Wednesday, March 18, 2020
To the University Community,
We all feel the loss of leading our normal lives for reasons that are beyond anyone’s control. We are in the midst of this unprecedented life-threatening situation, where there are no easy decisions or solutions. Our first obligation is, and will continue to be, to ensure your health and safety as best as we can while providing continuity of our educational mission, even if in an altered state.
Much has happened in the last 24 hours in our country and in our community, including executive orders and guidance from President Trump, Gov. Northam, and federal and state health agencies. These actions, along with your reasonable requests for more information, necessitate that we expedite some decisions so that you can plan and move forward accordingly.
We do not yet have every detail on every decision. But we felt it was important to let you know the decisions we have made and to follow up with more information in the coming days.
REMOTE CLASSES FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEMESTER
Classes will be taught remotely for the remainder of the semester. We want to ensure that students can complete the semester as safely as possible and with as much continuity as possible. We realize that this kind of learning and teaching is new for many of you, and that you will be understanding of each other as we blaze this trail together.
The library is in the process of digitizing resources such as text books and required readings so that students will have online access to class materials.
During spring break, we have worked around the clock to provide many excellent learning and teaching resources for students and faculty. Please take advantage of them. These include:
With the decision to continue remote classes for the rest of the semester, on-campus student housing will now be restricted to international students who can no longer travel home and cannot make alternative arrangements, and students who would be otherwise homeless if they are unable to remain in on-campus housing.
The university will be issuing refunds/credits for housing and dining. Information regarding refunds/credits to your student account will be communicated to students by April 9. Given the circumstances, the payment plan due date originally scheduled for April 9 will be postponed to May 4, and the May 2 due date will be postponed to May 26.
I am very sad that we cannot hold May commencement exercises as planned. The CDC and other public health officials agree that large events should be suspended at least eight weeks for the health and welfare of attendees. So this decision is necessary but disappointing to the entire university community. We will still make sure that May graduates, as well as the many individuals who supported our graduates through the years, are recognized in a special way. More information is forthcoming.
All 2020 graduates will be honored at the university commencement ceremony on Saturday, December 12, 2020. We want to provide all graduates with the full pomp and circumstance of commencement that they deserve, and we promise to deliver a grand ceremony for all 2020 graduates at that time.
Teleworking is mandatory for all non-designated university employees March 23 through April 30. Supervisors are required to be flexible and creative in developing a telework plan for their staff members. If there is no telework for the employee to accomplish after considering regular job duties, special projects for their department, functions for another university department, and professional development, then the employee must take leave.
Visit telework.vcu.edu for resources on working and collaborating remotely or log into Talent@VCU for telework training resources. This does not apply to faculty and staff who must report in person to carry out key functions. Further guidance is coming to individuals who work in or support the VCU Health System.
These are extraordinary times for the entire world. There is so much we don’t know. In the face of uncertainty, our response must be based on our values and our mission. Your safety and health is our top priority. If we can help to secure that, we will do everything we can to fulfill our educational mission.
It is a learning and changing experience for all of us. I am amazed at the creativity and innovation already happening by faculty, staff and students who will propel us forward now and in our new normal after this crisis has passed. But first, as we face this crisis together, let’s accept that change is constant, that we are all anxious and concerned, and most of all, that we support and care deeply for each other. And that’s what matters most.
We are one VCU.
President, VCU and the VCU Health System