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Guidelines for Graduate Education during COVID-19

Updated January 25, 2022

The COVID-19 situation changes frequently so continue to monitor your email and the university’s Ready web page for updated guidance.

In alignment with President Sands’ January 18 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 the established commitment to in-person work, except when an employee’s job duties require virtual work. Health and safety are our primary concerns, and decisions should be made with the CDC and university guidelines in mind.  These are likely to change over the course of time, so please adapt accordingly.

Graduate students often have dual roles – as students and, as GAs, GTAs, and GRAs, contributors to the teaching/learning, research/discovery and service/engagement missions of the University.  It is important to remember this duality of student and “employee” especially as we begin Spring 2022. Graduate students who are working as GAs, GTAs, and GRAs, are enrolled as students and are thus required to be vaccinated, receive a booster when eligible, and upload their card unless exempted according to Presidential Policy Memorandum 320. In most cases, resources available to both faculty and students are available to you. Please contact your supervisor, graduate program director, department chair, or dean to request these resources.

Graduate students should initiate conversations with supervisors about their assistantships including: responsibilities and modifications as needed, options for the location of the work and performance expectations.  Once agreed upon, a written summary should be shared with the student, supervisor and graduate program director.

The graduate school has encouraged faculty and graduate program directors to work with graduate students to be as flexible as possible and to discuss with their graduate assistants whether it is possible to work remotely for the first few weeks of the semester or to use other strategies to reduce the need to be on site. There may be some circumstances in which remote work will not be possible. In those cases, or if you have concerns about any aspect of the expectations or roles and responsibilities of graduate assistants, please contact us—we’d love to work with you to find a solution.

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.

We note that it is even more important that the graduate community adhere to the guidelines articulated in the Expectations for Graduate Study available on the Graduate School website.  This site contains the Expectations document, particulars about the Disrupting Academic Bullying efforts, Principles of Community, and more.  These are designed to assist faculty, staff and students to work toward an affirming, inclusive graduate community and quality graduate education at VT.   Graduate students are instrumental in helping VT meet its strategic goals but, even more importantly—you are a vital part of our community and we value you as people and colleagues.

If you test positive for COVID-19, complete the Dean of Students disclosure form and upload your results to the Online Student Health Portal Also, isolate yourself in your residence away from roommates, family, and friends for five (5) days.