Keep on Learning

Sometimes the unexpected happens. When it does, VCU is prepared to keep on teaching and keep on learning. Student success remains the core of our mission, and during these “remote” times, our goal across the university is to continue to provide resources to help all of our students successfully complete this semester. Below you will find a summary list of resources available to students. If you cannot find an answer to your question or resource need, use these forms to reach out for additional assistance from VCU officials responsible for the area of your request.

The Goal = Keep Learning

This toolkit was developed to provide students resources and support as they keep learning. The tips, tools, and resources below are here to support students with unexpected transition to remote learning and promote course completion. As outlined below, VCU aims to approach all aspects of academic continuity with flexibility, care, compassion, kindness, creativity, and positivity.

Tips for Success When Learning Online

An icon representing online learning.

Even if you've been successful with your face-to-face courses, it helps to think about how your academic life is going to change when your courses move online. The Campus Learning Center has created these tips for learning online. These nine tips will help ease the transition to online learning.

The Ram Frame of Mind

Be well- Our main priority is your health! Please check out the health tips and FAQs on the VCU University Health Services.

Be proactive- The more you prepare in advance, the easier the transition. Update your contact information with VCU. At least once a day, check your VCU email and any course communication tools (for example, Blackboard) for updates.

Stay calm- Even though you may feel quite stressed or uncertain, try your best to breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Staying calm can help you focus, make a plan, keep yourself organized, and make logical decisions.

Embrace integrity - Continue to embrace and adhere to the VCU academic integrity policy. Rams are leaders with regard to taking the VCU honor pledge seriously.

Practice flexibility- Your instructors may be learning new things as well. They will be looking at creative ways to deal with assignments, exams, discussions, avenues for student submission of their work, etc. In the end, just put your best foot forward and be open to change.

Seek support from your classmates- We encourage you to stay in communication with other students in your own classes and across the university. Find out what’s working for other students and how they’re managing the shift. It’s likely you’ll find different tools and workflows that will be helpful while sharing your own successes.

Prioritize care, compassion, kindness - Supporting each other can go a long way. Practice compassion and kindness to your classmates and your faculty. Everyone is doing their best to maintain your courses and stay on track for the semester.

Speak up if you need to talk- In times like these, you may need to talk to someone who can listen, support you, and help you focus on your learning. We really do encourage you to reach out to your Academic Advisor if you want to talk. Not sure who is your current advisor, find your advisor here. They are there for you!! The VCU University Counseling Services is another great source on campus for students.

Laptop Loans

Unfortunately the VCU laptop loaner program is no longer available.

For our veterans who need a laptop computer a local veteran support organization, Tech for Troops, provides FREE laptops to veterans who are going back to school.

Access to the Internet

Students can add “hotspots” to their wireless cellphone plans or continue to access VCU SafeNet around campus (sitting in your car in legal parking areas or at outside tables around campus, etc.)

A number of companies are also offering both reduced cost and increased bandwidth options.

  • FCC agreement stating that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hotspots
  • Comcast - offers free WiFi for 2 months to low income families plus all Xfinity hotspots are free to the public during this time
  • Internet Essentials - $9.95 a month with no contract
  • Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months.
  • AT&T COVID-19 response: offers open hotspots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families.
  • Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.
  • Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).
  • T-Mobile COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.

Zoom Video Conferencing

Many VCU professors and student support services will use Zoom as one method to communicate with students or to deliver course content.  Here are some quick resources to help get you online quickly and easily using Zoom.

Technology Support

  • Technology Services has created a guide to help students troubleshoot home networks.
  • The IT Support Center call center (for both campuses) can be reached at (804) 828-2227 during regular business hours and provides full-service phone support. Due to the volume of calls, callers are asked to be patient.
  • The most effective and streamlined way of contacting the IT Support Center or for any “enterprise” service support (i.e. Blackboard, Kaltura, VCU Mobile, login issues, etc) is to submit a Help Request ticket.

Students are encouraged to talk to their instructors about the materials needed to successfully complete their online course. VCU Libraries offer scanning services (by faculty request only) as well as the possibility of accessing a book electronically.  Please have your instructor contact the VCU Library for assistance in setting up these free options for you.

All academic support resources continue to be available to students on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, via remote delivery.

