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Student Engagement and Campus Life Re-Opening Plans

This page is being updated as information is confirmed. Last Updated on August 6, 2020.

Virginia Tech student centers are places to gather, to study, and to relax. These spaces will look different this year as we work to mitigate risk to the campus community. Lounge and meeting room capacities have been reduced, barriers have been installed at our welcome desk and service areas, and our staff will be happy to serve you while wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.

In addition to their normal cleaning routine, custodial staff will focus on concentrated cleaning efforts on “virus control touch points” such as door handles, light switches, countertops, elevator buttons, tables, and restrooms. To support future events, the team will utilize electrostatic sprayers that can disinfect a larger area in a shorter amount of time.

Hand sanitizing stations have been installed at the major entrances of each student center as well as near high use elevators. Additionally, there will be a free-standing temperature reader installed in Squires for anyone to do a quick, touchless, temperature check.

All visitors to Squires, Johnston, and the Graduate Life Center, as well as War Memorial Chapel, will be required to wear a mask or face shield.

Student Center Hours

Starting August 24

  • Squires Student Center: Monday-Friday: 7am-10pm; Saturday-Sunday: 10am-10pm
    Johnston Student Center: Monday-Thursday: 7am-7pm; Friday: 7am-5:30pm; Saturday-Sunday: Closed
    Graduate Life Center: Monday-Friday: 7:30am-10pm; Saturday-Sunday: Closed
    Open 24/7 to all graduate students through swipe access

Student Engagement and Campus Life is committed to providing quality services to students and the Virginia Tech community. Our operations have been modified to follow public health guidelines in order to mitigate risk to patrons and our student employees and staff.

Breakzone will open for Fall Semester starting August 19. Several changes have been made in order to promote physical distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures, and the safety and wellness of our guests and staff. The total capacity of the space has been decreased substantially, from several hundred to under 100. If this capacity is reached, staff will ask additional visitors to return at a later time. Billiards and table tennis are limited to 4 players per table, bowling to 5 per lane. Only alternating lanes and tables will be open each day. All payments will be made using Hokie Passport or credit/debit card and no concessions will be available for sale. 

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday – Saturday, 1pm to 9pm.

 Virtual Game Nights will be offered throughout the Fall and will be posted on GobblerConnect and on social media @VTCampusLife.

Event Services will physically open starting August 17 but continue to operate primarily virtually: forms will be submitted online and reservation coordinators can be reached by email, phone, or Zoom appointment.

The office will begin accepting reservation requests for Student Engagement and Campus Life venues occurring during Fall Semester 2020 on August 17th, 2020. Reservation requests will be accepted for events occurring between August 24, 2020 through November 19, 2020. Requests for Spring 2021, are not being taken at this time.

Requests by student organizations for academic classroom space will be taken by Event Services this year (previously reserved through HokieSPA). Event Services will begin accepting classroom reservations for Fall Semester on September 7, 2020.

The spaces and hours are as follows: Monday through Friday 5-10 pm for Pamplin, McBryde, and New Classroom Building; Saturday and Sunday for McBryde and NCB from 7am-10pm. Other classrooms will not be available for reservations.

Please review the COVID-19 Event Guidelines or additional information on event requirements. All events must adhere to these requirements in order to occur.

 

Hours of Operation

  • Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.

 

Virginia Tech U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility will be opening August 24 with services available Monday-Friday, by appointment only. Appointments can be made online or by phone up to 24 hours in advance. A pre-appointment phone screening will be required to ensure an in-person appointment is necessary and that all documentation is in order before the appointment.  Please note, patrons will be asked to remove their mask briefly for Passport photos and to verify their identity for Passport applications, in accordance with Department of State requirements.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10am-3pm
  • Tuesday-Thursday: 12-4pm

Perspective Gallery Perspective Gallery is getting ready for our fall season with the safety in mind. The gallery will reopen on Tuesday, August 25 with Lauren Cooper’sMedicine Show which runs through September 27,2020. The number of patrons visiting at one time will be reduced to allow for physical distancing. 

In addition to our in-person gallery exhibits, Perspective Gallery will host a series of fall programming which includes virtual drawing and paint sessions paired with opportunities to draw outdoors, Pop Up Sketch & Stretch events in front of the gallery, Ask the Artist lecture series, and Art Reach Easy Art lessons.  

