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Frequently Asked Questions

What measures are being taken to help keep students, faculty, staff, and the community safe?

  • If students have left the Roanoke, Virginia, area during this period of virtual learning, they will be asked to return at least two weeks prior to any in-person learning scheduled for them to self-isolate and physical distance for a 14-day period. The newly entering class is being asked to arrive at least two weeks prior to the start of orientation for the same reason.
  • Students may be asked to take a COVID-19 test sometime during the self-isolation period to confirm they are free of the virus. If this becomes necessary, the medical school will work with VT’s student health clinic to schedule.
  • VTCSOM will follow current guidelines and advisements from the Virginia Department of Health, the Office of the Governor, SCHEV, as well as the university. In addition, for clinical rotations and activities, students should follow additional advisements and guidance from Carilion Clinic.
  • This includes limiting group sizes, allowing for physical distancing, and using face coverings. 

Earlier executive orders from the Governor’s Office prevented in-person clinical learning.

In particular, this meant students were unable to be in clinical environments like hospitals and outpatient clinics.

Has this changed?

On Tuesday, May 26, Virginia’s Secretary of Education updated the advisement for health care related instruction to allow in-person clinical education to resume as long as certain conditions are met. Those conditions include:

  • That the training site is willing to accept students and can provide adequate PPE; 
  • The student signs an acknowledgement of risk; and 
  • The student is given an option to postpone clinical placement without an academic penalty, though they will still have to complete clinical rotations if required in order to progress towards their degree and graduate.

Since this advisement, the medical school has been working with Carilion Clinic to resume clinical clerkships and elective rotations by Monday, July 6. 

When will each class of students return to in-person learning environments?

The class of 2021 had to pause required clinical rotations in mid-March and has been completing online electives during the interim period.  With the new advisement to allow for a return to in-person clinical education, the class will resume clinical rotations on Monday, July 6.  This allows time for faculty to prepare for students to return and for members of the class to return to Roanoke, if they have left, to complete a two-week isolation period.

The class of 2022 primarily had interruption to their timeline to take and complete the Step 1 exam, which is required to be complete before beginning clinical rotations. All members of the class are scheduled to take the exam in the next couple of weeks. Therefore, they will be able to get back on their normal academic calendar schedule, with clinical orientation the week of June 29 and clinical rotations beginning July 6. If members of the class left Roanoke, Virginia, they need to return by June 15 for their two-week self-isolation period.

VTCSOM is working closely with Carilion Clinic and clerkship directors to schedule students in each rotation, as there will be an overlap of students from the classes of 2021 and 2022 for a few months, as the class of 2021 works to complete rotations that would have occurred between mid-march through June.

The class of 2023 moved its coursework online in mid-March. They will continue in a virtual environment for at least their next block of study, which runs from July 6 to August 28. This will be reevaluated for each block that follows, with the hope to return to in-person learning sometime this fall.

We will begin opening the Riverside 1 and Riverside 2 buildings for student access beginning on July 6. Building entrance will be allowed only with daily attestations regarding COVID- 19 exposure, travel, and self-wellness. Limited room capacity for social distancing will be followed at all times. Masking is required while in the building.

The newly entering class of 2024 is scheduled to begin a weeklong orientation on Monday, July 27 with the first two days of orientation occurring virtually and the first in-person orientation session will be no earlier than July 29. They will be asked to arrive in Roanoke by July 15 to begin a two-week self-isolation process.

Orientation will consist of some in-person and some online elements. Any in-person activities will be guided by the commonwealth’s current advisements on group sizes and physical distancing requirements.

When the class begins its first block of study on August 3, the plan is for in-person learning, again following any guidance and restrictions in effect from the commonwealth. 

How does the return of some in-person learning impact faculty and staff at the medical school?

As students begin to return to in-person learning, this will require the physical presence of some faculty and staff. Faculty who do not feel comfortable or have a medical reason to avoid teaching in person will be accommodated as much as possible, either by engaging virtually or reassignment.

Some staff may be asked to return to work in-person.  For the near future, employees who are able to continue their work from home will be encouraged to telework. This will be revisited later this summer and may be considered on a person-by-person basis as circumstances necessitate.

Any faculty and staff who return in person will be asked to follow guidelines such as limiting group size, practicing physical distancing, and wearing a face covering.

The medical school will amplify disinfection of surfaces, particularly in shared spaces. Disinfectants and hand sanitizers will be more readily available. 

Will the medical school building (2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA) be open to the public?

For the near future, access to 2 Riverside will be restricted to students, faculty, and staff who need to be on site. Visitors may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Anyone who enters the building is asked to follow the university’s guidelines, which includes limiting in-person group sizes, practicing proper physical distancing, and wearing a face covering when in spaces with other people.

Temperature checks and self-evaluation of symptoms may be required. Anyone who feels sick or has a fever is asked to stay home. 

Will students be allowed to resume research in laboratories and clinics?

Yes, if protocols are followed at the laboratory and clinic location.

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute is in Phase One for research operations.