For faculty and staff
Once we return, the campus experience will be different than it was before the COVID-19 crisis. Many details have been worked out, and many are still to come. We appreciate the input we have received from students, families, faculty and staff so far and it continues to help shape planning efforts. Returning to campus will be in phases and the plans follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, city and VCU Health guidance. To be together means we are responsible together.
When we return, things will look and feel different as we take necessary steps to protect the well-being of our community. Before returning, you will complete the employee training, and acknowledge successful training completion and personal compliance with safety protocols. Managers will complete an additional training. Employees will sign attestation indicating training completion and personal compliance with safety protocols. Managers will sign an additional attestation indicating training completion and compliance with safety protocols.
Here is what is expected of you:
- Monitor your health daily. Complete a daily health survey at dailyhealth.vcu.edu/. Testing will occur according to protocols.
- Wear a face covering or mask in common areas.
- Apply physical distance guidelines to all settings.
- Clean and disinfect personal and shared spaces before and after use. Cleaning supplies will be available in numerous locations.
- Report symptoms associated with COVID-19 to VCU Employee Health Services. A call center hotline will be available later in the summer.
- Employees who continue to telework will check in with managers regularly and provide ongoing reports/outcomes.
- Use leave for any periods with no work. Employees unable to work on-campus or continue working from home must take leave. Once leave balances are depleted, employees may take leave without pay (not to exceed one month).
Follow safety protocols including those regarding face coverings and masks, cleaning and disinfecting, and physical distancing. Employees will receive reminders for daily health monitoring. Managers will be notified after repeated non-compliance. Disciplinary action for employees up to and including termination will be used for a failure to comply with rules.
VCU Return to Campus plan
See additional details about VCU's strategy for reopening in our Return to Campus plan.
Changes to fall semester calendar
VCU's fall semester will now run from Aug. 17 to Nov. 24, with no fall break or reading days included. Final exams will be conducted remotely after the Thanksgiving holiday — from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 for those on the MCV Campus, and from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7 for Monroe Park Campus students. Note: Health sciences and other students may be returning after Thanksgiving to resume their clinical placements and similar activities to which they are committed. This change necessarily affects Commencement, originally scheduled for Dec. 12. We will evaluate guidance on larger gatherings over the next several months and explore how we will recognize the full Class of 2020. More information about the academic calendar will be shared later this summer.
These changes, based on recommendations from public health experts, are designed to reduce the amount of travel to and from campus, and to help avoid the height of flu season.
Additional details and information
How we teach, interact with one another and conduct daily life on campus will change.
- VCU will offer in-person, in-person blended learning and exclusively online course offerings. On-campus courses may be smaller because of physical distancing requirements and some classes may require groups of students to alternate in-person attendance. In addition, more online courses will be available.
- VCU instructional spaces will be adjusted to promote 36 square feet of personal space for each individual.
- VCU common areas (VCU Libraries, Student Commons, Larrick Center, Cary Street Gym, etc.) will require physical distancing.
- VCU will provide resources to students to support your learning, health, safety and well-being.
- VCU will provide resources to faculty to support the blended learning experience, online learning and best practices.
- GRTC will enhance daily cleaning, install sanitizer dispensers on all vehicles, redistribute buses to high-ridership local routes, require cloth face coverings or masks, among other changes.
- VCU will provide a temporary physical distancing shuttle, beginning in August.
- No large extracurricular or group gatherings will be hosted on campus.
How we teach, interact with one another and conduct our daily life on campus will change.
- Face coverings or masks are required in all common areas. Face coverings or masks do not need to be worn in an individual office with a closed door and at least 6 feet from a common space.
- All faculty and staff will wipe down personal workspaces using sanitizing spray at the beginning and end of each workday. Shared equipment and appliances must be wiped down before and after use.
- Cleaning supplies will be available in numerous locations.
- Meetings should be conducted virtually as often as possible; a virtual option should always be made available. For meetings that cannot be conducted virtually, conference rooms must allow for 36 square feet per participants, no more than 50 percent capacity. Rooms, tables and chairs must be wiped down with disinfectant by meeting participants after usage.
- Occupancy of break rooms and use of coffee makers, microwaves, etc. must be limited (or eliminated) to promote appropriate physical distancing and sanitization. Usage of shared refrigerators is discouraged. Employees will only be permitted to eat or socialize together if at least 6 feet apart.
