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Provost's Update for Week of October 26-30

Faculty Senate: Q&A session with Provost Cyril Clarke

The October 30 Faculty Senate meeting included a Q&A session with Provost Cyril Clarke who discussed topics of faculty interest such as academic program planning and delivery for the spring semester, budget and finance, communications, career progress and satisfaction, equity and inclusion, and campus safety. In his overview comments, Provost Clarke emphasized the following:

  • Appreciation for the hard work of faculty across all instructional modes, recognizing that many faculty want to return to the classroom but are concerned about health safety.
  • Responsibility for making the final decision concerning course modality still rests with the faculty member, in consultation with department heads.
  • Request made to faculty to review and consider the feasibility of delivering more in-person instruction, if health safety risk can be mitigated effectively, realizing that it may not be possible in many instances, but that faculty take the opportunity to think this through again. Provost recognizes timing of request was a challenge for faculty.
  • Should the local public health situation deteriorate, going fully online and limiting all operations to those that are essential may become necessary.
  • Virginia Tech’s priority is and will continue to be to do our best to protect the health of vulnerable individuals. We will not pull back from this commitment.

Provost Clarke will share additional updates and details on these and related topics through his email messages to faculty and department heads. An archive of these and past messages is available the Provost’s website.

Human Resources: Update on spring plans, leave, and resources

Vice President for Human Resources Bryan Garey shared a message with faculty, staff, and wage employees this week as it relates to several key items for spring 2021 semester. Spring classes will begin Tuesday, January 19, starting with online instruction through Friday, January 22. In-person and hybrid instruction will begin Monday, January 25, and continue until the end of the semester.

  • Remote work and flexible schedules: Virginia Tech continues to encourage managers to work with employees to provide flexible and alternative work options. Employees are encouraged to begin discussions now with managers on work plans for the spring semester.
  • Safety protocols: Virginia Tech will continue the workplace safety protocols put in place for the fall semester, and will continue to require testing for high-contact employees. Details about spring semester testing will soon be shared with those employees, their managers, and HR partners.
  • Employee leave: The last day to use accrued 2020 leave is January 9, 2021. Employees are reminded that they will need appropriate leave types to cover December 28–31, 2020 (Winter Break) as those dates are neither university nor state holidays. 
  • Employee resources: Many resources are available to employees and HR encourages you to take advantage of them, as needed. From Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to Hokie Wellness to Virtual Learning Center, these helpful resources and many others can be found on the HR website.

Student research: Post-Thanksgiving activity

For research operations, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI) offers the following guidance on post-Thanksgiving break through Jan. 24:

  • Undergraduate students: All undergraduate for-credit research/instruction will move to virtual participation only. Paid undergraduate students may continue to work in research labs with appropriate approvals and protocols in place (i.e., PPE use, distancing rules, lab hygiene, Institutional Research Board approvals, etc.). Undergraduate student research questions may be directed to Keri Swaby.
  • Graduate students: All graduate for-credit instruction with the exception of research through project/thesis/dissertation credits will move to virtual participation only. Students participating in project/thesis/dissertation work and paid graduate student workers may continue in research labs with appropriate approvals and protocols in place. Graduate student research questions may be directed to Dean Karen DePauw.
  • All volunteer work should be treated the same as for-credit work.
  • Any exceptions should be approved by the appropriate college dean or institute director or her/his designee.
  • This guidance is subject to change depending upon the development on COVID-19.

For information regarding research operations under modified operations, please visit the Phase Three: Reopening Guidance page or the COVID-19 Research Continuity Guidance microsite. For more questions, please visit the OVPRI Contacts page.

ICYMI: COVID-19 testing prior to Thanksgiving break and locations for students, employees in D.C. area

Students encouraged to get tested before Thanksgiving break

Virginia Tech is encouraging all students to participate in voluntary COVID-19 testing before leaving campus for Thanksgiving to help protect relatives, friends, and others who may be at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

The university expects to schedule testing options beginning on Saturday, November 14, and continue through Tuesday, November 24. Virginia Tech encourages all students to continue following public health guidelines as they complete their fall semester classes and prepare to travel home.

For more information, students should contact Student Affairs at 540-231-6272 or

D.C. area employees, students encouraged to register for testing

Virginia Tech has begun asymptomatic, surveillance testing for employees and students in the greater Washington, D.C. area. This applies only to employees and students who are at the following locations:

  • Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church
  • Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington
  • Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center in Alexandria
  • The Gallery student housing
  • Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center
  • Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory

Surveillance testing will be conducted by appointment only. Pop-up clinics will be located at three sites in the D.C. metro area: NVC-Falls Church, VTRC-Arlington, and WAAC-Alexandria. Appointments will be available every other week. Registration is required for testing at each location.

Recent resource and information updates

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.