Aug. 17, 2020, marks the official start to the fall 2020 semester and the day we hope to be on campus together. We will get to that day and it will take each of us acting responsibly together to promote safety in our learning, work and living environment. We appreciate the input we have received from students, families, faculty and staff so far and it continues to help shape planning efforts. Returning to campus will be in phases and the plans follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, city and VCU Health guidance. To be together means we are responsible together.
When we return, things will look and feel different as we take necessary steps to protect the well-being of our community. Before returning, you will need to complete the Return to Campus training and acknowledge the requirements and consequences. Students will sign attestation indicating training completion and personal compliance with safety protocols.
Here is what is expected of you:
Following rules regarding face coverings or masks, cleaning and disinfecting, and physical distancing is required. Students will receive reminders for daily health monitoring. The dean of Student Affairs will be notified after repeated non-compliance. Refusal to comply with rules can include progressive disciplinary action up to and including suspension, based on the VCU Student Code of Conduct.
See additional details about VCU's strategy for reopening in our Return to Campus plan.
VCU's fall semester will now run from Aug. 17 to Nov. 24, with no fall break or reading days included. Final exams will be conducted remotely after the Thanksgiving holiday — from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 for those on the MCV Campus, and from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7 for Monroe Park Campus students. Note: Health sciences and other students may be returning after Thanksgiving to resume their clinical placements and similar activities to which they are committed. This necessarily affects Commencement, originally scheduled for Dec. 12. We will evaluate guidance on larger gatherings over the next several months and explore how we will recognize the full Class of 2020. More information about the academic calendar will be shared later this summer.
These changes, based on recommendations from public health experts, are designed to reduce the amount of travel to and from campus, and to help avoid the height of flu season.
As a reminder, the 2020 summer sessions are remote (online) instruction. More information is available on the Summer Studies 2020 update webpage.
How we interact with one another and conduct daily life on campus will change.
Plans related to student services and activities will include changes to building operations, environmental adjustments and occupancy/capacity to promote appropriate physical distancing and programming. Some of these proposed changes include:
In order to comply with safety measures, all courses with an enrollment of 50 or more students on the Monroe Park and MCV Campuses will be taught in a remote/online format.
Any changes in class formats and instructional spaces will necessitate changes in our Fall 2020 Schedule of Classes. A revised fall 2020 schedule will be available online by July 15, 2020.
VCU faculty will be working with their department chairs to update their class formats to in-person, in-person blended (hybrid), or online. This information, which will also be used to ensure an efficient use of all available classroom space and the appropriate measures for physical distancing for students and faculty, will be collected centrally and updated on the official fall 2020 course schedule.
When the fall 2020 course schedule is available, VCU Records and Registration will notify students via email of the revised schedule and the impact those revisions have on the courses for which they are already registered. Academic advisors will simultaneously begin reaching out to individual students to discuss the implications of schedule changes.
As plans continue to be finalized, we will notify students via their VCU email address. Residential move-in plans will be shared to all returning and incoming residents later this summer via their VCU email. Visit the VCU Housing website for more information.
Residential Life and Housing is taking the following actions to prepare for the fall return to campus:
The Honors College residence hall will be used by VCU Health System to house low acuity patients this academic year and will not be used as a residential facility. VCU Health System requires the use of the Honors College residence hall to accommodate an anticipated surge in patients at VCU Medical Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VCU Residential Life and Housing will communicate directly with impacted students regarding their housing assignments for the upcoming academic year.
All students will be required to complete training so they have a better understanding of the steps being taken by the university to ensure their health and safety, as well as an understanding of their expected contributions to the health, safety and success of our VCU community. Students will sign an attestation indicating training completion and personal compliance with safety protocols.
Currently, the training for students is only available for students who have been approved to return to campus prior to Aug. 1. The training will be available for all returning students July 15. New students will complete training as part of the New Student Orientation modules.
Once a student worker has been approved to return to campus, this information will be shared with the Division of Student Affairs. Next, the Division of Student Affairs will send the student an email regarding the Return to Campus Training that must be completed prior to their return to campus.
Completion of the training will be monitored via the Blackboard gradebook with follow up. If you have questions about access to the training or completion status, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional FAQs about training for students can be found at https://students.vcu.edu/rtc-student/.
Additionally, supporting materials related to the phased return to research are posted on the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation website at research.vcu.edu/covid-19/
Student success remains the core of the VCU mission and our goal is to provide resources to help new and returning students successfully navigate academic life. For example:
Orientation is online for summer 2020. This page will be updated regularly as additional details about orientations become known.
During the phased return, VCU Student Affairs will continue to provide virtual offerings, including workshops, social connection opportunities and other events. Visit the Division of Student Affairs website for a full listing and calendar of virtual offerings.
