Week of January 10-14
COVID-19 booster shots required for all Virginia Tech employees, students
As announced by President Tim Sands on December 28, all Virginia Tech employees and students are required to get a COVID-19 booster shot within 14 days of eligibility. For those who are eligible now, reporting of updated vaccination information is due by February 1.
Employees need to upload their updated vaccination record as soon as they receive their booster dose. Procedures remain in place for requesting a medical or religious exemptions, and existing exemptions will continue to be honored. Those who have medical concerns about receiving a booster are encouraged to consult with their personal physician.
Hokie Wellness and Virginia Tech Emergency Management are partnering with Kroger to offer a booster clinic on January 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Rec Sports Fieldhouse (510 Beamer Way, Blacksburg). The clinic is open to all students and employees. No registration is needed.
Provost’s Office: Commitment to students to continue in-person instruction
In alignment with President Sands’ January 11 message to the Virginia Tech community, the university’s plan is to honor the commitment made to students when they registered for in-person courses and to continue our established commitment to in-person work, except when an employee’s job duties require virtual work.
If faculty are eligible for accommodations relating to their personal and documented disability status, which includes being immunocompromised, they should submit a request for consideration to the Office of Equity and Accessibility, which has an expedited process for review. If an accommodation is authorized, the office will communicate with the employee and the college to identify an appropriate accommodation that meets the need of the employee as well as the business interest of the university. One possible outcome is a temporary approval of virtual instruction.
Separate from any accommodation authorized by the Office of Equity and Accessibility, if an emergency arises due to illness of an instructor or illness/isolation of a majority of class members, the department head or unit administrator, in consultation with the dean, may approve a short-term, temporary conversion to virtual learning. However, if there is a student in an in-person class who needs face-to-face instruction to address a special consideration or disability, appropriate arrangements should be made to enable the student’s learning and academic progress.
If just a few students are unable to attend an in-person class, faculty are encouraged to manage the situation in a manner that is consistent with practices employed in the past, prior to the COVID pandemic.
Faculty Affairs and CETL: New resources for preparing, updating spring course syllabi
As we approach the start of the spring 2022 semester and faculty finalize their course materials, Section 9.6.1 (Syllabus and Performance Expectation) of the Faculty Handbook offers guidance for providing students with course syllabi that includes information about course content, class schedules and attendance, grading scales, and overall expectations of the instructor. Faculty and instructors should design their syllabi as a useful means for setting the tone of their courses. Syllabi requirements, per the Faculty Handbook, include the following:
- Academic Accommodations
- Academic Integrity
- Course Objectives
- Office Hours
- Topical Outline
While not required, faculty and instructors may also consider additional information in the syllabi such as student resources available across the university, promoting student success, inclusion and diversity, creating a sense of belonging, and clear communication regarding expectations.
A new syllabus statement developed by Active Minds, a Virginia Tech student organization, that supports the mental health and well-being of students is now available. The statement shares resources and contact information for students who may be feeling overwhelmed academically, are having trouble functioning, or are worried about a friend or classmate. Faculty are encouraged to include this statement on their course syllabus materials and their CANVAS sites.
The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has developed a number of useful resources for further helping faculty prepare or update their syllabi in order to provide students with the necessary information and resources to successfully complete the course. These resources include:
- Syllabus Checklist
- Learning Contracts
- Developing Your Instructional Technology Policy and Syllabus Information
- Syllabus Tips and Sample Syllabus Statements
In addition to course content and expectations, some instructors may choose to share their teaching philosophies, suggested readings, or policies that relate to their specific disciplines or course needs. Additionally, some instructors opt to include syllabus acknowledgement statements for students to sign that they have read the syllabus and understand the course policies.
For more information and resources on developing/updating course syllabi, please access the Faculty Handbook or visit the CETL website.
The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech: Submit a program for Women’s Month 2022
The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech invites members of the campus community to submit a program for Women’s Month 2022: The First 100 Years of Women at Virginia Tech. Women’s Month has historically represented Virginia Tech’s broad commitment to celebrating diverse and inclusive communities. To honor this ongoing commitment, the Women’s Month 2022 calendar will include programs and events aligned with the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.
In 1921, Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute admitted the first women students as Mary Ella Carr Brumfield (biology), Ruth Terrett (civil engineering), Lucy Lee Lancaster (biology), Louise Jacobs (chemistry), and Carrie Taylor Sibold (biology) enrolled full-time. On the eve of Virginia Tech's Sesquicentennial, Women’s Month 2022 celebrates this milestone, reflects on the advancements women have made over the past century, and imagines the next 100 years for women at our university.
Women’s Month recognizes, affirms, and showcases the achievements, concerns, and diversity of women. A feminist perspective — one that encourages and advances women of all races, political affiliations, national origins, religions, ages, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and income levels — underlies all our programming. The annual event occurs in March in conjunction with the National Women’s History Month.
The deadline for program submissions is Friday, February 4.
If you have questions or would like more information, please email Anna LoMascolo, co-director for programming, or visit the Women’s Center website.
Global Education Office: Updated process for requesting high-risk travel and COVID-19
The Global Education Office in Outreach and International Affairs has announced a new process to better engage and provide travelers with information related to travel safety during the pandemic. Travel may be for university activities such as research, meetings, study abroad, conferences, recruiting, competitions, and field work.
If your destination is high-risk due to COVID-19, the request process is now a Canvas course that must be completed by specific deadlines, based on the traveler’s affiliation to Virginia Tech and vaccination status. This course includes nine modules. The Global Education Office recommends setting aside 45 minutes to one hour to complete the course and submit the request for travel. Dependents and guests are not required to complete this course, but may do so if they are interested in the provided information.
If a destination is high-risk for reasons other than COVID-19, the standard process for a request for an exception to university policy for high risk travel must be followed.
Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy does not authorize any university-supported international travel to or from locations where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Travel Health Notice Level 3 or higher. Also, Policy 1070 does not authorize student university-supported international travel to locations where the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory Level 3 or higher.
Travelers can petition the Global Travel Oversight Committee (GTOC) for an exception to Policy 1070 for high-risk travel. Exceptions are not automatically approved and can be revoked at any time. Travel to a high-risk location without a waiver from the GTOC constitutes personal travel. For students, credit transfer will not be accepted by Virginia Tech for unauthorized global travel. Only students that receive a waiver from the GTOC will be authorized credit transfer from studying abroad.
For any questions related to Policy 1070 or petitioning for an exception to the policy, please email the Global Education Office or visit the Global Education Office website.
Recent resource and information updates
- Updates around centralized distribution of KN95 and surgical masks
Due to overwhelming participation, the centralized ordering process for KN95 and surgical face masks will conclude on Friday January 14.
- From President Sands: Expectations for the spring semester
Message outlines goals of continuing in-person experiences and the university’s mindset about COVID-19 will evolve going forward.
- Parking changes for Squires and Media Annex lots
In response to university feedback, Transportation Services has implemented changes marked by new signage in these lots.
- Moss Arts Center institutes vaccination policy for public events
Patrons will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result before entering events held in its performance venues.
- Electronic signature, paperless forms options available
To help enable paperless processes and remote collaboration, Virginia Tech offers the DocuSign eSignature platform for faculty, staff.
- Perry Street Garage: Prices Fork, West Campus Drive access closed
Access to, from Perry Street Garage is now limited to Prices Fork and access to, from the garage via West Campus Drive is closed.
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 via the 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 VTx Daily email for further important updates, notices, and resources.