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Remote Opportunities for Students

We understand that some members of our community are not comfortable engaging in in-person instruction this fall due to underlying medical conditions or a concern over transmission to friends or family members. To the extent possible, faculty, academic department heads and advisors will continue to work with students to maximize learning opportunities in a virtual format.

Undergraduate students who are concerned about academic issues (missing class, missing assignments, courses) can reach out to their academic advisor, Academic Advising Office, Dean of Students Office, or the undergraduate associate dean for their college: 

  • College of Architecture and Urban Studies: Kathryn Albright, kclarke@vt.edu
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Susan Sumner, sumners@vt.edu
  • Pamplin College of Business: Lara Khansa, larak@vt.edu
  • College of Engineering: Keith Thompson, tkeith72@vt.edu
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences: Dan Thorp, wachau@vt.edu
  • College of Natural Resources and Environment: Keith Goyne, goynek@vt.edu
  • College of Science: Robin Panneton, panneton@vt.edu

Graduate students can contact their advisor, their graduate program director, and/or the Graduate School

 

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers tips for students working in an online environment. The Student Success Center (SSC) will also be available to support your academic progress by offering its services, including tutoring, through an online format. A complete list of academic excellence programs can be found on their website. To request tutoring, please email tutoring@vt.edu. All other requests should be sent to studentsuccess@vt.edu.

We know that our international students have many more complex situations and questions, and we’ve provided more in-depth information for both undergraduate and graduate international students on the Cranwell International Center website.

Regarding internet access away from campus, see the Home Internet Tips page. To optimize what you can do with a lower-speed internet connection, check out steps 1-4. If you have no internet access at home, steps 2 and 5 offer tips on contacting internet providers and finding community WiFi resources, respectively. Many internet service providers are offering low cost or free options for students who need to complete courses online, so be sure you let them know you are a Virginia Tech student.

Graduate School

Graduate students often have dual roles – as students and as graduate assistants, graduate teaching assistants, and graduate research assistants – and they contribute to the teaching and learning, research and discovery, and service and engagement missions of the university across its colleges and campuses. The university recognizes and supports your belief that progress toward your degree is important and the Graduate School will work with you toward that end.

During the fall 2020 semester, your rights and choices will be respected regarding courses and assistantships. Students can find links to key webpages students use most often on our Current Students page. Visit the Graduate School’s Ready Information page and the Guidelines for Graduate Education during COVID-19 for the latest information. Also visit the guidelines articulated in the Expectations for Graduate Study document available on the Graduate School website.

Graduate students who are concerned about academic issues (missing class, missing assignments, courses) can contact their advisor, their graduate program director, and/or the Graduate School.

Remote Assistantships

Graduate students who hold assistantship appointments (GTAs, GRAs, and GAs) should discuss with their supervisor available options for carrying out their duties, including working remotely. Supervisors are asked to be understanding and as accommodating as reasonable.  Graduate program directors are available to assist in specific situations, following the guidance from the Graduate School. The Graduate School Ombudsperson’s Office also is available for consultation as desired. Graduate assistants with an underlying medical condition and/or a disability that places them at a higher risk should contact ADA and Accessibility Services.

Course Offerings

We are taking a phased approach this fall, placing emphasis on in-person instruction that enhances experiential learning. In-person modes of instruction will be prioritized for courses, labs, studios, and performances that cannot be offered remotely at comparable quality.

Due to the limited capacity of most instructional spaces that have been modified to accommodate physical distancing, many lectures and discussion sections will be delivered online, preferably synchronously to enable real-time interactions between students and instructors. Depending on the availability of suitably sized instructional spaces, lectures and discussion sections may also be presented in-person and synchronously transmitted to other spaces, as long as physical distancing and other public health requirements are met in all locations.

Depending on capacity and the availability of instructors, we may need to schedule classes in the evenings.

Our goal is to provide an in-person campus experience to the greatest extent possible while taking measures to minimize the health and safety risks for our campus community. Should public health guidelines relax during the fall semester, in-person teaching and learning will be expanded.

As students began the fall semester, they knew their course delivery mode and the expectations from the beginning of the term. Thus, we don’t anticipate any extension of the credit/non-credit options offered during the spring.

Professional students
Professional students at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will continue to return to clinics and in-person instruction in a phased approach during the fall.

Third- and fourth-year students at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine returned to clinical rotations on Monday, July 6. The second-year class has continued the next block of study virtually with plans to start in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 31. The new first-year class began orientation Monday, July 27. Their first block of study began primarily in-person on Monday, Aug. 3.

DVM students at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine began a phased return to clinics starting on June 22. The fall semester for DVM students in years 1-3 began on Monday, Aug. 10, and all courses will be completed by Thanksgiving (Nov. 25). The traditional White Coat Ceremony for ther DVM Class of 2024 has been postponed, and will be scheduled for a later date.

