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Fall 2020 Classroom Setup Resources

This site is being provided to support departments with departmentally controlled instructional space.  It will be updated as we move through the summer so please check back regularly.  

General Guidelines

Please see the vt.edu/ready site for information related to face covering requirements in classrooms.  Face shields are recommended for faculty use during in-class instruction.  

  • Social distancing should be maintained in the academic classroom or lab setting. 6' feet, when measured nose-to-nose separation must be maintained between all students and the instructor's teaching station.  Measurments should be conducted giving consideration to the following:
    • Minimum distance between front wall and teaching station - 41 inches
    • Minimum distance from projection screen to first row of students  - 8-10 feet
    • Minimum distance from back wall to back row of table/chair student seating - 34 inches
    • Minimum fire code to safely evacuate classroom - 36 inch walkway/aisle
    • No classroom/lab/studio can have a capacity in excess of 50 individuals. 
6' ft of separation between learning stations
  • The Office of the University Registrar is responsible for setting the updated capacities for General Assignment classrooms.  Individual departments/colleges are responsible for setting capacities in all departmentally controlled classrooms by using the guidelines provided on this page.  Departments can update capacities by filling out this Google Sheet (VT login required).

  • Environmental Health and Safety Fire Safety personnel are available for consultation when setting up rooms to ensure fire code is being met with updated seating arrangement. 

  • Ultimately the specific room shape has a large impact on setup in order to accommodate as many seats as possible while following the above social distancing guidelines.  Often a "honeycomb" pattern (see below) is suggested to be used where possible. This reduces the space needed between rows.  However, some rooms shapes require other layouts.  Dr. Hans Robinson, Department of Physics, has provided a PowerPoint presentation, directions, and a Mathematica program designed to support departments. The zip folder of files can be downloaded here.
Sample Classroom Setup

Science and Engineering Teaching Lab Guidelines

  1. A 6 ft. nose-to-nose distance should be maintained between people at all times. This includes all lab instructional personnel. 
  2. In labs where students work at opposing stations across a lab bench or next to each other, physical shielding may be installed that extends the full length of the bench or along the length between students and extends 12 inches above the height of the tallest person. Physical distance of 6 feet or more would be maintained in all directions not shielded.
  3. Face masks will be worn at all times. In working with some hazardous materials, (e.g., flammables or pathogens), a face shield may be required to be worn over the mask.
  4. Students should be assigned individual work stations that meet the distancing requirements and that they use for the duration of a lab session.  This lab station may include a nearby fume hood or biosafety cabinet. If students must use a common piece of equipment during a lab session, 6 ft physical distancing and cleaning between users must be maintained.
  5. The cleaning protocols established for university research labs will apply to teaching labs.

Computer Lab Health and Safety Guidelines

Many courses rely on computer labs for in-class instruction or homework. Virginia Tech is committed to ensuring that students have access to the hardware and software they need to be successful, while also remaining safe. Given the challenges posed by COVID-19 for staffing and cleaning computer labs, some labs will be closed, with software provided to those who need it via remote connections. Some departmental computer labs may have the necessary personnel and safety protocols to remain open, with limited seating for students. The following health and safety guidelines should be used by computer lab managers who support labs that remain open.

  • Provide a minimum of six feet between each lab patron (i.e., the six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated patron). If the computer lab furniture is not movable, remove seats to ensure six-feet spacing
  • Require face coverings for all lab patrons
  • Ensure that each lab has adequate hand sanitizer (e.g., hand sanitizing station or small hand sanitizer bottles) and gloves present near each computer
  • Encourage patrons to wipe down all surfaces (e.g., mouse, keyboard, desktops, monitors, etc.) with approved computer-safe, EPA-registered disinfectant before and after each use
  • Post signage at the lab entrance encouraging individuals to wash hands before entering the lab and to sanitize hands as they enter and leave the room
  • Post public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, and alternative lab options for high-risk individuals
  • Post signage at the lab entrance stating that no one with a known fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted entry.