On the heels of spring break, the University of Virginia announced several updates to its COVID-19 policies that will begin Monday.
The changes come following “encouraging trends with respect to the pandemic that we hope will allow students, faculty, and staff to enjoy the final weeks of this academic year,” Provost Ian Baucom and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis wrote Friday in an e-mail message to the University community.
The announcement is consistent with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
Face Masks Optional
Starting Monday, masks will be optional in most cases on Grounds. Masks will still be required in class, in UVA Health facilities and on University Transit buses.
Masks will be optional in all other indoor settings, “including meeting rooms, office spaces, and research laboratories (masks will continue to be required in lab classes),” Baucom and Davis wrote.
They stressed the change does not prevent anyone from wearing a mask if they feel more comfortable doing so. “We continue to remind members of our community to treat each other with courtesy and respect as we all make our own decisions about when to wear a mask and when to go without one,” they wrote.
Testing Requirements Lifted
Also effective Monday, weekly COVID-19 testing will no longer be required for the small number (around 2%) of unvaccinated UVA students.
“We are also planning to phase out the University’s saliva testing program,” the email stated. “The final day for saliva testing will be Thursday, March 24. The demand for this type of testing has fallen sharply due to rising vaccination rates and the availability of at-home tests, and it will fall even further as our prevalence testing requirements change.”
Academic Division students, faculty and staff members can still pick up free rapid antigen at-home tests at the Student Health and Wellness pharmacy and the UVA Bookstore pharmacy.
“The University’s supply of these tests is limited, so we ask community members to help us use this resource wisely. In addition to those resources, at-home tests are widely available at retail pharmacies and online, and the federal government is offering two sets of four free tests,” Baucom and Davis wrote.
A spring 2022 testing infographic depicts the University’s updated approach to testing, with helpful details on next steps if someone develops symptoms or comes in contact with a positive case.
It’s important to note that testing policies will not change for UVA Health team members.
Proof of Vaccination
The last change that was announced in Friday’s email detailed the end of the University’s proof-of-vaccination policy at large-event venues. This change includes events held at John Paul Jones Arena, and will also be effective Monday.
Baucom and Davis concluded their message with an outlook for the future regarding all remaining mask requirements.
“University leaders and public health experts are continuing to evaluate our remaining public health policies, with the intent of lifting the mask mandate in the near future, hopefully as early as March 28,” they wrote. “We will update the community on that decision next week. As always, if viral conditions change substantially, we will always be ready to change our approach in order to keep our community safe.
“More than two years since the start of the pandemic, we remain very grateful to members of this community for your patience and flexibility as we continue to adapt our public health approach to current conditions and the needs of our community.”