Blazing the path with our comprehensive COVID plan
Spring Break 2021 Update
Valdosta State University is making some changes for Spring Break 2021.
In order to minimize the health risk of an extended break to the Blazer community, Valdosta State University will eliminate its 2021 weeklong spring break (originally scheduled for March 15-19). However, classes will still begin as originally scheduled on Monday, January 11, and final exams will conclude on Friday, May 7.
To allow both students and faculty some needed break time during the course of the semester, VSU will instead use the five allotted spring break days at various points during the semester as wellness days. These days are as follows:
- Tuesday, February 16
- Wednesday, March 17
- Friday, April 2
- Thursday, April 15
- Monday, May 3
On these dates, campus will remain open and all programs and services will continue as usual, but no classes will be held and no assignments or assessments will be due. For students, VSU will plan activities to enjoy on campus on several of these days. Monday, May 3 – which was originally scheduled to be the last day of class – will instead be a reading day, allowing students some unstructured time to prepare for final exams, which will commence on Tuesday, May 4, as planned.
"I want to assure you that we did not make this decision lightly," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Robert Smith. "We consulted widely across the university community, having numerous conversations over the past few weeks with our Deans’ Council, the Faculty Senate leadership team, and the President’s Cabinet. We also had an extensive discussion with the Student Government Association (SGA), as the official representative of the student body, where there was support for the change. The SGA also had significant input into the dates that we chose for the one-day breaks. Finally, we discussed this with the Director of the VSU Counseling Center, who confirmed the value of having break days spread through the semester."
These revisions to the calendar apply only to our face-to-face programs. Please note that fully online programs may continue to follow the original calendar, at the option of the program.
With students back to campus, safety remains our top priority.
VSU continues to closely monitor activities and developments related to the spread and management of coronavirus (COVID-19) in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health. We know you have many questions and we're here to help guide you through. Even though classes have resumed, the University’s COVID-19 Task Force continues to meet weekly to discuss what is working and what needs to be improved.
COVID-19 Taskforce Members
Dr. Bob Smith - Provost - Co-chair
Dr. Vince Miller - Student Affairs - Co-chair
Ms. Jeanine Y Boddie-La Van - Human Resources - GDPH Liason
Ms. Cecilia Pierce, - RN Student Health Services GDPH, - SGMC Liason
Dr. Sharon Gravett - Academic Affairs
Mr. Rob Friedhoff - Advising and Academic Support
Ms. Melissa Wolfe - Student Body President
Ms. Traycee Martin - Finance and Administration
Mr. Alan Rowe - Public Safety and Emergency Management
Ms. Shannon McGee - Auxiliary Services, Dining, Parking & Transportation
Ms. Diane Owens - Financial Accounting
Mr. Ray Sable - Physical Plant
Dr. Zduy Chu - Housing & Residence Life
Mr. Alan Sanderson - Facilities
Mr. Kevin Overlaur - Information Technology
Ms. Sage Archer - Event Services
Ms. Sydney Land - Event Services
Ms. Leah Robinson - Event Services
Mr. Brian Roberts - Student Affairs Facility Operations
Ms. Rebecca Murphy - Health and Wellness Promotions
Ms. Robbyn DeSpain - Strategic Communications
Mr. Graham Nguyen - Video Communications
Mr. Herb Reinhard - Athletics
Ms. Merritt Wall - President's Office
Mr. Justin Arrington - Legal Affairs
Return to campus
MODALITY refers to the way in which something is done or a medium. In Fall 2020, you may have classes that use a number of different modalities. This may make your schedule look a bit more complicated than usual. VSU classes for Fall 2020 will be offered in a number of modalities, including, but not limited to, the following:
Traditional Face-to-Face (F2F)
Face-to-face classes generally have the following:
- a scheduled meeting place and
- a scheduled time and day(s) of the week.
However, even in F2F classes, the rooms may be configured differently. All VSU classrooms have been arranged to allow for required social distancing with 6 feet spacing between students and between the instructor and students. Please follow the directions in your classroom and sit in an appropriately designated seat
Because of the need for social distancing, classrooms may not be able to seat the usual number of students; therefore, for some classes, you may have to be divided into groups with some students attending F2F on designated days while other students participate remotely. However, these classes will have the following:
- a scheduled meeting place (with some students in the classroom and some participating remotely from another location) and
- a scheduled time and day(s) of the week.
To participate remotely, students will use their computer/laptop/mobile devices and VSU-supported video conferencing software (either Blackboard Collaborate Ultra in BlazeVIEW or Microsoft Teams).
