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2020 Return to Campus at VLS

During fall 2020, Vanderbilt Law School is following a set of public health protocols developed for all Vanderbilt University schools by experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the School of Nursing in consultation with national, state and local public health officials. Every member of our community must observe these protocols to maintain a safe environment for all.

We have adapted interior spaces throughout the law school building to allow you to move safely while you are in the building and to enable faculty to safely deliver the outstanding educational experience Vanderbilt is known for. This page will be updated with new law school-related information as it becomes available. See Vanderbilt University's page for a comprehensive guide for Returning to Campus.

Vanderbilt community members are expected to abide by university protocols at all times, whether on or off campus. This includes wearing face masks/coverings, limiting gathering sizes and maintaining physical distancing. Members of the Vanderbilt community who intentionally disregard university COVID-19 policies and protocols will face disciplinary action under the relevant standards for students, faculty or staff .

COVID-19 concern? Call the Public Health Hotline at 615-343-1352

Page last updated Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:06 p.m.

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To protect the health and safety of all members of the Vanderbilt community during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deployed VU campus resources, including physical spaces campus-wide, in many different ways. We ask that you remain patient and flexible as we continue to adapt to changing circumstances and work together to protect our community going forward. At all times when you are on campus, you are required to observe these basic public health protocols:

These protocols are required at all times while on campus and are also critically important to follow while off campus to enhance the safety of the VU community, as well as the surrounding Nashville community.

Anchor Down. Step Up. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

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VLS fall semester classes begin Monday, August 17. Course offerings include online and in-person options. Fall break this year has been canceled so we can end the semester at Thanksgiving. Students are strongly encouraged to remain in Nashville and avoid weekend trips away from campus/town from the date in-person classes begin through the end of in-person classes on Friday, November 13. All personal student travel during this time is prohibited without written approval from the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. This travel recommendation is based on public health guidance regarding risks associated with travel away from campus and models suggesting a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases when the fall 2020 flu season begins.


1L/LL.M. Orientation Week      August 10-14
YES Course Registration August 10-21
First Day of Classes      August 17
Last Day of Classes      November 13
Reading Period    November 14-16
Final Exams    November 17-21 & November 23-24



To prepare to leave campus, we encourage students to reduce the number of people with whom they have close contact. Any close interaction with persons outside the immediate household or residence will present an opportunity for infection. Other ways students can avoid being exposed to the virus or becoming a close contact are to:

  • Dine only under conditions that are as safe as possible—this means no meals with others unless there is more than 6 feet of space for physical distancing between all at the table.
  • Practice physical distancing and face mask wearing at all times and limit interactions with non-Vanderbilt community members.
  • Go out only for essentials, such as grocery or medical needs.
  • Avoid restaurants and bars and do not host or attend social gatherings.
  • Participate in university-sponsored activities and programs, all of which adhere to safety protocols.

Travel is known to increase risk of being exposed to COVID-19; therefore, anyone traveling is encouraged to carefully review data on the prevalence of COVID-19 at their final destination for the winter break. Individuals are even more at risk if they interact with people from neighboring areas or other communities outside of their home community, and are at the highest risk when interacting with crowds that include people traveling from distant communities or are made up of people from different places.


The CDC has shared considerations about virus spread risk at holiday celebrations. Gatherings with people who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than those with people who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering's location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. During the break, members of the Vanderbilt community can take steps to protect themselves and others, including, among other things, following key CDC guidelines such as:

  • Avoiding activities in which physical distancing cannot be maintained or taking protective measures may be difficult.
  • Asking all guests at holiday get-togethers to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for the prior 14 days.
  • Avoiding any self-serve food or drink options. Use single-use options or identify one person to serve shareable items instead.
  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving and eating food.
  • Isolating from family and friends and getting retested if any symptoms develop, including but not limited to fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache or loss of taste or smell, or if notified of being a close contact of someone who tested positive.



Because the CDC does not currently require a 14-day quarantine period for travelers to the United States from abroad, Vanderbilt will not require this for students who are abroad during the winter break and plan to arrive for in-person on-campus activities for the spring semester. However, a quarantine is required if the person was exposed to the virus during travel. If the CDC or other local guidelines change for travelers from abroad before students' return, the university will implement those changes. The university intends to announce testing protocols for the spring semester by Tuesday, Dec. 15.


