While 2020 is (thankfully) over with, Virginia Tech’s adaptations to the pandemic unfortunately are not. With cases of COVID-19 not going away, especially when many states have been seeing a rise in the number of positive cases daily, the university is continuing its effort to keep students and faculty safe.
The university is asking for students who return to the Blacksburg area this spring to self-quarantine for 10 days prior to their return date, as well as to practice good hygiene that can help prevent exposure and/or transmission of the illness.
Similar to the fall 2020 semester, Virginia Tech students, faculty, staff and other employees will be required to complete the COVID-19 awareness training module prior to returning to campus, as well as the requirement that all students who live on campus this semester must be tested for COVID-19 through the Schiffert Health Center testing clinic the day they return to their residence halls.
“I really feel like the university is working as hard as they can, and that they’re doing everything they can to help us have a good experience,” said Dylan Sparks, a senior studying political science.
In the fall, only students who were living on campus were allowed to purchase dining plans, with minor exceptions, while other students who had dining dollars left over from the Spring 2020 semester were able to use what remained on their accounts after campus unexpectedly closed early. In contrast, this upcoming semester will see only those who are living on campus, as well as a select few pulled from a waitlist, able to purchase from any of the university’s on-campus dining facilities.
Many of the pandemic-related offerings Virginia Tech had in the fall semester will be returning, such as free walk-in or scheduled COVID-19 testing, as well as mandatory prevalence testing for students who are contacted to do so.
Alterations have been made to on-campus isolation amenities and protocols, as this semester will allow for those who may end up in a COVID-19 isolation residence hall to go outside to a designated outdoor space. Individualized case management has been added to the safety protocols in effect, specifically for the aforementioned students who are able to utilize the designated outdoor spaces.
One notable difference from the fall is this spring semester’s inclusion of a university-led “pod experience” program created to aid in the process of opening up more opportunities for students to enjoy campus life. This program includes helping students who may need assistance finding a pod to be a part of, pod registration and activities or services for them.
Additionally, for any student who must isolate or quarantine for COVID-19 during their time in Blacksburg this spring, they will be assigned a student advocate; a person who will be their go-to individual for contact during the process. The program serves as a resource to benefit the overall wellness of students as they navigate through this pandemic, should they find themselves in a situation where they must avoid contact with others.
Further information should be expected to come forward as the semester progresses. Time will tell as to whether or not this spring semester will be the social experience that many students have been waiting for.