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Remote Opportunities for Students

We understand that some members of our community will not be comfortable engaging in the residential campus environment this fall due to underlying medical conditions or a concern over transmission to friends or family members. To the extent possible, academic department leaders and advisors will consult with students to design plans to maximize learning opportunities. Students desiring to enroll only in fully online courses may not have access to the same courses originally included in their plans of study, in the event that these courses are in-person or a blend of in-person and online. Although we are planning to offer some classes fully online, not all courses will have a remote option.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers tips for students working in an online environment. The Student Success Center (SSC) will also be available to support your academic progress by offering its services, including tutoring, through an online format. A complete list of academic excellence programs can be found on their website. To request tutoring, please email tutoring@vt.edu. All other requests should be sent to studentsuccess@vt.edu.

We know that our international students have many more complex situations and questions, and we’ve provided more in-depth information for both undergraduate and graduate international students on the Cranwell International Center website.

Regarding internet access away from campus, see the Home Internet Tips page. To optimize what you can do with a lower-speed internet connection, check out steps 1-4. If you have no internet access at home, steps 2 and 5 offer tips on contacting internet providers and finding community WiFi resources, respectively. Many internet service providers are offering low cost or free options for students who need to complete courses online, so be sure you let them know you are a Virginia Tech student.

Graduate School

Graduate students often have dual roles – as students and as graduate assistants, graduate teaching assistants, and graduate research assistants – and they contribute to the teaching and learning, research and discovery, and service and engagement missions of the university across its colleges and campuses. The university recognizes and supports your belief that progress toward your degree is important and the Graduate School will work with you toward that end.

As we prepare for the fall 2020 semester, know that your rights and choices will be respected regarding courses and assistantships. For new students, we are modifying our orientation program to provide information and tips for success in a virtual format. Visit the Graduate School’s FAQ webpages and the Guidelines for Graduate Education during COVID-19. Also visit the guidelines articulated in the Expectations for Graduate Study document available on the Graduate School website.

Remote Assistantships

Graduate students who hold assistantship appointments (GTAs, GRAs, and GAs) should discuss with their supervisor available options for carrying out their duties, including working remotely. Supervisors are asked to be understanding and as accommodating as reasonable.  Graduate program directors are available to assist in specific situations, following the guidance from the Graduate School. The Graduate School Ombudsperson’s Office also is available for consultation as desired. Graduate assistants with an underlying medical condition and/or a disability that places them at a higher risk should contact ADA and Accessibility Services.

Course Offerings

We will take a phased approach this fall, placing emphasis on in-person instruction that enhances experiential learning. In-person modes of instruction will be prioritized for courses, labs, studios, and performances that cannot be offered remotely at comparable quality.

Decisions on modes of instruction have been made and students are encouraged to check their schedules in HokieSPA so they can plan accordingly. Students should also monitor their schedules for the possibility of changes as faculty work to finalize plans and delivery modes for their fall courses. This VT News article provides further information.

Due to the limited capacity of most instructional spaces that have been modified to accommodate physical distancing, many lectures and discussion sections will be delivered online, preferably synchronously to enable real-time interactions between students and instructors. Depending on the availability of suitably-sized instructional spaces, lectures and discussion sections may also be presented in-person and synchronously transmitted to other spaces, as long as physical distancing and other public health requirements are met in all locations.

Smaller lectures, sections, and laboratories will be offered in person, providing that the spaces allow for proper distancing. Depending on capacity and the availability of instructors, we may need to schedule classes in the evenings.

Our goal is to provide an in-person campus experience to the greatest extent possible while taking measures to minimize the health and safety risks for our campus community. Should public health guidelines relax during the fall semester, in-person teaching and learning will be expanded.

As students begin the fall semester, they will know their course delivery mode and the expectations from the beginning of the term. Thus, we don’t anticipate any extension of the credit/non-credit options offered during the spring.

Professional students
Professional students at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will continue to return to clinics and in-person instruction in a phased approach during the fall.

Third- and fourth-year students at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine returned to clinical rotations on Monday, July 6. The second-year class will continue the next block of study virtually with plans to start in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 31. The new first-year class is scheduled to begin orientation Monday, July 27. Orientation will be a blend of virtual and in-person experiences. Their first block of study will begin primarily in-person on Monday, Aug. 3.