First Day of Classes  January 19
Spring Break None
Last Day of Classes   April 19
Reading Period April 20-21
Final Exams April 22-30 (including April 24-25)
Commencement May 14


Arriving/Returning after International Travel

Consistent with guidance from the Centers of Disease Control, Vanderbilt requires that students traveling to Nashville from outside of the U.S. self-quarantine for 14 days before arriving on campus. All students arriving from foreign nations must complete the International Pre-arrival Form on Anchorlink. International students are required to complete a virtual check-in with Vanderbilt’s ISSS Office within a week of arrival. You can make an appointment for your virtual check-in at the ISSS website .  

Additional information for international students is located here.


  • Watch the video to the right to see changes in the law school and for a comprehensive guide on how to navigate the building
  • Complete the Return to Campus Acknowledgement in Oracle Learning (for faculty and staff)
  • Complete the Return to Campus module (for students; link sent to you by the University Registrar’s Office)
  • Download the Vandy Safe app on Apple or Google Play Stores:

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All members of the Vanderbilt community who are authorized to be on campus, and are engaged in on-campus, in-person activities, will be included in the institution's on-going COVID-19 periodic on-campus testing program which began September 1. The sampling of Vanderbilt community members selected for testing will be based on analysis of COVID-19 test outcomes in segments of the community and other factors that will ensure a representative, meaningful and targeted sample of the VU community.

COVID-19 Testing & Recovery: Graduate and Professional Students

COVID-19 Testing & Recovery: Faculty, Staff and Postdocs

Voluntary Faculty COVID-19 Periodic Testing Program


Beginning Monday, Aug. 10, all students must monitor their symptoms daily using the symptom monitoring tool within the Vandy Safe app. At this time, faculty, staff and postdocs are also strongly encouraged to utilize the tool. The main purpose of symptom monitoring is to determine if you meet criteria for a medical evaluation for COVID-19. If you have an underlying medical condition or an ongoing chronic condition that has symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, then you do not need to record this if your symptoms are unchanged. Please only record symptoms that are new or worsening. If incorrect symptoms are accidentally entered into the app or a student has been cleared by Student Health, or if a student experiences technical issues with the app, they should email between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for assistance.

  • All students must conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus using the symptom assessment tool.
  • Remote-only students do not need to enter symptoms in the assessment tool.
  • The symptom assessment tool is also recommended for faculty, staff and postdocs coming to campus.
  • Those staff working remotely do not need to utilize the assessment tool.

Student symptom monitoring details>>
Faculty, staff and postdoc symptom monitoring details>>

Faculty, staff and postdocs who have symptoms related to COVID-19 must call the Occupational Health Center (OHC) at 615-936-0955 to receive guidance for their symptoms, possible testing, isolation/quarantine period, and return to campus criteria. If after-hours, OHC should call back within 30 minutes once a message is left. If OHC is not open and the symptoms are severe enough, the individual should go to the VUMC emergency department.

Students experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 must contact Student Health for further guidance on symptoms, testing and isolation/quarantine.

Testing positive or designated a "close contact"

Individuals who have received a COVID-19 positive test result or were informed outside of the VU/VUMC system (e.g., notified by Metro Public Health or another public health entity) that they are a close contact, should complete the Command Center webform, which goes directly to the VU Public Health Central Command Center to ensure confidentiality. The form can be accessed only by entering your VUnetID and password.

Test results from individuals tested by VUMC, Student Health, Occupational Health or Vanderbilt surveillance testing are routed automatically to the Command Center. Individuals will receive direct communication from the Command Center about their isolation or quarantine period if they are considered a close contact.



  • Optional asymptomatic testing dates for all students will be offered on Monday, Nov. 16, through Wednesday, Nov. 18. Students will have the opportunity to take one test during the optional testing window.
    • Students must sign up in advance to take this optional test, and they will receive further information on how to register before Nov. 7. All optional testing will be administered at the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. Students should anticipate that if their test is positive, or if they are identified as a close contact to a positive case, it may affect their travel plans and they should plan accordingly. 

Quarantine and isolation options for students before leaving for the break>>

  • All students who are symptomatic should continue to contact the Student Health Center for evaluation and potential testing until they depart the campus or the city.
  • All faculty, staff and postdocs who are symptomatic should continue to contact Occupational Health. 
  • Periodic testing of asymptomatic faculty, staff and postdocs will end coincident with the student testing. 
  • The university intends to announce testing protocols for the spring semester by Tuesday, Dec. 15.


