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U.Va. announces mask-optional policy for classrooms, Final Exercises will continue as planned

This update follows a number of changes to the University’s public health guidelines this spring

<p>“As conditions have grown safer, we believe this will offer students and faculty the best possible classroom experience for the remainder of this academic year,” the adminstration's email reads.</p>

“As conditions have grown safer, we believe this will offer students and faculty the best possible classroom experience for the remainder of this academic year,” the adminstration's email reads.

Masks will no longer be required in classrooms or non-clinical U.Va. Health facilities effective Monday, per a community-wide email sent by Provost Ian Baucom and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis Friday afternoon. 

“As conditions have grown safer, we believe this will offer students and faculty the best possible classroom experience for the remainder of this academic year,” the email reads. “As we navigate the shift to most settings being mask-optional, we are encouraging everyone to treat each other with respect and common courtesy.” 

This update follows a number of changes to the University’s public health guidelines this spring. Following an executive order issued by Governor Glenn Youngkin in January, the University rescinded its vaccination requirement placed for staff and faculty on Jan. 19. Masks were made optional in University-owned spaces — except for classrooms, U.Va. Health facilities and University transit services — thanks to an announcement last week, and the University closed its saliva testing program Thursday. 

Friday’s decision comes following a downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at both the University and in the Charlottesville community. There were eight new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, with a seven-day average of seven new cases per day this week. There were additionally a total of 32 inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients at U.Va Health as of Wednesday, with six new admissions Thursday. Recently, the Center for Disease Control reclassified Charlottesville City and Albemarle County’s COVID-19 community level from “medium” to “low” — a classification based on the amount of new and total COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents as well as the percentage of local hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients.

Final Exercises will also be held in person and masks will not be required for indoor or outdoor venues. While vaccines are encouraged, the University will not require proof of vaccination from attendees. 

“We are confident that these changes will permit this community to finish the academic year on a high note and to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2022 safely,” the email read. “As always, we are constantly monitoring local, national and global viral conditions and will make changes to our policies if they are necessary to keep people safe.”

This will be the first time since the spring of 2019 that Final Exercises will proceed without restrictions or delays. The Class of 2020 faced a series of postponements before finally having a ceremony in May 2021 along with the Class of 2021, but had limited capacity at both indoor and outdoor events. 

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