VCU Together Update for faculty and staff - Sept. 4

New temporary academic regulation, additional recreational facilities open and more

Our priorities are the health, safety and wellness — both physical and emotional — of every member of the VCU community. VCU continues to monitor, assess and address situations as they arise. 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.

Temporary academic regulation: Student absence due to COVID-19

VCU has instituted a temporary academic regulation, “Student absence due to COVID-19.” This temporary regulation provides guidance for students who are required to enter quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, as well as direction to students, faculty and advisors on how to best ensure continuity of learning during extended excused absences. This temporary regulation is effective for the 2020-21 academic year (fall, spring and summer) and applies to all students: undergraduate, graduate and professional.

The full text of the “Student absence due to COVID-19” regulation and related frequently asked questions are available on the Office of the Provost website.

Additional recreational facilities open for use

The Outing Rental Center has re-opened its doors and is currently offering equipment rental and local trips, activities and clinics. It is primarily renting boating equipment and bikes. Membership and/or a season pass is required for rentals and activities.

The MCV Campus Aquatic Center is ready and waiting for swimmers. The pool is open Monday through Friday and closed on Saturday and Sunday. Hours can be found on the Facilities Re-opening page. A workout reservation is required to enter the facility.

The Thalhimer Tennis Center is open for use by members and students. Court reservations are required along with physical distancing. Thalhimer Tennis Center court availability can be found by visiting the MyRecSports portal.

Areas for eating and studying

Tents: VCU has installed tents with more than 100 seats for students, faculty and staff to use for eating and studying. The tents — open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.— are located at three locations:

  • on the south side of Hibbs Hall
  • on the east side of James Branch Cabell Library
  • along the west side of Shafer Court Dining Center and Shafer Street Playhouse

Hibbs Hall classroom spaces: VCU has also dedicated some classroom space in Hibbs Hall for eating and studying. The classrooms and hours of operation Monday through Friday (unless otherwise noted) are listed below:

  • Room 262: 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
  • Room 264: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday
  • Room 429: 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Room 440: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Room 441: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday

Stations with disinfectant wipes will be provided in both the tents and the classrooms. Individuals should clean up after themselves, disinfect shared surfaces before and after use, and not move the furniture that has been positioned to maintain physical distancing.

Ways to help keep you and your peers safe

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 requires changes in our daily lives. We must practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet, wear clean masks inside of buildings and outside in high-traffic spaces, wash our hands frequently and sanitize common spaces before and after we use them. We also must limit the size of in-person gatherings to 10 or fewer.

Call center connects to Employee and Student Health services

Students and employees who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who test positive for COVID-19 must inform Student Health Services or Employee Health Services. Both can now be contacted via a call center line at 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843, where students and employees who are experiencing symptoms can discuss testing options and other appropriate next steps.

COVID-19 contact tracing

Employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 through contact with a positive case at VCU will be contacted by a member of the notifications team. The team member will work with the employee to collect information and complete a questionnaire. They may also ask about symptoms and any recent known exposure to COVID-19. General information about contact tracing processes in Virginia is found on the Virginia Department of Health website.

COVID-19 dashboard

In a community as large and diverse as VCU, we are likely to see rumors on social media or hear rumors shared by friends about outbreaks, building evacuations and campus closures. The new COVID-19  provides transparent details about the number of positive cases in our community and additional numbers related to testing, numbers of those in quarantine and in isolation.

COVIDWISE: Virginia’s exposure notification app

Students, faculty and staff in Virginia are encouraged to download COVIDWISE, a free app from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) that notifies you if you come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. VDH partnered with Google and Apple to create COVIDWISE, which is designed to protect users’ privacy and does not collect, use or store personal identifiable information or location data. The more people who download the app, the better it will work to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Visit the App Store or Google Play Store to download it. For more information, visit: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covidwise/.

Note that COVIDWISE is separate from and does not replace Kallaco, which residential students must use to take their daily health survey and which is also used by the prevalence testing volunteer group to receive test results.

Volunteer for asymptomatic prevalence testing

In addition to promoting healthy behaviors, such as wearing a mask and physical distancing, VCU’s current testing strategy includes testing a percentage of asymptomatic VCU community members on a daily basis. Regular testing of asymptomatic individuals helps us monitor the overall prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community and provides the valuable data we need to make decisions about safety measures and university operations.

VCU will offer COVID-19 prevalence testing at no cost to students and employees at locations on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses; however, we need to identify a pool of students and employees who want to participate. To volunteer for prevalence testing, fill out the online form at covidtest.vcu.edu/. Participants will receive a viral, oropharyngeal (throat) swab test, not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab in the nose. If you are selected to participate in prevalence testing, VCU will contact you with details about how to participate and receive your test results.

Temporary physical distancing shuttle and GRTC

VCU Parking and Transportation is operating a temporary physical distancing shuttle to support VCU community members with increased safety concerns. Three coach-style RMA Worldwide buses will service Cabell Library, One Capitol Square and McGuire Hall during the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. Physical distancing guidelines will be strongly enforced, with no more than 24 passengers permitted on each bus at one time. Shuttles will stop every 12 minutes during the peak period (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and every 20 minutes during off-peak times. Passengers will be able to track the status of each shuttle and view estimated arrival times on the VCU Ride Systems mobile app. The shuttle will operate through mid-November. Visit go.vcu.edu/vcushuttle to learn more.

In addition to the VCU cross-campus shuttle, all VCU and VCU Health System students and employees can continue to ride GRTC at no cost. Travel between the Monroe Park and MCV campuses can best be accommodated by GRTC’s Pulse and Route 5. GRTC has also taken additional safety measures to help ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers. Click here to learn more about how GRTC is responding to COVID-19.

As a reminder, masks are required to ride all GRTC and VCU buses.