Coronavirus Updates

Current Status: The VCUarts Qatar campus is currently closed until further notice in response to the Qatar Government's decision on March 9 to close all public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities as a Coronavirus prevention initiative. 

All instruction has been moved online.  More information can be found in the messages below.

Please refer to this webpage for the operating status and updates from VCUarts Qatar as well as wellness guidelines related to the current worldwide impact of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.

Qatar Ministry of Public Health

World Health Organization, Coronavirus

COVID-19 Coronavirus

United States State Department Emergency Alert: Novel Corona Virus


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The constantly evolving situation in Qatar and worldwide concerning efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that updates and announcements on various regulations and initiatives are being published throughout the day and night. 

The information is being disseminated across multiple platforms at different times, and we acknowledge that it can be challenging to keep abreast of all the updates. 

With this in mind, our Crisis Management Team (CMT) is endeavoring to provide the most up-to-date information on the current situation in Qatar and abroad. 

Please note that the information provided below comes only from official sources and is offered for the purposes of guidance only. 

We also ask that you exercise careful and informed judgment at all times when dealing with any aspects related to the COVID-19 outbreak in any situation or location. 

Please contact our CMT at if  you see something that you have seen online, or heard about, and would like clarification on. They will be happy to review the information and let you know if  the information appears to be true or false.

Essential Information 
No curfew or lockdown has been announced.

There are strict and enforced regulations in place regarding

  • The general rule is stay at home with your own family (those that usually live with you) and do not have outside visitors, cleaners etc. inside your home.
  • Avoid non-essential travel – limit your trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and for health visits only, and as infrequently as possible.
  • When queuing at stores etc. you must keep a 1.5 meter distance from others - stores have placed floor stickers to enable this practice.
  • All gatherings are against the law for any reason - see the advisory from the government below
  • Meetings must be held using teleconferencing technology.  Only absolutely essential meetings that cannot take place in any other way are to take place in person and these should be five or fewer people.   

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has provided guidance on how to protect yourself while grocery shopping. Please see the image below

The image below offers precautionary measures to be followed when using home delivery services.


The working hours of companies and commercial shops have also changed, but vital services such as pharmacies, petrol stations, food stores, are exempted from the decision.
You can see more in the image below:



Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport. 
Entry to Qatar is only allowed for Qatari nationals who will be required to enter quarantine for a period of 14 days. However, access into Qatar is, for the time being, available to Qatari nationals and Permanent Residents (this is not the same as a QID holder - these are long term residents who have applied for special permits).

Expat Residents can leave the country to other destinations, but at this point in time would not be able to return.   More information on this is provided in the Travel section below.  

Qatar Airways has announced that the passport holders of other nations will not be granted entry to Qatar. These restrictions are being reviewed on an ongoing basis. Passengers with onward connections through Hamad International Airport will be accepted for travel and Qatar Airways’ global network will continue its operation for transit passengers as normal, subject to entry restrictions at their final destination. 

Qatar Airways is still operating flights to many cities around the world, but the airports in these cities may close at short notice. At the time of writing, only one Middle Eastern airport is accessible from Qatar (to Tehran), while flights were still available to locations such as Chicago, London, and Kuala Lumpur. Again, the evolving situation in various countries means that the airports can close with little or no notice, so please consult with your embassy and check the Qatar Airways website. 

As noted in a March 31 email from our Human Resources department, exit permits are no longer required for government and semi-government sector-sponsored employees and students effective March 22, 2020, until further notice. This means that an Exit Permit will no longer be required for Qatar Foundation-sponsored employees and students when traveling out of Qatar.

The White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Centers for Disease Control have set up a Coronavirus (COVID-19) website that provides information on symptoms, cases and updates, and resources for households, travelers, and schools and child care programs, amongst others. 

Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine (JHU) has a COVID-19 tracking map which is the most widely recognized tracker of COVID-19 cases globally, including active cases, deaths and recoveries. 

