Newsletter: Mask update, test scheduling, contract deadlines
In This Email:
The latest guidance on masks
New information on vaccine distribution
Guidance for student clubs and activities
UVA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to emphasize the importance of consistently following the full set of safety recommendations: wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding groups, and frequent hand-washing.
Today, we’re focusing on the face mask.
Even as vaccines are finally making their way across the country and the world, wearing a mask is still one of the best ways to minimize the spread of the virus. That is even more important with the emergence of more-contagious variants that are appearing in the United States and in Virginia.
Eleven months into the pandemic, we’re learning more about masks. Obviously, they aren’t all made the same, and there are combinations and options that are appropriate for different situations and settings. UVA is paying close attention to this issue, and we plan to follow the science and the recommendations of health experts. You can find the University’s policy on face coverings here.
You can also watch a mask update video with a special guest, Wahoos quarterback Brennan Armstrong.
Here’s an update on what we know now:
Wear a mask: Just about any mask is better than no mask at minimizing transmission of the virus. Evidence suggests that the quality of the mask matters, and that the proper fit of the mask is as important.
Fit: Masks should cover the mouth and nose, fit snugly against the face, and include multiple layers of fabric that permit breathing without restriction.
Cloth masks: These reduce the risk of transmission. Similarly, doubling up on cloth masks that have only a single layer is more effective than a single mask. Masks with multiple layers of cloth are better than fewer layers.
Filter inserts: Many cloth masks can accommodate a filter insert, which improves the effectiveness.
Disposable three-ply masks: Although it is not conclusive, there is some evidence that disposable, three-ply medical-grade masks (which are often blue or yellow) may be more effective than single layer cloth masks. These masks generally fit better and for that reason alone may offer greater protection, especially when indoors and around other people.
N95 masks: These masks are primarily used in patient-care settings, and the CDC has emphasized that wearing masks in general is more important than recommending N95 masks for everyone. In addition, the supply of these masks is generally reserved for healthcare settings.
UVA has provided cloth masks to students and employees throughout the pandemic. As part of the continued effort to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the University recently began making available three-ply face masks.
These were limited during earlier months of the pandemic, but the three-ply masks recently have become more available, providing UVA an opportunity to purchase thousands of them in advance of the Spring semester’s start. The initial supply was made available to community members in Facilities Maintenance, University Police, Parking & Transportation, some child-care settings, and certain lab environments.
UVA now is able to make three-ply masks available to all students, faculty and staff at no cost. The masks, available in packs of five, may be picked up at any of the University’s saliva prevalence testing sites. Find a list of locations at the Be SAFE site.
The three-ply masks are a good option for wearing when indoors and when around groups of people. In general, a three-ply face mask can last the entire day or longer unless it gets wet or soiled.
As you will see in the update below, with Monday’s start of in-person instruction for the Spring semester, the University is reinforcing requirements around masking and other health and safety policies. If we all follow them, we can keep each other healthy and safe throughout another successful semester together as a UVA community.
Liz Magill Provost
JJ Davis Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Mitch Rosner Chair, Department of Medicine
PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES
New Home for UVA Coronavirus Information
As the Spring semester begins, UVA has updated the coronavirus information website and changed the URL to coronavirus.virginia.edu. Bookmark the new address and visit for up-to-date information on testing, vaccinations, viral prevalence, and other important issues.
Update on Vaccine Distribution
The Virginia Department of Health’s Blue Ridge Health District (BRHD) and UVA Health have partnered to launch a second COVID-19 community vaccination site at Seminole Square. The COVID-19 Vaccination Center opened Sunday to vaccinate those in Phases 1A and 1B as directed by BRHD. Not everyone in a phase is eligible to be vaccinated at the same time – BRHD is currently prioritizing certain populations within 1B. Combined with the other community vaccination site on Hydraulic Road in the Kmart parking lot, the second location will greatly increase the community’s ability to scale up vaccine distribution as additional vaccine is made available.
As a reminder, the Blue Ridge Health District controls vaccine priorities and deployment. More information is available on the BRHD website.
COVID Policies Remain in Effect, Compliance Reporting Tools Available
For details on University policies on events and gatherings, face coverings, physical distancing, visitors, and travel policies instituted to limit the spread of COVID-19, please see the Public Health Measures page on the UVA coronavirus website. There is also information on how to promote compliance and how to report violations.
Prevalence Testing for Students and Employees
TIME2TEST is a web-based platform UVA students will use to schedule weekly saliva prevalence testing appointments throughout the Spring semester. UVA employees will use this platform to schedule voluntary saliva testing appointments beginning mid-February.
As a reminder, weekly prevalence testing is required for all students living and learning in Charlottesville/Albemarle. By testing all students, even those who don’t come to Grounds regularly, the University is doing its part to limit the spread within the UVA community and to protect the health of our Charlottesville neighbors.
Faculty Spaces for Office Hours
Small classroom spaces are reservable for faculty to hold office hours while maintaining appropriate physical distance. Visit UVA’s new 25Live Space Scheduling System (behind Netbadge) for details and to reserve space.
OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RESOURCES
Need a place to study, learn remotely or have a telemedicine visit? UVA’s 25Live Space Scheduling System also is the place to go to reserve spaces in Newcomb, the Rotunda, and more. Drop-in spaces remain available in these locations as well as in 1515 University Avenue, Clemons and Brown Library. Want to reserve an IM-Rec space to get some exercise? Reserve a spot in the AFC weight room, either pool or the Climbing Center at SRC via the IM-Rec Portal.
Welcome Kit Distribution
Students who are living on-Grounds for the first time this year will receive welcome kits that include two cloth face masks, a door opener tool, and hand sanitizer from their Residence Hall RA’s. Kits for students who did not receive one in the fall and are not living on Grounds are available at 1515 University Avenue and the Information Desk on the first floor of Newcomb Hall.
Deadlines for Canceling Housing and Dining Contracts
Students who have on-Grounds housing contracts for the spring semester can cancel by emailing email@example.com by Feb. 8. If they move in or have belongings in the space, we will prorate based on when they vacate their housing, taking into account operational cost.
Student activities and club meetings can be held but must adhere to all current University public health and safety guidelines, including limits on gathering sizes (currently 6) and requirements for masks and physical distancing. The governor’s Executive Order, which includes a 10-person limit on gatherings, also remains in effect. Students seeking to hold an event that exceeds the requirements established by the University’s COVID policy (e.g., gathering size limit) may submit an exception request here.
Group Fitness Classes Remain Free Through Feb. 7
Registration is now open for all in-person and virtual spring programs: instructional fitness, hikes, sports and more. Download the free UVA IM-Rec app on Apple or Android to take advantage of touchless entry and to check hours and occupancy before coming in.