As it navigates another semester conducted amid the shifting landscape of a pandemic, UVA will lift its indoor masking requirement in most places effective March 21. It has also dropped its requirement that students receive COVID-19 vaccines.
An announcement to the University community in late February cited declining case numbers, hospitalizations and numbers of staff and students in isolation while recovering from COVID-19 for the indoor masking change. Face coverings will no longer be required in office buildings, recreation facilities and venues such as John Paul Jones Arena. The requirement remains in place in classrooms, UVA Health facilities and on University Transit, the message from administration said.
“If conditions improve further this semester, or if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modify their guidance on public health precautions, we will evaluate additional changes to our remaining mask requirements, including our approach to masking in the classroom,” the statement from President James E. Ryan (Law ’92) and other members of the administration said.
Earlier in the semester, an advisory opinion from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares prompted UVA to end its requirement that students receive vaccines and boosters as a condition of enrollment. Miyares’s opinion in late January declaring mandates illegal superseded one from former AG Mark Herring (Col ’83) that said universities were within the law to require COVID-19 vaccines.
The opinion came after UVA’s vaccination deadline for the spring semester had passed, rendering it “moot for us at UVA, at least for the time being,” a statement from Ryan and other members of the administration said. With more than 99 percent of students in compliance, UVA announced that it won’t disenroll the relatively few who have not taken the shots.
Although vaccines are no longer required, UVA continues to encourage students to get them. UVA dropped its vaccine requirement for employees in mid-January, after an executive order prohibiting mandates among state agencies.
UVA reported a seven-day average of 8.1 new cases among students and staff on March 6, compared with a school-year peak of 74.4 on Jan. 11, a week before the start of the spring semester.