Hours of Operation

  • Tuesday – Friday: 12 – 8pm
  • Saturday: 12 –  5pm
  • Sunday: 1 – 5pm    

Production Services has been supporting the university throughout the transition to virtual operations. With health and safety measures in place, they are available for services such as live streaming, audio and video recording, and consultations.  Visit campuslife.vt.edu/productionservices or contact production@vt.edu to learn more and begin discussing your project.  

The Ticket Office will be operating virtually during Fall 2020. Please visit campuslife.universitytickets.com to purchase tickets. For questions or accomodations, contact squirestickets@vt.edu.

The Source will be open for in-person guests by appointment only and for virtual drop-ins on Zoom, starting August 24.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday/Wednesday, 1-6 pm
  • Tuesday/Thursday, 2-7 pm
  • Friday, 1-5 pm (Virtual only, weekly virtual workshops, no in-person appointments)

Virginia Tech Off-Campus Housing will be operating virtually during Fall 2020. Please visit campuslife.vt.edu/vtoch to book an online appointment, explore housing options, and for off-campus housing resources.  Plans for the Fall Off-Campus Housing Fair are under development.

Student Engagement and Campus Life's goal is to help students build community. Being physically together is one important factor in this; however, consideration for the safety of campus and local community is imperative when planning events.

Our goal is to host and support events that bring students together while following Virginia Tech reopening plans, CDC considerations for gatherings and community events, and Virginia’s statewide reopening plans.

There are many opportunities to connect digitally with other students this Fall.  Visit GobblerConnect and campuslife.vt.edu/virtual to explore these online exeperiences.

COVID-19 Event Guidance and Resources

During Fall Semester, events at Virginia Tech may be held in-person provided they comply with facility reopening requirements and all guidance outlined by the university, and state and federal governments.

Event Services will begin accepting reservation requests for Student Engagement and Campus Life venues occurring during Fall Semester 2020 on August 17th, 2020. Reservation requests can be for events occurring between August 24, 2020, through November 19, 2020. Requests for Spring 2021, are not being taken at this time.

Please review the COVID-19 Event Guidelines for additional information on event requirements. All events must adhere to these requirements in order to occur.

Additionally, while Virginia currently has a 250-person maximum limit on events and gatherings (per Governor Northam’s Phase III guidance), occupancy limits in SECL venues are based on ensuring that six (6) feet of physical distance can be maintained by all event sponsors/hosts, staff/volunteers and attendees. Keeping this in mind, Student Engagement and Campus Life does not have any indoor event venues that can accommodate 250 people. Please see the linked SECL Venue Information-Fall 2020 document for additional information on capacities and event setups.

Any reservation that cannot abide by the COVID-19 Event Guidelines and the maximum capacity set for the event venue will need to occur in a virtual format.

Please note: due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to event guidance may be necessary. We will reach out to all Authorized Contacts if guidance is adjusted.

Requests by student organizations for academic classroom space will be taken by Event Services this year (previously reserved through HokieSPA). We will begin accepting classroom reservations for Fall Semester on September 7, 2020. Additional information regarding this process will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

As student organization leaders, you have a responsibility to model good behavior for the wider campus community and prioritize the health and well-being of your members. We know you take this responsibility seriously and are creating resources to help you with making a plan for your semester that is safety and mission-driven. Please see this infographic for a visual representation of the comparative risk you take on with different activities to help you make decisions about your own behavior and your organization’s activities. Additional resources for virtual organization operations can be found here.

We encourage you to continue leveraging virtual platforms like Zoom to conduct your regular meetings as much as possible. Any choice to conduct in-person activities should take into account the activity’s contribution to your mission, the risks associated with that event, and the options available for mitigating those risks. It might be helpful to think about starting from the foundations of your mission, as opposed to assuming that your traditional events will be easily translated into the new format of virtual or physically-distanced events – this is an opportunity to get creative and think of new ways to work toward your goals, as opposed to relying on the way we’ve always done things.

SECL is working to ensure there are opportunities for student organizations to safely connect with prospective new members to grow their communities and help new & returning students get involved. We encourage organizations to start planning virtual interest meetings during their normal new member recruitment and to create events on their GobblerConnect profiles to advertise those opportunities.