  • To make a tutoring appointment at the Campus Learning Center, please continue to use your Navigate app.  For tutoring at the MCV campus, please email acadsuccess@vcu.edu to schedule a remote appointment.
  • For assistance from the Writing Center, you can also make appointments using your Navigate app.
  • For students enrolled in courses that provide Supplemental Instruction, your SI leaders will be contacting you via your course Blackboard site.  They will be hosting SI sessions using Zoom.
  • If you are looking for ways to be successful in online learning, please review these tips, or fill out this academic coaching questionnaire and an academic coach will contact you.

Academic advisors continue to be your best “one stop” resource for many of your questions.  They are very resourceful and can help connect you to important resources, help you navigate conversations with your professors, and also be a source of calm in these new waters of remote learning.

All students should plan to schedule an advising appointment as soon as they can to discuss their current courses, midterm grades, withdrawal deadline questions, goal planning, and Fall 2020 pre-registration.

  • Use the Navigate app to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor. Advisors can talk via phone, chat, or video conferencing - you have many options!
  • For more information about your degree program and academic advising resources, visit our VCU Advising website or your departmental website.
  • The last date to withdraw from Spring 2020 courses is April 30th (this is a date change).  We urge any student who is considering a course withdrawal to schedule an appointment with their advisor PRIOR to withdrawing.  If you are a student with a registration hold and are unable to withdraw via eServices, you must email RAR@vcu.edu from your VCU email address with your V# and the course(s) you are requesting to be withdrawn from.
  • Fall 2020 course registration begins on March 31st (this is a date change).  Please review what day you can register for classes and try to “meet” (remotely) with your advisor prior to this important date.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students will have the option to choose between receiving standard letter grades (A-F) or the Pass/Fail grade option for each of their courses this semester. Students will have until May 15, 2020, to decide which courses, if any, they would like to use the Pass/Fail grade option. This means students will be able to see their final grades for each course before making a decision.

Keep on Being Well is the first resource we encourage all students to review.

The Well also provides students with online information for stress management, mindfulness, and boosting your overall mental health.

University Counseling Services (UCS) continues to provide comprehensive evaluation and consultation for students on best options for their mental health care. If you would like to speak to a clinician or for support related to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, or stalking, please contact us at (804) 828-6200 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

If it is an after-hours emergency, then please contact the VCU police at (804) 828-1234 and ask to speak to the on-call counselor.  The LiveSafe app is also available for non-emergencies.

Recreational Sports has prepared virtual programming that is available to everyone at no cost. Check out what's available at the new Virtual Programming section on the Rec Sports website.

  • Students who need help securing off-campus housing should contact VCU’s Off Campus Student Services office at (804) 828-4514 or email: offcampus@vcu.edu.
  • Students who were living on-campus and have questions about retrieving their belongings or need assistance from Residential Life, please visit the housing updates website for information.
  • Information about next year’s housing assignments and more information from Student Affairs is available from their blog which is updated regularly.

VCU Emergency funding for students impacted by COVID-19

VCU is committed to supporting our students who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need additional support.  Emergency grants and loan funds are available to current VCU students who have experienced one of the following circumstances:

  • Unexpected travel expenses due to not being able to reside in a residence hall
  • Unexpected travel expenses to care for yourself or a family member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Loss of income due to cut work hours, which has led to needing assistance with living expenses (i.e. housing, food, gas, etc.)

To be considered for emergency funding, students will need to complete an application and provide an explanation of their circumstances along with documentation (travel expense receipts, COVID-19 medical diagnosis, etc.). For more information, or to obtain an application, please contact the VCU Student Services Call Center at (804) 828-1550 or email our financial counseling staff:

As applications and supplemental materials are received, they will be reviewed for merit. Those approved to receive emergency funds will have funds credited to their account via direct deposit (if registered) or a refund check will be mailed to the students permanent residence.

While the university will attempt to provide financial assistance to those in the greatest need, funds are limited. You should make every effort to spend efficiently and not spend more than necessary because you are relying on financial assistance from the university.

Financial Aid Counselors & Student Accounting Available

Counselors from Financial Aid are available to work with students on an individualized basis.  Students should email their financial aid counselors according to the list below and a counselor will be in contact with you.

Student Accounting representatives are also available to answer questions about student billing. Please call (804) 828-2228 or email stuacctg@vcu.edu during regular business hours.

