Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday outlined plans for the reopening of its campus over the course of the summer.
The school will bring staff, faculty and students back in phases, with the start of the fall semester set for Aug. 17.
The fall semester will be modified. It will run through Nov. 24 and there will be no breaks besides Labor Day. After Thanksgiving, finals will be held remotely starting Nov. 30. The last day of classes for VCU’s MCV campus was originally Dec. 4 and the last day for its Monroe Park Campus was Dec. 7. But many schools are ending their fall semesters early, hoping to avoid a potential second wave of the coronavirus.
The classes might be smaller and courses might include a mix of in-person and online instruction. Areas of instruction will be adjusted to promote 36 square feet of space for each person. Face coverings will be required in all common areas.
As part of the university’s phased return, a limited number of students with clinical placements in their respective health fields (such as dentistry and nursing) and a limited number of athletes will be able to come back to campus this month. Also allowed on campus this month are designated employees and those supporting clinical operation. Limited research faculty, staff and trainees will be allowed as well.
The first half of July about a quarter of non-designated employees who can’t work well remotely will be allowed back, as well as more students with clinical placements and more athletes.
The second half of July the threshold of those allowed on campus will increase to 50% of non-designated employees who can’t work well remotely, along with additional research faculty, staff and trainees. Also additional students with clinical placements and athletes will be allowed back.
From Aug. 1-16 the allowance of non-designated employees and research faculty, staff and trainees will increase to about 75%. Remaining students also will be able to return, before the Aug. 17 semester start. By that date, 100% of non-designated employees who can’t work well remotely will be able to be on campus, as well as positions needed to support the in-person student experience. Others will continue to telework.
Students and employees will complete training that will include health and safety information.
VCU will test to keep track of the prevalence of COVID-19. Tests will be voluntary, with 70% directed toward vulnerable members of the university community and the rest done randomly.
Kits that include masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray will be distributed to students and employees. VCU also plans increased cleaning of buildings.
Fall commencement, originally set for Dec. 12, will be affected. Plans for how the class will be recognized will continue to be explored, based on guidance on large gatherings as time progresses.
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