Labs
Lab spaces will be arranged with proper physical distancing and safety measures. For guidance on scaling laboratory spaces and operations, the use of face coverings in research and laboratory settings, and other useful information, see Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 FAQs.

Study abroad
Virginia Tech has canceled all fall 2020 study abroad programs. A full set of FAQs about the programs is available on the Global Education Office website.

Instructional Faculty information

Preparing for teaching and Learning for Fall 2020

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost has a number of academic instruction and technology resources available to faculty to support them in effectively engaging and educating students throughout the fall semester. Faculty can access these communities of practice, academic and student support working groups, and course design and development resources to assist with modified in-person, online and hybrid course delivery. For more info, please visit the provost’s website.

Student Perceptions of Teaching Evaluations

Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT) evaluations for all courses taught in calendar year 2020 will be conducted for all spring, summer, and fall classes. Recognizing that the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will complicate instruction, SPOT scores for courses taught in calendar year 2020 will not be the basis for decisions about future online course offerings or other administrative decisions.

The reporting of SPOT scores from the courses taught during 2020 for performance evaluations or promotion and tenure will be at the discretion of the faculty member. Faculty may choose to report their SPOT scores in their Faculty Activity Report or promotion dossier.  However, faculty may also choose to omit SPOT scores and the absence of scores will not influence the evaluation of the faculty member.

For more detailed faculty information, please visit the faculty affairs website.  

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.

Plans For Clinics

On May 26, the Virginia secretary of education updated an advisement from the Office of the Governor to allow for a return to in-person clinical education, as long as certain criteria are met. Criteria include that the training site is willing to accept students and has adequate PPE for students; the student signs an acknowledgement of risk; and the student is given the option to delay clinical placement without academic penalty, though they may still have to complete clinical education in the future to progress toward their degree and graduate.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine had students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 return to clinical rotations on Monday, July 6. Though not in clinical rotations, the Class of 2024 began its studies on Monday, July 27, with a blend of in-person and virtual learning. The class of 2023 is still in virtual learning, but will switch to some in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 31.

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine implemented a hybrid clinics model, blending in-person and virtual clinical experiences, for students returning to clinical rotations. Some students in the D.V.M. Class of 2022 began clinics the third week of June and will return to the classroom in the fall. Students in the D.V.M. Class of 2021 returned to clinics on Monday, Aug. 24, and will complete their clinical training in May.

Classroom Distancing

Virginia Tech is currently limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people. At this time, our planning accommodates the possibility that this limit, in confined spaces with specified physical distancing guidelines, will be in effect through the fall semester. Large lecture classes will be offered with reduced in-person attendance and in online synchronous and asynchronous modes. Smaller lectures, sections, and laboratories will be offered in person, providing that the spaces allow for proper distancing. The expectation is that students and faculty/instructors must stay 6 feet apart when measured nose to nose.

Guidance for preparing classrooms can be found here.

Research Operations

Virginia Tech has developed a framework and process for scaling operations to the current mode of modified operations that continues to recognize the importance of safety, transitions back to an in-person student-learning experience, and ramps up research programs. Working within modified operations in Phase Three status means the further easing of restrictions as research continues to ramp up, carefully and in accordance with commonwealth and Virginia Tech policy.

Most labs can/will be opened. Undergraduate and graduate students working on sponsored research or course credit may return to established or new research projects. Student volunteer research activity in labs is not advised, since the density of researchers in spaces will need to be monitored to adhere to proper physical distancing guidelines. Conditions do not supersede additional requirements colleges and institutes may add to activities in their units. Allowable research activities continue to require the approval of deans, vice presidents, or institute directors or their designee(s). In resuming additional research activities, individuals must use appropriate PPE and continue strict adherence to safety/hygiene and physical distancing requirements.

The COVID-19 Research and Continuity Guidance microsite contains various resources for researchers, including Phase Three: Reopening Guidance.

Research PPE and Hygiene

For guidance on scaling laboratory operations, the use of face coverings in research and laboratory settings, and other useful information, see Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 FAQs.

Guidance for Department Heads

If a faculty member in my department reports that a student has tested positive or has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive student in his/her class or lab, what do I do?

