and students to utilize the COVID-19 self-check available through the CDC to help make decisions and seek appropriate medical care. For health related questions, please contact email@example.com.
Students who are experiencing emotional distress or are in need of counseling or support can schedule an appointment with the University Counseling Center by calling (804) 524-5939. Counseling services will be provided using a tele-health platform.
Facilities – Social Distancing, Enhanced Cleaning, PPE and Supplies:
The VSU Facilities reopening plan focuses on social distancing measures, enhanced cleaning, personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies.
All buildings will be de-densified to conform to social distancing protocols (usually 6 feet between people) with signage installed campus wide to delineate safe distances. Reminder signage to promote the practice of good personal hygiene (i.e., self-monitoring of symptoms, hand washing, wearing masks, etc.) will be installed campus wide. To contain spread, each classroom will be equipped with hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes dispensers. This will allow students and faculty to “clean as they go” by wiping down desks and workspaces before and after each use. Custodians will perform enhanced cleaning in instructional spaces when not in use in accordance with class schedules. High-touch areas will be wiped and disinfected continuously throughout the day using products approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Residence Hall rooms will be both single and double occupancy. Common areas such as lobbies, laundry facilities and community restrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes dispensers for “clean as you go” after each use. High-touch areas such as community restrooms, elevators, corridors, laundry rooms and vending machines will be wiped and disinfected continuously throughout the day in accordance with resident schedules and privacy precautions.
Employees needed for the success of in-person instruction and those performing essential functions will return to campus, while some departments will continue to work remotely. This will allow the University to better manage necessary cleaning and safety supply costs plus institute additional energy management measures in unoccupied offices.
Instruction and Academics:
Our plans remain flexible as we monitor any new COVID-19 mandates. We realize that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may necessitate adjustments to our plan; and we are prepared to alter it as necessary. We will begin fall 2020 face-to-face classes on Monday, August 17, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 health and safety recommendations, we will limit the capacity of our on-campus/residential community to freshmen (students with fewer than 30 credits), student leaders, student athletes and seniors (students with 90 credits or more). This population of students will have priority in enrolling in face-to-face courses. All other students will be commuting or online students. Commuting students will be provided an option of taking online, face-to-face or hybrid courses depending on class availability. Depending on requirements for their major, some students may choose a course load that is fully online/remote.To afford students an opportunity to make a well informed decision prior to making travel arrangements or securing housing, a full schedule of all classes will be made available no later than July 1, 2020.
The Following adjustments have been made to the academic calendar:
- There will be no fall break
- The last day for face-to-face classes will be Tuesday, Nov. 24.
- Following Thanksgiving break, students will not return to campus. All remaining instruction and/or assessments will be conducted remotely until the last day of the fall semester, December 11, 2020.
In an effort to remain flexible and maintain low-density classrooms, VSU will offer three modalities of course delivery: Online/Remote Instruction, Face-to-Face Instruction, and Hybrid (combination of face-to-face and remote learning) Instruction. The models of course delivery described below are subject to change contingent upon new information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health.
A large number of classes in all disciplines will be offered remotely or in an online format. All VSU students will be able to take a full complement of online classes that ensures their matriculation and timely graduation. Students should consult their academic advisors or the ACE Advising Center when selecting courses.
Virginia State University faculty will provide face-to-face instruction. Total enrollment in these classes will be restricted by social distancing guidelines. Priority in face-to-face courses will be given to freshmen (students with fewer than 30 credits), student leaders, student athletes and seniors (students with 90 credits or more). Other students may enroll in these courses based on the capacity of the class.
This model provides face-to-face courses needed for seniors with 90 or more credit hours to ensure that the altered semester does not impede graduation. Therefore, we are also considering this model to offer in- person classes for seniors and graduate students. This model allows us to offer face-to face senior capstone courses and upper level courses where hands-on activities and access to specialized equipment/instruction would be difficult to replicate virtually. In addition, it allows a smaller population of graduate students to return to campus to continue studies and help with research continuity.
