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Message to Graduate Students from Dean Surprenant regarding the start of spring semester

Message to all graduate students (all campus locations, new and returning), January 10, 2022, from Dean Aimée Surprenant

We’re entering a Spring semester in an environment filled with uncertainty and anxiety. COVID-19 cases are rising with a week left before classes start. However, we are in a different place than we were when the pandemic started as nearly everyone in the university community is vaccinated and boostered. At this time, I believe that the university will continue to conduct in-person instruction and operations to the greatest extent possible, while protecting the capacity of the health care systems in our communities.

Of course that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to worry about—your concerns are valid and I am encouraging 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 or to use other strategies to reduce the need to be on site. Your graduate program directors are available and willing to help out. 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 of you or your roles and responsibilities as graduate assistants, please contact us—we’d be happy to work with you to find a solution.

Additional pertinent information can be found in the weekly guidance from the Provost, including some information on booster shots, testing, and KN95 masks. Other updates or revised guidance will be posted on the Virginia Tech Ready website ( As always, links to other resources are available on this webpage.

More guidance will be issued soon.

Unfortunately, I cannot promise that we will have all the answers and I cannot say with certainty what is going to happen over the next weeks and months. This is not where any of us wanted to be and I know it is difficult and stressful. We are all going to have to continue to work together to be flexible, kind, and supportive of one another and to adapt to new conditions. I will keep you apprised of any new developments as soon as I can.

Aimée Surprenant, Dean of the Graduate School, Virginia Tech