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Important Updates on Semester Plans and Temporary Masking Policy

To the University Community, 

We hope you have enjoyed your summer and that you are as excited as we are to be so close to the beginning of a new academic year together on-Grounds. We are writing you today to respond to growing concern, in our community and around the world, about the new Delta variant of the coronavirus and to update you on a temporary revision to our masking policy that will allow us to start our semester safely. 

First, and most important, thanks to high vaccination rates in our student and employee communities, we are planning for the full residential and academic experience that is at the heart of our University’s mission. Classrooms, residence halls, dining and recreation facilities, and other key facets of University life will be operating at full capacity from day one. Gathering limits and physical distancing protocols have been lifted. Major events like Wahoo Welcome and UVA football games are on the schedule, and we are looking forward to seeing you there. 

As we prepare for the semester, we have been monitoring the Delta variant and considering the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health, and UVA’s own world-class public health experts – all of whom are concerned about the threat the variant poses. 

In recognition of this new and evolving situation, and the fact that UVA students are arriving from many places all over the nation and the world, we have decided to begin the year with a mask requirement for all people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who enter UVA properties, effective Monday, Aug. 9. This does not include dorms or private housing, including common areas within those spaces. Those spaces will be largely full of vaccinated people and easier for the University to monitor and respond if cases do arise. The temporary mask requirement also does not apply outdoors. 

The policy does include University-owned or leased public spaces like academic or administrative buildings, libraries, labs, dining halls, IM/Rec facilities, and all UVA Health properties. Masks are not required when actively eating or drinking, or when alone in a closed space like an office. Specific course-related exemptions to this policy will be handled by the schools, in consultation with the Provost’s office, as fall courses get underway. We are also developing a list of FAQs that will address limited additional exemptions in non-course settings.

This policy will allow us to start the year at full capacity and reduce the likelihood of a spike in cases driven by the Delta variant and a coming together of students from many places. Over the next few weeks we will be monitoring case counts, hospitalizations, and other conditions, with a goal of modifying or lifting this masking policy for fully vaccinated people by Sept. 6.  

People who are not yet vaccinated will continue to be required to wear masks when they are around others indoors or outdoors and appear for weekly COVID testing even after the temporary masking requirement is lifted, in accordance with University policy. We continue to urge every member of our community to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and others against the virus. 

Finally, we are evaluating additional mask requirements for certain large outdoor gatherings and will follow up soon with any new information.

We are planning a virtual Town Hall with University Leadership for Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. that will offer the opportunity to hear from our public health experts and ask questions that may be on your minds. If you’re interested in attending, you can register here.

Throughout this pandemic, people in this community have continuously gone the extra mile to keep themselves and those around them healthy and safe. We recognize that this change may pose an inconvenience as the semester begins, but we believe it is the best way to bring everyone back safely and begin a successful year together here on Grounds. 

We are looking forward to having you back.

Liz Magill
Executive Vice President and Provost

J.J. Davis
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Questions?

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