Since President Sands’ announcement of fall 2020 semester plans, Student Affairs has been planning student experiences to keep students safe and engaged. Here are some of the things students can expect of key programs and services this fall. 

“Student Affairs encompasses more than 20 different vital areas dedicated to providing a rich co-curricular experience and essential student services,” said Frank Shushok, vice president for student affairs. “Almost every aspect of life outside the classroom is represented through the work of Student Affairs, and it is often the first point of contact for students and parents who need information or guidance.”

“Face coverings and physical distancing will become the norm on campus,” Shushok said. “These measures to protect the health and safety of the campus community are vital, and protocols should be followed assiduously by everyone.”

Shushok also noted that regular services will be augmented by online and virtual programming.

“While plans in many areas are still evolving, we want to share with students and their families the information we have now,” said Shushok. “Be sure to visit the For Students section on the VT Ready website often for the latest information on plans for fall semester 2020.” 

Schiffert Health Center: Regular operations for fall semester will resume and include COVID-19 testing. Face coverings will be required within the health center. A mask will be provided for those who do not have one. Working closely with the New River Health District and the Virginia Department of Health, Schiffert Health Center will continue to provide quality health care and contact tracing related to VT students.

Cook Counseling Center: The center’s main office has moved to 2475 Oak Lane in Blacksburg, adjacent to special purpose housing for fraternities and sororities, and will be deploying a newly developed connection model to ensure students receive personalized services as quickly as possible. A telehealth platform will be utilized to deliver all services for fall 2020, with the exception of some in-person crisis appointments. The need for those appointments will be determined by calling 540-231-6557.

·        Services offered: Virtual services include appointments, individual therapy, group therapy, pharmacotherapy, workshops, crisis appointments, and consultations. If a student cannot locate a private setting in which to engage in a telehealth appointment, the student will be instructed to come to one of the offices and use an empty office to talk with the therapist using the telehealth platform. Zoom rooms can also be reserved in the Squires Student Center. Students deemed in need of an in-person crisis appointment will be seen in the large conference room.

·        Safety Protocols: Face coverings will be worn by staff members, students, and visitors whenever in a shared space. Disposable masks will be available for any visitors to an office who do not bring a mask with them. A hand sanitizer station will be located at the entrance to Oak Lane and Cook’s satellite offices.

Hokie Wellness: A combination of in-person and virtual programming will be provided for students, employees, and campus organizations this fall. All workshops will have a virtual option. All in-person offerings will abide by state and university requirements for best practices related to face coverings, physical distancing, sanitation, and hygiene. Gatherings will be limited in size to meet physical distancing guidelines. Students experiencing any virus symptoms will not be allowed to attend. Students concerned about exposure are encouraged to take part virtually. Portable plexiglass barriers will be used for in person Party Positive classes and other outreach activities. Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes will be available at all events. All shared equipment will be cleaned after each outreach event.

·        Face coverings: Virginia Tech is asking all students to bring face coverings with them. On-campus students will be provided with a kit (in their room upon arrival) that contains two cloth re-usable face coverings and other supplies. Twenty thousand re-usable cloth face coverings will be distributed to off-campus students on Aug. 24 and 25 at several prominent locations across campus. An additional 20,000 one-time-use face coverings will be available for distribution in high traffic areas. For additional information, contact Hokie Wellness by emailing hokiewellness@vt.edu or calling 540 231-2233.

Recreational Sports: A variety of indoor and outdoor, in-person, and virtual activities will be available while adhering to state and national occupancy and physical distancing guidelines.

·        Services Offered: McComas Hall and the Rec Sports Field House will be open for use with a monitored limited occupancy number throughout the day to adhere to occupancy and physical distancing guidelines. Outdoor recreation spaces, such as the lower SRA turf fields, fitness park, tennis courts, Challenge Course, and golf course, will be open for a combination of walk up open recreation and scheduled programs. Group Exercise will offer in-person, live stream classes, and virtual options. Intramural Sports will offer dual/individual activities, self-report leagues, and skill-based sport competitions. Venture Out will deliver programming through a combination of in-person and virtual offerings including gear rental and adventure trips.

·        Safety Protocols: Face coverings will be required when moving about facilities when a minimum 6-foot physical distance cannot be maintained. Face coverings will not be required during exercise if 10 feet of space can be maintained between participants. Hand sanitizer stations will be at the entrances and exits of all open indoor activity spaces. Fitness and exercise equipment will be spaced to ensure physical distancing. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols are in place, with special attention paid to high-contact surfaces and in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

Student Engagement and Campus Life: Face coverings are required in all public and semi-public spaces, including all student centers, War Memorial Chapel, and during passport or notary appointments. Entrance and exit points will be clearly labeled. Hand sanitizer will be available at all student center entrances, elevators, welcome desks, and administrative suite front desks. Breakzone transactions will be cashless. Gloves will be used to handle checks and documents related to passport and notary appointments. Meeting rooms will be available by reservation only. Thirty minutes will be scheduled between reservations for cleaning protocols. Fixed seated venues, such as Haymarket Theater, will have available seats labeled and unavailable seating marked off.

Dining Services: Face coverings are required at all dining facilities. Maintaining physical distancing and public safety guidelines for students and dining staff means that Dining Services will not accept debit or credit at the start of the semester. The Dining Center food trucks, the Grillfield and the Periodic Table, will operate on campus and will take dining plans, spring rollover funds, and credit and debit cards. Dining Services does not accept cash at any dining centers or food trucks. The Grubhub app will allow the use of dining plans, spring rollover, and dining dollars. It will not accept credit and debit cards.

The coffee vendor in Newman Library and Subway and Seattle’s Best in Johnston Student Center will accept credit, debit, or cash.

·        If you rolled over your plan to fall 2020, you will be able to use your remaining Flex Dollars, Commuter Cash, Flex additions, and Dining Dollars at available dining facilities during the fall semester. You will not be able to add any additional money to your account.

·        For information on Dining Services protocols, read the VT News article Changes coming to campus dining in fall 2020.

Student Affairs at Virginia Tech enhances the student experience by fostering an inclusive, innovative, caring, and learning-centered environment. Employees are actively engaged in the lives of students and are committed to providing outstanding programs and services that enhance student development and enrich the quality of campus life. Student Affairs promotes student learning, life skills, and personal growth through a strong focus on holistic student development and collaborative partnerships, in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Written by Sandy Broughton