MG VT Virus 031720 (copy)

Virginia Tech freshman Sarah Earle, with her mother’s help, moves out of her Virginia Tech dorm in March. The university continues to try to figure out its fall semester reopening plan during the pandemic.

Virginia Tech is moving all summer classes online, and has imposed a hiring freeze as fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The university announced Monday it would move all courses, labs and programs over the summer online. That includes new student orientations, conferences and agricultural sessions scheduled to take place on campus.

“At this time, we expect that all summer programs, events or activities that would require a gathering of participants that cannot be moved online would be cancelled,” according to a university statement.

Tech has not made any decision on changing the fall semester, a university spokesman said.

Also on Monday, Tech Provost Cyril Clarke and Dwayne Pinkney, chief business officer, updated faculty and staff on how they should plan for the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

“While we do not yet have a complete picture of the pandemic’s impact on the university budget, every unit should prepare for a university-wide budget reduction in 2020-21,” they wrote.

As of Monday, only jobs considered “essential” can be filled, and no offers can be made without approval from high-level university officials.

“Newly-funded positions and those that are open due to previous resignation, retirement, or termination of appointment contracts are to be left unfilled until further notice,” Clarke and Pinkney wrote.

University officials find themselves at the mercy of the General Assembly, which is hoping to meet partially outdoors April 22 to finish updates to the state budget.

Gov. Ralph Northam last week announced a state employee hiring freeze and asked state agencies to scrutinize their budgets to save costs.

In their message, Clarke and Pinkney also asked staff and faculty to eliminate all discretionary spending, including the hiring of consultants or purchase of equipment not deemed essential.

Clarke and Pinkney noted that “many colleges rely on resources generated by summer session to support their overall college budget. Therefore, it is important for colleges to shift high demand seat-based summer courses to an online format to ensure the availability of course offerings.”

A major factor in planning the university’s budget is the tuition rate, which depends on the final form of the state budget.

A university Board of Visitors meeting that would have set tuition rates last week was scrapped for a virtual update on how the university was responding to COVID-19.

A Tech spokesman said the board is planning a late April meeting, but that could be pushed into May or June.

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