Vanderbilt to transition into Phase 2 of its Return to Campus Plan on June 8

The second stage of the plan, which will allow on-campus research activities to operate at 50 percent, some staff to be recalled to support ramp-up efforts and gatherings of up to ten people, is set to begin on Monday, June 8.

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Lila Johnson

Vanderbilt’s website states that the university’s “ramp-up may lag the Nashville ramp-up and will be tailored to our own unique density, operations, and other considerations as a residential education institution.” (Former Hustler Staff/Lila Johnson)

Thomas Hum, News Copy Editor

After following Phase 1 guidelines since May 18, Vanderbilt will be transitioning to Phase 2 of its Return to Campus Plan on Monday, June 8. The online announcement came on June 5. 

Per the university’s website, Phase 2 of the plan will allow on-campus research activities to continue at no more than 50 percent capacity, while still observing six feet of social distancing and other safety protocols such as wearing face coverings. The June 5 announcement states, “Those who conduct research activities will receive follow-up information with details on Monday.”

Phase 2 will also allow graduate and professional student field-based training on a phased opening basis similar to on-campus research or with specific authorization. Preparations for undergraduate, graduate, professional and on-campus residential education activities shall continue under Phase 2, and staff may be “recalled to campus when needed to directly support research, instruction and residential living,” according to the announcement. Campus staff who are not recalled to support ramp-up efforts will continue to work remotely.

Additionally, Phase 2 allows gatherings of up to ten people, given that individuals observe physical distancing and other safety protocols. The second stage of the Return to Campus Plan also mandates that all those on campus abide by safety protocols such as symptom monitoring, wearing face coverings and physical distancing.

Students like rising senior Samuel Chu voiced their concerns about the efficacy of the Return to Campus procedures.

“Without a vaccine, there are too many variables that Vanderbilt cannot account for that can easily topple this plan,” Chu said in an email to The Hustler. “Vanderbilt has to trust that every member of the Vanderbilt community will properly follow the guidelines set out to ensure effective social distancing.”

Until now, under Phase 1 of the Return to Campus Plan, on-campus research activities were to operate at no more than 33 percent, and graduate/professional student field-based training was to be allowed per the same phased opening guidelines or with site authorization. Phase 1, however, did not allow for gatherings on campus and also mandated that everyone observe the aforementioned safety protocols. Preparations for undergraduate, graduate, professional and on-campus residential education activities have also been ongoing since the onset of Phase 1.

Some students believe that the time has arrived for Vanderbilt to be executing the next step in its Return to Campus Plan.

“I agree with the transition to Phase 2,” rising sophomore Matthew McKenna said. “I think it reflects the attitudes of the nation about the need to reopen while remaining cautious and emphasizing the recommended social distancing procedures.”

The remaining two phases of the Return to Campus Plan will see on-campus research activities resuming at 70 percent and then full capacity during Phase 3 and Phase 4 respectively, while still enforcing social distancing and other campus-wide safety protocols. 

By Phase 3, undergraduate, graduate, professional and residential education activities and instruction will be ready for on-campus “and/or enhanced virtual/alternative platforms.” Staff will continue to be recalled to support ramp-up efforts or research, instruction and residential living activities while others will remain remote. Regarding gathering guidelines, the plan states that “restrictions will be communicated as we ramp up” and are subject to change. 

Phase 4’s objective per the plan is to “sustain” and has no significant changes from Phase 3 in its details other than on-campus research being allowed to return to full capacity.