DVM students at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine began a phased return to clinics this summer, starting on June 22. The fall semester for DVM students in years 1-3 will begin on Monday, Aug. 10, and all courses will be completed by Thanksgiving (Nov. 25). Orientation for the DVM Class of 2024 will be held virtually, with workshops scheduled throughout July and August. The traditional White Coat Ceremony has been postponed, and will be scheduled for a later date.

Labs
Lab spaces will be arranged with proper physical distancing and safety measures. For guidance on scaling laboratory spaces and operations, the use of face coverings in research and laboratory settings, and other useful information, see Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 FAQs.

Study abroad
Virginia Tech has canceled all fall 2020 study abroad programs. A full set of FAQs about the programs is available on the Global Education Office website.

Instructional Faculty information

Preparing for teaching and Learning for Fall 2020

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost has a number of academic instruction and technology resources available to faculty to support them in effectively engaging and educating students throughout the fall semester. Faculty can access these communities of practice, academic and student support working groups, and course design and development resources to assist with modified in-person, online and hybrid course delivery. For more info, please visit the provost’s website.

Student Perceptions of Teaching Evaluations

Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT) evaluations for all courses taught in calendar year 2020 will be conducted for all spring, summer, and fall classes. Recognizing that the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will complicate instruction, SPOT scores for courses taught in calendar year 2020 will not be the basis for decisions about future online course offerings or other administrative decisions.

The reporting of SPOT scores from the courses taught during 2020 for performance evaluations or promotion and tenure will be at the discretion of the faculty member. Faculty may choose to report their SPOT scores in their Faculty Activity Report or promotion dossier.  However, faculty may also choose to omit SPOT scores and the absence of scores will not influence the evaluation of the faculty member.

For more detailed faculty information, please visit the faculty affairs website.  

Fall 2020 operational plan

The university’s fall 2020 operational plan, reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, complies with the commonwealth’s Higher Education Reopening Guidance report, which was developed in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health.

Plans For Clinics

On May 26, the Virginia secretary of education updated an advisement from the Office of the Governor to allow for a return to in-person clinical education, as long as certain criteria are met. Criteria include that the training site is willing to accept students and has adequate PPE for students; the student signs an acknowledgement of risk; and the student is given the option to delay clinical placement without academic penalty, though they may still have to complete clinical education in the future to progress toward their degree and graduate.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine had students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 return to clinical rotations on Monday, July 6. Though not in clinical rotations, the class of 2024 began its studies on Monday, July 27, with a blend of in-person and virtual learning. The class of 2023 is still in virtual learning, but will switch to some in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 31.

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine implemented a hybrid clinics model, blending in-person and virtual clinical experiences, for students returning to clinical rotations. Some students in the D.V.M. Class of 2022 began clinics the third week of June and will return to the classroom in the fall. Students in the D.V.M. Class of 2021 will return to clinics on Monday, Aug. 24, and will complete their clinical training in May.

Classroom Distancing

Virginia Tech is currently limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.  At this time, our planning accommodates the possibility that this limit, in confined spaces with specified physical distancing guidelines, will be in effect through the fall semester. Large lecture classes will be offered with reduced in-person attendance and in online synchronous and asynchronous modes. Smaller lectures, sections, and laboratories will be offered in person, providing that the spaces allow for proper distancing. The expectation is that students and faculty/instructors must stay 6 feet apart when measured nose to nose.

Guidance for preparing classrooms can be found here. 

Research Operations

Virginia Tech has developed a framework and process for scaling operations to the current mode of modified operations that continues to recognize the importance of safety, transitions back to an in-person student-learning experience, and ramps up research programs. Working within modified operations in Phase Three status means the further easing of restrictions as research continues to ramp up, carefully and in accordance with commonwealth and Virginia Tech policy.

Most labs can/will be opened. Undergraduate and graduate students working on sponsored research or course credit may return to established or new research projects. Student volunteer research activity in labs is not advised, since the density of researchers in spaces will need to be monitored to adhere to proper physical distancing guidelines. Conditions do not supersede additional requirements colleges and institutes may add to activities in their units. Allowable research activities continue to require the approval of deans, vice presidents, or institute directors or their designee(s). In resuming additional research activities, individuals must use appropriate PPE and continue strict adherence to safety/hygiene and physical distancing requirements.

The COVID-19 Research and Continuity Guidance microsite contains various resources for researchers, including Phase Three: Reopening Guidance.

Research PPE and Hygiene

For guidance on scaling laboratory operations, the use of face coverings in research and laboratory settings, and other useful information, see Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 FAQs.