Centers for Disease Control 
The Travel section on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information on everything from COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country, to FAQs for international travelers. 

World Health Organization 
The World Health Organization (WHO) website, like Johns Hopkins, and the CDC, has its own  COVID-19 Situation Dashboard

Staying Safe 

Qatar: Ministry of Public Health
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has created a webpage to provide the residents of Qatar with a trusted source of information related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

It is updated every day and contains statistics on the total number of new cases in the last 24 hours, the total number of people tested for COVID-19, the total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and so on. 

It is available in Arabic, English, Hindi, and Malayalam.

Furthermore, it has a pop-up COVID-19 Self-Assessment box 

The right-hand side of the MoPH web page has several useful links, some of which we highlight below. 
A page on frequently asked questions contains information on everything from signs and symptoms of COVID-19, to what steps Qatar has taken to date to protect the population from COVID-19. 

The website has information on how to home quarantine and educational videos (in several languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepali, Sinhala, and Tagalog) on aspects such as the correct method of hand-washing, wearing masks, and what to do if you develop the symptoms of COVID-19. 

Educational Materials are available in downloadable formats in several languages and cover everything from when you have to wash your hands, and information on the COVID-19 Call Center, to how to protect yourself from the Coronavirus

Other news from the MoPH can be found here and at the time of going to press it has news on circulars, remote healthcare services, and the national volunteering campaign. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can sign up at this link

The MoPH, PHCC, and MoI have set up a Healthcare Hotline. The number to call is 16000. More information is provided in the images below:

Hamad Medical Corporation has launched a Mental Health Service Helpline. To speak to a mental health professional, call the new helpline on 16000 from 7am to 10pm daily.
More information can be found in the image below.

The PHCC has started a medication delivery service. Please see the image below for more information.

Qatar: Government Communications Office
The Government Communications Office (GCO) has a website with news about COVID-19 in Qatar. It has statistics, charts, press releases, information on what measures are being taken to meet the needs of consumers, and travel policy.
The GCO Twitter account has regular updates, including on the COVID-19 situation in Qatar.

It has launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. The new service, which is free-to-use, provides a central source of accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Coronavirus Information Service is an automated “chatbot” service that allows citizens and residents in Qatar to get answers to the most common questions about Coronavirus from the Ministry of Public Health and the GCO 24 hours a day in six languages: Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Nepali, and Malayalam. The service will provide information on topics such as Coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth-busting.

To use the free Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply save the number +974 6006 0601 in your phone contacts, then send a WhatsApp message in any language to get started.
The conversation can also be started via:


Qatar: Ministry of Education and Higher Education
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) website has information in Arabic on areas including electronic services and further education. It also provides information on its social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Qatar: Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Information from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) can be found at this link and on Twitter. It has announcements on safe distancing rules at retail outlets, and circulars on ratified contracts to hold concerts, festivals, events and special gatherings, and the closure of all restaurants, cafes, and food outlets. 

Qatar: Ministry of Interior
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) posts information on its social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  

Qatar: Qatar Foundation – Maktabi
Qatar Foundation has created a COVID-19 section on its Maktabi portal, which has information on everything from the QF Primary Health Care Center to Education City access. 

Qatar: Primary Health Care Corporation 
The Primary Health Care Corporation posts information on its social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Sidra Medicine
Sidra Medicine has a COVID-19 information page with Information for pregnant women and their families, and tips from their Children and Adolescent Mental Health team. Dr. Patrick Tang shared tips on AlJazeera English related to groceries and the importance of cleaning high touch surfaces. Sidra Medicine posts information on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Qatar: Hamad Medical Corporation
Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) website has information on how to get a health card, emergency departments, and lists of various hospitals. HMC also posts information on Twitter and Facebook

Qatar: Al-Ahli Hospital
Al-Ahli Hospital posts information on Twitter and Facebook.