Due to the continued risks associated with traveling abroad during the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, VCU has made the difficult decision to cancel all study abroad programs for fall 2020. This decision was also made in light of the U.S. Department of State's current Level 4 (Do Not Travel) global health advisory level. VCU has taken the proactive measure to cancel programs now to provide students with time to identify housing options and academic plans at VCU for the fall semester. This cancellation applies to all program types (exchange, direct enroll, provider programs) for the fall 2020 semester.
There are steps that you can take to maintain momentum in planning your study abroad experience. We do not know what the future will hold. But we know it will come. And when it does you’ll want your study abroad plans to still be on track.
University-sponsored international travel is suspended until further notice. This includes faculty, staff and students.
University-sponsored domestic travel out of state for clinical and research purposes is permissible upon approval. Students should work with their department to seek approval.
Members of the VCU community are encouraged to limit personal travel. We encourage students and employees to refer to the CDC and U.S. Department of State to be fully informed of potential health risks and travel restrictions that may be in place.
Fall 2020 parking sales
The online permit sale process to secure parking for fall 2020 will begin on Tuesday, June 30 on the MCV Campus and Tuesday, July 14 on the Monroe Park Campus.
MCV Campus parking sale: Due to demand, MCV Campus permits will be sold via a lottery system. Beginning at 9 a.m. on June 30, 2020, all students interested in purchasing an MCV Campus commuter permit can log in to https://apps.parking.vcu.edu/mcvwebsales to select your top parking preferences. The lottery will close at 4 p.m. on July 2, 2020.
Any unclaimed permits from the lottery will be sold online in a first come, first served manner at 9 a.m. on July 16, 2020. Additional information regarding this process can be found at https://parking.vcu.edu/parking/students/mcv-campus-sale/.
Monroe Park Campus parking sale: Monroe Park Campus commuter and residential/housing permits will be available for purchase online on a first come, first served basis. The Monroe Park Campus parking sale will take place on Tuesday, July 14 at 9 a.m.
Temporary parking options: In the event a semester-long parking permit does not meet your needs, daily/hourly parking is available at several parking facilities. Additionally, students may purchase a two-week permit for designated locations online at https://vcu.t2hosted.com/Account/Portal.
Riding GRTC: Students and employees can continue to utilize GRTC for essential travel. GRTC has taken additional safety measures to help ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers during COVID-19. Some of their most recent safety efforts include: implementing enhanced daily bus cleaning procedures, installing sanitizer dispensers on all vehicles, redistributing buses from low-ridership routes to high-ridership local routes to help promote physical distancing, disinfecting high-traffic areas periodically with Steriphene aerosol disinfectant and encouraging more frequent staff testing. GRTC also requires all passengers to wear face masks or nose and mouth coverings while riding. Passengers without masks may be asked to exit the bus. You can learn more about how GRTC is responding to COVID-19 at ridegrtc.com/news-initiatives/news-updates/grtc-and-covid-19-coronavirus.
Temporary physical distancing shuttle coming in August: In addition to GRTC, starting in August 2020 for the fall semester, VCU Parking and Transportation will operate a temporary physical distancing shuttle to support VCU community members with increased safety concerns. The shuttle will travel to Cabell Library, One Capitol Square and McGuire Hall, and physical distancing measures in addition to face mask requirements will be enforced. Additional information regarding this shuttle will be released later this summer.
We look forward to welcoming new and returning international students to campus this fall. To guide your return to campus, the Global Education Office has prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers. This is a living document and will be updated as needed. Please be sure to check the FAQs often between now and the time you return to campus.
Navigating the anticipated stressors of daily life can often be challenging enough. When unexpected stressors emerge or when we are faced with uncertainty, it can be tough to know how to cope. Try out some of these tips and resources for health and wellness to see if they are a right fit for you.
If you have experienced COVID-19 related disruptions or other educational costs due to the disruption of VCU on-campus operations, you may be eligible for emergency relief funds. The VCU Federal Emergency Relief Fund is available for students to apply for aid under the CARES Act. In addition, the Virtual Student Services Center is now available 24/7 for students to ask questions and get information. Students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding may be eligible for emergency funding that is being offered through Student Affairs.
The university recognizes that some students who previously did not need Section 504 Academic Accommodations, and who have a qualifying condition or disability, may need support or assistance during the return to campus process. A modified approach for the temporary and more permanent need for accommodation has been developed and implemented to provide students with full access to programs and activities related to their academic majors. Because every case is different, student requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Please share your need for an accommodation with the Student Accessibility and Education Office, or for MCV Campus students, the Division for Academic Success, after you have worked directly with your faculty member.
There are hundreds of details involved in each of these measures and considerations. Your input is very helpful as we plan for the return. Climatext, a real-time data collection tool developed by VCU Information Technology and the Division for Inclusive Excellence, is part of the university’s proactive monitoring and response plan to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Climatext gauges the sentiment of faculty, staff and students through a series of “pulse” surveys, which include short prompts or questions designed to provide a high-level snapshot of thoughts and feelings about a particular topic at a particular moment in time. Register with Climatext.