Virginia Tech announces plans to blend in-person, online learning for fall semester


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech students will return to campus for classes in late August, as originally planned, but the university announced Monday morning a new approach that will blend on-campus and online learning in order to prevent the potential return of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, June 8, the Virginia Tech President Tim Sands announced plans to “blend in-person and online teaching and learning in a manner that preserves valuable on-campus experiences and engagement while also reducing the potential for exposure to the coronavirus for those who are most vulnerable.”

School officials say Virginia Tech will prioritize in-person instruction methods for courses, labs, studios, and performances that cannot be offered remotely at the same quality. On the other hand, while the university will offer some classes exclusively online, not all courses will have an option for remote instruction, Virginia Tech says.

“This strong community response provides an opportunity for a phased transition to an in-person fall semester, allowing research, student clinics, and athletic training to ramp up over the summer following appropriate public health protocols,” says Sands. “Our faculty, teaching assistants, and instructional designers are actively planning for a fall semester that utilizes a combination of in-person and online teaching and learning that preserves, to the extent possible, the experiential learning that distinguishes Virginia Tech’s ‘hands-on, minds-on’ approach.”

The university says on-campus instruction will proceed as originally scheduled, from Aug. 24 to Dec. 16. However, as a precautionary measure due to an anticipated late-fall resurgence of the coronavirus, school officials plan to switch to online instruction and exams after Thanksgiving break.

In addition, while holidays and breaks prior to Thanksgiving will be observed, the university discourages nonessential travel away from campus is discouraged and warns students those who travel outside Blacksburg before Thanksgiving break may be quarantined when they return, depending on the location of travel and potential virus exposure.

Furthermore, when students, faculty, and staff return to campus, school officials say they should follow public health measures — including face coverings, physical distancing, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting — to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, flu, and other viruses.

While Virginia Tech says the university’s “holistic, principles-based approach” means most of the plans for the Blacksburg campus will apply to all Virginia Tech locations, conditions in other regions around the Commonwealth will also require certain distinctions for various campuses. For a list of site-specific plans and more details regarding Virginia Tech’s general reopening plan, visit the university’s COVID-19 site.

You can read Sands’ full letter to students, faculty and staff, and all Virginians here.

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