Dear Students and Families: We know that many of you have been waiting for more information about our fall semester. From our conversations with students and families this summer, it is clear that many of you are eager to return to campus for the academic year. However, we have also heard from those of you who are still unsure whether an on-campus fall semester is the right choice for you.

To meet the needs of all our students, we are offering two fall 2020 semester options for undergraduate students.

  1. The on-campus option: return to campus with a mix of in-person, online (asynchronous), and remote (synchronous) instruction.
  2. The at-home option: remain at home with online/remote instruction.

Regardless of your choice, we are planning activities, programming, and learning community connections to ensure that students feel included in the semester.

To help with your decision, the UVMStrong Fall 2020 Advisory Committee will be offering information sessions on Teams Live:

In the meantime, details of the options being offered are outlined below.

The On-Campus Option:

Students who choose the on-campus option will:

  • have some in-person instruction; due to social distancing requirements, students should expect to have some online/remote components in their course schedule,
  • live in residential housing (required for First-year and Sophomore students unless they receive a waiver) or live off campus (Juniors and Seniors),
  • have access to on-campus facilities; socially distanced study spaces; some facilities, like Howe Library and fitness and recreation spaces may have reduced hours of operation and lower occupancy limits, and,
  • be required to sign the Green and Gold Promise that is in development, pledging to follow all social distancing and health and safety protocols, including regular mandatory COVID-19 testing and health screening checks.

The At-Home Option:

Students who choose the at-home option will:

  • be able to choose from an array of some mixed, asynchronous online courses, and synchronous remote courses during a priority registration period from July 14 to 22, but will not be able to register for fall in-person courses or attend any class meetings in person,
  • need to revise their fall class schedules as necessary, dropping any in-person courses,
  • be expected to live at home in order to de-densify the local community, and not return to campus until spring 2021,
  • be able to participate in their First-year Residential Learning Community course through remote means,
  • be able to access remote services such as tutoring, writing support, digital library resources and reference librarian support, and advising,
  • be able to register for one 3-credit summer 2021 course tuition free (meeting the eligibility criteria as detailed in the At-Home Option for Fall 2020 Election Form),
  • not have a fall 2020 housing assignment or meal plan; contracts for fall 2020 housing and meal plans will be cancelled by the Division of Student Affairs without penalty, and financial aid will be adjusted to reflect reduced housing and meal costs for students who were scheduled or required to live on campus, and,
  • not have CATcard access to on-campus facilities.

Revised Schedule of Courses

We will issue a Revised Schedule of Courses July 13, indicating the delivery mode of each course.

Students who choose an on-campus semester will have access to all four modes of instruction described below, and may wish to revise their schedules once the new delivery modes are available.

Students who choose an at-home semester will have access to remote and online instructional modes, as well as to remote sections of some “mixed” instruction courses. These students will need to revise their schedules to replace any in-person classes in their current schedules. At-home students should review their DegreeWorks audit and degree requirements carefully to select from the available mixed/remote/online courses to ensure they will fulfill degree requirements.

Course Delivery Modes

  • We do not expect most in-person classes to change their meeting time, but classes will be assigned new, larger classroom spaces to allow for 6-foot distancing. These classes will be designated INPR.
  • Many classes will also be shifted to “mixed” instruction (MIXD) as an adjustment to smaller classroom capacities following distancing guidelines. These classes will be divided into 2-3 smaller groups to allow for distanced classroom seating, with each group attending class in-person once a week. When not in-person, remaining groups will have online asynchronous activities and lectures or will join synchronous remote class meetings. Students choosing the at-home option will be able to register for “remote” sections of some mixed instruction classes.
  • Some classes will be designated as REMT indicating “remote instruction.” These classes will have an assigned meeting time, but will meet live online, instead of in-person.
  • Finally, some classes will be listed as ONL, and will follow an asynchronous online format with online discussions, activity, and content, but no scheduled meetings.

Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid

There will be no change in academic year 2020-21 tuition or comprehensive fees for students who choose the at-home option. Financial aid awards for students who were scheduled or required to live on campus will be revised to reflect the reduced housing and meal costs. Living at home will not impact any UVM merit-scholarships for which you are currently eligible. Student Financial Services will make every effort to minimize the impact of this option on grant awards, reducing grants only if required under federal regulations. Each student's award will be reviewed and revised individually. In the great majority of cases, the choice to live at home rather than on-campus will reduce what students and families would otherwise need to borrow or pay directly. 

Students choosing the at-home option will be able to register for one 3-credit summer 2021 course tuition free (meeting the eligibility criteria as detailed in the At-Home Option for Fall 2020 Election Form).

How to Elect the At-home Semester Option

New and returning students who will be returning to campus in the fall do not need to confirm their intention. Information regarding room assignments, move-in, and other important information for an on-campus semester will be sent in the next few weeks.

Students wishing to elect an at-home semester should fill out the At-Home Option for Fall 2020 Election Formas soon as possible and no later than July 15  (date changed to July 17, see July 8 message: Extended At-Home Option Deadline)

Important Dates

After July 22, (date changed, see July 8 message: Extended At-Home Option Deadline) returning students who chose the on-campus option, and then on-campus first-time first-year and new transfer students will be able to adjust their schedules.

As part of your schedule adjustments it is critically important that you maintain enrollment in a minimum of 12 credits to reflect full-time student financial aid status and to ensure proper billing. If you plan to be enrolled part-time in the fall semester, please contact Student Financial Services (email: sfs@uvm.edu)

More detailed information on On-Campus Health and Safety Procedures is included below in Addendum One, and information on Residential Life is included in Addendum Two. We have also posted a set of FAQs on the Office of the Registrar website.

Informational Resources

If you have questions about your course schedule or degree requirements, contact your Dean’s Office. Please contact Residential Life (email: reslife@uvm.edu) with housing questions, and Student Financial Services (email: sfs@uvm.edu) with financial aid questions.

We hope that you will choose to join us on-campus this fall. For those who choose the at-home option, we will work hard to provide you with a meaningful educational experience and ensure you have access to advisors and services to support your success. Whatever decision you make, remember you are a Catamount, whether at-home or on-campus, and we will rally on together!

Patricia A. Prelock
Provost and Senior Vice President

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**Addendum One - On-Campus Health and Safety Procedures as of July 2, 2020

  • The UVMStrong Fall 2020 Planning Team has been working closely with Vermont State officials to ensure that campus operations, residence halls, and classrooms reflect the high health and safety standards expected of all Vermont higher education institutions. Our fall return will look different than in the past as there are several expectations to be met.   Students choosing the on-campus option must review the On-campus arrival/Quarantine Information that will be available soon.
  • Specific move-in dates are still being finalized and we will be getting that information to students soon. For planning purposes, below is state guidance about quarantines based on the distance individuals are needing to travel.

Arrival Quarantining and Testing

  • Home state:  If traveling to Vermont in a private vehicle without making a prolonged stop, quarantine at home for 14 days immediately prior to traveling to Vermont (individuals may complete a shorter quarantine if they receive a negative COVID-19 test after day 7 in their home state and travel directly to Vermont without breaking the quarantine); OR
  • In Vermont after public or multi-family transit to Vermont: If traveling to Vermont with people from multiple households, via bus, rail or commercial airlines, individuals must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to Vermont (after day 7 the individual may get a COVID-19 test and upon receiving a negative result, end their quarantine); OR
  • Non-quarantine counties: Students traveling to Vermont from a non-quarantine county as identified by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development on August 1, who travel in a private vehicle without making a prolonged stop, may arrive without completing a quarantine.
  • Those receiving tests 48 hours before coming to campus must travel directly to campus in a personal vehicle.
  • Once on campus, all students (no matter where they are from) will be provided a test conducted within 48 hours of arrival.
  • All students will again be provided a second test 7 days after arrival.