COVID-19 Scenarios for Symptom Monitoring    COVID-19 Scenarios for Symptom Monitoring FACULTY COVID-19 Scenarios for Symptom Monitoring Staff


Avoid the Flu poster with information about how VU employees and students can obtain their free flu shot for the 2020-21 season.BE HEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY 

While symptom monitoring and testing are important parts of the university's "Anchor Down. Step Up" campaign, the overall well-being of the entire community is paramount. During this time the university encourages all Commodores to check up not only on themselves, but also on their friends, classmates and colleagues. All should be encouraged to connect with the many available resources when in need. Flu vaccinations are strongly encouraged in support of the health and safety of the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities.

Student Health Resources
  • Free flu shots for students are available. No appointment is necessary; bring your student ID.
  • The Office of Student Care Coordination at Vanderbilt is the central and first point of contact for all students who may have an academic, personal, emotional, medical and/or other concern.
  • Free access to Headspace (everyday mindfulness and meditation for stress, anxiety, sleep, focus, fitness, and more) for all Vanderbilt students.
  • Other self-directed tools for reducing stress and anxiety with free access to several.
  • The Center for Student Wellbeing provides academic, well-being, and alcohol and other drug-related support. Coaching appointments by phone, email or Zoom.
  • The University Counseling Center offers telemental health services. and drop-in consultations.
  • Vanderbilt Recovery Support Collegiate Recovery Program provides caring and encouraging support services to assist students who are in recovery from substance use issues.
  • MySSP provides counseling support for remote-only students.
  • The Vanderbilt Writers' Accountability Group provides a [Zoom] space once a month to enable graduate and professional students to support each other through the writing process.
  • Graduate Life Coach supports graduate and professional students through individual coaching and group programming around effective time and stress management, resilience, conflict resolution, navigating academic relationships, and juggling work/life responsibilities.

Faculty, Staff and Postdocs Health Resources

  • Flu shots are 100 percent covered as preventive care for all employees who are on a VU Health Plan and are available as follows:
    • For employees primarily working on campus, small Flula-2-Uza events were be held in the Library Lawn and Peabody tents throughout October.
    • For your convenience, the Occupational Health Clinic will visit the Law School on Tuesday, November 10 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. to provide flu shots to faculty and staff. This will take place in the Ray Room. To ensure social distancing and safety during this process, you MUST have a scheduled time slot to participate. Please do not arrive more than 5 minutes before your scheduled time. Those receiving a flu vaccine at the Law School must have completed a Return to Campus Acknowledgement. Space is limited! Access the schedule from the link in Dominiques's email.
    • Employees working remotely are highly encouraged to obtain their vaccination at any Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinic or any of the walk-in clinics (not pharmacies) at Walgreens stores.



  • Create and maintain a routine.
  • Engage in mindful awareness practices.
  • Maintain exercise and physical activity.
  • Balance nutrition.
  • Set boundaries for media consumption.
  • Physically distance yourself, but connect emotionally.
  • Continue nurturing your mental well-being.
  • Find ways to stay accountable.




COVID-19 PROTOCOLS AND LIFE AT VLS, a three-part video series which outlines the expectations of Vanderbilt community members.

PART I: Introduction, Masking, Social Distancing, and Signage

PART II: Gatherings

PART III: Consequences and Shared Responsibility

VU & VLS Return to Campus Communications

Nov. 20, 2020 - Update to Gathering Size Requirements

Nov. 16, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Nov. 9, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Nov. 2, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Oct. 26, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Oct. 19, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Oct. 12, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Oct. 7, 2020 - Our Plan for the Spring Semester

Oct. 1, 2020 - Phase 2+ of Return to Campus Plan remains in place as Nashville moves to Phase 3

Sep. 28, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Sep. 21, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Sep. 14, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Sep. 7, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Aug. 31, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Aug. 24, 2020 - Return to Campus Update

Aug. 17, 2020 - Return to Campus weekly update

Aug. 15, 2020 - Email from Asst. Dean Meyers

Aug. 10, 2020 - Return to Campus weekly update

Aug. 3, 2020 – Return to Campus weekly update

July 27, 2020 – Return to Campus weekly update

July 20, 2020 – Important Updates on Fall Semester and Return to Campus for Staff and Postdocs

July 20, 2020 – Important Updates on Fall Semester and Return to Campus for Graduate and Professional Students

July 20, 2020 – Important Updates on Fall Semester and Return to Campus for Faculty

June 16, 2020 – Our Plan for the Fall Semester

Jun. 15, 2020 - Email from Dean Chris Guthrie