Dear Virginia Tech community:

As you all are aware, Monday marked the first day of the fall semester. For months now, you have all been working hard — either on campus or remotely — to prepare for this week in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful. Thank you!

Throughout this entire process and effort, our hopes have been high as we have worked in earnest to provide a meaningful educational and residential experience for our students, continue our research and engagement programs, and adjust to the challenging realities of a global pandemic.

So far, we are making good progress, but it is clear that our goals for the fall semester will not be realized unless we keep up the good work and, especially, avoid behaviors both on and off campus that are most likely to undercut all of the hard work accomplished over the last five months.

It is imperative that the spread of COVID-19 be minimized by maintaining good public health practices such as maintaining physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing hands frequently. Unfortunately, there have been several instances over the past few days when members of our community have gathered in numbers that make it impossible to maintain physical distancing. In some cases, this has happened without these individuals wearing face coverings.

Considering the high rate of infection for COVID-19, it only takes a few of these instances potentially to place the entire community at risk. To address this concern, more stringent public health expectations have been communicated to students, involving limits on unapproved gatherings on and off campus to no more than 15 individuals and rigorous adherence to face mask requirements, both indoors and outside. It is our hope that these will serve to suppress the spread of COVID-19 during this most vulnerable period of the first few weeks of the semester. Doing so will enhance the possibility that we can incrementally relax expectations as we move forward while monitoring COVID-19.

For these heightened public health requirements to be effective, it is important that all members of the Virginia Tech community participate, including faculty, staff, and wage employees. By adhering to the same standards required of our students, we will demonstrate our commitment to the welfare of all and model the practices necessary to accomplish our fall semester goals.

Specifically, the expectations for employees are as follows:

  • No unapproved, work-related gathering involving more than 15 people is permitted. When a task cannot be accomplished without more than 15 people gathering, a plan must be developed to mitigate health safety risk and the plan must be approved by the unit leader.
  • Face masks/coverings are to be worn at all times when on campus. Exceptions include circumstances when an employee is working alone in a workspace with a closed door and if an employee is continually distanced from anyone else outdoors, such as when exercising outdoors. However, even under these outdoor conditions, wearing a face covering will set a good example to the community at large. Exceptions and expectations relating to chronic health conditions are still applicable.

We have learned from the recent experiences of peer universities and our own epidemiological modeling that if adherence to physical distancing and face covering requirements is not substantial, it will be difficult to contain uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community. It is imperative, therefore, that we have a very high level of compliance. In the unlikely event that employees refuse to comply, Human Resources stands ready to assist supervisors in enforcing requirements.

We understand that there are special circumstances that may necessitate a more flexible approach, but these should be limited in number and must be discussed and approved by supervisors. Any employee who needs an accommodation should reach out to the Office of Equity and Accessibility.

Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do in support of our students and campus community.

In the spirit of Ut Prosim,

Dwayne Pinkney,
Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer

Cyril Clarke,
Executive Vice President and Provost