Home Campus: Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU’s website has information on staying well, and how to cope with COVID-19 anxiety, stress, irritability and uncertainty, to name but a few. The News Center at VCU Health also has plenty of useful information.  They also have a dedicated email for questions about the impact of COVID-19 on VCU and VCU Health. They can be contacted at 


Other Links

World Health Organization
The COVID-19 section on the World Health Organization (WHO) website has sections on everything from public advice to online training for Infection Prevention and Control. The website and Twitter page hosts live press conferences by the WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

The WHO website also has a useful Myth Busters section on its website that debunks myths such as holding your breath, or rinsing your nose with saline. The WHO is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The YouTube page has videos in several languages from Arabic to French. The WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region team, which covers the Middle East can be found on Twitter and on their website

Johns Hopkins 
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Interactive Visualizations section on its Coronavirus Resource Center web page uses a five-day moving average to visualize the number of new COVID-19 cases and calculate the rate of change. Those who are interested in “flattening the curve” will find plenty of data to study there. 

The Coronavirus Resource Center also has links on everything from Situation Reports to podcasts, and the COVID-19 Reality Check website. Johns Hopkins is on Twitter and here on  Twitter for accounts to follow for expert input on the novel coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control 
The CDC website also has information for caring for someone at home, cleaning and disinfection for households, stress and coping, and information for parents. The CDC is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, which has videos on prevention tips and things you can do at home. 

Embassies and Consulates

It is advisable to monitor your embassy’s website or social media for updates and announcements. 

US Embassy in Qatar website

British Embassy in Doha website

Canadian Embassy in Qatar website

Embassy of India Doha, Qatar website

Embassy of Pakistan in the State of Qatar website

Embassy of the Philippines, Doha, Qatar website 

Embassy of I.R.Iran in Qatar website

Italian Embassy in Qatar website

German Embassy Doha website

Embassy of Sweden Qatar website


Message: Building Access
From: the Facilities and Safety department
Date: Thursday April 9

Good afternoon everyone,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community, the Facilities and Safety Department would like you to know that your health is very important to us. We encourage you to follow the directives of Government and stay/work at home.   

We understand that there will be infrequent times where access to our building becomes necessary, and we would like to make this experience as safe for all as possible.

Please see the following steps below for accessing the VCUarts Qatar building if you are not already placed on the CMT building access list:

  • Notify your supervisor of your need to access VCUarts Qatar.
  • Your supervisor will send an email to Andrea ( stating the day of access and authorizing any removal of IT equipment and/or furniture at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Building access will only be granted though the main entrance after showing your QF ID and signing into the building. QF security will only grant you access on the day that was requested by your supervisor during normal business hours (Sunday to Thursday 8am-5pm).

Please make these visits as brief as possible and purposeful - no loitering in the building please.

This policy will assist with contact tracing if we are notified that a member of our community has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

Thank you for your understanding and support of this policy. We wish everyone the best of health.

Thank you and stay well.
The Facilities and Safety department
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar

Message: Exit Permits
From: the Human Resources department
Date: Monday March 31

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students, Faculty and Staff:

Following a recent announcement issued by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) authorities, we wish to advise you that the Exit Permit has been abolished for government and semi-government sector-sponsored employees and students effective March 22, 2020, until further notice.

This means an Exit Permit will no longer be required for Qatar Foundation-sponsored employees and students when traveling out of Qatar.

VCUarts Qatar fully supports this significant government policy change, as it simplifies departures for faculty, staff and students should they need to travel at this time. 

Thank you and stay well.
The Human Resources department
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message: Resources and Information from the Fab Lab, Print Lab, and WoodShop team
From: the Fab Lab, Print Lab, and WoodShop team
Date: Thursday March 26

Dear Students, 

As the semester moves forward in this new and evolving way, we are all developing our practices in modes which we did not anticipate at the beginning of the year. Adjusting from our usual methods of expression is challenging.
Here are some resources that the Fab Lab, Print Lab, and WoodShop team have found interesting and useful during these times of remote studying and working:

Things to Browse, Watch & Navigate:

Art and design documentarian Gary Hustwit is streaming all of his films for free. From March 24-31 you can watch "Objectified": (2009, 75 minutes) 

"Objectified" is a documentary film about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves? With Paola Antonelli, Chris Bangle, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Tim Brown, Dunne & Raby, IDEO, Naoto Fukasawa, Jonathan Ive, Hella Jongerius, Marc Newson, Dieter Rams, Karim Rashid, Alice Rawsthorn, Smart Design, Jane Fulton Suri, Rob Walker and more."

