COVID-19 information for students

Updated March 18, 2020, at 11:05 a.m.

Pharm.D. and graduate students can find the latest information for them here. Information just added will begin with the word NEW.

A section focused on graduate-student topics can be found below under the heading Graduate Students.

General information for all School of Pharmacy and links to information for faculty and staff can be found here.

NEW: Expanded Zoom accounts and access

NEW: Expanded Zoom accounts have been arranged for all VCU students, faculty and staff. The expanded accounts do not have time restrictions for meetings and can be used for meetings of up to 300 participants.

To provision your account, log out of Zoom (browser and/or app) and log in again at vcu.zoom.us using your VCU credentials.

It is not necessary to submit a ticket to Phartech or Technology Services for an account as all users are automatically being enrolled using these steps.

NEW: Wellness and student success

  • Counseling Services: Services are available and students are asked to call first to speak with a clinician 804-828-3964. The on-call crisis counselor is available for crisis situations after business hours by contacting VCU Police (804-828-1234) and then asking to speak to the on-call counselor.
  • University Student Health Services: Please call ahead before visiting their office – 804-828-8828. Visit their website for updated hours.
  • Ram Pantry: Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment to access Ram Pantry using this link: https://rampantry.youcanbook.me/. Appointments are available Monday – Friday, 11am to 5pm. For questions or assistance, please email rampantry@vcu.edu.    
  • Division for Academic Success: Students are able to receive services and meet with Mr. Anderson remotely (via Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, etc.).  Please contact them as you always have (das.vcu.edu or 804-828-9782).  
  • Rho Chi Tutoring: Please access the link to request a tutor via the Pharm.D. students’ page as you always have. Tutoring can take place remotely.  
  • Student Meetings: Dean O and Ms. Keel are still available to meet with students remotely via Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, or telephone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or if you need support as you navigate these changes and any other challenges.
  • Student Success Emergency Fund: This fund provides students with financial support when faced with an unexpected, unforeseen, and unavoidable emergency expense. To learn more or apply click here.

Foundations labs

Effective March 16, all foundations labs are to be postponed or conducted remotely. Students will receive detailed instructions in the near future.

Office of Experiential Education (OEE) — Rotations

  • IPPE 530 and 532: Prerequisites are on hold as IPPE rotations have been paused until further notice. Notification of the new prerequisites due date will be announced once the IPPE restart date is determined.
  • IPPE 533 Patient Care: Until further notice, no additional hours can be accrued.
  • Please turn in all completed hours accrued before 3/16/20.
  • OEE is working on a plan for those who have not completed their 20 hours. Information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.
  • All IPPEs will be paused and restarted at some later date.
  • APPEs for P4 students are being paused immediately. If P4s wish, they had to submit a request to continue clinical education on or before March 16; this may still allow for on-time graduation. A form to request such a continuation was emailed to you by Dr. Rucha Bond.
  • Your health, safety, and professional success are OEE’s priorities.
  • A FAQ section on coronavirus (COVID-19) has been added to the VCU School of Pharmacy Office of Experiential Education website. https://pharmacy.vcu.edu/experiential-education/faq/ Please check this site periodically.
  • Any questions or concerns should be directed to Rucha Bond, Pharm.D,. Associate Dean for Experiential Education (rbond@vcu.edu) 804-828-3059  

Virtual Classroom Instructions

Connecting to Online Courses

  • A virtual classroom schedule has been created for all Spring semester courses, which was attached to an email sent to you Friday, March 13.
  • Classes will end promptly 10 minutes before the hour to facilitate the online schedule successfully. 
  • A guide created by the VCU AltLab for students transitioning to online learning: https://altlab.vcu.edu/rapid-response/students/
  • Launching Zoom
    1. We recommend that you get started by downloading the Zoom application from the following link: https://zoom.us/support/download
    2. Once downloaded, you can pin Zoom to your taskbar to access it more easily.
    3. Join your class meeting by clicking on the virtual room link from your virtual class schedule.
  • Technical Issues
    • Phartech recommends that you connect five minutes prior to class start in order to ensure your microphone, video and computer setup is functioning correctly. A few basic troubleshooting guides are included below: 

Testing Environment & Instructions Before Exam Day:

  • Your course coordinator will tell you when the exam is available to download.
  • Download all exams at least 24 hours before exam day.
  • Make sure you have a quiet, functional space to take your exam.
    • Reliable internet connection
    • An up-to-date, working device
    • If your device is unreliable, please have a backup device with Examplify installed, if possible.

