Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis detailed plans for the fall semester in an email sent Thursday afternoon. Gathering limits, social distancing and masking requirements are suspended for vaccinated students while exempt students will be required to submit to pre-arrival and weekly prevalence testing.
“After a year in which the pandemic made nearly everything more difficult, we hope you are as eager as we are to get back to doing what U.Va. does best: living, learning, and working together on Grounds,” the email read. “For now, we hope you enjoy the rest of the summer, and we look forward to seeing all of you back at the University.”
Numerous new variants of COVID-19 have been identified, with the B.1.1.7 Alpha variant, B.1.351 Beta variant, B.1.617.2 Delta variant and P.1 Gamma variant classified as “variants of concern” by the Center for Disease Control. The Delta variant has prompted a surge of cases in states with a large number of unvaccinated individuals.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, 59.6 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 51.9 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. According to the U.Va. Biocomplexity Institute’s model, cases are projected to decline through the summer and fall. 440 new cases were reported Thursday.
According to the email, 85 percent of University students who are eligible to enroll in classes on Grounds in Charlottesville and 78.5 percent of academic division employees are fully vaccinated as of July 15. Students were required to submit proof of vaccination by July 1 — those who indicated that they plan to return to Grounds but failed to submit proof of vaccination have already been notified that their ID cards have been deactivated, meaning that they have lost service to University buildings and services.
Students with approved vaccine exemptions must complete pre-arrival testing before returning to Grounds and must report for weekly prevalence testing. All students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors who are unvaccinated are required to wear masks inside, except when in a private space, and all times outside.
“People who are vaccinated are welcome to continue wearing masks if they are more comfortable doing so and all University community members are encouraged to treat each other with respect,” the email said.
Saliva testing will also continue to be available for any student experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Regular in-person academic instruction will resume this fall and classrooms will be rearranged in their pre-pandemic configurations. While the default method of instruction will be in person, students are able to request course-related accommodations due to COVID-19 and school deans are permitted to identify a small number of courses to be offered in different instruction modes for pedagogical reasons. Classrooms are currently being assigned and will appear on SIS on rolling basis.
Dining will also return to full-scale operation this fall after being subject to state guidelines on indoor dining throughout the pandemic.
Regardless of vaccination status, all passengers on public transportation — including the University Transit System — will be required to wear face masks, which is in accordance with Center for Disease Control guidance.
IM-Rec facilities will also no longer require reservations, and the new Student Health and Wellness building will open at the end of August. The new facility includes a teaching kitchen, student lounge and living room, an art therapy room and other spaces. It will house Counseling and Psychological Services, Medical Services, Health Promotion and the Student Disability Access Center.
The University Library is offering appointments in Special Collections and some equipment use at Clemons Library throughout the summer. Library stacks will re-open this fall.
Virginia Athletics announced May 28 that all home events will return to 100 percent capacity. Any additional health protocols for sporting events will be announced at a later date.
Virtual orientation is currently underway for incoming first-year students. Move-in for students living on Grounds will take place August 18 through 21, and the first day of classes is August 24.