Modern art books From the Guggenheim Museum Collection

The Google Arts & Culture Collection features content from over 2000 leading museums and archives

The International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam: A collection of 200 free films and new media projects to stream:

Human/Computer Interaction Papers: This is a database of papers at the intersection between Human Computer Interaction and Material Science.

Things to Do With Your Hands:

Mini Moog Synthesizer for iOS is now free

The Knot Making Database has great tutorials

Cut / Fold Paper Templates for Mechanical Mechanisms

Looking For The Perfect 3D Model?



Sketchup Warehouse

Smithsonian Museum


3D Sky

We hope to have you back soon!

Thank you
The Fab Lab, Print Lab, WoodShop team
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar



Message from Dean Amir Berbić - Commencement and Convocation Update
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Wednesday March 25

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Good afternoon everyone. I am writing with the news that we will unfortunately be postponing our 2020 Commencement which we had planned for May 4.
Her Excellency Sheikha Hind announced during the Education City Dean’s Council meeting this morning that given the evolving situation regarding COVID-19, the Qatar Foundation Convocation will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date. 

Last Wednesday, our home campus made the same decision. VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D announced that commencement will be postponed, and all of VCU's May graduates would be celebrated in a ceremony to be held in Richmond later in the year, on December 12.  

Qatar Foundation and its partner universities in Education City will be planning a number of virtual gestures of celebration of our graduates during the month of May.

I know this will alleviate your concerns and questions about VCUarts Qatar’s Commencement and QF Convocation, but it is also very disappointing for all of us. We looked forward to celebrating virtually —and at some point we will come together to celebrate as a community.

Thank you and stay well!  

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message from Dean Amir Berbić, and Senior Specialist for Student Development Sarah Faheem.
Date: March 17 2020

Our building is not the same without the VCUarts Qatar community, and we miss the creative energy and the excitement that you bring to classes and events.
Please let us know what you miss most about campus life. A video, a story, an email, or a message on our social media platforms. Keep everyone smiling. Please send us your comments and messages. We would love to hear from you!
We hope you are all staying well and staying safe.


Message from Dean Amir Berbić
Date: Saturday March 14
Dear VCUarts Qatar Community. We hope you are all staying well and staying safe. Here is a message from Dean Amir Berbić.


Message: Materials Library Update
From: the Materials Library team, VCUarts Qatar
Date: Saturday March 14

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

With regard to the current suspension of campus instruction, we wanted to reach out and clarify our plans to support academic continuity. 

You will have access to:

  • The Materials Squad, virtually. Please feel free to reach out via email to with any questions or enquiries you have. This includes any advice on materials for your projects, to finding materials locally, etc 
  • Material ConneXion - a GREAT online resource for materials research. Sign in with your VCU eID and password and enjoy exploring 10,000+ materials at your fingertips. 

Other online databases you might find useful are:

You will not have access to: 

  • The physical collection
  • The Materials Workspace 
  • Returning or borrowing material samples and books from the Materials Library. Any students who have materials checked out and receive lost item bill notifications, please hold onto the materials and return them as soon as the building reopens.

Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have. We're here to support in any way we can. 

We hope to have you back soon!

The Materials Library team.
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar  



Message: Coronavirus Situation Updates
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Thursday March 12

Dear VCUarts Qatar Faculty and Staff,

I am writing with a number of updates related to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. As you may be aware, the World Health Organization yesterday announced that it was classifying the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic.  

