July 2, 2020
20-153

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

A Message from the President Regarding COVID-19 and VSU's Return to Campus Plan for Fall 2020

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During the Spring 2020 semester, our nation and world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Valdosta State University answered the challenge by quickly pivoting to a fully online teaching model to promote the health and wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff. Our faculty and staff not only managed to keep the university functional during this move, but also enhanced our standing as a leader in online instruction, and we complemented that effort with a new concierge coaching model of advising and support that drew local, state, and even national attention. 
 
While the virus will remain a threat until a vaccine is available and new treatments are being tested; at the same time, we must prepare for a new normal. At VSU, while summer classes remain online, our goal is that the new normal will include a return to face-to-face instruction in the Fall 2020 semester, and this plan provides a roadmap for enabling that to happen. It includes information that was already shared for initially returning employees to work in a staggered and safe manner over the summer months. It also includes planned responses to three distinct scenarios – a full return to face-to-face instruction, a continued fully online approach, and a model in which classes and operations must go to an online format for a period during the semester.  Details of the face-to-face plan (Contingency One) may be viewed at www.valdosta.edu/return.

Throughout the process of preparing the plan, two Guiding Principles remained at the forefront. First, never has VSU’s mission of providing students with the education and credentials they need to succeed in a changing world been more paramount. As a result, the university’s various planning teams all completed their work with an eye squarely on preserving the institution’s core mission. In so doing, the university remains committed to providing our students with the highest-quality instruction, support, and co-curricular services possible. 
 
This plan also demonstrates VSU’s unwavering commitment to minimize risk to our campus and community. Very detailed steps have, therefore, been taken to create and maintain as safe a campus environment as possible for students, faculty, and staff alike. Recommendations follow those of health experts, including the promotion of social distancing in our classrooms, in the workplace, and for other gatherings, and special provisions also exist for the most at risk among us. 
 
Special thanks go out to everyone who offered their talents and best ideas as a member of one of the associated COVID-19 planning committees, or who otherwise supported the creation of this plan. All members of the VSU community are encouraged to review it in detail and then refer back to it as needed, as we work together to preserve our core educational mission, maintain a safe environment, and keep moving our institution forward. Faculty and staff needing additional support or in unique situations should email hrstaff@valdosta.edu with questions or concerns that are not addressed in the plan. Students needing additional support or in unique situations should email studentaffairs@valdosta.edu with questions or concerns that are not addressed in the plan. 

Thank you for your patience, support, and cooperation during this process.  I look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

Sincerely,
Dr. Richard Carvajal
President

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