Planning underway for strategies to protect public health in the fall semester
May 22, 2020
Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and members of university leadership are reviewing operational strategies to protect public health on campus, with a goal of resuming in-person instruction and experiential learning opportunities for the fall semester. The recommendations were developed by the university’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team (IMT) for the university to consider as it prepares for an expected June 8 announcement on fall semester plans.
“The COVID-19 Incident Management Team’s recommendations are a roadmap to resuming campus activity with the health and safety of our community as the top priority,” Sands said. “Virginia Tech’s proactive management and coordination with the commonwealth’s statewide efforts have flattened the curve and given us the confidence to plan a transition back to teaching and research this fall. I’m proud of the way our community stepped up to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 61 on the easing of restrictions, and in accordance with university policy with public health guidelines in place, the university is beginning to re-engage its workforce based on the needs of campus. Specific timelines and additional details will follow and all information will be posted online and shared through the VT News daily email.
“As we move our workforce back to campus, we will remain engaged with the Town of Blacksburg and the New River Valley COVID-19 Task Force to ensure a comprehensive and successful transition,” Sands said. “Given our statewide presence and the varied impact the virus has across the commonwealth, we are working in parallel to address our footprints in Roanoke, Northern Virginia, and across Virginia.”
The president’s goal is a robust teaching and research agenda that protects the most vulnerable and applies our new understanding of public health needs to an open campus. To implement in-person instruction and experiential learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students while also preventing a resurgence of COVID-19 illness, the university will likely deploy a multimodal approach involving delivery of in-person, hybrid, and online learning. Final decisions will depend on data still being collected and the decisions and actions of the governor and the Virginia Department of Health. Reports and recommendations are expected to be completed in early June.
The university’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team will continue to prepare for several scenarios, but consistent with the president’s intention to transition to an on-campus experience for students this fall, they will focus their efforts on re-engaging the workforce over the summer and scaling to meet the needs of the emerging fall semester plan.
Faculty, staff, and student leaders will work closely with leadership, the IMT, the community task force, and other teams to inform the path forward. Individual planning between employees and their supervisors will determine how, when, and what work will resume on campus, and what activities can continue through teleworking. Guidance and requirements will be shared through the expanded website and within each area.