Qatar Foundation has moved to a fully virtual, online work model for all of their employees. VCUarts Qatar will follow suit, so starting on Monday March 16, our building will be accessible only to designated essential personnel.  

This means that everyone else will have to work and teach from home. Please make arrangements to enable fully remote access, gather all of the materials/laptop and equipment that you will need to work from home, and avoid coming to the building.    

After Monday, should an urgent need arise for access to the building, please contact the following Facilities & Safety department members:
Michael Arrighi 3013 3450
Dana Rohani 3013 3474

Qatar Foundation has also included in their communication to employees that any employee or family member who has arrived back to Qatar from international travel on or after March 8 is requested to self-quarantine. VCUarts Qatar is aligning with this recommendation and requesting the same of our staff, faculty and their family. 

Below is the link to information from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health on appropriate self-quarantine procedures:

In addition, I can confirm that Qatar Foundation recreational facilities, Qatar National Library, the Multaqa Student Centre and Oxygen Park are closed until further notice. There is also no EC tram service at this time.

International Travel
Given the high risk associated with international travel, we are strongly cautioning against all personal travel outside of Qatar at this time.
By leaving the country, you risk not being able to return, being quarantined in another country, or being quarantined upon your return to Qatar. You may also be increasing your risk of contracting the virus during your travels.   

If you must travel for urgent personal/family reasons, then it is important that the university be kept informed of your plans. This will ensure it can continue to provide educational and operational continuity in case you are unable to work, and also so it can support you via Global Rescue or other means, if necessary.

To enable this notification, prior to any international travel, you are requested to fill out the Declaration of International Travel form on HRoncall (see link below), and also to advise your supervisor of your travel plans.

Finally, thank you for the dedication and professionalism that each of you are showing during these exceptional and challenging times.  

Kindly complete the form by logging into HRonCall and selecting "Travel declaration form" from the drop down list, as shown below. This will be directly sent to your supervisor and Michael Arrighi for their information and support.

Thank you.

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message from VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library
From: Amy Andres, Director of Libraries
Date: Thursday March 12

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students, Faculty and Staff,

While the school is in academic continuity mode, you continue to have 24/7 online access to a breadth of library resources through its vast digital collections.  You also have virtual access to the expertise of the library faculty and staff.

Below is a reminder about what is available to you. Please click on the highlighted links for access.

Ebooks:  Access to over 1.3 million ebook titles. Ebooks are available through the library's online discovery platform.

Journals, magazines, and newspapers: Online access to articles from over 173,000 titles across a range of disciplines.  You may access these resources through our online discovery platform.

Research Consultations with librarians will also continue. You can contact our librarians directly or send a general information query to:  

Digital Interlibrary Loan: If you cannot locate an article, book chapter, or conference proceedings through the library’s digital collections, you can request a copy via a main campus Interlibrary Loan.  More information can be found here.

Interlibrary Loan from other EC campuses and QNL: Temporarily suspended. QNL is closed to the public until further notice. However, you can still access their online platformDigital Repository, and Qatar Digital Library.

LUNA: The digital archives of VCUarts Qatar is available on campus or from home.  Access here.

LinkedIn Learning (LinkedIn + Access here.

Kanopy Streaming: Streaming documentaries, feature films, shorts, and more. Access here.

Borrowed items (books, materials, cameras, mics, etc.): No items are due for return during academic continuity. You can return items when we return to in-person operations.  In the meantime, please disregard any email notifications about overdue items.

As always, please contact a librarian if you have any questions about research or access to resources. 

Amy Andres
Director of Libraries
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message: Semester to be completed online
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Thursday March 12

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Please note, a decision has been made at VCUarts Qatar that we will complete this semester via the online teaching model that we have adopted as of the Qatar Government's directive to suspend regular classes at all schools, colleges and universities to prevent further spread of the coronavirus in the greater community.  

We understand this will have an impact on course related events such as BFA+MFA and the Fashion Show, and contingency plans are being made with respect to these activities to ensure the least impact on student learning and outcomes.  