Student Workers and Federal Work Study

On March 17th, VCU Human Resources provided the following update for students who are student workers or federal work study employees:

  • Students who are part of the federal work-study program will be paid up to the amount of their award on the normal semi-monthly pay schedule.
  • Student workers (non-federal work-study) will have their payments continued for at least the next 30 days unless return to campus occurs before April 15 and they return to work. University leadership will issue additional guidance once a decision about student presence on campus is made.
  • Payment will be a calculated weekly rate based upon scheduled hours, as reflected in past earnings between January 13 and March 6. Payment will continue on a semi-monthly basis and will be calculated by Payroll Services.
  • Some students whose work is or can be performed remotely, such as student tutors or help desk support, will be asked to continue working and will be provided with premium pay (1.5 times your regular hourly rate). Supervisors will reach out to you if your work falls into this category.

Unemployment Benefits

On March 12, 2020, Governor Northam declared a State of Emergency in the Commonwealth due to the state-wide spread of COVID-19. Governor Northam announced the following actions to protect working Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • No waiting for unemployment benefits. Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits as soon as possible.
  • Enhanced eligibility for unemployment. Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer, they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, a worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they must stay home to care for an ill family member and are not receiving paid family medical leave from their employer.
  • Fewer restrictions. For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, Governor Northam is directing the Virginia Employment Commission to give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

VCU Emergency funding for students impacted by COVID-19

VCU is committed to strengthening our support of our students who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need additional support.  Emergency grants and loan funds are available to current VCU students who have experienced one of the following circumstances:

  • Unexpected travel expenses due to not being able to reside in a residence hall
  • Unexpected travel expenses to care for yourself or a family member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Loss of income due to cut work hours, which has led to needing assistance with living expenses (i.e. housing, food, gas, etc.)

To be considered for emergency funding, students will need to complete an application and provide an explanation of their circumstances along with documentation (travel expense receipts, COVID-19 medical diagnosis, etc.). For more information, or to obtain an application, please contact the VCU Student Services Call Center at (804) 828-1550 or email our financial counseling staff:

As applications and supplemental materials are received, they will be reviewed for merit. Those approved to receive emergency funds will have funds credited to their account via direct deposit (if registered) or a refund check will be mailed to the students permanent residence.

While the university will attempt to provide financial assistance to those in the greatest need, funds are limited. You should make every effort to spend efficiently and not spend more than necessary because you are relying on financial assistance from the university.

Your professors are making every effort to address academic accommodations proactively. For students with approved accommodations, there may be some changes to how these are implemented. This will be a collaborative process between you, your professors, and the Office of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (Monroe Park Campus) and the Division for Academic Success (Health Science programs). If you have any concerns about accessing or participating in your course in a remote/online format, share them with your instructor. This will allow them to proactively use that information in the redesign of their course. You are also welcome to contact SAEO at saeo@vcu.edu or DAS at acadsuccess@vcu.edu.

Virginia Commonwealth University remains committed to promoting a culture of inclusion for all its employees, patients and students. Discrimination or discriminatory harassment is unlawful. It is also harmful to the well-being of our university community. We are aware of the news reports regarding bullying, harassment and stereotyping of Chinese Americans and persons of Asian descent in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19). There is no place for this sort of behavior, especially not at VCU. Our university values, specifically those related to diversity and inclusion, have withstood many difficult situations and trying times, and they will not falter now. Please be assured that VCU will make every effort to prevent the occurrence of unlawful discrimination and, if necessary, take prompt and appropriate action to remedy and prevent its reoccurrence. Every member of our community is asked to:

  • Become familiar with the university’s policy on preventing and responding to discrimination in the VCU Policy Library.
  • Consult with Equity and Access Services or VCU Human Resources for additional guidance on how to maintain a bias-free environment.
  • Encourage individuals affected by this type of misconduct to file a report of discrimination or harassment with Equity and Access Services.
  • Bookmark and share information on university or community agencies that offer support or services, such as VCU Counseling Services.
  • Offer nonjudgmental support and empathy to those affected.
  • VCU expects that students will maintain the same professional demeanor online as they would during in-person learning. Instructors who experience disruptions to the learning environment can address student behavior as they normally would and also refer to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

Help

If you are a current student who still has unanswered questions and you need additional support or questions answered, please use this self-referral form below (You will need to be logged into your VCU Google account.):

I need additional help

Faculty, staff, or students who know of a student needing assistance and were not able to find an answer from the above resources are encouraged to submit the form below (You will need to be logged into your VCU Google account.):

Refer a student for additional support