In the meantime, we encourage you to be planning for multiple possible scenarios for the fall in terms of organization activities. The situation with COVID-19 cases and the response to it is fluid, and thus your plan should consider the following circumstances in relation to Virginia Tech reopening plans, CDC considerations for gatherings and community events, and Virginia’s statewide reopening plans.

We invite you to continue submitting specific questions pertaining to your organization’s operations that you would like us to consider as we move forward, through this form: https://forms.gle/Tq3JJ8y1BCgLhvVo9 

Gobblerfest

To accommodate as many student organizations and event attendees as possible, Gobblerfest is going to be offered as a virtual fair on GobblerConnect on September 4th from 4 pm – 6 pm. We know how integral this event is to help both new and returning students get connected to communities that allow them to thrive, and are excited to have the tools at our disposal to still make that happen during a unique semester. Sign-ups to participate in the virtual event will occur the week of August 17th via GobblerConnect. More information will be shared in the coming weeks about expectations and tips for effectively participating in the virtual event. Information about the event can be found on the Gobblerfest website.

Classroom Reservations

Requests by student organizations for academic classroom space will be taken by Event Services this year (previously reserved through HokieSPA). Event Services will begin accepting classroom reservations for Fall Semester on September 7, 2020.

The spaces and hours are as follows: Monday through Friday 5-10 pm for Pamplin, McBryde, and New Classroom Building; Saturday and Sunday for McBryde and NCB from 7am-10pm. Other classrooms will not be available for reservations.

The Source

The Source will be open for in-person guests by appointment only and for virtual drop-ins on Zoom, starting August 24.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday/Wednesday, 1-6 pm
  • Tuesday/Thursday, 2-7 pm
  • Friday, 1-5 pm (Virtual only, weekly virtual workshops, no in-person appointments)

Involvement Advising

Involvement Advising is available virtually now and through Fall 2020. Students who aren't quite sure where to start can lean on our Engagement Ambassadors who would love to talk you through the possibilities. Simply submit a questionnaire about your interests and goals on GobblerConnect and we'll connect you with a student to recommend opportunities and discuss the process for getting involved in a student organization or other opportunities. 

Student Budget Board

Student Budget Board will be operating virtually for Fall 2020. Visit the Student Budget Board site for operations and policy updates relating to COVID-19.

Student Organization Online Open Forum

SECL hosted an online open forum on August 6 for student organizations that answered questions about guidance for fall student organization operations and also included tips for going virtual, information about recruiting new members this semester, and strategies for building community with safety in mind. Listen to the recording of the forum here. See below for a written transcript of pre-submitted questions. The transcript for live questions is still being developed and will be posted soon.

You are allowed to meet in-person, and we are counting on you to make informed decisions about when meeting in-person is A) necessary and B) possible within guidance for promoting safety. We have been emphasizing virtual meetings and programs throughout the spring and summer because this is the only way to truly eliminate risks. 

However, we understand your desire to meet in person and encourage you to always start with your goal for the meeting or event, and ask yourself “Can we achieve this goal virtually?” If the answer is yes, then it’s helpful to use those tools in those instances, so you can focus your planning on events that truly need to occur in person.

For example, regular general body meetings and information sessions where the main activity will be information sharing and discussion can be translated easily to online formats, especially when you leverage break out rooms and collaborative technology tools. You might want to focus on planning a new member picnic after recruitment season that you could host in an outdoor space like the Duck Pond, with physical distancing and face coverings required, where people bring their own snacks.

You can refer to this infographic to help you think through different activities and their comparative risk. We encourage you to use these same approaches to considering risks for organization activities and for decisions about your own social behaviors. Remember, you have control over your own behavior/decisions and likely have influence to help your friends be cautious while still connecting as well. 

Yes, organizations will have the ability to request space reservations through Event Services in the student centers, like Squires, and campus common spaces, like the residential quads and the Drillfield. Event Services will also be handling reservations for certain classrooms (previously reserved through Hokie Spa) that will be available for org reservations for Fall 2020. The spaces and hours are as follows: Monday through Friday 5-10 pm for Pamplin, McBryde, and New Classroom Building; S+S for McBryde and NCB from 7a-10p. Other classrooms will not be available for reservations. Classrooms will remain unavailable for reservation until after the first two weeks of school. 

