VCU details August return with in-person, online courses, free COVID-19 testing

By Hannah Eason

Capital News Service

Virginia Commonwealth University’s fall semester classes are slated to begin Aug. 17 with a mixture of in-person, hybrid and online courses, per a release from President Michael Rao on Tuesday.

Students received updated information to their VCU emails on Wednesday morning regarding courses and resources available to “navigate any changes.”

“We recognize that not every member of our community has equal access to the technology, support, and personal space that makes remote learning possible,” Rao said. “We will leave no one behind because our mission needs the vital perspectives and clear voice of all of us.”

The release stated that to ensure a safe return to campus, every member of the VCU community must adhere to safety guidelines like social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting spaces and frequent hand-washing.

The university will provide masks, hand sanitizer and other items to help students and employees stay healthy. Before returning to campus, all students and faculty members will complete online safety protocol training and undergo daily health assessments.

Students who plan to live on campus must test negative for COVID-19 before moving in. On-campus housing is available to students enrolled in both in-person and online classes, and online-only courses do not break a student housing contract, per VCU Residential Life and Housing. Students can cancel fall-semester housing contracts by visiting this site.

The Graduate hotel at 301 W. Franklin St. is listed as a residence hall for first-year students. Honors College students can choose to stay in either the hotel or the Gladding Residence Center. The Honors College Residence Hall will hold low-acuity patients for VCU Health Systems during the academic year.

Students will receive move-in details through their VCU emails by the week of July 20. VCU will provide COVID-19 testing kits for students moving on campus. Non-residential students and employees with COVID-19 symptoms will also receive free testing. Asymptomatic students and employees will receive COVID-19 testing for an undetermined fee.

“This is, and will continue to be, a time of necessary adherence to safety measures and to supporting our classmates and colleagues. This includes continued access to mental health resources,” Rao stated. “And it includes remaining flexible and recognizing that our circumstances and plans may change, and we all may need to adapt to the changing situations around us.”

Virtual appointments and other mental health resources are available to students at the Health Promotion and Well-Being Center and University Counseling Services.

Additional information from VCU on COVID-19 and fall semester can be found at together.vcu.edu/protocols.

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