Update from leadership - Jan. 12, 2021

Spring semester changes

Dear VCU students,

Welcome to the spring 2021 semester!

As you learned from , all classes will begin virtually, except in instances where a student is involved in clinical and field placements, practica, co-ops, internships and other work-related experiential learning activities. This means that previously planned in-person classes and the in-person component of hybrid (blended) courses also will take place virtually. The semester start dates remain unchanged and can be found on the academic calendar.

We will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic and, if circumstances allow, we hope to start on-campus instruction on or before March 8.

Resources to support students in virtual learning

Student success remains the core of our VCU mission. In addition to the resources available on our Student Success website and through the Division for Academic Success, the following information will help you prepare to begin the spring 2021 semester virtually. As always, additional information will be provided to you as it becomes available.

Course schedules

Double-check your course schedule in eServices after Jan. 22, when the spring 2021 Schedule of Classes is finalized, to see if any of your in-person or hybrid classes have converted modalities. Some faculty may change the modality of their courses to a virtual format for the full semester in order to minimize any disruption to instruction that would occur during a transition from virtual instruction to face-to-face, if we are able to return to on-campus instruction.

You can add a course to your schedule through February 1 and drop a course through February 8 on eServices. Financial Aid recipients should strive to have their schedules finalized by February 1 in order to maximize financial aid opportunities.

Preparing to start the semester virtually

You may be new to virtual instruction, or perhaps you've taken several online classes. Either way, Keep on Learning will guide you through the steps you can take to start and finish this semester like a pro. Online courses can be challenging until you get the hang of them, but with a little advanced preparation, you'll be ready to excel in all of your classes. Here are a few tips to get your semester started:

  • Review your syllabi as they are posted to eServices, Blackboard or Canvas to ensure that you are aware of the course expectations and assignment due dates. Make sure to reach out to your instructor if you have any questions during the first week of class.
  • Know how to access your online classes in either Blackboard or Canvas, and log into the course and check your VCU email for updates.
  • Good time management and different study techniques may be needed to ace your online courses, particularly in your asynchronous courses. Take a look at these resources compiled by Academic Coaching and make an appointment (or series of appointments) or a one-on-one coaching session to sharpen your study skills, work on time management or set goals for the semester.
  • Get help before you need it. Free drop-in and individual tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, and Writing Consultations can help you get and stay ahead. All of these services can be attended virtually, and sessions start as early as the first day of class.
  • Take time to connect with your academic advisor after add/drop to have a deep conversation about your academic, professional and career goals and to make a plan to achieve them.

Student residential housing

The adjustments to the spring 2021 semester do not affect residential move-in. As a reminder, all residents must take their at-home COVID-19 Entry Test and receive negative results and complete their Responsible Together Course on Blackboard to sign-up for a time slot to return to campus.

Additionally, we understand that the instructional format may have diminished your interest in remaining in on-campus housing. Any student who wants to cancel their housing contract can visit the Closing and Returning Information page, which includes a link to the cancelation form and more information. The deadline for cancelation is Jan. 21 at noon.

Staying informed

A complete summary of spring 2021 information is on the Together website at . Additionally, the  is an excellent resource for up-to-date information on university operations and health and safety information.

In addition, please be sure to read Together Update for Faculty and Staff, which is delivered to your VCU email account from together@vcu.edu, for a summary of information related to the university’s response to COVID-19. The daily VCU TelegRam remains the best resource for general university announcements and opportunities.

Additional contact information

For easy reference to other important offices supporting the success of VCU students, visit together.vcu.edu/contact/.

We recognize that this is a difficult time and process for our students. We are here for you and with you. We are confident that your semester will be academically rewarding and highly worthwhile. The adaptability, creativity and new educational methods you are mastering will serve you well throughout your life. Together, we will make, do and learn great things this semester.

Best wishes for a great semester,

Regards,

Gail Hackett, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Art Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior vice president for health sciences
CEO, VCU Health System

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