We are writing today to provide you with an update on the University’s plans for the coming fall semester. As we have said previously, our planning assumes that the overwhelming majority of our community will be fully vaccinated this fall, allowing us to return to in-person instruction, research, and residential life. The update below offers important details about the University’s vaccination policies for students, faculty, and staff, as well as more information on our public health approach and University operations next fall.
PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
Student Vaccinations: Requirement for All In-Person Students
All students who live, learn, or work in person at the University during the next academic year must be fully vaccinated before returning to Grounds, starting July 1. Students must upload proof of vaccination to the HealthyHoos Patient Portalno later than Thursday, July 1, 2021. This approach will enable our students to return to a residential academic setting where they can live, study, and gather together safely. Students may seek a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. If such exemption is granted, they will be subject to weekly prevalence testing requirements and likely other public health measures. Students who are not vaccinated and do not qualify for an exception will not be permitted to come to Grounds after July 1. We will provide more information about this requirement and the exemption process no later than June 15.
The University expects all UVA and UVA Health faculty and staff who do not have a need for medical or religious exemption to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We know that many UVA and UVA Health employees are fully vaccinated and others are in the process of completing their doses. Vaccination of our employees is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the return to regular, in-person experiences. Any UVA employee who is not vaccinated will be subject to mandatory prevalence testing, which will begin this summer. We will provide more information on employee prevalence testing and how employees can present proof of vaccination no later than June 15.
Going forward, University leaders will monitor employee vaccination rates and, in consultation with public health experts, consider whether to require vaccines for all employees.
If vaccination is required for employees, employees may seek a medical or religious exemption.
UVA Health will also communicate directly with employees about additional health system-specific policies and requirements to ensure the highest level of safety for patients and employees.
FAQs about the vaccine, and an opportunity to schedule an appointment, are available here.
Additional Public Health Measures
On May 14 we announced that UVA community members who are fully vaccinated can forego wearing masks indoors and outdoors in alignment with new guidance from the CDC and Gov. Ralph Northam. Gov. Northam also announced his plan to lift additional COVID-19 mitigation measures on May 28. We will work with our public health experts to evaluate these changes and monitor CDC guidance, with the expectation that, even when most of our community members are fully vaccinated, there may be some need for public health measures in particular contexts, particularly for people who have not yet been vaccinated.
ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION AND RESEARCH
Widespread vaccinations within our community will allow for a return to in-person academic instruction, without the strict limitations on spacing and capacity that we have had to employ this year. We expect that most classes will be offered in-person only, without a concurrent virtual option. We recognize that some small number of students or instructors may have unique circumstances that will make it impossible to return to in-person instruction on Grounds. The Provost’s Office is working with schools to develop accommodations for those unique situations.
On-Grounds Research Labs
Academic research will return to full operations in the fall semester, in alignment with University policies on general space use, gathering, and travel. New practices that evolved to support safe engagement in the internal and external research community will continue to inform the expansion of research activity in the fall. We look forward to welcoming more faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and research staff to in-person research on Grounds in the fall.
UNIVERSITY RELATED TRAVEL
University-Related Domestic Travel
Effective immediately, University community members are permitted to conduct University-related domestic travel, as long as they follow CDC guidelines, which call for individuals to be fully vaccinated before they travel.
University-Related International Travel
Since the pandemic began, the University restricted international travel for students and faculty to limited exceptions, mostly for urgent, medically-oriented research. As conditions improve, we are planning to relax those restrictions as stated below.
Student International Travel: We will favorably consider applications from students to participate in approved study abroad programs after June 1, consistent with CDC travel guidance and regulations in destination countries. Please see the International Studies Office’s (ISO) COVID Considerations page for more information.
Faculty/Staff International Travel : We anticipate lifting the current prohibition on faculty/staff international travel on University-related business this summer, and will provide an update on our new travel policy no later than June 15. As before, the University will defer to the judgment of employees and their supervisors in planning international travel, taking into account CDC and Department of State guidelines on vaccinations, overseas entry restrictions, and health and safety conditions at the intended destination. At the same time, the University will require all employees traveling internationally on University business to register their travel plans to assist University administration in providing emergency support if needed. The University will also provide all official travelers insurance coverage at no charge to assist in emergency evacuations and other support while traveling for the University overseas.
RETURN TO WORK
The University’s plans to return to in-person learning and living for students will mean that many UVA employees also will return to working in-person to support those important elements of our institution’s mission. Many who directly support our missions of teaching, research, service, and patient care will need to be physically present. We do want to acknowledge that our adaption to new ways of working during the pandemic has taught us valuable lessons about how to creatively approach our work in the future. To that end, a group of experts from around the University has been charged with developing recommendations about the future of work at the University. Their recommendations are expected no later than July 1, and schools and units will continue to develop and refine their return-to-work plans in the coming months. Individual schools or operating units will continue to have the authority to work with employees to structure flexible work arrangements (including alternative work schedules and locations), in keeping with the management needs of the school or the unit.
Our plans for the coming academic year include a return to the residential academic experience that is so central to life at UVA. First-year students will once again be expected to live on-Grounds with very limited exceptions, and dining, transportation, IM-Rec, and other important elements of University life will return to pre-pandemic operations. We expect that clubs, organizations, performing arts, intramural sports, and other important parts of the student experience will also be able to return to more normal ways of meeting, performing, and playing together in-person.
UVA Athletics is planning to welcome spectators back to the stands, starting with the coming fall sports season. Decisions about limits on capacity, physical distancing, or other public health measures will be made based on current guidance from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As we look back on an academic year where the pandemic changed every part of life at UVA, the availability and effectiveness of the vaccines will make it possible for all of us to live, learn, and work together in more “normal” ways in the year to come. As we say several times above, we will continue to provide you with updates as we finalize the details for how things like prevalence testing will work next semester. Thank you, as always, for making this extraordinary year possible. We hope you have a safe and relaxing summer and we will see you on Grounds in the fall.
Jim Ryan President
Liz Magill Executive Vice President and Provost
J.J. Davis Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Dr. K. Craig Kent Executive Vice President for Health Affairs