University leaders announced that the University will require students who live, learn and work on Grounds in the fall to be fully vaccinated in an email Thursday. Students may seek a medical or religious exemption to the requirements, though they will be subject to weekly prevalence testing if the exemption is granted.
“This approach will enable our students to return to a residential academic setting where they can live, study and gather together safely,” University leaders said.
Students must upload proof of their vaccination status to the HealthyHoos Patient Portal no later than July 1 and will not be permitted to return to Grounds after July 1 if they are not vaccinated or do not qualify for an exemption. The Centers for Disease Control considers individuals fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine.
The University also announced that it will expect faculty and staff to be vaccinated against the virus to facilitate an in-person learning experience. While the University will not require vaccinations for faculty at this time, it will continue to monitor employee vaccination numbers and consider whether such a requirement should be made in the future.
As of May 6, University President Jim Ryan reported that over 11,000 students have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
University leadership said it will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and recognizes that there may be a need for continued public health measures, though operations are expected to return to normal in the fall. This includes incoming first-year students living on Grounds, with limited exceptions, and University operations — ranging from University Transit Service to IM-Rec to U.Va. Dining — resuming their pre-pandemic schedules.
The University confirmed that academic instruction is expected to return to normal in the fall semester — most classes will be offered in person only and academic research will return to full operations. Exceptions may be made in specific cases, according to the email.
“As we look back on an academic year where the pandemic changed every part of life at U.Va., the availability and effectiveness of the vaccines will make it possible for all of us to live, learn and work together in more ‘normal’ ways in the year to come,” University leaders said.
The University anticipates allowing spectators at fall sporting events, though these numbers will be subject to limitations based on the Commonwealth’s capacity limits and other public health measures. In September, Virginia Athletics restricted fan attendance to family members of student-athletes and coach staff — a limitation that was later loosened in the spring semester to permit community members to attend outdoor sporting events.
In April, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that Virginia colleges and universities can require that students be vaccinated in order to return to in-person learning, which paved the way for the University’s decision.
As of Thursday, dozens of universities have announced that they will require students to be vaccinated for the fall semester, including 10 colleges in Virginia. For example, Hampton University, Mary Baldwin University and Virginia Wesleyan University will require the vaccine while William & Mary will only require students to be vaccinated if the vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Currently, Virginia is in phase 2 of vaccinations, where every individual above the age of 16 is eligible to receive a vaccination, and the Commonwealth has started to vaccinate those 12 to 15 following the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group. The University announced a widespread vaccination effort for students through U.Va. Health in mid-April and began sending out invitations for students to be vaccinated at the U.Va. Health Community Vaccination Center in Seminole Square April 12. Students are encouraged to use VaccineFinder.org to schedule their second doses if they cannot return to the location of their first dose, according to an update sent in late April.
The Commonwealth has administered 7,673,597 doses of the vaccine as of Thursday, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s dashboard. Over 50 percent of Virginians have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 41 percent are fully vaccinated. An estimated 57 percent of the Blue Ridge Health District has received at least their first dose.