Dear NOVA Nighthawks,
At NOVA, we know that our campuses are much more than locations: they are learning communities in which our students build sustaining connections and grow as scholars and leaders. All of us are eager to return to the vibrancy and vitality of campus life, but we also know that the health and safety of our students and employees must come first. Much remains uncertain about the impact that COVID-19 will have this fall, so in our plans, NOVA seeks to balance all these considerations and to recognize that conditions will change throughout the semester.
NOVA’s Fall 2020 plans are grounded in a commitment to follow all CDC and Virginia Department of Health requirements for social distancing and cleaning protocols, and our college is prepared to follow Virginia’s guidance on both easing and reinstating public health restrictions as the situation changes.
In planning for fall, we established a Return to NOVA Advisory Group (RNAG), led by our Office of Emergency Management. The RNAG has adapted CDC and state requirements to our college context, and over the past month, this group has been meeting with the Provosts, Directors of Campus Operations, Facilities Managers, and multiple work groups in preparing our college for fall. The RNAG will continue to provide advice and guidance on measures needed to facilitate our return to our campuses, and in the coming weeks, Provosts will be working directly with their campus communities and the RNAG on specific, campus-based details.
I am grateful to all at NOVA who have helped to inform our Fall 2020 plans, which are as follows:
- Classes will begin as scheduled on August 24, 2020.
- All NOVA courses will have a robust, quality Canvas online presence to support our students.
- The majority of NOVA courses will be offered in one of our approved distance learning formats, with the majority being offered either through NOVA Online or through synchronous delivery via Zoom.
- Courses that require the use of NOVA facilities for hands-on instruction will return to our campuses for this portion of their classes. Examples include (but are not limited to) Automotive Technology, Dental Studies, Engineering Technology, HVAC, Nursing, and Workforce Development. Provosts and Deans will work with individual programs to identify these courses.
- NOVA will offer a limited number of other courses in a Hybrid format. This schedule will be determined by the Provosts working with Academic Deans and will reflect availability of socially distanced space and student demand.
- The schedule of Fall 2020 classes will be updated to reflect any and all changes in delivery modes by July 6, and all registered students will be notified.
- Our Computer Labs and Libraries will be open to limited numbers of student users to provide necessary services while maintaining appropriate distancing.
- The majority of Student Services will continue to be delivered remotely with the expansion of call center support, virtual advising, and virtual student support programming. The Vice President of Student Services, campus Deans of Students, and Student Readiness task forces will work to build connected support services for our students.
- NOVA will not hold any campus events—for students, employees, or external organizations--until it is deemed appropriate to do so by public health officials.
- NOVA will be prepared to move more individuals back to or away from our campuses as Virginia public health restrictions and the local situation change.
- NOVA will continue to require a 14-day self-isolation period for individuals who have symptoms of the virus, have had direct exposure to someone testing positive for COVID-19, or have traveled to areas meeting CDC criteria for self-quarantine. The College asks faculty with on-campus courses to support this step by being flexible in attendance requirements or offering other modalities of instruction for students who can document their absences are related to self-isolation.
The Office of Emergency Management and Return to NOVA Advisory Group will continue to work closely with each campus to implement NOVA’s COVID-19 return to campus plans. These plans include measures for social distancing, personal health hygiene practices, campus cleaning protocols, and other steps to support student and employee health and well-being. NOVA will take the following additional steps to support the health and wellness of our college community:
- continue to offer telework options for employees who can continue to perform the essential functions of their jobs remotely, particularly employees with documented higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- require completion of COVID-19 prevention training for all students and employees prior to their return to campus.
- establish a comprehensive public health communication campaign to educate the NOVA community on their responsibility for reducing the spread of the virus and maintaining campus health and wellness.
- require face coverings of all individuals on our campuses while they are recommended by public health restrictions.
- partner with the Virginia Department of Health and local public health offices for contact tracing and testing referrals.
- in collaboration with local health district office guidance, monitor outbreaks.
- increase cleaning and disinfection of high touch/high trafficked areas.
- close spaces for extended periods of time for deep cleaning as required.
Please remember that the continued health and wellness of our NOVA community is a shared responsibility. Even as public health restrictions ease, we have an obligation to each other to help reduce the spread and stop any resurgence of COVID-19. NOVA will do our part, and we ask you to commit to doing the same. Thank you for your dedication to our college and our community!
Anne M. Kress