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News, resources, and updates for the 2020 fall semester

New Element in Dashboard

Updated Sept. 21

With its Sept. 21 update, the COVID-19 dashboard now will features one additional element: a 7-day moving average positivity rate.

The method will calculate the positivity rate for a period of seven days, with the positive results serving as the numerator and the total tests serving as the denominator.

Also, an existing statistic on the dashboard – called the 7-day moving average positives – will be renamed as “day average of positive tests” in order to better distinguish it from the positivity rate.

image of a hand with a vile that says COVID 19

Testing information and guidance

Updated Sept. 18

Beginning Sept. 21, mandatory random prevalence testing for all undergraduate students in Blacksburg will allow monitoring of the status of COVID-19 on campus and in Blacksburg with a statistically significant sample of the entire undergraduate population. Read more here.

For students

Schiffert Health Center is aware that many students are trying to figure whether they need a COVID-19 test, how to get a COVID-19 test, or what they should do whether or not they are scheduled to get a test. The following guidance will help students know what they should do next.

For employees

Following is information on what faculty and staff should do if they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 and need a test.


Updated Sept. 18

Surveillance testing

Surveillance testing is ongoing regular testing of specific groups of people, regardless of whether they have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, in order to understand the spread of the virus. In Virginia Tech’s case, surveillance testing currently focuses on four testing categories that will continue to be tested through the fall 2020 semester: high-contact employees and students, ongoing student population testing, student-athlete testing, and prevalence testing. 

Prevalence testing

Prevalence testing is random testing of a population of people who are assumed to be non-symptomatic in order to compare the number of people who have the virus with the total number of people tested in order to understand the actual percentage of the population that is infected.  

Diagnostic testing

Diagnostic testing is used to confirm an illness, such as performing a COVID-19 test on someone with symptoms, to confirm if they are positive or negative for the virus.

Pooled testing

Pooled testing is the simultaneous analysis of multiple samples. If the analysis produces a positive result, the individual samples can then be analyzed to identify the positive sample. At Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, which has recently received FDA approval for pooled testing, the lab will test four samples at once, and the method will expand the lab’s capacity. 

Fall 2020 operational plan

The university’s fall 2020 operational plan, reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, complies with the commonwealth’s Higher Education Reopening Guidance report, which was developed in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health.

Isolation and quarantine

Learn about the isolation and quarantine protocol here. The site has extensive information and FAQs about what happens before, during, and after quarantine and isolation.

Tips for your pod

Pods – small groups that commit to each other’s health – can be a fundamental tool in fighting both the spread of COVID-19 and the quarantine blues.

Guidance on how to form your pod is available here. Meanwhile, here are some of the tips:

  • Keep your pod small. 
  • Join a pod with people you trust. 
  • Only join one pod. 
  • Set clear boundaries for when pod members are outside the pod.

Gatherings and Masks

Updated Aug. 26


  • No event, on campus or off campus, can have more than 15 people attending, unless the event is sanctioned or monitored by Virginia Tech.
  • Face coverings/masks should be worn at all gatherings, with 6-foot physical distancing. Individuals should remove themselves from situations where this is not possible. Independent outdoor exercise is the only exception to the obligation of the face covering requirement.

Read more in Frank Shushok’s Aug. 23 message


  • No unapproved, work-related gathering involving more than 15 people is permitted. When a task cannot be accomplished without more than 15 people gathering, a plan must be developed to mitigate health safety risk and the plan must be approved by the unit leader.
  • Face coverings/masks are to be worn at all times when on campus. Exceptions include circumstances when an employee is working alone in a workspace with a closed door and if an employee is continually distanced from anyone else outdoors, such as when exercising outdoors. However, even under these outdoor conditions, wearing a face covering will set a good example to the community at large. Exceptions and expectations relating to chronic health conditions are still applicable.

Read more in the Aug. 25 message from Dwayne Pinkney and Cyril Clarke.

Community Wellness Commitment

Updated Aug. 6

Be committed. Be well.

  • Pledge to care for the health and well-being of others
  • 10 tenets that guide our return for the fall semester

Two apps you need

Updated Aug. 19



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Be Committed. Be Well with the HokieBird.

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COVID-19 lab ready for testing

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Installing tents to give Hokies more space on campus