For example, in a class that is scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday (TR), half the class may attend F2F on Tuesday and then participate remotely on Thursday (and vice versa). Everyone will still attend class regularly on the designated schedule, but your location may vary. Please watch for emails from your instructor, who will let you know if the class is to be divided in this way.
In some classes that need to be divided, the students may still be attending on different days but other activities will occur asynchronously online via BlazeVIEW, which is the VSU-supported online learning management system. Therefore, this class will still have the following:
- a scheduled meeting place, and
- a scheduled time and day(s) of the week.
For example, you might attend a class on Tuesday and then have an online assignment on BlazeVIEW for Thursday. In some classes, lectures will be delivered online asynchronously, with class times designated for discussions and other activities. Please watch for emails from your instructor, who will let you know your class schedule.
When you signed up for the class, it was labeled “I” (Internet), and it generally does not indicate any scheduled place to meet
If it was not indicated on your schedule, some online classes have no scheduled meeting times, but some may have scheduled times, so please check your schedule carefully.
In fully online classes, all the instruction will be offered online via BlazeVIEW and other VSU supported software. Some online classes are offered synchronously, with all students participating online at specific times, such as video conferencing through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Microsoft Teams. However, many online classes are conducted asynchronously just through BlazeVIEW. However, even if a class is offered asynchronously, you will still have assignments and other work due at particular times or dates.
The class modality may still change before the first day of class, so please check Banner and your email before you go to a class
What does synchronous versus asynchronous mean?
- Synchronous means “at the same time.” F2F classes have always met synchronously (i.e., you are scheduled to meet at the same time and place—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-9:50 am in the same room). F2F, Hy-Flex, and Hybrid classes will always have regular meeting times, whether or not you are scheduled to be in the classroom. Some online classes may have some scheduled times to meet in the online environment.
- Asynchronous means “NOT at the same time.” Fully online classes often do not have regular dates or meeting times, although some may have synchronous components. However, instructors will still have assignments due at specific times, and they will also hold office hours via video conference if you have questions or need to consult with them.
Fall ScheduleMany aspects of the Fall schedule are still in flux at this time, due to the changing conditions of the pandemic and its impact on our faculty. For this reason, please check your email frequently over the next few weeks. If you have questions about your schedule, please discuss these with your academic advisor. If you have questions about the details of your classes, please contact your professors. Again, we are looking forward to your return to campus very soon.
What is BlazeVIEW?
BlazeVIEW is VSU’s online learning management system. BlazeVIEW is used for F2F, Hy-Flex, Hybrid, and fully Online courses, since it includes tools and functions for synchronous and asynchronous learning. BlazeVIEW works on computers and laptops; there is also a free mobile app for BlazeVIEW called Brightspace Pulse.
Changes to Student Services
1. Advising Sessions for Fall 2020 will be virtual.
2. Microsoft Teams is the platform we will use. It allows for video conferencing and screen sharing.
3. Things are moving a bit slower than usual due to increased email and phone volume. Please be patient with us. We will get back to you as quickly as we can.
We know that Covid-19 testing and notification will play a large role in keeping our community safe. The University’s Covid-19 Task Force has a working group focused solely on these important safety measures and continue to recommend adjustments using continuous information impacting our campus community.
Return to Campus Survey – Required Before You Arrive!
Students, when you log into MyVSU starting today you will see a Return to Campus Survey popup which must be completed before you arrive to campus. This survey collects your emergency contact information, location of where you will be living this Fall, and asks you a series of important questions regarding your current COVID health. Once complete, please follow the guidance on the screen for returning to campus.
Valdosta State has the ability to test student patients with symptoms of COVID-19 at the Student Health Center. Based on individual patient preference and circumstances; multiple testing solutions are available. These include Rapid testing (24 to 48 hrs.) and Saliva testing (72 to 96 hrs.). The Health Center may also refer students for testing through GDPH stand-up sites available in our local communities, or other local primary care providers. Additionally, specimens can be collected at Health Services and sent to reference labs.
DO NOT come on campus nor go directly to the Student Health Center if you believe you have been exposed to COVID. Instead, call the Health Services at 229-333-5886 to speak with a triage nurse over the phone. Additional guidance will be provided on how to access the health center facility. The health center remains open for walk-in patients with non-COVID medical needs.
Testing Positive — Close Contact, Reporting and Isolation
Key term: Close Contact - this is defined as being within six (6) feet of an individual for more than 15 minutes regardless of whether a face covering is worn.