The situation with coronavirus in Qatar continues to evolve. There are now 262 confirmed cases in the country. We can expect further measures to prevent community spread will be taken by the government, so please be vigilant and continue to follow the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) advice.

Please be aware:
Students are not to come to the building.  Building access is limited to faculty and staff only, and staff group meetings should have fewer than ten individuals.  

Staff can work from home, in coordination with their supervisors, and online meetings are recommended.  

Faculty are advised not to bring students together for classes or meetings, even if off campus.

All VCUarts Qatar campus and Education City events that were scheduled to take place in March and April are cancelled.  Discussions regarding Graduation/Commencement are still taking place and further information for students, staff and faculty will be forthcoming. 

We will continue to provide you with updates and advisories as needed.  Please take care.

Thank you
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Students
From: Personal Development and Counseling Services: Mental Wellness Support
Date: Tuesday March 10

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students,

We hope this email finds you well. 

With the recent growing epidemic, many of you may feel anxious about your and your family's welfare. If you feel this way, please contact our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider at 00-800-100-250 (toll-free) and get immediate support. Our EAP psychologists are here to support you through health-related anxiety and to help you find coping strategies. ICAS will continue to support all employees and their families in affected countries through telephonic and video-counseling.

If you feel ill or sick and need medical assistance, please contact your health care provider immediately for appropriate treatment. If you suspect you have all of the symptoms related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus please contact 999 immediately and notify your supervisor and us at

For general inquiries in Qatar related to COVID-19, you may contact the Ministry of Public Health at their toll-free number 16000.

Thank you,
Personal Development and Counseling Services.
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar



Message to VCUarts Faculty, Students and Staff
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
|Date: Tuesday March 10

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Good morning - we are now into the first day of implementing the directive from the Qatar Government which moved us into a period of online learning for our students, until further notice.

Since yesterday, there are a few items to follow up on:

Student Access this Afternoon, Tuesday, March 10:  Students can access the VCUarts Qatar building this afternoon until 5 pm to retrieve their personal items, pick up books, and access any library, lab or materials they need.

Students are requested to retrieve the materials they require, to leave without delay and to avoid gathering in large groups as per the  coronavirus preventative measures that are in place.  

After today, the physical library spaces (including the Fab Lab, the Innovative Media Studio and the Materials Library) will be closed for in-person access. Students and faculty will be receiving a communication from Library Services with more advice and details on how to access library support and materials online throughout this period.

IT Help Desk (Technology Services):  Technology Services is open and available today, March 10, until 5 pm for students.  After today, Technology Services will be available to provide online/phone support as required. 

Working online or remotely:  Any staff or faculty member who prefers to work remotely from home or another location may do so.  Please make these arrangements with your supervisor and ensure you have access to everything you need (including laptop and Zoom) to enable remote work.  

I assure you that our Crisis Management Team is overseeing this  evolving situation. We are following guidance from Qatar Foundation and the Qatar Government to ensure we are synchronized with both the spirit and intent of the school/university directive. 

A reminder to take care of yourselves, practice hand hygiene, and the best personal care - eat well, get lots of sleep, and keep in touch with your fellow students and colleagues via email, phone/messaging and videoconferencing. 

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.  You may use to ensure you receive a timely response.

Amir Berbić
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Faculty, Students and Staff
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Monday March 9

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

As a result of the Qatar government’s decision today to close all private and government schools and universities as a preventative measure against the spread of Coronavirus, until further notice, beginning tomorrow March 10, VCUarts Qatar will suspend on campus instruction and move to an alternative model of operation—remote, online instruction for all students.

This technology-based solution will ensure that students will be able to continue their studies as planned.  Students should not report to the campus until further notice. Online instruction will begin tomorrow. Students will be contacted by their instructors with further information and to begin remote classes.

Faculty can teach from their offices on campus or from their home office if they choose to.   

Employees are expected to report to work on campus as usual.    

