Summer/fall operations plan points to in-person learning
Virginia Tech Student Affairs and Office of Emergency Management have put together a 39-page plan for summer and fall operations to guide university officials as they move toward in-person learning during the fall semester. This plan was informed utilizing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health, Executive Order 72, and expertise within the university. Because of the dynamic nature of the pandemic and rapidly changing guidance from the CDC, Virginia Tech will continue to adjust university plans, procedures, and protocols as circumstances and federal and state guidance surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve.
Here are some highlights of the plan and current requirements:
- Virginia Tech will conduct a hybrid in-person/online residential summer semester with a goal of approximately one-third of courses offered fully in-person.
- In-person classes will adhere to existing COVID mitigation strategies, such as vaccination promotion, face coverings/masks, 6 feet of physical distancing (note this may be modified as new guidance is received from local, state, and federal health agencies).
- The university is planning a virtual orientation for the summer of 2021.
- There is a potential for abbreviated in-person welcome programming immediately preceding the start of the fall semester.
Pods (small groups of students who can interact in an un-masked environment)
- Pod registration system will continue.
- Students will be required to register their pod by the end of the second week of classes.
- Students can create their pod in the Divisions of Student Affairs’ StarRez portal.
COVID-19 Testing Strategy
- Details to be released before the start of each semester.
- Testing space and equipment will be cleaned continuously.
- Members of campus community may be exempt if they have been vaccinated.
- Following CDC and state guidelines, fully-vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings (e.g. classrooms or shared spaces in residence halls).
- Non-vaccinated individuals should continue to wear face coverings in all settings and also make arrangements to get a vaccination.
- If all occupants in a vehicle are fully vaccinated, face coverings are recommended, but not required.
- If at least one occupant is not vaccinated, or vaccination status cannot be determined, all occupants should continue to wear a face covering while in the vehicle.
- If all occupants are fully vaccinated, 80 percent of the seating capacity may be occupied; maintain spacing when possible.
- If at least one occupant is not vaccinated, or vaccination status cannot be determined, adhere to the COVID-19 seating guidelines (no more than two persons in a passenger vehicle; one per seat, alternating sides in 12-passenger vans and larger)
Summer Field and On-Campus Research Guidelines
- All approved research (undergraduate/graduate) may be in person provided all appropriate approvals and protocols are in place.
- Small research lab groups (10 or less) of fully vaccinated students, staff, and faculty may work together without distancing. Face coverings are recommended for fully vaccinated individuals when working indoors with others.
- Non-vaccinated individuals and groups where vaccination status is not known or cannot be determined should continue to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing while working in the laboratory or during field research.
Residential Housing Isolation and Quarantine
- Certain residence halls will be used to isolate/quarantine until it is determined not to be necessary from a public health perspective.
- Current isolation/quarantine space includes outdoor space, food delivery service, and a support and care service.
Summer Camps and Conferences
- Conference groups for summer 2021 will be limited to university-affiliated groups.
- To maintain an efficient and high-quality customer experience in the dining hall(s), group sizes may be limited.
- Residence hall room occupancy will be limited to single rooms.
- Short-term camps/conferences will only be offered during the months of May, June, and July to ensure ample time for fall semester preparations.
- To allow for adequate flow in and out of the dining halls, the number of participants in summer school, long-term stay guests, short-term conferences, and day camps using Student Affairs facilities may be capped at 750 people at any given time.
- All participants will be encouraged to be vaccinated, when eligible, prior to attending.
- Participants must submit verification to the group sponsor of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Group members will be advised to self-quarantine from the time immediately following their COVID-19 test until their arrival on campus
- Sponsors will be required to sign a form that states they are responsible for collecting and maintaining records of COVID-19 materials.
- Schiffert Health Center will not be available to non-students.
- Face coverings are required when outside of assigned residence hall room.
- Face coverings will also be required in any gathering of two or more people not sharing the same residence hall room. This includes individuals who have been vaccinated.
- When gathering in groups of two or more people (inside or outside), physical separation of at least 6 feet is required, but not replacing the mask requirement.
- Guests will be scheduled for meals to reduce congestion with summer school residents and between groups.
- Guest dining will be controlled by ID cards, which will be sanitized before distribution and will use barcodes and barcode readers so that guests will not need to hand dining cards to dining workers.
- All self-service food stations will be removed, and all food items will be served by dining employees.
- Dining cleaning protocols currently in place will continue into the summer.
