Message from leadership — July 31, 2020

Weekly update: Town halls, study abroad, VCU Rec Sports, testing and more

As we plan the return to campus for the university’s students, faculty and staff, our priorities are the health, safety and wellness — both physical and emotional — of every member of the VCU community. Many details have been worked out, and many are still to come. This weekly update will be a resource to help keep you informed as details become available. All updates are available at together.vcu.edu. Receive notifications by downloading VCU Mobile from your iOS or Android app store.

Academics 

Students and families town hall follow-up

On July 21, VCU held a fall 2020 information session for VCU students and families. More than 1,000 VCU students and family members participated in the session and submitted 517 questions into the Q&A. 

We have an incredible team of dedicated faculty and employees at VCU who are working tirelessly to prepare for the return of our Rams this fall. We have reviewed the questions submitted during the information session and posted the majority of the answers to a FAQ. Additional entries will be made as information is available.

You can also view the recording of the information session at this link. For additional questions, visit together.vcu.edu/contact/.

Study abroad programs cancelled through January 2021

Because of the continued risks associated with traveling abroad due to COVID-19, VCU has decided to cancel all study abroad programs through January 2021. This includes fall 2020 and winter break 2021 programs and applies to all study abroad types, including exchange, direct enroll and provider programs. This decision was made in light of the U.S. Department of State's current global health advisory level, which remains at Level 4: Do Not Travel. The Education Abroad office will continue to monitor travel advisory levels and make recommendations regarding spring 2021 programs. In the meantime, students are encouraged to visit the Keep on Studying Abroad website for ways they can maintain momentum in planning their study abroad experience.

Research

Undergraduate students are permitted to participate in research activities. All university health, safety and training requirements must be met prior to participation. 

VCU libraries reopening details

James Branch Cabell Library will open its building to VCU cardholders and return access to its physical collections and study spaces Aug. 3. Masks and physical distancing will be required, and no food or drink will be allowed in the building other than in the Starbucks seating area. Visit the website for more details. Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences opened July 27. 

Special Collections and Archives on both campuses will operate by appointment only until September. Special Collections and Archives at Tompkins-McCaw Library opened for appointments only on July 27. James Branch Cabell Library's Special Collections and Archives will be open for appointments starting August 3.=

Remote research support and instruction are available throughout the academic year. To request assistance, contact libjbcsca@vcu.edu or (804) 828-1108 for James Branch Cabell Library and libtmlsca@vcu.edu or (804) 828-9898. 

Special Collections and Archives on both campuses will reopen for walk-in researchers on Sept.  8. Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Student services

VCU Recreational Sports reopening update

Cary Street Gym and MCV Campus Recreation Center are scheduled to reopen with limited operations on Monday, Aug. 3. Following the Commonwealth of Virginia, CDC and VCU guidelines, Recreational Sports has made changes to their physical environment, as well as their guidelines and procedures, to help keep their members and staff safe. Full information can be found on their facility reopening website.

Temporary physical distancing shuttle coming in August

Starting in August, 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. 

Temporary parking options

In the event a long-term VCU parking permit does not meet your needs, daily/hourly parking is available at several parking facilities. Additionally, students and employees may purchase a two-week permit for designated locations online at https://vcu.t2hosted.com/Account/Portal.  

RamSafe service begins Aug. 1

RamSafe service will resume on Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. with physical distancing guidelines enforced. Buses will operate at 50 percent passenger capacity. Masks will be required to ride. Learn more at go.vcu.edu/ramsafe.

Ways to help keep you and your peers safe

COVID-19 test required for residential students

VCU requires residential students to complete training and a COVID-19 test (at no cost to students) prior to move-in. Residential students must check their email for instructions from Residential Life and Housing for how to receive an at-home COVID-19 test and mail it back for analysis. Residential move-in time slots will be restricted until training is complete and COVID-19 test results are processed. It is important that residential students register for a test kit to begin the process as soon as possible.

Details about how to access the training and register for your COVID-19 test were outlined in the email, including your personal pin number, which is required to set up your COVID-19 test kit account. Instructions are also available on the residential requirements to move-in website.

Residence planning guide for isolation and quarantine

Residential Life and Housing has created this guide to help our fall 2020 incoming residents reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our residential community. Infection and exposure to COVD-19 can happen at any time with little or no time to react and prepare for isolation or quarantine. We encourage our residents to use this guide as a tool to prepare for isolation or quarantine before moving to campus.

Return to Campus student training

All students are required to complete the Return to Campus student training to gain a better understanding of the steps being taken by the university to ensure their health and safety, as well as an understanding of their expected contributions to the health, safety and success of our VCU community. Please visit the Return to Campus student information website for information on how to access the training and for more details.

Daily health check

Students are required to complete a brief daily health check to monitor the health of the VCU community. Students are required to complete this daily, which includes the days students do not plan to come to campus, as well as if their courses are fully online. The health check will be sent daily via email and is also accessible by visiting the Daily Health website.

Supply kit distribution and refills

Returning students and employees will receive starter supply kits with hand sanitizer, spray disinfectant and launderable face coverings. Hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant bottles can be refilled and should not be discarded. More information about how to refill disinfectant supplies will be communicated later in the semester. VCU will provide employees with supply kits upon their return to campus. Residential students will receive their supply kit upon move-in. Non-residential students can pick up supply kits during the first week of classes at various locations on the Monroe Park Campus. Health sciences students will receive kits at their respective school. Kits will be available at select locations on both campuses for the remainder of the semester. More details about times and locations will be posted on https://together.vcu.edu/students/ as they become available.