Message from leadership to VCU community - Nov. 5, 2021

Finishing the semester strong and planning for spring

Dear VCU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Each day you illustrate your commitment to health and safety by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance when needed and showing care for those around you. Your diligence, coupled with VCU’s high vaccination rates, has paved the way for in-person classes and activities on campus. 

Because of you, we look forward to completing a successful fall semester and are energized as we look to the spring. As we prepare for upcoming breaks and plan ahead, please note the following updates.

Finishing the fall semester strong

Academics

We are in the homestretch of the fall semester. Students should visit the Keep on Learning website for tips about successfully finishing the semester. Remember, the deadline for undergraduate students to choose the pass-fail option for a course is Friday, Nov. 5. And now is the time to start planning for exams (Dec. 14 - 21).  

Testing

Regular testing for COVID-19 continues to underpin VCU’s comprehensive public health and safety strategy. Testing availability for symptomatic students and employees will continue for the foreseeable future, as will asymptomatic surveillance testing for unvaccinated community members. There are no plans to change our current testing strategy for the spring semester.

VCU will also offer a limited number of exit testing opportunities to interested students and employees. Exit testing offers you the opportunity to test for COVID-19 as you prepare to leave campus for the fall semester. Students and employees with travel or holiday plans, especially those who are unvaccinated or may have contact with at-risk family and community members, are urged to participate in exit testing

Traveling

Traveling outside of VCU’s highly vaccinated community may present additional risks. The Virginia Department of Health continues to urge those who are not fully vaccinated to avoid travel. 

Unvaccinated VCU community members are required to test weekly for COVID-19; however unvaccinated VCU community members who travel during the fall break will be asked to test twice during the week they return to campus. All students and employees who travel, regardless of vaccination status, are urged to review the latest travel advisories, understand the risks for contracting or spreading COVID-19, and follow the safety requirements for their destination. 

Preparing for the spring semester



For many members of our community, the benefits of on-campus classes and activities are significant -- being together in person is an important part of building the VCU community and supporting our students and each other. It is how we grow in our relationships, build our network of friends and mentors, and fully embrace the diverse perspectives and experiences of VCU students, faculty and staff. Keep these benefits in mind as you register for classes and explore class modalities.  

Register for classes


The Spring 2022 Schedule of Classes is now available and is searchable by course modality (how the course will be taught: in-person, online, or a combination). Nearly 70% of total courses in Spring 2022 are significantly face-to-face instruction compared to the 57% this fall.

  • Check out the Intersession and new J-Term courses that are offered during the winter break. These two- and three-week courses count toward your spring enrollment and provide flexibility for students to earn credit hours in order to catch up, stay on track or get ahead.

  • Register for spring semester, winter intersession and J-Term courses as early as Nov.3. 


Masking

Face coverings remain an important tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For the time being, VCU will continue to require face coverings indoors as well as at outdoor events with more than 50 people or where physical distancing of six or more feet is not possible. Our public health experts and our colleagues at the Virginia Department of Health review the public health data for our region to determine appropriate safety protocols for VCU. As these numbers continue to improve, additional guidance may be forthcoming.

Vaccinations

The VCU community’s commitment to public health and safety is best illustrated in its student and employee 99% vaccine requirement compliance rate. New students enrolling for spring, as well as new employees, are also required to report their vaccination status to the university. While booster shots are not required, they are encouraged when you become eligible. Keep your booster information in a safe place alongside your original COVID-19 vaccination documentation. Click here to learn more about booster shots and eligibility. Students and employees are also urged to receive their flu vaccine. Since flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms, a flu shot can reduce unnecessary missed time from school/work and, above all, keep you feeling healthy. Students interested in flu shots through University Student Health Services can visit health.students.vcu.edu/immunizations/#flu.

Flexible work arrangements

VCU’s success responding and recovering from the pandemic was in no small part due to the flexibility of our workforce. Even as some public safety measures were lifted, the need for flexible work arrangements (FWA) became much more commonplace, with positive impacts on recruitment, retention, engagement, well-being and productivity. VCU will continue to support FWAs.

Thank you for your continued commitment to one another and can-do attitudes. Please continue to monitor together.vcu.edu for spring 2022 updates. We will notify you through emails of any substantial changes to current plans. In addition to remaining flexible, we must also continue to be vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Continuing to do so in the months ahead will help lead us to a spring semester with more opportunities to be together.

Let’s finish the fall strong, together, and prepare for another successful semester in the spring!

Sincerely,

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Arthur Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System

Meredith L. Weiss, Ph.D.
Vice president for administration