This week, thousands of University of Virginia students are making their way back to Charlottesville, toting suitcases, books and, importantly, COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Approximately 96.6% of UVA students have confirmed that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, including 97.1% of students living in on-Grounds residence halls. The vaccines are required for all students who wish to live and study in-person at UVA during the 2021-22 academic year, unless they were granted a medical or religious exemption.
As of Wednesday, 335 permanent waivers and 184 temporary waivers have been granted. Temporary waivers were granted for students who had trouble getting vaccinated where they were living over the summer, but intend to get vaccinated as they return to Grounds.
UVA staff have actively and repeatedly reached out to students who have not reported vaccination and who do not have an exemption, encouraging them to complete the vaccination process or apply for an exemption. Those who do not will be disenrolled, effective Wednesday.
Additionally, approximately 92% of UVA’s Academic Division staff are fully vaccinated, including 96% of teaching and research faculty. All faculty and staff are expected to be vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious reason not to get the vaccine.
Anyone who is not vaccinated, including students granted an exemption, must comply with all public health requirements, including taking a COVID-19 test at least weekly and wearing a mask both indoors and outdoors when in common spaces.
Everyone on Grounds, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, will be required to wear a mask indoors within UVA properties through Sept. 6 with the exception of inside dorms and private housing or when people are alone in closed spaces, such as an office. That policy is temporary; it was announced in early August in response to the spread of the delta variant across the United States and concerns about students traveling to Grounds from across the country and around the world. UVA and public health leaders will monitor COVID-19 cases within the community and reevaluate the temporary masking policy by Sept. 6.
In a virtual town hall meeting last week, University leaders said that high vaccination rates among students, faculty and staff will allow both classes and special events, such as the Wahoo Welcome move-in events or home football games, to continue much as they normally would.
“We are not in the same position we were in last year,” UVA President Jim Ryan said at the time. “We are in a much better and much different position than we were last year, primarily because of the vaccines and the extraordinarily high vaccination rate in our community. This means we can return in person to classes, activities, sporting events and research labs as we have been planning to do in the fall semester, with the residential experiences that are at the heart of this university.”
Also in the town hall, Director of Hospital Epidemiology Dr. Costi Sifri emphasized that available COVID-19 vaccines remain effective against the delta variant.
“They prevent infection and they are very effective in preventing hospitalization and other serious outcomes,” he said. Breakthrough cases – those of vaccinated people contracting and getting sick from the delta variant – will make news, but are “not a reason to panic.”
“It remains the case that people who are vaccinated are much safer from infection than unvaccinated people,” Sifri said.
Anyone wishing to be vaccinated can make an appointment by calling 434-297-4829 or can schedule an appointment here. More information about UVA’s coronavirus policies and procedures is available at coronavirus.virginia.edu, which is regularly updated.