President Tim Sands released a statement outlining details for the fall 2020 semester. In efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and respond to the anticipation that a second wave will hit late fall, the university has decided to resume in-person instruction starting on Aug. 24, but end in-person instruction prior to Thanksgiving break. Classes and final exams will continue online after Thanksgiving break, and the fall semester will end on Dec. 16 as originally planned. Otherwise, the fall 2020 academic calendar has not been changed.
Planning for class capacity
President Sands emphasized that the current plans accommodate the possibility that the 50 person gathering limit imposed by the governor’s order will stay in place throughout the fall semester. More specifics on in-person versus online instruction based on class size will be published by July 13.
“Our faculty, teaching assistants and instructional designers are actively planning for a fall semester that utilizes a combination of in-person and online teaching and learning that preserves, to the extent possible, the experiential learning that distinguishes Virginia Tech’s ‘hands-on, minds-on’ approach,” Sands said in the statement.
Testing, contact tracing and isolation plans
According to the president’s message, Virginia Tech now has a surveillance work group that will be charged with finding solutions to testing, contact tracing and the isolation of people infected with the novel coronavirus.
Residence halls will take on single and double occupancy and roommates will be considered like family members who live together. According to the statement, it is estimated that approximately 9,100 students can be accommodated for on-campus housing. Separate housing arrangements will be made for those in quarantine or isolation, and accommodations will be made to ensure those students can continue with their academics successfully.
Support through academic department leaders and advisors will be available to those who feel uncomfortable or are unable to return to campus in the fall. However, not all courses will have a remote option.
Face coverings are still required in all indoor places where people are close to each other, according to the governor’s guidelines, and they will be made available to faculty, staff and students. There will also be 2,000 new hand-sanitizer stations installed at the university, which will be located outside buildings, general assignment classrooms and other gathering locations. Additional details on how this will affect students and faculty will be released as the semester approaches.
Grab-and-go, mobile ordering and pick-up will be available to those who have dining plans, and strict protocols will be put in place once indoor dining is permitted again in Virginia.
According to the statement, it is not possible as of now to have the normal high-density crowds such as those that fill Lane Stadium, Cassell Coliseum, Burruss Auditorium and the Moss Arts Center.
As for football, the NCAA and the ACC are assessing return-to-play models, but if practices cannot be safely resumed by mid-July, the start of the football season would likely be delayed.
Adjustments to these plans will be made as needed as the fall semester approaches. Everyone can stay up to date on the latest developments at vt.edu/ready.