  • The department head and the faculty should not share any information regarding the identity or status of the student who has tested positive with any other students, faculty, or staff. Department heads should always work closely and directly with the Dean of Students (DOS) Office on all student health and safety matters.
  • Department heads who learn from one of their faculty that a student in their class/lab has tested positive for COVID-19 should immediately notify the Dean of Students Office (Byron Hughes, bahughes@vt.edu). The student should be directed to contact the Dean of Students, as they are the institution’s coordinating unit and contact for case management, to ensure the university is informed/aware and can coordinate with the Virginia Department of Health on contact-tracing and case management.
  • Department heads should also notify the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (Zachary Adams: 540-231-5985, adamsz@vt.edu; or Lance Franklin: 540-231-9044, lance3@vt.edu) of the contaminated classroom/lab space to request cleaning and sanitizing.
  • EHS and the department head should stay in regular contact to know when the classroom/lab space has been disinfected and it is safe for students and faculty to return to in-person instruction.
  • Department heads should work with faculty if there is a need to make short-term or long-term changes to course modality. If a change is necessary, faculty will need to communicate as early as possible with students to ensure course assignments can be completed without delay.
  • Additional guidance and actions to take for those who test positive, have come in close contact, or share a work area/equipment is in COVID-19 Instructions for Supervisors.

How should I advise a faculty member who has a student asking how they can get tested?

  • Department heads should tell faculty to direct the student to the Schiffert Health Center. The student should first call Schiffert at 540-231-6444 for initial screening and to make an appointment. 
  • Alternatively, students should be told they can also call the LewisGale Hospital Montgomery Emergency Department at 540-951-1111 or their doctor's office. 
  • Students who have paid the university health fee will not be charged for the testing at Schiffert. See Schiffert’s FAQs for more
  • Students with more specific questions should contact the Dean of Students office.

How should I advise a faculty member who has a student who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms in his/her class or lab?

 

  • As a best practice, department heads should suggest to faculty that they start each class or session in the lab with the question “Have you filled out the Hokie Health survey today?” Reinforcing the importance of maintaining awareness of their own health and whether they are exhibiting symptoms will help to encourage students to stay home if they are beginning to show symptoms of the virus.
  • Given that COVID-19 symptoms overlap in part with symptoms of other conditions such as the seasonal flu or allergies (e.g., coughing, sneezing, etc.), department heads should encourage their faculty to approach a student who seems ill with caution, and concern and compassion.

 

Students who exhibit symptoms or signs of COVID-19 should be strongly encouraged to stay home and seek medical assistance at Schiffert Health Center

Student Travel Guidelines

Students have been advised not to travel during the fall semester, but to wait until on-campus instruction ends in November. Student travel for academic and co-curricular purposes is discouraged until further notice due to public health guidance related to COVID-19 transmission and travel. 

Academic programs: 

Departments and programs should sponsor travel only if the experience’s outcomes are critical to course learning goals and cannot be achieved virtually or through an alternative on-campus experience. This guidance applies to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. 

Departments and programs organizing student travel for off-campus academic experiences are expected to follow the university’s health and safety guidelines (physical distancing, face coverings, transportation, post-travel isolation, etc.) including while traveling to and from the off-campus locations. Organizers must ensure students who are not able to participate in such travel receive alternative opportunities for the experience to ensure equity and inclusion.

University-sponsored student travel should occur only if the travel can be conducted in full compliance with public health guidance issued by Virginia Tech, the Virginia Department of Health, and, if applicable, the destination at the time of travel. It is the responsibility of the faculty or staff member organizing the trip (instructor, registered student organization advisor, etc.) to ensure that the student travel is fully compliant. The faculty or staff member organizing the trip should review protocols for health and safety at the off-campus site to ensure compliance with all state and university health and safety protocols.

Student travel for academic programs can be cancelled without notice at any time, even if previously approved, at the university’s discretion in the interest of health and safety.

This guidance does not apply to student travel to Virginia Tech facilities outside Blacksburg, such as the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.  

Student Affairs:

Student Affairs is following the guideline that all student travel is discouraged. Below are some specific guidelines as examples or exceptions that may be made:

  • Limited local travel (day trips) for student groups (Living-Learning Communities, student organizations), Student Affairs-sponsored trips (i.e., Venture Out programs) may happen but must follow health and safety guidelines. 
  • Travel is not allowed for student organizations, except in the instances listed above. The Student Budget Board will not fund travel. If student organizations have questions, they should connect with their advisor or The Source (thesource@vt.edu). Groups affiliated with Fraternity and Sorority Life need to contact their FSL chapter coach in advance if they want to engage in travel associated with regional/national activities and programs.
  • Travel for service or volunteer programs, such as those organized by VT-Engage, will not take place during the fall semester. This is for local, domestic, and abroad trips. Further, VT Engage will follow the recommendations from the Global Travel Oversight Committee regarding abroad travel. 
  • Rec Sports has told all club teams that they are not allowed to travel or host any competitions or clinics. All other aspects of student travel (regional intramural tournaments, fitness expo, fitness certifications, etc.) are also following these same guidelines.