University updates COVID-19 protocols following CDC guidance; vaccine required for Vanderbilt University-employed faculty and staff

Following revised CDC recommendations indicating that fully vaccinated people  no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, Vanderbilt University today announced it is modifying many COVID-19 protocols surrounding masking, gathering size, off-campus activities and campus visits.

Additionally, the university will require all Vanderbilt University-employed faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021–22 academic school year. The deadline for faculty, staff and postdocs to submit their full vaccination record is July 31.

Masking and physical distancing

Vanderbilt University is updating its guidance on masking and physical distancing in line with the CDC’s and Metro Nashville’s updated protocols. 

Fully vaccinated people—individuals two weeks past their second dose in a two-dose vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks past their single-dose of Johnson & Johnson—no longer need to wear a face mask/covering in any setting on campus, indoors or outdoors, or maintain physical distancing from other fully vaccinated people.  

People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing from others at all times when indoors—and when outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

The university expects that many members of our campus community will continue to wear face masks/coverings, and the university supports their choice to do so. People who choose to wear masks should not be questioned about them, nor should they be discouraged or prohibited from wearing them. 

Faculty and staff who believe they require a workplace accommodation in light of the protocol change are encouraged to contact the Equal Opportunity and Access office. Students who believe they require an accommodation are encouraged to contact Student Access. Accommodation requests should be submitted by June 15, 2021.

COVID-19 summer testing

Anyone who has been confirmed as fully vaccinated after submitting their vaccination record will be exempt from summer asymptomatic testing. For those not vaccinated, weekly asymptomatic testing will be required for undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and monthly asymptomatic testing will be required for staff and postdoctoral fellows, based on their presence on campus.  

All individuals are encouraged to submit their vaccination record to help inform the university’s decision-making. If you encounter issues with uploads, please contact the Public Health Central Command Center.  

Indoor and outdoor gatherings, building and classroom use

  • Outdoor gathering size limits are lifted, and outdoor areas should be used as community gathering spaces whenever possible. 
  • Work, classroom and research space size and capacity limitations are removed. 
  • Individually packaged food and drink are allowed at gatherings. 
  • Off-campus activities may resume. 

Remote work

Staff currently working remotely may continue to do so at this time. Additional guidance and policies related to remote work will be released in June.   

Domestic and international travel

University-sponsored domestic and international travel is permitted consistent with CDC guidelines. Vanderbilt will continue to assess study abroad programming and announce plans in June.  

Campus visitors

Vanderbilt University deeply values the neighbors, community partners and visitors who make the campus community so vibrant. The full visitor policy, including information on approvals needed for specific visitors, can be found on the Health and Safety Protocols website. All in-person activities must be conducted consistent with the university’s COVID-19 protocols. Some important details include:   

  • Prospective undergraduate students: Outdoor and indoor campus tours and information sessions may resume.  
  • Prospective graduate and professional students: Graduate and professional student recruitment activities and interviews may be conducted in person.  
  • Prospective faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff: Faculty, postdoc and staff activities and interviews may be conducted in person.
  • Non-degree/auditing university students: Students enrolled in Vanderbilt courses (whether for credit or auditing) are permitted to come to campus.  
  • K-12 students in Vanderbilt programs: Student participants in certain programs conducted by Peabody College in cooperation with Metro Nashville Public Schools are permitted on campus, on the condition that in-person instruction is permitted by MNPS. Other students are permitted on campus with vice chancellor approval. 
  • Non-Vanderbilt invited speakers or performers: Events (conferences seminars, concerts, etc.) featuring invited speakers or performers are allowed with vice chancellor or dean approval. All visitors should follow CDC protocols indicating fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to mask or physical distance, while those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to do so.  
  • Family members of students, faculty and staff are allowed on campus, as well as minors below the age of 12 who are accompanied by parents. All visitors should follow CDC protocols indicating fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to mask or physical distance, while those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to do so. 

With the exception of campus tours, buildings are not open to the public in the summer, and access to classroom buildings will be limited outside of hours when classes are held. Vanderbilt students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows will have access to buildings using their Vanderbilt card or badge. 

Indoor campus dining facilities, including Rand and the Commons, will be restricted to those with an active Vanderbilt meal plan. 

Spaces such as the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, the Fine Arts Gallery and the Wond’ry are closed to the public until further notice. Information about remote events and resources can be found on the websites associated with these buildings and centers. 

The university continues to monitor public health guidance and rely on experts, including the CDC, Metro Public Health, and our leaders at VUMC and the school of nursing, to shape our plans. Any additional changes to protocols for the fall semester will be announced this summer.