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VCU will begin the semester with students taking virtual classes. (Getty Images)

Entry Pass, vaccines, virtual classes: What you need to know as the spring semester approaches

VCU’s spring term will look a lot different. Here are key dates and changes to keep in mind.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s spring semester, scheduled to begin Jan. 25, will look different from the fall term, with the majority of classes held virtually at the start of the semester to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and a limited number of students, faculty and staff physically present on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. Here are some key dates, operational changes and protocols for students, faculty and staff to keep in mind:

Starting the semester virtually 

VCU announced Jan. 12 that it would begin the spring semester with students taking virtual classes, except in instances where a student is involved in clinical and field placements, practica, co-ops, internships and other work-related experiential learning activities. The university will evaluate the feasibility of resuming in-person instruction as originally planned by mid-February, with the hope of returning to in-person and hybrid courses on or before March 8. Students should double-check their course schedules in eServices after Jan. 22, when the revised spring schedule of classes will be made available, as it’s possible professors will have decided to hold classes virtually for the full semester to minimize disruption that could occur during a transition from virtual instruction to face-to-face if the university is able to return to on-campus instruction. 

Those operational changes do not affect the start of the semester or key dates during the term. As it announced in October, VCU will not have spring break this semester and will instead hold reading days on Feb. 23 and March 24. Classes will end May 5 on the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 on the MCV Campus. 

Also on Jan. 12, VCU announced it was moving into the next phase of its vaccine rollout plan and began vaccinating students in the clinical years of their training, in health programs that are involved in patient care and in patient-facing environments. The university has a vaccine page on its One VCU: Responsible Together website and is updating that page regularly. 

Spring move-in

Residential students have the option to move in as planned or cancel their housing contract by Jan. 21. All residents wishing to move in or out will need to schedule a time slot. To schedule a time slot, students must take their at-home COVID-19 Entry Test, receive a negative result and complete their One VCU: Responsible Together training on Blackboard. Turnaround times for test results will vary depending on volume but should be posted to accounts within three to five business days of receipt by the lab. Students will receive instructions on how to sign up for a move-in or move-out time slot once their results have been registered in VCU’s system.

Residents moving in for the spring semester can choose a move-in time slot between Jan. 15-29. Residents choosing to cancel their housing contracts will need to schedule their move-out time slot by Jan. 25. 

Those residents who remained in on-campus housing over winter break must take their COVID-19 Entry Test and receive negative results and complete their Responsible Together training on Blackboard. The deadline for completing this is today, Jan. 15. 

Students with questions should visit the Residential Life and Housing website for complete updates, specifically the closing and returning and spring testing pages.

Asymptomatic surveillance testing, Entry Pass and daily health checks 

Starting Jan. 19, asymptomatic COVID-19 surveillance testing (previously referred to as “prevalence” testing) will be mandatory for residential students, students who attend on-campus classes and employees who work on campus. This includes employees who are designated as “hybrid on-campus/telework,” but does not include employees designated as “telework,” who solely work remotely. The university samples asymptomatic VCU community members for testing each week. Individuals selected to participate will be notified by VCU through their VCU email account.

The daily health checks that students and employees began during the fall semester will continue, and are required whether learning or working on or off campus. The daily health checks can be accessed at dailyhealth.vcu.edu or by clicking on CampusReady in the VCUMobile app.

New for the spring semester, and beginning Jan. 25, is Entry Pass, a digital tool available in the VCUMobile app and soon to be available online as well. In addition to showing compliance with daily health checks and asymptomatic surveillance testing, Entry Pass will be required to access some VCU facilities such as VCU’s libraries and Rec Sports facilities. Those who fail to complete the daily health check, as well as those who do not comply with asymptomatic surveillance testing, will face building access restrictions and possibly disciplinary action.

Required training

Employees are required to complete the One VCU: Responsible Together spring semester training by Jan. 25. The training will review public safety measures as well as new information about limiting the spread of COVID-19, mandatory asymptomatic surveillance testing and other operational changes to expect this year. An updated manager training will be required as well. Both trainings are administered in the “my transcript” section of Talent@VCU. It is also available through Blackboard. 

Students are required to complete the Responsible Together Course in Blackboard by Jan. 25, or by the time they return to campus. To learn more about the course, visit the Responsible Together Course information page.

Supply kits on campus

Similar to the fall semester, starter supply kits are available to students and employees with a VCU ID at both the University Student Commons (daily, noon to 8 p.m.) and Hunton Student Center (weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) while supplies last.

Students and employees can also use their VCU ID to obtain hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and face coverings at no cost from vending machines throughout campus. Individuals may obtain one of each item per month. A listing of machine locations is published on the Spring 2021 page of the One VCU: Responsible Together website.

Learn more about VCU’s spring semester, testing protocols and required trainings at together.vcu.edu. A full listing of all spring semester information is available on the Spring 2021 page.