Certain outdoor spaces, like the Lower Rec Fields, and recreation spaces in McCommas are reserved through Recreational Sports, who will be accepting reservation requests during times they are available. These spaces do have a fee associated with use, and require insurance for most activities.

All spaces throughout campus have adjusted capacities based on space for 6-feet of physical distancing for events and meetings, which can be obtained through the scheduling office that reserves the space. Your event must be at or below the venue’s new listed capacity number, or below the current gathering size limit from the governor, whichever is lower.

All space reservations will have to complete a COVID-19 Event Request Form and will have to follow the event guidelines set forth by the institution and outlined by scheduling offices, including but not limited to, maintaining physical distancing, tracking attendance, required face coverings, and additional sanitation procedures. Additional time for the review and approval of event requests forms will be required for all events, so if you plan to reserve space, we recommend planning to do so far out as possible. 

The event guidelines mentioned above include: 

  • Limiting events to pre-registered participants, meaning you can’t have open events

  • Tracking attendance at the event

  • Limiting the size of the event to the pre-determined occupancy limits of the space as well as factoring in additional space if physical activity is part of your event 

  • Maintaining physical distancing by all attendees including hosts and organizers

  • Posting signage discourage attendance by those with a fever and/or COVID-19 symptoms, or know exposure to COVID-19 within the last 14 days

  • Promoting public health requirements like face coverings and hygiene like handwashing and covering coughs

A full outline of all the event guidelines is available through the scheduling office. Event Services has sent the guidelines directly to Authorized Contacts listed on your GobblerConnect roster, and the guidelines are available on their website. 

Yes, there will be changes to funding for student organizations. They will be rolled out tomorrow. There will be funding available, but there will be restrictions that align with VT Policy and government guidance as it relates to COVID-19. SBB has created a Policy Addendum to help navigate necessary changes. Travel funding (competitions and competitions) will be limited to registration for online programs. We will also be making funds available for Live Streaming events and PPE for student organizations hosting events. Additionally, all of the paperwork for reimbursements and payments and meetings regarding SBB will be held virtually this fall. Our SBB website holds all updated information.

Communication is key to ensuring your members know how to stay involved in your community. We shared a resource in yesterday’s update email that included a sample agenda for your executive board planning meetings in the next few weeks. The more you can establish ahead of time, including how often you plan to meet and on what platform, what event you want to try to do in-person, and what changes you’ll be making to the organization, the more you can communicate up-front to your members.

Emphasizing the mission of your organization is always important, but this can be a particularly helpful starting place to remind your members why they joined. You should be able to clearly articulate how you will still be giving them opportunities to work towards that mission. For example, if your mission is to do service work abroad there are still ways to offer people an opportunity to fundraise or learn more about the community your serve.

If you ghost your members, they will ghost you right back. We encourage you to maintain a regular meeting cadence so your members have something to look forward to and can count on opportunities to connect with each other.

You may want to consider adjusting expectations and requirements for your members, such as service hours or meeting attendance, to show your willingness to be flexible and supportive. It’s important to be aware that everyone is navigating their unique circumstances during the pandemic – some might be caring for siblings at home, some may be struggling to adjust to online classes, and still some may just be eager to show up to organization meetings as often as possible. You should create space that affirms people’s individual experience and support them in making choices that prioritize their safety and well-being, even if that includes missing some meetings or having to take a break from the club.  

We heard from lots of organizations that are concerned about recruiting enough new members. Many new and returning students will be adjusting to a unique semester and your organizations have a great opportunity to offer these students the chance to connect with others and build community, while promoting learning and growing outside of the classroom. 

We are still promoting Gobblerfest widely, which is being offered as a virtual fair on GobblerConnect, as the hallmark opportunity for students to learn about organizations to join. GobblerConnect is also heavily shared and utilized to help students find out about what organizations exist, to learn information about joining those groups, and to contact people in them. This is why it is so important that your GobblerConnect profiles are up to date, just as any other year but especially this year. 

We encourage you to schedule and promote virtual information sessions to follow up after the virtual Gobblerfest event, just as you would in a typical fall. You may even want to consider collaborating with other organizations with similar missions to offer an opportunity for people to mingle with multiple groups at a time and expands your promotional reach. Also, your virtual presence on social media is an important tool to leverage, so make sure you’re sharing helpful information about what your organization is planning to do this semester and how to get involved on your platforms. 

