Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis outlined the logistics of mandatory weekly testing this semester, clarified the consequences for students who fail to report for testing and announced the installation of heated outdoor tents and fire pits for small group gatherings in a Return to Grounds email sent Thursday afternoon.
The email also stressed the need for all students to comply with University and statewide public health guidelines throughout the spring semester.
“Increased viral prevalence and new, more contagious variants will require even greater focus and adherence to health protocols than last semester,” the email said. “The good news is, we know what works — masks, testing, avoiding large gatherings, remaining 6 feet apart, and staying home when you are sick — and we’ve already proven we can do it.”
All students who have indicated that they plan to return to the Charlottesville area are required to report for weekly testing through the end of the spring semester. According to the email, weekly testing will be scheduled through the platform Time2Test. All students who have indicated that they will be returning to Grounds will receive an email within the next 24 hours with information about their testing time and how to reschedule, if necessary.
According to the email, any student who fails to comply with weekly testing will first receive a warning. If a student fails to comply a second time, a notification will be sent to the student’s school. After the third instance of noncompliance, the student will lose access to University networks and resources, and if a student fails to comply four times, they will be issued an interim disciplinary suspension.
Employees are also invited to partake in voluntary asymptomatic testing, which is available during the walk-in hours listed on the BeSafe site.
Testing locations now include the Central Grounds parking garage, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, The Park at North Grounds and Scott Stadium’s East Gate, according to the update.
Students are also required to comply with Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order, which was extended Wednesday through the end of February. The order establishes a daily curfew between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., bans the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and requires that masks be worn indoors and outdoors when within six feet of another individual.
Northam’s order also mandates a statewide 10-person gathering limit, but students who choose to return to Charlottesville are required to comply with the University’s six-person gathering limit until at least Feb. 14, when the policy will be reevaluated.
Every student returning to Grounds — regardless of whether or not they have previously contracted COVID-19 or have received a vaccine — are expected to follow both University and state public health regulations.
“The science around whether previous COVID-19 patients or those who have been vaccinated can contract the virus again and spread it to others again is inconclusive,” the email said. “Following these standards is part of the commitment people who are on Grounds make to the University and to each other.”
According to the email, multiple tents with heating and electricity have been installed around Grounds for small outdoor gatherings limited to groups of fewer than six people — currently, tents are located in areas including O’Hill Dining lawn, Runk Dining patio, Hume Plaza, Peabody Hall lawn, Dawson’s Row, the South end of the Lawn and across from the Corner. Individuals and small groups can use these spaces to study, eat and relax.
Additionally, propane-powered fire pits are available in residential areas for gatherings of six people or less. The eight fire pits are located near residence halls at Alderman Road, Gooch-Dillard, McCormick Road, Brown College and Hereford College. Resident Advisors will be responsible for reserving spaces and providing their residents with guidelines about their usage.
Students utilizing these outdoor spaces must continue to wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines.
All students must indicate their intent to return to Grounds by Feb. 1. Students who confirm that they are not returning to Grounds will receive a refund of $660 for their student activity fee. If a student does not complete the necessary tasks outlined in SIS required to return to Grounds by Feb. 8, they will lose access to University facilities and resources.
Move-in for students living in on-Grounds housing began Tuesday and will continue throughout the weekend. The University COVID-19 Tracker, which has been down since Wednesday night, last reported 136 active cases of COVID-19 in the University community, 86 of which are students. The tracker also reported 55 individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 at U.Va. Health as of Wednesday evening.