Members of the campus community should report all instances of close contact with a person having COVID or themselves receiving a positive diagnosis of COVID. To assist with reporting, a COVID Self Reporting link has been added within MyVSU.
If you have been instructed to self-isolate or quarantine, you should do so at your permanent home. If a student lives in on-campus housing and has a verifiable reason to not return home, VSU will provide a space to isolate until the student meets criteria for ending isolation. If the student lives in off-campus housing, the student will need to isolate in their off-campus residence. Students in isolation or quarantine will be followed up by Student Health staff to monitor their welfare and progress. Students living on campus will have meal service delivered while in isolation.
Contact Tracing and Notification
For individuals that have tested positive, VSU will make initial notifications to individuals that were in close contact within the VSU community based on information gathered from the person who tested positive. Remember, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes. Please avoid this type of exposure with others to minimize the number of individuals that would be considered close contact. The Georgia Department of Public Health will follow up with additional contact tracing of individuals that are not within the VSU community but may have been in close contact with a person testing positive.
If the testing was done at Student Health, we will initiate the contact notification process. If the testing was done somewhere off campus, you will need to self-report the result using the COVID Self Reporting link inside MyVSU. This will initiate contact notification by VSU and contact tracing by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
In all cases, during the notification process, the identity of the person who tested positive will be kept confidential.
Report a Social Distancing Concern
To maintain a safe and healthy community, it is important that we always do our part in following social distancing guidelines and wearing a face covering - that extends above the nose and below the mouth - inside campus facilities at all times and outside when six (6) feet of social distancing cannot be followed.
Unless inside your personal residence hall suite or apartment, face coverings are also required in the residence hall buildings. CDC guidance recognizes roommates will be closer together than six (6) feet while maintaining a social distance from other individuals. We encourage you to be mindful of the increased risk of exposure for people that remain in close contact for extended periods of time.
You may report situations observed where face coverings are not being properly worn or social distancing guidelines are not being followed to the COVID Self Reporting link found within your MyVSU account or on the https://www.valdosta.edu/health-advisory/ page.
VSU response to reports of concern will be to first educate, second remind, and third disciplinary action. Anyone not wearing a proper face covering will be asked to comply or leave the premise. Failure to follow this guidance from a University official will result in further disciplinary action.
Additional questions or concerns should be directed to the Division of Student Affairs at email@example.com or 229-333-5941.
- Following CDC and other local, state and national guidelines for operating food services
- Addition sanitation will be performed
- Dining options will include:
- Palms - Dine in (with social distancing and limited capacity) for 45 minute periods for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Take a meal to-go at Breakfast and Lunch.
- Blazer Grille – Take a meal to-go at Lunch. Dine in (with social distancing and limited capacity) for late night dinner.
- Retail – Order online and pick up through Grubhub app. Order in person following social distancing requirements in lines.
- Please use available hand sanitizer upon entry
- Cashiers will be behind protective shields
- Please use touch free readers or swipe your own card
- Please move through designated paths and utilize floor markings to access desired stations
- Dining team members will serve your requested food and condiments
- Please wear face covering in facilities unless you are eating
To accommodate Social Distancing and the various needs of campus several changes have taken place in availability, capacity, and reservation priority. See the Fall 2020 Resource Guide for important guidelines, available spaces, and event capacity.
Housing and Residence Life
After months of planning, we are very excited to welcome our students back on campus. For those living in our residence halls, there will be some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to make sure all students living on campus are comfortable, but also are aware of CDC protocols to stay safe while living in shared spaces.
We have updated guidance for our students in many areas including:
- Protecting yourself
- Everyday preventative measures
- Getting information
You can read more about residence life on pages 28 – 40 of the return to campus plan. Here’s the link: https://www.valdosta.edu/return-to-campus-fall-2020/_resources/Fall-Return-to-Campus-Planning_Valdosta-State-University_Contingency-One.pdf
Student Health Center Updates
Student Health Services remains open for face to face visits from walk-ins, scheduling, delivery and follow-up appointments. If you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms, please contact the student health center at 229-333-5886 prior to coming in.
For your safety, the lobby area has been redesigned to accommodate social distancing. With this in mind, please do not come with friends or family members. Only the student needing services will be allowed in the building. Face coverings are also required.
Students have access to the “After Hours On-Call Nurse Triage” service hotline for medical assistance. All other needs such as scheduling, billing, and prescription refills require calling during normal business hours.
The pharmacy now offers curbside pickup for over the counter medications and prescription refills. Please call the Pharmacy at 229-219-3205 when needing this service.
