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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

A planning process is underway to design each course in a manner that best accomplishes academic goals while addressing public health considerations and the resource capacity of the university. It is anticipated that many courses will be delivered using a hybrid of in-person and online learning and that some will be fully online. Decisions on modes of instruction on a per-course basis will be published by July 13 so that students and faculty can plan accordingly.

We will take a phased approach, 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. 

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

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.

At the time of this writing, a planning process is underway to design each course in a manner that best accomplishes academic goals while addressing public health considerations and the resource capacity of the university. It is anticipated that many courses will be delivered using a hybrid of in-person and online learning and that some will be fully online. Decisions on modes of instruction on a per-course basis will be published by July 13 so that students and faculty can plan accordingly. 

Based on CDC guidelines as of early June, and in consideration of the instructional space available on campus, our goal is for the typical student to experience at least one-third of instruction in an in-person format, with the remainder online in synchronous or asynchronous (recorded) modes. Should guidelines relax over the summer and into the fall, in-person teaching and learning will be expanded.

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.

With the green light from the commonwealth, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is planning for students to return to clinical rotations on Monday, July 6. The VTCSOM website has information about the timeline and guidelines for the third- and fourth-year students that this return impacts, as well as additional information about the summer and fall. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s current plans include a hybrid clinics model, blending in-person and virtual clinical experiences, for students returning to clinical rotations. Some students in the DVM Class of 2022 may begin clinics as soon as the third week of June, and students in the DVM Class of 2021 will return to clinics on Monday, Aug. 24.

The colleges are working diligently to develop plans and procedures for the multiple settings in which their students train and will share them in the near future.

 

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 developed a framework and process for scaling operations, with the goal to move from “essential operations” status to a modified operations mode that continues to recognize the importance of safety, transitions back to an in-person student-learning experience, and ramps up research programs. As research carefully transitions to Phase Two, it must do so in accordance with commonwealth and Virginia Tech policy, allowing researchers to resume additional research activities with appropriate PPE and with continued strict adherence to safety/hygiene and physical distancing requirements. The speed of reopening labs will vary, and many operations will not be at full functionality. Allowable research activities continue to require the approval of deans, vice presidents, or institute directors or their designee(s). The COVID-19 Research and Continuity Guidance microsite contains various resources for researchers, including Phase Two: 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.

Under the governor’s Executive Order 63, all university community members at Virginia Tech facilities are required to wear a face covering when in close proximity to others in both indoor and outdoor settings. This includes classrooms, workspaces, labs, residence halls, dining halls, Blacksburg Transit, and other campus spaces when a 6-foot physical distance cannot be maintained.

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.