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FAQs for graduate students regarding the university's COVID-19 directives

Spring semester will begin  Tuesday, January 19, and will be online for the first week, before switching to the modality listed in the course schedule. The university will continue to offer courses in the three modalities used during fall 2020. 

Instead of a traditional week-long spring break, the university will offer five one-day breaks throughout the semester. They will be Feb. 5 and 25, March 17, April 6 and 26. The breaks will have no classes, assignments, nor assessments. 

Spring semester classes will end on May 5 and finals will be held May 7-12. The university has not yet decided what format will be used for spring commencement ceremonies, but the dates remain the same: with Graduate Commencement scheduled for Thursday, May 13 and the Northern Virginia Commencement Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, May 16. 

Many of the protocols and procedures used during fall semester remain in place for spring semester. Classes are offered in three modalities: online, in-person, or a hybrid combination.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate, while students and others who come in contact with someone who tests positive for the disease are asked to quarantine.

All employees and students must adhere to public health guidelines, which include wearing face masks or coverings in public, observing physical distancing, avoiding crowds, and frequently washing hands or using hand sanitizer. Classrooms have been modified to decrease capacity to avoid potential spread of COVID-19. 

We continue to monitor public health updates and will share new information as it is provided. You'll find up-to-date information on the university's Ready page. You also can find updated Graduate Education information on the Graduate School's Ready Information for 2020-21 webpage

"I think it is important that we continue to communicate," Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw said during a recent virtual town hall. "We will do everything we can to communicate changes or what we are doing. ... It is the uncertainty and unknowing that can add to the stress." We are endeavoring to provide up-to-date and accurate information as we receive it. 

(Updated: Jan. 4, 2020)

What are the university’s plans if there is an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus or in the region?

The University is prepared to transition in-person course instruction to online should the need arise.

What is the university doing to with classrooms to ensure safety?

Virginia Tech' facilities crews have been reconfiguring classroom spaces to provide 6 feet of space between students. This has reduced the capacity of instruction spaces. There will be hand santizer stations outside each classroom, and instructors will wear face shields if they are teaching in front of students. You can find out more about VT's efforts to follow public health guidelines in classrooms in this article

What personal hygiene protocols will be expected of me?

The university will follow the governor’s guidelines for personal hygiene related to public health. Face coverings or masks will be required in all campus buildings, and also outside on campus grounds if physical distancing is not possible. Students, faculty, and staff members are expected to observe social distancing guidelines of six feet between individuals. All university community members are expected to continue frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer when handwashing is not possible. 

(updated December 12, 2020)

What about our campuses in the Washington, D.C. area, Roanoke, and beyond? 

The University's FAQs includes a page focused on our campuses in the Washington D.C. area, Roanoke, and other locations, that are updated regularly. We will share more details as we receive them, too. 

Where can I found out how many members of the Blacksburg university community have tested positive for COVID-19?

The University has developed a COVID-19 Dashboard, which it updates weekly. (Updated December 18, 2020)

Where can I get current and accurate information about COVID-19 at Virginia Tech?

The university recently launched the COVID-19 call center, also known as the COVID-19 Hotline, to help all members of the university community get information and answers on matters related to the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is 540-231-7600.

(updated December 18, 2020)

Can I get a COVID-19 test from Schiffert Health Center if I am in Blacksburg?

The spring semester strategy includes voluntary and mandatory testing, along with adaptive approaches as needed. The university has also increased laboratory capacity for the spring semester. 

  • Residential move-in testing will be conducted Jan. 16-24. 
  • Random prevalence testing for students will begin Jan. 25 and continue through May 7. 
  • The complete testing schedule for students will be finalized and released closer to the beginning of the semester. 
  • Surveillance testing for high-contact employees began Jan. 5 and continue through May 7.  
  • Voluntary testing for students, faculty, and staff will occur Jan. 5-8 and Jan. 11-15, and then daily (Monday through Friday) from Jan. 25 through May 7.
  • Pre-sign-up walk-in testing for students, faculty, and staff will occur on Sundays beginning Jan. 31 through May 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Schiffert Health Center testing began Jan. 4 and will continue through May 14, for all symptomatic students and students who have been contact-traced or have a known exposure. 
  • Testing out of quarantine for students will be handled through Schiffert. Testing out of quarantine for employees will be cleared through the Environmental Health and Safety office, based on ArcPoint testing. 

(updated Jan. 5, 2021)

Are tests available for students at campuses in the Washington, D.C. area? 

Virginia Tech is offering COVID-19 testing in the D.C. metro area when classes are in session. Students and faculty are encouraged to register as the tests are by appointment only.

University-sponsored prevalence testing for COVID will resume at the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church on Wednesday, Jan. 20.  The pop-up clinic will be in Room 200 and will be open from 1-5 p.m.  Advance sign-up is required through our online scheduler.

Please note that this testing is NOT for people who are experiencing symptoms or think that they might be sick with COVID.  If that applies to you, please contact your primary care physician or Schiffert Health Center in Blacksburg (540-231-6444) for advice on how to be tested.

The testing clinic will be available every other week through the spring semester.  If you prefer a different location or time, the testing clinic is in Alexandria (WAAC) on Tuesdays (3-7 p.m.) and in Arlington on Thursdays (10 a.m.-2 p.m.).The online scheduling system for the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church testing site is live.

 D.C. Visit the D.C. Area website for more information about dates, times and locations for testing.

(Updated Jan. 7, 2021)

How do I report a positive COVID-19 test?

This flowchart provides guidance for how to report symptoms or a positive test. 

(Updated Jan. 4, 2021)

Are any of Virginia Tech's graduate programs waiving their GRE testing requirement for fall 2021 admission? 

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is not a requirement of the Graduate School, but may be required by the program to which you are applying. Current programs waiving the GRE or GMAT test score requirement for Fall 2021 are listed here

(updated December 4, 2020)

How do I find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine and its availability?

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is guiding vaccine distribution, and the Virginia Tech community is actively supporting their efforts. We will provide further information about vaccinations as it becomes available. You can read more about the VDH response on this webpage. Meanwhile, we urge all members of our community to continue adhering to public health guidelines. (updated Jan. 6, 2021)

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Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown

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Graduate School, Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA 24061