- Hallways, pathways, queuing areas and restrooms may have signage indicating protocols for physical distancing compliance.
- Elevators generally may be shared with only one other person.
- Plexiglass shields will be installed in welcome centers, direct customer service centers and other high-contact areas.
- High-touch items such as magazines, common pens, etc. will be removed.
University employees supporting VCU Health: VCU Health has established different zones of risk to help team members supporting VCU Health understand the risks of exposure to COVID-19 or potential COVID-19 patients. These zones will be made visible around the hospital and clinics so you can be more aware of any areas that may increase your risk of COVID-19 exposure. VCU Health monitors this situation closely. Frequent hand washing and physical distancing between team members when possible is expected in ALL zones. Zones are listed on the VCU Health website.
Two courses in Talent@VCU are designed to "reboard" employees to a new VCU environment.
- Employee training: completion prior to return to campus, no later than Aug. 17 and is for all employees, including managers and those employees continuing to telework. Topics covered include health and safety protocols, shared accountability for health and safety, physical distancing, correct usage of facial covering, additional guidelines for meetings and class sizes, accommodation process, self care and well-being. Employees will sign an attestation indicating training completion and personal compliance with safety protocols.
- Manager training: completion prior to return to campus, no later than July 1 and is for all managers. Topics covered include guidelines for transitioning work teams back to campus, equitably applying telework, handling conversations with employees, resources for psychological readiness and well-being, leadership best practices during difficult situations. Managers will sign an attestation indicating training completion and compliance with safety protocols.
- All research that is possible to be done remotely should continue remotely, including all seminars, group meetings, etc., and
- On-campus research activities transition to a maximum of 25 percent total personnel capacity in Phase II, 50 percent to 85 percent capacity in Phase III (based on the vice president of research and innovation's determination), and 100 percent capacity in Phase IV with physical distancing. Shift work can maintain this percentage while allowing more researchers to work.
Additionally, supporting materials related to the phased return to research are posted on the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation website at research.vcu.edu/covid-19/
Plans related to faculty will include a phased return of faculty members to campuses as well as changes to course formats and instructional spaces. A number of resources to support faculty in their endeavors to teach, design, build and assess courses will be offered. As a reminder, in order to comply with safety measures, all courses with an enrollment of 50 or more students on the Monroe Park and MCV Campuses will be taught in a remote/online format.
Major details include:
- Phased return of faculty to VCU campuses.
- Determining modality (in-person, hybrid or online course) based on faculty requests and course needs assessment.
- Determining instructional space assignment and room capacity.
- Courses completed in Learning Management System (LMS).
- Sample syllabi statements that address safety measures, protocols and expectations in learning settings (e.g., physical distancing, wearing of face coverings or masks).
Major supports proposed to help faculty prepare to teach, design, build and assess include:
- Teaching Online@VCU: online teaching for new and returning faculty members (12-15 hours coursework)
- Designing Online@VCU: faculty training course (12-15 hours of coursework)
- Flexible Design Program: department-level online course design and building in LMS (12-15 hours consulting and preparation)
- Faculty workshops:
- Creating an Accessible Virtual Classroom workshop (45 minutes)
- Video streaming and capture training
- Online assessment and exams
- VCU Course Quality Rubric: will be available to all faculty for use as self-review of hybrid and online courses
- Confirm training completion for all returning employees.
- Support ongoing compliance with safety protocols including health monitoring, reporting, facial coverings and physical distancing.
- Be prepared to address non-compliance with safety protocols with disciplinary action.
- Work with return to campus coordinators to obtain supply kits and additional cleaning supplies, as needed.
- Provide flexibility to employees and work with the ADA/504 coordinator to develop ADA accommodations.
- Manage employees who continue to telework, ensuring sufficient work and use of leave when necessary, regular check ins and review of employee reports/outcomes.
- Support continued employee well-being.
- Complete training for managers prior to a return to campus.
Return to campus coordinators, HR professionals and building managers
- Each school and unit's HR professional will be asked to complete a staffing plan that identifies the status of each staff member relative to the return to campus (e.g., designated, return to campus (in-person work), continue effective telework, hybrid telework). Staffing plans will be approved by the Incident Command Team to coordinate the availability of health and safety supplies for those returning to campus.
