As part of its tentative plan to bring some students back to Grounds for the fall semester amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University has ordered 25,000 “welcome back kits” from Bright Ideas — a local, small women- and minority-owned promotional products provider based in Troy, Va.
Wes Hester, deputy spokesperson and director of media relations for the University, said the University is expected to have received the welcome kits for students by July 15.
“Certain equipment has become necessary and standard to slow the spread of COVID. Given recent supply chain disruptions, we made the decision to order supplies early so that we could be ready for the eventual return of students and more employees to Grounds,” said Jennifer "J.J." Wagner Davis, executive vice president and COO, in an email to The Cavalier Daily.
The kits will consist of a 14-by-18-inch drawstring bag, two cloth face masks, two 2-ounce containers of hand sanitizer and a touch tool that can be used to pull on door handles and activate keypads.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with local and small business suppliers such as Bright Ideas and [The Supply Room Companies], who met quality, CDC guidelines, lead time and price reasonableness concerns,” Hester said.
The University has not yet determined how the kits will be distributed. The University’s mask policy mandates that masks be worn inside University facilities, buildings and University transit buses when in the presence of others.
According to the policy, this restriction will remain in place “indefinitely” until it is deemed that masks are either no longer necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In an email to the University community May 28, University President Jim Ryan and other University leaders had announced that the University would provide personal protective equipment for students, faculty and staff upon return.
In an executive order issued in May, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam mandated that anyone over the age of ten must wear masks in all indoor spaces, including schools and universities. Northam has stated that he will lift the executive order when it is safe to do so.
University faculty and staff will also be receiving two cloth face masks. The University also plans on installing hand sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas in buildings on-Grounds, with the ability to make additional cleaning materials such as sanitizers and surface wipes available to all departments as needed.
According to Hester, the University has spent $836,781 on these supplies.
Much of Virginia, including the City of Charlottesville and the University, is expected to move into Phase Two of COVID-19 reopenings Friday, June 5. Phase Two allows for gatherings of up to 50 people.
As part of Phase Two, the state still urges citizens to follow mask guidelines and maintain a social distance of six feet from others.
“This fall will not be a normal fall, even with some students back on Grounds and some classes being held in person,” the executive leadership team wrote in their email last week.
This story has been updated.