As K-12 schools are also not in session, staff members may have childcare challenges. Should staff members need to work from home, they will be able to arrange this directly with their supervisor. However, they should ensure that all duties will be performed as expected and that they will be available during business hours.   

All employees will continue to work, and be paid, as normal, including hourly employees. 

As a result of this decision, a number of our upcoming events will be postponed—these are:

  • Strategic Planning sessions - scheduled for this week
  • Color Lab Exhibition - opening on March 11
  • Career Fair and Partners and Employer Gala - March 17

With respect to other events, we will continue to monitor the situation, and will advise as decisions are made.  

We will share any further relevant information with you as we receive it.   We will also provide updates here. 

If you have questions, please respond to this email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Amir Berbić,
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Link to a Statement by the Government Communications Office on the temporary suspension of entry of those arriving from certain countries as a preventive measure, due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide


Message to VCUarts Qatar Community
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Saturday March 7

Dear VCUarts Qatar Community,

I want to bring you up to date on a situation that has developed with a faculty member who traveled to Italy on university business within the past week. When his return flight from Milan to Qatar was cancelled, he made arrangements to travel back to Qatar via France.

The faculty member was aware that Qatar had implemented an immediate quarantine upon arrival for travelers who originated travel in Italy and was fully expecting to be quarantined for the required 14-day period. However, he was not quarantined upon arrival. He went through a brief health check and exhibited no symptoms.  He was told he could leave the airport and he proceeded to his residence via private car, where he stayed at home and advised his contacts at VCUarts Qatar of his location.

As soon as the Dean's office was made aware of the situation, we made immediate efforts to notify Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health to advise them of the circumstances and ensure that all steps are taken to protect the community from possible exposure to Coronavirus and also to ensure that our faculty member is given the appropriate support.   

We have advised the faculty member to stay at home and self-quarantine, avoid contact in the community and to not return to the campus. We are now expecting the faculty member to enter quarantine as soon as possible.  

I assure you that the we will continue to monitor the overall Coronavirus situation and to keep our community informed. 

Thank you.

Amir Berbić,
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Friday March 6

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As a precautionary measure as of today, March 6, VCUarts Qatar will suspend any non-essential business and university-sponsored travel for faculty, staff and students. This is following the guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, there will be no international visitors flown to the country for visits to the University at this time.  

This moratorium on travel will last until further notice. 

Please be aware that travel restrictions, and the situation with the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide, is changing frequently. We will continue to keep you up to date.

If you are flying back to Qatar, please be sure to check with your airline or the Qatar Ministry of Public Health before traveling for the most up-to-date information and advice.

Thank you,
Amir Berbić,
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Students, Faculty and Staff,
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Thursday March 5

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

We continue to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus and continue to use the best advice available from US Centers for Disease Control and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health to minimize exposure to our community. As most of you will be aware, Qatar authorities are reporting eight confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19 virus); more countries around the world have confirmed their first cases or are seeing increases in the number of confirmed cases. 

The situation can change rapidly, however at this point in time, the cases in Qatar were all directly linked to the group that was evacuated from Iran and were immediately quarantined.  None of these individuals have had any community contact, and there are no confirmed cases in the general population.

At this point in time, VCUarts Qatar will reopen for classes and normal operations on Sunday, March 8.  

As a precaution, we have stepped up infection prevention practices—with increased cleaning of surfaces such as hand rails, elevator buttons, and door handles and we have installed hand sanitizers in high traffic locations throughout the building.

In addition, we encourage everyone to follow preventative measures such as frequent handwashing, avoiding handshakes and close contact, covering coughs and sneezes and staying at home if unwell.  

Should you or anyone in your family develop flu-like symptoms (high fever, cough, and difficulty breathing), seek immediate medical attention, do not come to campus and carefully follow the advice given by authorities to protect yourself and those who are close to you.