HYBRID INSTRUCTION (combination of face-to-face/remote /online learning)
Hybrid courses allow flexibility in the learning environment. Instruction is provided through a combination of face-to face, remote, and online learning experiences. Only residential or commuting students may enroll in the hybrid courses. The University will provide additional virtual learning supports for online students. We will continue to monitor the virus and make adjustments as necessary.
NOTE: All study abroad programs for the fall 2020 semester have been suspended.
The VSU Office of Admissions is still accepting applications for the fall 2020 term. Admitted students are encouraged to visit our Admitted Student page to learn more about their next steps, such as paying enrollment fees, signing up for Orientation, submitting their FAFSA and sending their physical and immunization forms into the University.
On-campus housing capacity will be reduced due to the conversion of some double rooms to single occupancy. Moore Hall, Gateway II and the Quads will have both single and double room occupancy. All other residence halls will be single occupancy only. This is to reduce on-campus population density and to support social distancing. Preference for on-campus housing will be given to freshmen (students with fewer than 30 credit hours), student leaders, student athletes and graduating seniors (students with 90 credits or more).
Rationale for Freshman Students: VSU recognizes the importance of the first year and the first few weeks and months of the transition to college. Research shows that how a student begins their college experience may be the best predictor of how their college experience will end. According to Inside Education, “The ability of a student to persist through the rigors of college life is in part dependent on the quality of the support they receive in orienting to the independence and intensity of college-level work.” Therefore, the fall 2020 plan is to primarily provide on campus housing for freshmen students so they may engage in face-to face instruction.
Rationale for Graduating Seniors: Virginia State University will provide face-to-face courses needed for seniors with 90 or more credit hours to ensure that the altered semester does not impede graduation. Therefore, we will offer housing to graduating seniors which allows them to engage in face-to face senior capstone courses and upper level courses where hands-on activities and access to specialized equipment/instruction would be difficult to replicate virtually.
Additional Housing Needs: Additional on-campus housing may be made available for all other students based on maximum capacity. Students who do not secure on-campus housing may also be referred to the University Apartments at Ettrick. For more information, please Contact Residence Life and Housing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jones Dining Hall and Foster Hall will remain open. Dining services will be adjusted to accommodate a lower-density model consisting of limited dine-in options with social distancing protocols in place and increased ‘grab & go’ meal options. Restaurants in Foster Hall will have limited hours of operation with pre-ordering only and window pick up options.
Students will be required to complete COVID-19 training prior to the start of the semester. All residents will be provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) upon arrival on campus. Students will be required to wear face masks at all times outside of their residence hall room.
In order to promote student engagement, the Department of Student Activities will provide face to face and virtual programs for students. Currently, the Governor’s mandate states that no institutions of higher education shall hold or host gatherings of more than 50 individuals. The University will continue to monitor this as we consider plans to host the postponed spring 2020 Commencement and the fall 2020 Commencement in December as well as other large gatherings on-campus.
Faculty and Staff:
All faculty and staff will be required to complete COVID-19 training prior to the start of the semester. Faculty and staff will be required to wear face masks while inside buildings within six feet proximity of others. Employees who are essential to the success of in-person instruction and those performing other essential functions will begin the phased in return to campus beginning in July. We are considering teleworking for the fall 2020 semester, specifically for employees in high-risk categories and those caring for loved ones. A combination of in-person and remote working strategies may also be utilized in order to reduce the density in some offices. This will allow the University to better manage necessary cleaning and safety supply costs plus institute additional energy management measures in unoccupied offices. More information about this phased-in approach will be forthcoming from the Department of Human Resources.
Again, we realize that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may necessitate adjustments to our plan. Our team will continue to monitor any new information and will update our plan accordingly. We will continue to keep you up to date with all new information on this webpage.
We want every member of the VSU community to know that we remain fully committed to our mission and our goals. We are grateful to have each of you as a member of our Trojan Family. We miss you and we look forward to welcoming you back for the fall semester. Hail State!
Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D