Telehealth will remain an option for those appointments for which it is deemed appropriate. Policies and procedures for providing telemedicine are already in place and will continue to be followed.
For the duration of Fall Semester 2020, The VSU Counseling Center will offer primarily telemental health counseling services (telephone or video call -using Microsoft Teams-). Our intake model has also changed, in an effort to expedite access to services; for details, go to the "Our Services" page.
All students are reminded that the Counseling Center maintains 24/7 mental health emergency access. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact one of the following:
Call the Counseling Center (229) 333-5940 at any time. Counseling staff will be available during regular office hours, 8 am-5:30 pm M-Th and 8 am-3 pm Friday. At all other times, phone calls will be automatically directed to a FoneMed on-call Triage nurse for emergency services.
Student Recreation CenterThe Student Recreation Center will be reopening on August 17, 2020, following CDC and USG guidelines and recommendations. Please see below for the Student Recreation Center's updated facility hours.
Student Recreation Center Hours of Operation Facility Pool Monday-Thursday6:00 AM-10:00 AM11:00 PM-4:00 PM5:00 PM-10:00 PM6:00 AM-9:00 AM12:00 PM-2:00 PM5:00 PM-7:00 PM Friday-Saturday 11:00 AM-4:00 PM 11:00 AM-3:00 PM Sunday 4:00 PM-8:00 PM 4:00 PM-7:00 PMHere are a few basic guidelines that patrons of the SRC should be aware of:
- Masks will be required throughout the facility, even during workouts.
- Programming will be offered in a limited or altered capacity in order to ensure social distancing. Information on official schedules will be released soon.
- Social distancing is required throughout the facility. Patrons are expected to remain 6 ft. apart from other patrons. We have implemented the use of wall signs and floor signs in order to inform patrons of any traffic flow guidelines.
- The Student Recreation Center will be conducting temperature checks upon entry in order to ensure the safety of our patrons and staff.
- Following CDC and other local, state and national guidelines for operating food services
- Addition sanitation will be performed
- Please follow social distancing when waiting at bus stops for busses to arrive
- Please enter bus at rear entry and exit from the front
- Passengers needing accessible entry should notify driver
- Bus driver will be separated from passengers by protective shield
- Please use available hand sanitizer when entering busses
- Seating will be marked and spaced according to Federal Transit Administration guidelines
- Please wear face covering when riding busses
- To avoid crowding on the busses, please consider walking or bicycling for shorter distances
- Bus route map available at https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/auxiliary-services/parking/documents/shuttle.pdf
Health and Wellness
Daily Self Check-List
Another simple way Blazers protect Blazers is by paying close attention to your own health. Each day, you can use the COVID-19 Daily Self-Checklist to help you take a quick “self-inventory.” You should do this every day before arriving on campus or leaving your residence. Use the link below to download the checklist.
Picking Up Your Mask
If you need a mask, we have you covered. See the below locations on campus where you can stop by and pick up one.
Monday and Tuesday: masks will be handed out on the North Campus outside the Health Science and Business Administration Building bus stop
Monday and Tuesday: Main campus walkway between Nevins Hall and West Hall
Monday and Tuesday: Outside the Student Union on the VSU Bookstore side of the building (by Baytree and Oak Street intersection)
Anytime: The Student Union information desk inside the Student Union
How to Get your Parking Permit
You may pick up your permit at Parking & Transportation, located in the Sustella Parking Deck, Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. or Friday from 8 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Please be mindful that wearing a face covering is required at all times.
A contactless way to receive your parking decal is to visit www.vsuparking.com and have your permit mailed to you.
The VSU Bookstore is open for all of your course material and spirit merchandise needs! Store hours can be found at https://www.vsubookstore.bncollege.com/valdostastore/store-hours.
The store will be operating at reduced capacity with social distancing measures in place and with face coverings required at all times.
Order your course materials online at https://www.vsubookstore.bncollege.com/valdostastore/home with shipping as a contact free alternative to shopping in the store.
Blazer Guardian AppThis app will do three things for you:
1. It’s a panic button just like hitting one of the emergency buttons on campus
2. Anonymous text messaging to the VSU Police Department communications center
3. Virtual safety timer which is just like a police escort but without an actual officer present
Find more on the Blazer Guardian App here:
Good Sources for Information
Student Health Center COVID 19 Site: https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/student-affairs/student-health/covid-19-health.php
1Card Information Page: https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/auxiliary-services/1-card-services/
VSU Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/valdostastate/