Travel. Based on the rapidly evolving international travel guidance, your return to Qatar may be interrupted by the Government of Qatar, your own government and/or airline imposed restrictions. If your return to work or classes will be interrupted due to travel restrictions or quarantine, please let either your supervisor or your instructor/Chair know your situation so that you can be supported.

Business Continuity. We are aware that the Governments of Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE have closed all schools and universities for the next two to four weeks as a preventative measure to contain the spread of the virus. There have been no closures announced in Qatar. As a matter of preparedness, Staff and faculty are reminded to take their laptops and chargers home each evening should a sudden announcement be made.

Academic Continuity. Our Academic leadership team has a plan in place for academic continuity (remote teaching) should we be required to move to this, so that our students can complete their studies with minimal impact and delay. Students will be notified immediately if VCUarts Qatar moves into a remote-teaching model and will receive clear instructions on how to participate and the expectations for this period of time.

Thank you,

Amir Berbić,
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Faculty and Staff
From: Andrew Mascari, Associate Dean for Administration
Date: Sunday March 1

Good afternoon colleagues,
If you are traveling or plan to, at this point in time the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has advised against all but essential travel to the following countries with respect to the incidence of Coronavirus:

Level 3 - Avoid all but essential travel
South Korea
Japan is at a level 2, which is "Practice Enhanced Precautions" 

This information can be found here and is managed by the CDC:

It is important to note that there is coronavirus activity in more than 50 other countries, and the situation is rapidly evolving. Qatar has implemented a virus check or quarantine (at this point for 14 days) for individuals returning from the highest risk countries, and could also impose health checks and quarantine on any traveler upon entry at their discretion. If you choose to travel, please consider that you may be subject to a quarantine in the country you are visiting as well, dependent on local jurisdiction and decision-making. With respect to business or professional development travel, VCUarts Qatar will not be approving travel to any destinations that are on a level 3. Visitors to the campus from these level 3 locations will also not be approved. Destinations at Level 2 will be treated on a case by case basis.  

NOTE: Reconsider travel at least to countries on the Levels 2 and 3 list (above) and carefully consider travel to countries where there are outbreaks that have resulted in local quarantines, school closures, etc. Be aware of advisories that might affect your movement in and out of your travel destination and also may affect your ability to return to Qatar and resume work. Practice the highest infection prevention standards including frequent handwashing, avoiding close contact and large gatherings and seek advice from a medical professional if you develop symptoms while traveling or upon return. Your coverage by Global Rescue will be affected if you choose to travel to a known high-risk area.

If you are currently traveling and are in a situation where your ability to return to work may be affected, please let your supervisor know as soon as possible.

Thank you,
Andrew Mascari,
Associate Dean for Administration
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


Message to VCUarts Qatar Students
From:  Dr. Cherif Amor, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Professor
Date:  Sunday March 1, 2020

Dear VCUarts Qatar Students:

We wanted to provide you with an update regarding the status of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Qatar recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 yesterday, February 29, according to information from Qatar’s Ministry of  Public Health. The individual was evacuated from Iran on a government-chartered plane, and along with all other passengers was put into full quarantine. He has now been admitted to a Communicable Disease Center and isolated under strict infection control measures.   

The Qatar Ministry of Public Health has a website where information can be found – via  
There is also a hotline Public Health number in Qatar:  6674 0948 or 6674 0951.

If you are traveling to, or are presently in, one of the CDC-designated destinations with a risk of community spread of COVID-19, and you believe that you may be unable to return to Qatar by the time classes resume, please make every effort to contact your instructors and department chair. For email addresses check:

More information on non-essential travel, and frequently asked questions and answers for travelers about COVID-19, can also be found at the above hyperlink. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US is advising that the COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly evolving situation,  and that though they are not recommending against travel generally, they suggest travelers take precautions such as:

  • Avoid travel to areas with travel advisories linked to Coronavirus.
  • Avoid large gatherings when possible and practice hand hygiene diligently.     

Be aware that new outbreaks and changes to policies could affect your ability to move in and out of particular countries or could impact decisions by local authorities to subject you