Dear Vanderbilt community,
As we look ahead to the spring semester, we face yet another challenge from COVID-19 that will require our community to step up and work together as One Vanderbilt. The omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the nation and the world. In light of this, we must adapt to ensure that we can continue to pursue our educational and research mission as safely as possible.
To do that, we are taking these immediate actions:
- The start of the semester for undergraduates is delayed until Jan. 17, which is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As in past years, classes will not be held that day to allow the community to participate in the virtual Commemorative Series events.
- The dates for spring break (March 5–13) and Commencement (May 13) are unchanged. Additional details about the undergraduate academic calendar will be announced soon.
- Most graduate and professional programs will delay classes until Jan. 17. Deans will communicate directly with their students, faculty and staff with school- and program-specific information.
- We are instituting enhanced safety protocols for the entire campus community, including a Commodores Care period for students and the resumption of required masking indoors.
- In addition, we are greatly expanding our testing program for the spring to support the health and safety of our community. This will include required testing for all returning students before they arrive on campus.
Additional information will be shared with you shortly, including from academic deans, that will provide more details.
If you have not yet obtained your booster shot and are eligible, we strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible and to register it online. Full vaccination plus the booster is the best protection against COVID-19, and the reported information significantly informs our plans. Those who register their boosters will be exempt from quarantine in accordance with new CDC guidelines and subject to fewer testing requirements.
While there is still much to be learned about this variant and its impacts, we know that there will continue to be cases in the Nashville community—and probably a high number of them—as we return to campus. While it is likely that many members of our highly vaccinated campus community who test positive may remain asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, it is important that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable among us.
In the face of this latest challenge, we are committed to continuing in-person learning. We are confident that if we work together to make health and safety a priority, as we have successfully done since the start of this pandemic, we can accomplish this goal. We will carefully monitor the data and will work closely with our team of health experts to guide plans for the spring semester and will share updates regularly.
The pandemic has challenged us all, and we know the first few weeks of the spring semester will be especially difficult for some members of our community. We encourage you to use campus resources for mental health and well-being support and to support others when they are in need. We also encourage you to attend the upcoming virtual town halls for students and for faculty and staff.
In the days ahead, find time to rest and recharge as we head into 2022. We hope you are having a great break and wish you safe travels as you return to campus.
C. Cybele Raver
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Vice Chancellor for Administration