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Week of February 15-19

COVID-19: Helping students follow health, safety guidelines

As we progress through the spring semester and begin planning for more in-person instruction and campus activities in the summer and fall, it is important to remind students to continue following all university health and safety guidelines to help minimize COVID-19 spread in our campus and local communities. Encouraging best practices such as wearing of masks, physical distancing, avoiding large crowds, and frequent washing of hands will help faculty and students safely increase their in-person activities and interactions, and protect those around them.

There are a number of resources and guidelines available through the Virginia Tech Ready and Provost’s Office websites to assist faculty and department heads in refocusing students on these important health and safety protocols and commitments.

To support students who are required to isolate or quarantine, Student Affairs continues to seek student-centered faculty and employees who are willing to serve as part of the Student Advocate TeamStudent Advocates provide virtual support to Virginia Tech students placed in quarantine and isolation housing, and serve as a single point of contact during a difficult time when they have little to no contact with anyone else.

For those interested in serving as a Student Advocate, an information session is scheduled for February 26 at 11:00 a.m. Registration is required.

Faculty Affairs: P&T guidance, expectations for departments

The Office of Faculty Affairs has posted a university document to provide guidance for the promotion and/or tenure guidelines and expectations required of departments in the Faculty Handbook (Section 3.4). This resource should serve as a guide for reviewing and updating departmental and college documents.

The expectations presented in the document are meant to clarify the areas that should be addressed in guidelines and are not intended to be an exhaustive or restrictive set of requirements. The document provides examples from several departments, which are shared for your information. Faculty Affairs does not expect all department to adopt the examples, but rather to use them as a guide. Guidelines may be maintained in a single document or as multiple documents that address specific facets of the promotion and/or tenure process. All guidelines must be accessible to faculty.

For more information or questions/clarifications, contact the Office of Faculty Affairs at 540-231-6670 or facultyaffairs@vt.edu.

Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) to host NSF presentation

The Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE) will host a virtual presentation by Kellina Craig-Henderson, deputy assistant director at the National Science Foundation, Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences directorate. Craig-Henderson will present "Opportunities and Priorities: Getting NSF Support for Your Research in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences,” and will include information about their newly refocused funding priorities and several new programs they have initiated this year.

The presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. All Virginia Tech faculty as well as faculty from Virginia State University are invited to attend. Registration is required.

Craig-Henderson is a former professor of psychology who previously served as the deputy division director of the Social and Economic Sciences Division of SBE before transitioning into the role of director for NSF's Tokyo Regional Office. Before undertaking full-time Federal service at NSF, Craig-Henderson was promoted to the rank of full professor in the Department of Psychology at Howard University.

For more information, please email Yancey Crawford.

ICYMI: COVID-19 vaccination update from Provost Clarke

The Provost’s Office has received a number of inquiries regarding the plan, process, and expected timeline for COVID-19 vaccinations for the Virginia Tech community. Provost Cyril Clarke shared a message to help faculty and staff understand how the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is designed and how is it is being implemented. The following are some highlights from his message:

  • New River Health District (NRHD) is responsible for managing the COVID-19 vaccination process for faculty, staff, and students on Blacksburg campus. The plan rollout currently consists of three phases:
    • Phase 1a (active): vaccinate healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.
    • Phase 1b (active): vaccinate frontline essential workers, people aged 65 and older, and people aged 16 through 64 with high-risk medical condition or disability that increases possibility of illness from COVID-19.
    • Phase 1c (TBD): vaccinate other essential workers to include faculty and staff at institutions of higher education. Timeline for vaccination of those in Phase 1c has not yet been determined by VDH.
  • Strategy employed by VDH is aligned with that of Virginia Tech: prioritize safety of those most at risk of getting COVID-19 and suffering serious consequences.
  • Virginia Tech is not in charge of nor does it have the authority to independently schedule, obtain, or administer COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, students.
  • Virginia Tech is working with NRHD to register Blacksburg campus group 1b frontline employees, and is identifying group 1b employees at other locations to coordinate with those local health districts to get personnel vaccinated.
  • We are communicating with local health districts on possibilities of coordinating registration for Phase 1c and establishing vaccination clinics on campuses.
  • Faculty, staff, and students need to continue following all public health guidelines (wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large crowds, and washing hands frequently) both prior to and after vaccination.

Read the complete COVID-19 vaccination message from Provost Clarke.

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.