New guidance for student groups looking to hold events this fall
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia Tech has created a new event evaluation process so that students will be able to safely hold in-person events this fall on the Blacksburg campus, as long as those events meet the university’s strict public safety and health guidelines.
Virtual events should continue to be conducted when feasible as the health and safety of the community remains a top priority.
Some highlights of the new process:
- Physical distancing and face coverings will be part of all on-campus in-person events.
- No student organizations will be able to reserve space for events that would take place after Nov. 20.
- Event hosts or sponsors will need to fill out a new COVID-19 request form, which provides scheduling offices with information on how public safety requirements will be met and what COVID-19 mitigation strategies will be in place.
- Event hosts or sponsors will need to track attendance (name, email address, and phone number) at events.
- No more than 250 people may participate at any event and often less based on specific space-use restrictions.
- An event may need to be canceled at any time in support of public health efforts.
Virginia Tech used public health and safety guidance set forth by the Virginia Governor’s Office and public health agencies to create the new review process, which complements the long-standing Policy 5000 review and guidelines.
“One of Virginia Tech’s greatest assets is the robust campus culture. Though this semester will look different, we feel that the created guidelines allow events to occur in ways that promote public health and safety,” said Heather Wagoner, director of Student Engagement and Campus Life.
Like before, student organizations and groups will need to gain approval to reserve spaces for gatherings from the appropriate scheduling offices. The new guidelines for fall 2020, will help those who schedule events consider each event based on COVID-19 mitigation strategies and public health and safety measures.
For example, the event sponsor or host reserving spaces in Squires Student Center will need to complete a “COVID-19 request form.”
On the form, event sponsors or hosts will need to provide information such as:
- Estimated attendance (consider the space occupancy limits and need for physical distancing).
- Whether the event will be inside or outside.
- Whether there will be food.
- How long is the event?
- Seating arrangements.
- The level of activity at the event (ie., is this a seated event with minimal movement?).
The host also will need to explain:
- How attendance will be tracked. Some ways this could be done include pre-registration, ID swipes, and/or other check-in protocols at entrances (with proper safety protocols).
- How physical distancing will be maintained.
- How it will be ensured that face coverings will be worn.
- How high-contact areas will be cleaned during the event.
Considering these criteria will help offices that reserve space to best evaluate the event on its COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Events with a higher level of physical activity, greater attendance, nonreserved seating, and longer duration would require more significant mitigation strategies to adhere to public health practices.
Every effort will be made to assist event sponsors and hosts to help safely plan their event. If event hosts or sponsors fail to adhere to required COVID-19 mitigating strategies for the event, reservation privileges may be revoked for the remainder of the semester.
Certain classrooms will be available for student organization reservations for fall. McBryde Hall, New Classroom Building, and Pamplin Hall will be available for reservations from 5-10 p.m. Monday through Friday; McBryde and New Classroom Building will be available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. These specific building classrooms will be reservable through Event Services beginning two weeks after the start of classes.
Other classroom spaces will be open for study when not in use for class but not eligible for reservation.
These guidelines have been created for any events held on campus or in a Virginia Tech space. It will be used by scheduling offices for student organizations, university departments, or nonuniversity groups. Departments, units, or areas should use the same guidance when planning any in-person events for locations without a scheduling office.
Because of the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to event guidance may be necessary during the semester and will be communicated with event hosts or sponsors.
Athletics and entertainment venues will have separate guidance based on the Governor’s Office and public health guidelines specific for their industry.