VCU plans phased reopening with in-person classes starting Aug. 17

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University is laying out plans to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus in phases.

University President Michael Rao says the Fall 2020 semester will officially begin on Aug. 17 — but classes will be formatted differently. Faculty and staff are told to expect more online learning. Rao says some courses may be a mix of in-person and online instruction. Additionally, on-campus class sizes may be smaller to encourage social distancing.

Face masks will be required for all students and employees, along with physical distancing. They’re also asked to report any COVID-19 symptoms to a call center hotline and get tested.

Starting in June, faculty and students who are involved in clinical placements, clinical services, field placements, labs and lab simulations will return to campus in phases, followed by two-week increments in July.

VCU is canceling all breaks, with the exception of Labor Day, from Aug. 17 through the last day of classes on Nov. 24. Students will not return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday and final exams will be conducted remotely.

President Rao says VCU is trying to navigate reopening while the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody.

“Both of these issues are, of course, top-of-mind as we plan our return to campus. Our priorities are the health, safety and wellness — both physical and mental — of every member of our community,” Rao said.

The University says it’s still unclear what its Fall commencement, scheduled for Dec. 12, will look like. School officials say they’re monitoring guidance for large gatherings in the wake of the pandemic and will explore ways to safely recognize their 2020 graduates.

You can read VCU’s full plan for reopening here.

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