VCU classes to resume in August, students home by Thanksgiving

With the move from in-person to online classes, there are few students, faculty or staff on campus. CT file photo

Katharine DeRosa, Staff Writer

VCU will begin a phased reopening of its campus this month and start the fall semester on Aug. 17, university president Michael Rao said in a statement Wednesday.

Rao said in a YouTube video that classes may be smaller, while some may require alternating between in-person and online instruction. Many classes will be a blended format of online and in-person learning. 

Students will be sent home before Thanksgiving to avoid the height of flu season, Rao said.

Final exams will be administered remotely and take place Nov. 30 through Dec. 4 for MCV students and Nov. 30 through Dec. 7 for Monroe Park students. 

Rao said some students with clinical rotations may return to campus after Thanksgiving. 

Winter commencement is scheduled for Dec. 12. Rao said the university is evaluating how to proceed with large gatherings and will provide updates as more information becomes available. 

“We’ll explore how we’ll recognize the classes of 2020,” Rao said.

According to VCU’s reopening plan, students will move into dorms in phases, University Student Health Services and University Counseling Services may offer on-site and telework appointments, Recreational Sports may not offer contact or team sports, and dining services may offer takeout or mobile ordering.  

Detailed information on the phased return to campus can be found on VCU’s website, and questions can be directed to [email protected]

The phased approach will begin with health science students as well as research faculty and staff. During June, a limited number of both students with clinical rotations and student athletes may return to campus. Employees that work with clinicals and in research will also return. 

Rao said the phased return is based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other professional health recommendations.

“Each of us has roles and responsibilities to promote safety in our learning, work and living environments,” Rao said.

The second phase of reopening will take place in July and will allow another phase of medical students and student athletes to return. Research faculty, staff and trainees will also partially return.

From July 1-15, 25% of nonessential employees will return, and during the second half of the month, another 25% will return. 

The early August phase of return will allow the remainder of students with clinical rotations and student athletes to return to campus. Both non-designated employees and research staff will also continue to return. 

By Aug. 17, all staff needed for classes to begin will be on campus with the exception of those unable to work. 

VCU will also provide safety kits for all students and employees. Each kit will contain washable masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.

In addition, VCU will have hands-free temperature stations, an app/website for daily health monitoring and COVID-19 testing, which can show antibodies for the coronavirus from those who may be asymptomatic. 

According to Rao, students and employees will be expected to wear masks, practice social distancing, clean and disinfect shared spaces before and after use, complete return-to-campus training and monitor their health.

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