On Exam Day:

  • Sarah Clair will email you the exam password 5 minutes before the exam begins. Any materials you will need during the exam (formulas, cases, etc.) will be attached to your exam in Examplify.
  • Write down the password before opening Examplify.
  • Enter the password and begin your exam.
  • Examplify will alert you when there are 5 minutes remaining.
  • When you have finished the exam, upload it and confirm with the green checkmark.
  • Communicate any errors found on the exam through the Notes/Feedback feature. Coordinators will review after administration for errors and make adjustments if needed. Students should not email/text/message faculty during the exam with questions about the exam.
  • If you do not enter the exam by 8:15 a.m. on exam day, the downloaded exam file will be remotely deleted from your computer. Please reach out to your coordinator to schedule a make-up.

Critical Reminder: 

  • The VCU Honor pledge is of the utmost importance to maintain the integrity of the testing environment. We will be monitoring for violations.

For technical difficulties, please try the following:

  • If you do not see your download or cannot access the exam, restart Examplify or restart your computer.
  • If Examplify quits when your exam is complete, go back into Examplify and upload the exam.
  • If Examplify says there is no internet connection, go back to the dashboard and it will upload. (most of the time ‘refresh’ solves everything!) ExamSoft saves data every 60 seconds. If your laptop crashes or you can not connect to the internet, once you are connected to internet elsewhere, your exam can upload.

If none of the above solves the issue, please call Sarah Clair at 571-449-0379. If Sarah cannot be reached, please call Examplify student support at 866-429-8889 or call Dr. Frankart at 804-828-5541


Excused Absences

  • The EARS submissions process remains the same. Please keep in mind that you must be logged in via VPN in order to access this site.
  • If you think you have signs of illness such as a fever or other flu-like symptoms, stay home, contact your primary care provider, and submit an excused absence.
  • Please note that classes will be back in session on March 16. That being said, we expect you to prioritize your safety and extenuating circumstances or conditions that preclude your participation in on-site lab activities will be taken into account and should be submitted via the excused absence system. Self-reporting and monitoring is essential.

TB Testing Deadline

  • The TB testing window has been extended by two weeks, until April 10.

Event updates

  • P4 On-Campus Day: The On-Campus Day scheduled for Friday, March 20, will now occur virtually. You do not need to come to campus. Dr. Ogbonna will send more information in the coming days.
  • Remaining Fireside Chats should be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date.
  • All student organizations are requested to refrain from holding large group events such as induction ceremonies and social gatherings.
  • The American Pharmacists Association has canceled its annual meeting scheduled for March 20-23. Students who had previously excused absences to attend that meeting will be expected to attend virtual class sessions on those days.
  • CPDPlease submit completed co-curricular activities via the Post-Event Co-Curricular Google form by Friday, March 20, at 5 p.m.
  • GLDP: The Escape Room activity scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, has been canceled. Programmatic updates will be provided in the coming weeks.
  • Dean’s Hour: Due to federal travel restrictions, our invited U.S. Public Health speakers have elected to reschedule their March 18 presentation. Updates will be provided when a new date is identified.
  • Large Student Events Canceled: The Division of Student Affairs has suspended in-person meetings or student events with more than 50 students, effective immediately. Student Commons & Activities staff will cancel all student organization room reservations through April 15 and will assist in the rescheduling of student events. For additional support, contact uscaevents@vcu.edu.
  • Internship Showcase: Many of our institutional partners now have travel restrictions preventing them from participating in university campus events. With this in mind, we have decided to cancel the Internship Showcase scheduled for March 25. In the weeks ahead, we will look for additional opportunities to ensure students can actively engage with employers and explore internship possibilities.
  • Lowenthal Symposium: In response to CDC recommendations and to respect the health concerns of many of our guests, VCU School of Pharmacy has decided to postpone the Lowenthal Symposium scheduled for March 27 in Richmond. The symposium will be rescheduled at a later date.
  • Hooding & Diploma Ceremony: At this time, there are no changes to report regarding the School of Pharmacy Hooding & Diploma Ceremony scheduled for May 8. Should this change, we will be sure to pass along new information as soon as possible.

