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Message to A&S Staff Regarding the Fall 2020 Semester

The following message was sent to Arts & Science staff members from Dean John Geer on June 16, 2020. For more information about Vanderbilt’s Return to Campus plan, please visit . 

Dear A&S staff, 

As you saw in the email this morning from Incoming Chancellor Diermeier and Interim Chancellor and Provost Wente, Vanderbilt will, after careful deliberation, reopen our campus for in-person classes this fall. I strongly encourage you to read their email and the university’s Return to Campus website carefully, as they contain important information about the fall semester. 

Know that first and foremost, as we return to campus for in-person learning, the university is focused on protecting the health and safety of the Vanderbilt community. After extensive study and close consultation with the physicians and public health experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as well as national, state, and local officials, we successfully completed Phase 1 of our re-opening plan and transitioned into Phase 2 on June 8. Based on these effective actions, as well as further evaluations and deliberations that examined multiple scenarios and studied best practices, we have developed an approach that allows us to resume on-campus, in-person classes in August. 

You will be contacted by your supervisor regarding when you should return to campus. In the meantime, I want to emphasize a few key points as we look to the fall:

  • Calendar Dates: The semester will begin on Monday, August 24 (note that this is two days earlier than the original start date). In-person classes will end on Friday, November 20, and classes will continue remotely until Friday, December 4. Reading days and exams will take place remotely from December 5-13.
  • Course Delivery: A&S remains committed to providing all students a world-class education. Course instruction will take place in three formats: 1) in-person; 2) online; and 3) hybrid or flex, in which courses are a combination of in-person and remote learning (synchronous and asynchronous). These different formats are necessary to accommodate the needs of faculty and students who are unable to participate in person. Please note that to maintain social distancing guidelines and protect the health of our community, there will be very few exclusively in-person classes.
  • Acknowledgment Form: All faculty, staff, and students will be asked to sign a COVID-19 Return to Campus Acknowledgment form, explaining the risks and responsibilities of returning to campus. It is critical we build a supportive culture that rests on all of us following the needed safety protocols.
  • Remote Accommodations: As a reminder, if you are requesting an accommodation due to COVID-19 because of your personal circumstance, you may do so through the Equal Employment Opportunity Office

We will hold an A&S Staff Virtual Town Hall in the near future to answer any questions that you might have about the plans for the fall semester. More details are forthcoming. 

The upcoming semester will not resemble any in Vanderbilt’s history. The way we learn, interact, work, socialize, eat, and even move through campus will be different and will require all of us to take responsibility for our health and the health of others. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility during these highly unusual times. We truly look forward to seeing you in the fall. 

My best,