The University will lift its temporary restriction on eating and drinking at University-sponsored events effective Feb. 5, per an email from Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis sent Thursday afternoon. Faculty who initially received an exemption to teach online are also advised to prepare to return to in-person instruction.
“These changes reflect our stable case counts and the expectations of our public health experts that the omicron wave will continue to subside,” Magill and Davis said.
There are currently 376 active cases of COVID-19 in the University, 51 of which were reported Tuesday. 231 of these cases are students and 145 are faculty and staff. 2 percent of isolation beds are filled — the University is currently encouraging individuals who test positive to isolate in place if possible in order to prioritize isolation space for students in hall-style residence halls.
While community members are now permitted to eat and drink at University-sponsored events, Magill and Davis encouraged holding events virtually or outdoors, especially for events where vaccination status of attendees is unknown or enforcing indoor masking or physical distancing between attendees would be challenging.
This announcement comes two days after the University announced it will not be disenrolling students who do not receive their COVID-19 booster, following Attorney General Jason Miyares’ advisory opinion that public universities cannot legally mandate COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of enrollment. 99 percent of students already comply with the vaccine and booster requirements, Magill noted.
The deadline for students to submit proof of a COVID-19 booster vaccination was Jan. 14, though the University will continue to encourage those who have not yet received a full vaccination series with a booster to obtain one.
Faculty who received a temporary exemption to teach virtually at the onset of the semester due to extenuating circumstances should return to in-person instruction by Monday, and no later than Feb. 21 should they require additional time, per the email. Information on continuing “extraordinary” circumstances that necessitate online instruction will be provided at a later date.
“We are grateful to all of you for the steps you are taking to protect yourselves and the most vulnerable members of our local community,” the email reads. “As we move forward, we will continue to monitor public health conditions with the hope of implementing even more steps to offer students, faculty, and staff as much freedom as possible while continuing to keep each other healthy and safe.”