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Week of April 26-30

Undergraduate research: Expectations for summer, fall 2021

Virginia Tech will authorize the scheduling of research experiences for undergraduates (REU) and in-person laboratory activities for the summer sessions, permitted that they continue to comply with all current health safety guidelines for research labs and program facilities. The use of laboratory space on campus will remain consistent with the approach for the spring 2021 semester that permits student use with requirements to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation strategies. These include face covering/masks (addressing the highest hazard), distancing, capacity limits, and space coordination when appropriate.

The university is also working to develop guidelines that will further relax mitigation expectations as a result of experience gained with vaccinated individuals so as to establish parameters for vaccination “research pods.” Implementation of some or all COVID-19 mitigation strategies applicable to undergraduate research activities will be influenced by both internal and external factors and disease management metrics with input from the Virginia Department of Health. A vaccination requirement for the fall semester is under evaluation by state as well as university officials.

Research faculty and lab personnel should continue to consult with their direct supervisors for specific guidance on research protocols for their areas. The Interim Summer/Fall 2021 COVID-19 Operational Plan is available on the Virginia Tech Ready and Provost’s Office websites. Modification to the plan throughout the summer and fall are expected and will be updated and shared with the university community as necessary.

COVID-19 vaccinations: Upcoming clinics at Lane Stadium and vaccination survey for employees

Virginia Tech employees have an opportunity to receive first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses at upcoming clinics at Lane Stadium. The clinics are be open to all university and community members.

  • May 6 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.*
  • May 11 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.*
  • May 18 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.*

* Moderna and Pfizer second doses available

Additional information is available on upcoming clinics in the New River Valley and how to schedule a first dose appointment at one of the clinics in the region. Second dose participants do not need an appointment.

Logistics for attending a vaccine clinic at Lane Stadium

  • Enter at Gate 3 in the South End Zone.
  • Park in the Stadium Lot. Please enter the lot from Sterrett Drive.
  • If you have an appointment, please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible.
  • Bring: ID/Hokie Passport. First-dose participants MUST also bring their printed, completed, and signed forms: COVID-19 encounter form and Under 18 Consent form (if applicable). If using a fillable PDF, when forms are printed, please be sure your full information is included and not cut off.

Additional resources to schedule and receive a COVID-19 vaccine, either for a first or second dose include:

  • VaccineFinder.org gives results of vaccines available by location and information on how to sign up for a vaccine at a pharmacy and other COVID-19 partners.
  • New River Valley clinics: All university members in the New River Valley region can sign up for ongoing clinics in the area. In most instances, first dose appointments can be scheduled online; second doses are available for walk-ins.
  • Greater Washington, D.C. area: For those in the greater Washington, D.C. area, use these resources to sign up and receive a vaccine.

Important COVID-19 vaccination survey for employees
Provost Cyril Clarke and Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Dwayne Pinkney encourage all members of the Virginia Tech community to complete a brief survey on whether you have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and, if you have not, whether you plan to be vaccinated in the near future.

The purpose of the survey is to estimate the proportion of our community at large that will be vaccinated by the start of the summer. Data collected will not be attributed personally in our analysis nor will it be saved for future use. An estimate of the proportion of the community that has been vaccinated will facilitate our ability to assess health safety risk and develop data-driven plans for the summer and fall semester.

Equity and Accessibility: Accommodation statements in university event, program announcements

Virginia Tech is committed to ensuring that programs, services, events, and activities are accessible to individuals with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The university’s goal is to proactively plan events free of physical, communication, and/or other barriers so all individuals may participate in campus programs, services, events, and activities.

Accommodation statements
All institutional and departmental publications that describe or invite public participation or attendance in programs at the university, and all university-sponsored events held off campus, are required to contain a disability accommodation statement.

The statement must be in the invitation or announcement of the event. It should provide an event contact, email, and phone number. The accommodation notice will enable the event planner to arrange reasonable accommodations in advance.

Pre-registration for an event provides an opportunity for event planners to provide important details about the event. A comprehensive description of the event should include location, environmental conditions, captioning availability, the availability of ASL interpreting, etc. If an event includes overnight lodging, the event planner should investigate the accessibility features of the lodging.

Responding to requests for accommodations
Focus on the accessibility issue and the requested accommodation. Respond as quickly as possible to a participant requesting an accommodation because it may take several communications to work through the details of a particular request. The preferred accommodation from the participant should be given primary consideration.

If the preferred option proves difficult to provide or if there are questions consult with:

For more information, please visit the Office for Equity and Accessibility website.

Reminder: Participate in the 2021 campus climate survey

Virginia Tech is currently gathering feedback from employees through the campus climate survey. Provost Clarke would like to thank those of you who have completed the survey.

For those who haven’t had a chance to complete it yet, the survey is only open until Monday, May 3. This is a great opportunity for you to provide feedback about our university climate, including diversity, inclusion, leadership, work environment, and job satisfaction.

On April 13, all employees with a Virginia Tech email account received an email from climatesurvey@vt.edu. The email contains a link to the survey, which will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. This year’s questions are more simplified and streamlined, built by a cross-functional committee of survey/assessment experts.

The link is personalized to each employee and should not be forwarded to others. While the survey has been pre-populated with organizational information for accurate reporting, responses are confidential and protected. Employee data is not part of the survey; only responses to the survey questions. Names and identifiers are removed, and only aggregated data will be reported.

Please take a few moments to participate in the survey and encourage your colleagues and department/unit staff to do the same. If you have questions about the survey, email the HR Service Center or call 540-231-9331.

ICYMI: Faculty Engagement Plan for fall 2021

Provost Cyril Clarke communicated the following in his February 26 Weekly Communications Update: “Although there are still many unknowns, I am optimistic that the increasing availability of vaccines and continued adherence to health and safety protocols will result in a fall 2021 semester that looks similar to that of pre-pandemic semesters. Assuming current limitations continue through the end of spring and that we will be able to resume in-person instruction in the fall, summer sessions will serve as a transition period.”

In coordination with academic deans, Faculty Senate leadership, university leadership, and campus public health and safety officials, the Provost’s Office has finalized a Fall 2021 Faculty and Academic Staff Engagement plan that provides guidance and expectations for returning to in-person academic activities. In accordance with the health and safety protocols anticipated to be in place at the start of the fall 2021 semester, faculty should prepare to return to their primary campus on a regular basis beginning in August 2021. The majority of courses should return to the modality that was used in fall 2019.

The Fall 2021 Faculty and Academic Staff Engagement plan merges and confirms a number of conversations that have taken place with multiple audiences over the past several months. As noted in the plan, the details align with Provost Clarke’s February announcement and provides information on returning to in-person instruction/activities, use of instructional spaces, reopening of academic offices and student support services, research, university travel, and meetings.

The university will continue to work to accommodate faculty whose health and family needs require remote work. Faculty requests to teach courses remotely will need the approval of their department head and/or dean.

For further details, read the full Fall 2021 Faculty and Academic Staff Engagement plan or visit the provost’s website.

Recent resource and information updates

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Weekly Communications Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with faculty, staff, and academic program personnel, please provide them through this Google form.

Please visit VT Ready and the Provost’s website frequently for new and updated university information. All members of the campus community should also read their VT Daily email for further important updates, notices, and resources.