Students who Quarantine in Vermont

Students may quarantine in one of the following locations:

  •  At a private residence in Vermont, including the student’s Vermont apartment (for off-campus students); OR
  • At a lodging property in Vermont including hotels and short-term rentals; OR
  • A residence hall, under the following conditions: Students will be required to quarantine in a designated location on campus and all meals will be provided. The quarantine shall be 7 days and will end if a negative COVID-19 test result is received after day 7. In order to protect yourself and others, students in quarantine must follow current State of Vermont quarantine requirements.

COVID-19 Testing and Health Screening

  • All students will be required to complete a daily on-line health screening before you are able to attend classes or be on campus or outside your residence halls.
  • All students will be required to participate in twice-weekly sampling and testing for COVID-19. This process will be available on campus and at no cost to students.

Classrooms and Instruction

Face coverings are required to be worn by all faculty, staff, students, and visitors when in the presence of others and in public. Students will be provided three reusable face coverings. Students and faculty are required to wear face covering or other PPE in the classrooms, labs, studios, etc.

Students, faculty, and staff are expected to observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on campus.  The occupancy of classrooms, labs, lounges, study spaces, meeting rooms, and other designated common areas have been adjusted so that students, faculty, staff and visitors maintain strict social distancing of no less than 6 feet per individual.

 

**Addendum Two - Residential Life

Residence Halls

Our residential experience must accommodate two key recommendations: identification of isolation space, and the reduction of residence hall density.      

  1. Isolation Space  On-campus beds have been identified in a few of our smaller, standalone residence halls for residential students who may become ill. A care and quarantine support process has been developed to ensure students receive medical assistance and necessary support (food, etc.) while in isolation or quarantine.  
  2. Reduction of Density (“De-densification”) We will eliminate all triple and quad rooms from our housing inventory.  While we determine the best process to achieve this, we are committed to following these guiding principles and practices:
  • Incoming new students have not received room assignments and will be placed only into double rooms and have their Learning Community (LC) placement unaffected (to the extent possible)
  • Returning students currently assigned to a triple or quad room have two options:
    • Students can choose to remain in the same building, but may have their specific room assignment changed. Students who choose to stay in the same building will be charged the double room rate, OR
    • Students can opt to move to a new location outside of their current residence hall.  These spaces serve as extension sites for their Learning Community so students can continue to live with peers in the same LC.
      • Incentive for this choice: Students who opt in to move to an extension site will live in a double room but will still be charged the triple room rate. 

Please Note: If not enough students opt to move, Residential Life may have to achieve de-densification through random reassignment.

Students living in the residence halls will be obligated to adhere to all health and safety guidelines, such as wearing masks at all times outside of their own room, limiting the size of gatherings, cleaning after they use common spaces, and not allowing guests into the residence halls.

More information will be forthcoming from Residential Life about the move-in process. To accommodate the de-densification process, room assignments will be released in early August.

Dining Experience

We will make every effort to keep our staff and students safe and the facilities disinfected. Staff and students will be required to wear masks. Staff will be sanitizing and disinfecting dining spaces more frequently, including closing residential dining halls for one hour between meal periods to deeply sanitize spaces. Seating will be re-configured and the flow of traffic will be adjusted in order to abide by social distancing requirements. New technology, including touchless pay, and expanded mobile ordering and delivery will be used to every extent possible.

There will also be several programmatic changes to increase student flexibility and options. First-time, First-year students who start on the unlimited meal plan may choose any of the three meal plans within the first two weeks of classes. Take-out options, including pre-packaged items will be available in retail locations and in the residential dining halls. Self-service areas (salad bar, ice cream, etc.) will be transitioned to plated offerings to reduce the number of surfaces touched. There will be no re-useable beverage containers but we are reviewing ways to adjust EcoWare (take-out container) program to ensure safety and promote sustainability.

PUBLISHED

07-02-2020
Patricia A. Prelock, UVM Provost