U.Va. to lift indoor mask requirement on March 21 except in classrooms, healthcare facilities and university transit services – The Cavalier Daily

The University will waive its indoor masking requirement for University-owned spaces, including office buildings, IM-Rec facilities and venues effective March 21 – the mandate will remain in place in classrooms, U.Va. University healthcare facilities and transit services, according to an email sent Tuesday from university president Jim Ryan, provost Liz Magill, chief operating officer JJ Davis and K. Craig Kent, vice president Executive for Health Affairs and Managing Director of U.Va. Health.

“Our goal has always been to impose the fewest restrictions on this community necessary to protect public health, and that goal will guide our decision-making going forward,” the email read. “With that in mind, if we see an unexpected increase in cases or hospitalizations, or some other concerning variation occurs, we will be prepared to consider reinstating these or other policies as necessary.”

The University cited recent improvements in public health data as the reason for lifting restrictions. Hospitalizations and positive cases are trending down as the percentage of fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students has increased. As of Monday, there were 278 active cases of COVID-19 within the university community, including 228 students and 50 faculty and staff, according to the University. COVID-19 tracker. As of Monday, 69 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at U.Va Health, down nearly 30% from the 98 inpatients on Feb. 14.

In the Blue Ridge Health District, there are 168 new case of COVID-19 from Monday. 72.5% of individuals have received at least one dose of vaccine and 65.9% of individuals are fully vaccinated. In addition to those fully vaccinated, 36.3% received a third booster dose.

In order to return to residential learning, students, faculty and staff have been mandatory either present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a booster, or provide documentation of an approved medical or religious exemption. Following a Executive Decree of Governor Glenn Youngkin — who banned state agencies from requiring employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment — the University canceled this term for faculty and staff on January 19.

The University chose the date of March 21 to give students and faculty time to adjust after spring break, via email. The University said it would work with schools and units on an individual basis if implementation issues arise before many masking requirements are lifted.

“Nearly two years after this virus emerged and changed almost everything about life at this university, we have finally reached a point where our medical experts are comfortable revising our mask policy in the way we have described,” the email concludes. “This milestone would not be possible without the tremendous and consistent efforts we have all made to protect each other at every step of this long journey as a community.”

Earlier in the semester, the University also announcement that it would not be a question of unregistering pupils who do not receive their reminder, following a advisory opinion from Attorney General Jason Miyares who said public colleges and universities have no legal authority to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enroll or attend in-person classes. Last fall, the University unsubscribe 238 students for failing to meet vaccine requirements.

Over 99% of students are already compliant with vaccine and booster requirements.

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