As the fall semester draws nearer, Virginia Tech is sharing plans for its academic offerings, giving students a range of tools to track and customize their schedules, and supporting faculty in building the best academic experience possible in an extraordinarily uncertain environment.

“I appreciate the diligence with which faculty have worked with department heads to design courses that optimize experiential learning through in-person and/or online modes of delivery while mitigating risks resulting from the pandemic,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “Irrespective of how a course is delivered, Virginia Tech remains committed to academic rigor, active learning, and the safety and welfare of our university community.

“We are looking forward to welcoming students back on campus, as we take very seriously our mission to prepare graduates for successful careers in service of their communities.”

The Office of the University Registrar opened the Drop/Add site for students on July 13, weeks ahead of the usual open date in early August. Students will have an expanded window of time to adjust their classes, with the expanded site including new information about the modality of the classes — whether they’ll be in-person, online, or a hybrid approach incorporating both.

“The mode of delivery for each class — such as a course that was face-to-face and is now online — will be reflected on the site so that students can make their decisions,” said Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar Rick Sparks.

A new feature in Hokie SPA also allows students to see a snapshot of their schedules, with information about each course’s modality. Students will see one of four course modalities: online asynchronous (no set meeting days or times); online with synchronous meetings (meet at assigned days and times); hybrid (face-to-face and online); and face-to-face.

While modalities are listed on most courses, they will not show up on the majority of independent study, undergraduate research, research credits, and other administrative courses. More information on modalities can be found at the registrar’s site.

Students should be sure to view comments on each of their courses. This can be done by clicking on the CRN on the Hokie SPA schedule or through student registration. If the modality and comments are blank, please follow up with the department or faculty member to determine how the course will be delivered. Students should continue to monitor their schedules for the possibility of changes as faculty work to finalize plans and delivery modes for their fall courses.

The extent to which each student’s courses are online, in-person, or in a hybrid format will vary widely by individual, said Sparks. The number of students enrolled in a course, a student’s year (first-year to senior), and section availability could all impact individual scheduling processes. Students are encouraged to work with their advisors to discuss options that work best for them.

“Every Hokie knows McBryde Hall 100 auditorium as a classroom,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Rachel Holloway. “In normal circumstances, McBryde 100 seats 560. Under our physical-distancing protocols and state requirements, and limiting the total number of people in a space at a time, the capacity of McBryde 100 will now be only 49.”

The planning efforts for course listings in the fall semester has been driven by a desire to keep students on progress toward their academic goals.

“These changes are about providing the best opportunity for students to maintain progress toward their degrees,” Holloway said. “Given that goal and the complexity of pandemic guidelines at the state and university level, we needed to take these steps to make sure everyone has the chance to attend the classes they need. Many of these larger classes have had to go online, simply because we don’t have room capacity for those very large groups anymore.”

Although the situation remains uncertain amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Virginia Tech is committed to providing the best possible experience for students while supporting faculty and staff. There will be challenges, but university officials will adapt while also accounting for special situations and circumstances.

“Students want to know that we’re hearing that everything wasn’t perfect in the spring — we know that,” Holloway said. “What we’re trying to do heading into the fall is to support faculty in building the best courses possible in whatever mode — face-to-face, online, or everything in between.”

For more information about Virginia Tech’s plans for the fall 2020 semester, visit the university’s website.

Answers to more frequently asked questions follow.

When will students know how their fall courses will be delivered?

Course modalities are currently being adjusted and the vast majority of them should be completed by July 13. Students can view the modality of their courses in a number of ways, but the most complete will be a new schedule created in Hokie SPA.

How are decisions around classroom space being made?

Classroom guidelines can be found at this page on the registrar’s site.

How much in-person instruction can students expect?

This will differ from student to student, but a number of courses normally taught in the classroom have moved fully online at the undergraduate level.

Will add/withdraw deadlines be altered?

Yes, Virginia Tech’s Drop/Add site reopens on July 13.

What changes have been made to the fall academic calendar?

The starting date of Aug. 24 and ending date of Dec. 16 remain the same. However, on-campus instruction will end at Thanksgiving break, and the remainder of the semester, including final exams, will take place online.

Will I have to take classes in the evening or on weekends?

Students will have the opportunity to adjust their schedules beginning July 13. While many courses will be held during the daytime, some courses may require scheduling in the evenings.

Do freshmen have an option to defer enrollment until fall 2021?

A student offered admission may request a deferral of up to two years before entering Virginia Tech. The deadline for requesting a deferral is Aug. 14

Email appchange@vt.edu to make your request.

In order to be considered for a deferral, a student must first accept the offer of admission and pay the nonrefundable matriculation fee.

A deferred student may take college courses during the deferment period with the understanding that poor academic performance in those courses may negatively impact the offer of admission.

STUDENT STATUS: Completing 12 or more credit hours will change student status from "first year" to "transfer." The student does not need to take any action to complete this change, and it will not affect the offer of admission.

GUIDANCE: Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for guidance on recommended courses to fulfill major requirements.
Email: admissions@vt.edu. Phone: 540-231-6267

Deferred students will be given priority for housing and be given all opportunities that new students in that term are offered.

Transfer students are able to defer.

How will advising services be provided in the fall?

Advising services will primarily be offered online. However, details vary by academic department.

— Written by Mason Adams