- Housekeeping staff will be cleaning restrooms and high-touchpoint areas multiple times a day.
- Residence hall rooms and common spaces will be left vacant between groups for at least 48 hours to ensure ample time for cleaning.
- Before, during, and after each conference, housekeeping staff will provide cleaning of bathrooms, hallways, lobbies, lounges, and other high-traffic/high-touchpoint areas within the residence halls.
University Visits and Campus Tours
- Virginia Tech will resume in-person visits and conduct campus tours in support of interested potential students and other university activities starting June 1.
- Visits will require all parties to adhere to all current COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place.
- Tours will be restricted to groups of 25 or less people or current requirements.
- Virginia Tech anticipates returning to a more normal semester in fall 2021, which begins Aug. 23 and ends on Dec. 15.
- The university anticipates that classrooms will return to 2019 capacities.
- The university anticipates that academic programs and student support offices will reopen full-time, with services being offered in person.
- The university plans to maintain testing capacity sufficient for prevalence and surveillance testing.
- The university is preparing to implement continued COVID mitigation strategies, such as vaccine promotion, face coverings/masks, hand-sanitizer stations, increased air handling, and other facility-based approaches.
- Implementation of some or all COVID-19 mitigation strategies will be influenced by both internal and external factors and disease management metrics with input from the Virginia Department of Health.
- A vaccination requirement for the fall semester is under evaluation by state, as well as university officials.
- The move-in strategy for the fall 2021 semester will be consistent with guidelines and best practices that are in place at that time.
Campus Operations (requirements subject to change)
- Virginia Tech community members are expected to stay at/in their residences when ill or return to their place of residence if they become ill.
- Community members are expected to wear face coverings/masks covering the mouth and nose when in indoor spaces, and when outdoors and unable to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing from other individuals who are not either vaccinated or family members.
- Community members are required to maintain at least a 6-foot physical distance from every person present at a location whenever possible.
- Community members are required to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer.
- The university’s housekeeping teams will regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
- The university’s housekeeping teams will continue to follow stringent, documented standard operating guidelines for everyday maintenance and viral disinfection.
- Ongoing preventative maintenance activities, including changing air filters and UV lights within HVAC systems, will occur regularly.
- Housing and Residence Life will limit the number of students living on campus to no more than two people per room.
- Housing and Residence Life will require a 10-day pre-move-in quarantine, practicing physical distancing and personal hygiene, use of face coverings/masks, avoiding public spaces, and self-isolating if identified as infected with COVID-19 or at-risk of infection.
- Dining Services will have limited sales to off-campus students for summer and fall 2021.
- Students will be served in dining facilities, in compliance with state standards relating to such facilities, including physical-distancing standards.
- All dining facilities have eliminated cash payment as a form of payment.
- All self-service areas except beverage dispensing have been removed.
Surveillance and Monitoring
- Faculty, staff, and students are expected to monitor their health and report any symptoms to Schiffert Health Center (students) or their primary care physician (employees).
- Employees are expected to report to Human Resources and/or Environmental Health and Safety if their health care provider or VDH indicates they should be tested for COVID-19.
- Students should inform the Dean of Students Office if the Schiffert Health Center, their primary care physician, or VDH indicates they should be tested for COVID-19.
- Students are strongly encouraged to secure a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result within five days prior to returning to campus or show proof of vaccination documentation.
- Those who test positive for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate in accordance with their local health department requirements before returning to a Virginia Tech location.
- Initial testing of residential students upon their return to campus will occur through a testing clinic coordinated by the Schiffert Health Center during the move-in days.
- Residential students are required to participate in testing upon returning to campus.
- Members of the Virginia Tech community will be exempted from prevalence and/or surveillance testing if they have recorded their full vaccination with Virginia Tech.
- Virginia Tech has set aside residential space for purposes of isolating or quarantining residential students in support of public health containment.
- Isolated individuals will remain in a single room with a private bathroom for the duration of the isolation period, except for outdoor recreational time and as allowed by a health care provider. Necessary items, such as food, hygiene needs, and household items, will be brought to the isolation space in order to mitigate the spread of disease.
- Any information regarding university operations that the university community needs to know will be included in the Virginia Tech Daily Email and on the VT News (VTx) site.
- University Relations also sends an email regularly to inform students and parents of updates and information. To sign up for email news, please click here.
- Town halls, expert panels, and presentations will be scheduled as needed to help inform the community. These communications are offered virtually, but may start to be offered with an in-person option as well, as CDC and VDH guidelines permit.