Student Engagement and Campus Life is working on plans to facilitate some smaller in-person organization recruitment events during September, and we plan to share more details about these opportunities next week! 

As we’ve shared Gobblerfest will be a virtual experience on GobblerConnect. We received a preview video that you can watch to see how the event will look when participants log in. Here’s a screenshot of what it will look like.

To take full advantage of this opportunity, organizations that participate should plan to create a concurrent Zoom or Google Hangout meeting that will be linked on the virtual fair page. This is your chance to meet with prospective members. You might want to plan to have a short presentation that you run on loop, or you can utilize breakout rooms to offer more personal conversations. You can use the chat function to collect contact information, or you can easily direct them to your GobblerConnect profile to submit an interest form you’ve created or RSVP to an upcoming information session that’s listed as an event.

We plan to work on some tips and resources for you to use when preparing to participate in the virtual fair, or you can always reach out to The Source to talk with an Engagement Ambassador about options that could work for your organization.

We are well aware of “Zoom burnout” as a possible symptom of our current situation, but we are also aware that socializing virtually is the lowest risk way to connect with one another. Our department is leaning into similar expectations as you – we’re doing all of our meetings on Zoom, and collaborating using digital tools, instead of meeting in our offices and conference rooms. It’s an adjustment, but we’ve found that you also have to commit to finding creative solutions if you want to keep it useful and interesting.

 

We received questions about platforms to use, and we can offer that Virginia Tech provides all students access to Zoom and Google Hangout through their accounts. If you choose to use other platforms, like Discord or Twitch for example, you’ll need to provide clear instructions to members about how to sign up if you want them to use these tools.

 

If you’re doing meetings on Zoom or Google, it’s good to have an agenda of discussion topics and activities just like you would for an in-person meeting. Zoom offers breakout rooms if you want to facilitate smaller conversations, like committee meetings or partner activities. Google offers Jamboard for collaborative visual creation if you want to do some brainstorming together. If you have other tools and ideas about fun virtual tools, please post them in the chat and we’ll add them to our list!

 

You don’t have to do a video call to connect virtually or remotely. For example, you might invite people to work on a collaborative themed playlist on Spotify together or invite people to co-read an article or book and then post in a chat about their thoughts and reactions. This can offer people a welcomed break from being on camera while still connecting. Or considering doing an Instagram live where a member gives a talk about tips for professional development, or walks through a recipe. This is a passive opportunity for your members and can help you reach a wider audience.

Given that health information is protected by HIPPA, requiring people to share exposure or positive testing is not recommended. We encourage having open, clear conversations with your members about risky behaviors, expectations on how the organization will convene and govern itself, and appropriate responses and reporting if someone does test positive. On-campus events, meetings, and gatherings will require attendance tracking for contact tracking purposes. If your organization gathers off-campus, we encourage full attendance records for the gatherings, as well.  If someone does test positive, the Virginia Department of Health will follow up with appropriate contact tracing procedures which include the individual or contact tracer getting in touch with those they were in contact with.

All in-person events and activities should have invited attendees pre-register, including community members if applicable. We do encourage you to consider the impact of interactions between students and community members, and the guidance you’ve received about limiting visitors when possible – this might mean that virtual options can serve as a tool for keeping non-campus community members informed, involved, and safe.

To promote the safety and health of your membership, we strong recommend that you continue to follow university guidance, current CDC guidance, and Virginia reopening guidance when meeting off-campus, in addition to or in line with the expectations of the venue you'd be using for things like physical distancing and face coverings. There are also plans for the town of Blacksburg and other local communities to strictly enforce limitations on gathering size and other violations of public health guidance.

 

If you’re considering moving an activity off campus, we encourage you to consider if that activity will still be accessible to your members in terms of transportation. Also, for events receiving Student Budget Board funding, events still need to follow all event guidelines set forth for on-campus events. 

As communicated by the University, face coverings are required on-campus all the time besides when you are eating, sleeping, or alone in a closed space. This means they should be worn during class, when walking on campus close to others, and when spending time outside with others when physical distance cannot be maintained. As an event host for your meetings and activities, it is expected that you ensure everyone in attendance follows this guidance. You can do so by communicating this expectation upfront to people who pre-register, providing masks for those who did not bring them, and asking people to leave if they are not willing to comply.