Graduate Students

The Graduate School will work with graduate faculty and graduate students to facilitate graduate student procedures and processes related to graduate education at VCU.

NEW: If graduate students can conduct research work remotely they must do so.  

  • We advise that research activities such as literature reviews, composing manuscripts and research proposals, data analyses, etc., be conducted from home.
  • Research meetings should be conducted through video or teleconference. 

NEW: For students conducting laboratory-based research, we are providing the following guidance:

  • Laboratory research that can be postponed should be paused until further notice.
  • Essential laboratory research may be continued if safe distancing between lab occupants (2 meters or more) can be maintained and surfaces and instruments can be properly sanitized. 
  • In these cases, you as a student may decide if you wish to continue your work or postpone it.  

General information for graduate students

  •  The Graduate School suggests that graduate teaching, research, and other assistants be given duties that can be performed remotely, if possible. All graduate assistants should receive stipends as scheduled.
  • The Graduate School supports plans to hold comprehensive examinations and thesis/dissertation defenses remotely, particularly if student or faculty committee member must travel to participate. The Graduate School conference room has Zoom teleconferencing capabilities and will be available on a first-come basis for examinations and defenses. For conference room scheduling and room details, please contact Jamie Taylor at taylorjl25@vcu.edu
  • Most Graduate School forms can be submitted electronically; however, scanned paper forms will be accepted via email sent to graddean@vcu.edu

The Graduate School is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and are working to minimize disruptions in graduate education at VCU. Please monitor VCU’s COVID-19 (Coronavirus) website for further university guidance.

Information for TAs

NEW: As of March 16, no classes will be held in person.

Beginning Monday, March 16, all classroom courses will be delivered via Zoom; P1 and P2 Foundations lab courses will be conducted remotely; and P3 foundation labs will be offered remotely. If you are enrolled in classroom courses or serve as a TA you will receive instructions for remote participation.

TAs and supervisors are expected to communicate in advance of each upcoming class to discuss modifications of TA duties.  

  • Please note that TAs should  plan to report for teaching duties and contact the course coordinator to discuss any modifications in the course and how this relates to their teaching duties.
  • However, anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19, or has returned from areas of high COVID-19 prevalence (domestic or international), or returned from a cruise should self-quarantine for 14 days.  TAs should inform their graduate advisors and course supervisors if this is the case. Again, minimizing risk remains a major priority.     

We are following sound procedures to minimize the risk while implementing ways to continue teaching. 

  • We are shifting teaching lab exercises to occur remotely and not within the lab space. 
  • All foundations labs will be halted or, in some cases, continued remotely. More information will be shared soon.

Best practices

  • If you think you have signs of illness such as a fever or other flu-like symptoms, stay home and contact your primary care provider. 
  • If you have questions about excused absences, contact Dean Ogbonna (kcunegbuogbo@vcu.edu) and Ms. Keel (vakeel@vcu.edu)
  • Remember to practice good hygiene, as this remains the simplest and most effective way to slow or stop transmission of the virus.
  • Wash hands thoroughly, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Use hand sanitizer often.
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Sneeze or cough into tissues when possible. If necessary, cough into the crook of your elbow. Do not cough into your hands.

One thought on “COVID-19 information for students

Comments are closed.