Operational decisions

In response to the pandemic, VCU formed the Public Health Response Team (PHRT). The PHRT works with the Incident Coordination Team (ICT), which was already in place to respond to emergency situations as they arise at VCU, to consistently review new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and VCU's own medical and science experts to recommend decisions about both safety protocols and university operations. The following data informs PHRT recommendations:

  • The rate of positive tests at VCU
  • The prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community vs. the prevalence of COVID-19 in the Richmond area
  • Excessive demand for isolation/quarantine residence hall space
  • Hospital capacity
  • Test availability and result time

VCU communicates changes in operations and safety protocols as decisions are made.

Public Health Response Team

VCU formed the PHRT to carry out the following activities:

  • Monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community and develop protocols for response to rise in incidence rate
  • Develop protocols for call center operations
  • Manage response to local outbreaks of COVID-19
  • Make recommendations to VCU administration regarding local and general closure

Team members:

  • Tom Briggs, Assistant Vice President for Safety and Risk Management, (co-chair)
  • Scott Strayer, Department Chair and Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, (co-chair)
  • Tilahun Adera, Division Chair and Professor, Division of Epidemiology
  • Jihad Aziz, Interim Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director of University Counseling Services
  • Gonzalo Bearman, Richard P. Wenzel Professor of Medicine Chair, Division of Infectious Diseases, Hospital Epidemiologist
  • Mike Cimis, Director of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Jeff Collins, Director of Sports Medicine
  • Lori Dachille, Director of Emergency Preparedness
  • Alex H. Krist, Associate Professor, Family Medicine and Population Health
  • Mike Porter, Associate Vice President for University Public Affairs
  • Gavin Roark, Director of Residential Life and Housing
  • Margaret Roberson, Director of VCU Student Health Services
  • Susan D. Roseff, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pathology, Chair, Division of Clinical Pathology
  • Frank Tortorella, Director of Employee Health Services
  • Suzie Weaver, Executive Director of the Life Safety Office at VCU Health

Our guiding principles

Our priority is safely executing the university’s mission.

  • We will follow applicable CDC, state and VCU Health System guidance.
  • We will evaluate and implement, where appropriate, personal protective equipment, face coverings, supplies, policies, procedures, education, screening, tracing, testing and vaccination protocols to support this plan.
  • We will clean and sanitize facilities in line with CDC guidelines.
  • We will support accommodations or provide flexibility for members of the VCU and Richmond community when applicable.
  • We will be flexible to address new situations, including anticipated waves of COVID-19 and changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices.
  • We will monitor the health of our community and respond promptly to any increase in infection rates consistent with the advice of medical and science professionals.