- Return to campus coordinators will work with their deans/department heads/vice presidents, building managers and the staffing plan to coordinate the application of safety and health protocols and availability of supplies for those returning to campus.
- Return to campus coordinators will assist with supply kit distribution, supply inventory and facility signage and readiness.
- Refer to the Return to Campus Implementation Plan webpage for more information.
Managers should demonstrate flexibility in developing return to campus staffing plans, particularly for those caring for others, or who have concerns about returning to campus. Management options include:
- Continued telework if this has been a successful arrangement
- Alternative schedules to limit contact with other employees
- Usage of leave if there is no/limited work that can be performed remotely. Employees may request up to 30 days of leave without pay if leave balances are exhausted.
Faculty will work with their department/unit on their return to campus plan.
Manager training covers liberal and equitable distribution of telework and task assignments to support employees, as well as best practices for managing remote employees.
Appeals to return to campus staffing decisions:
- Employees are asked to acknowledge their understanding of the manager's rationale for the return-to-campus request, and the safety and health protocols that have been implemented.
- If an employee does not agree with the manager’s decision to return to campus, they may appeal to their manager and vice president. A final decision will be made by the vice president.
Employees may request ADA workplace accommodations through the university ADA/504 Coordinator. Employees should discuss with their manager and their HR professional any other alternative work arrangements.
University-sponsored international travel is suspended until further notice. This includes faculty, staff and students.
University-sponsored domestic travel out of state for clinical and research purposes is permissible with the approval of the senior vice president for health sciences or the provost.
Members of the VCU community are encouraged to limit personal travel. We encourage students and employees to refer to the CDC and U.S. Department of State to be fully informed of potential health risks and travel restrictions that may be in place.
Payroll deductions/prepaid permits
Beginning on July 25, 2020, VCU payroll deductions and payment for prepaid permits will resume for employee subscribers. The first deduction will be seen in the August 14 paycheck. Expiration dates for prepaid permits were extended by the length of time for which subscribers may have paid, as of March 31, 2020. Prepaying subscribers can view the new expiration date for your permit by accessing the parking portal at https://vcu.t2hosted.com/Account/Portal.
In the event your teleworking arrangements extend beyond July 25, you have the option to cancel your parking permit, purchase a temporary parking option, or continue with payments/deductions to reserve your parking assignment. Learn more about these options at https://parking.vcu.edu/parking/faculty-and-staff/options-and-rates/.
Riding GRTC: Students and employees can continue to utilize GRTC for essential travel. GRTC has taken additional safety measures to help ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers during COVID-19. Some of their most recent safety efforts include: implementing enhanced daily bus cleaning procedures, installing sanitizer dispensers on all vehicles, redistributing buses from low-ridership routes to high-ridership local routes to help promote physical distancing, disinfecting high-traffic areas periodically with Steriphene aerosol disinfectant and encouraging more frequent staff testing. GRTC also requires all passengers to wear face masks or nose and mouth coverings while riding. Passengers without masks may be asked to exit the bus. You can learn more about how GRTC is responding to COVID-19 at ridegrtc.com/news-initiatives/news-updates/grtc-and-covid-19-coronavirus.
Temporary physical distancing shuttle coming in August: In addition to GRTC, starting in August 2020 for the fall semester, VCU Parking and Transportation will operate a temporary physical distancing shuttle to support VCU community members with increased safety concerns. The shuttle will travel to Cabell Library, One Capitol Square and McGuire Hall, and physical distancing measures in addition to face mask requirements will be enforced. Additional information regarding this shuttle will be released later this summer.
We look forward to welcoming new and returning international students to campus this fall. To guide students in returning to campus, the Global Education Office has prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers. This is a living document and will be updated as needed. Faculty and staff who receive questions from international students should direct them to these FAQs or email GEO at GEOIS@vcu.edu.
There are hundreds of details involved in each of these measures and considerations. Your input is very helpful as we move forward. Climatext, a real-time data collection tool developed by VCU Information Technology and the Division for Inclusive Excellence, is part of the university’s proactive monitoring and response plan to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Climatext provides quick feedback to uncover trends and gain insights that the university can incorporate into decisions. In this new climate, tools like this help ensure we get the input we need in time to use it. Learn more about climate surveys and continue to share your ideas.