The University announced they will phase out the saliva testing program offered to students, faculty and staff effective Thursday, per an email sent Friday by Provost Ian Baucom and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis. Instead, the University will offer a limited supply of no-cost rapid tests to asymptomatic students, faculty and staff in the Academic Division at the Student Health and Wellness pharmacy and the U.Va. bookstore pharmacy.
Effective Monday, unvaccinated students will no longer need to report for mandatory prevalence testing, and the University will no longer require proof of vaccination at large event venues such as in the John Paul Jones arena. About 99 percent of students currently comply with the University’s vaccination requirements.
“The demand for this type of testing has fallen sharply due to rising vaccination rates and the availability of at-home tests, and it will fall even further as our prevalence testing requirements change,” the email read.
These changes will not apply to U.Va. Health, and testing policies for faculty, team members and students will remain in place, including prevalence testing procedures for those with COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.
This decision comes after the University announced a change to their masking requirements Feb. 22 — effective Monday, masks will no longer be required indoors in University-owned spaces, except for in classrooms, transit services and U.Va. Health facilities.
The Centers for Disease Control also reclassified Charlottesville and Albemarle County’s COVID-19 community level from “high” to “medium” Thursday. In Charlottesville and Albemarle, COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents over the last seven days have fallen below 200, low enough for the change in classification per the CDC’s three metrics for classification levels.
University leaders and public health experts are continuing to evaluate our remaining public health policies, with the intent of lifting the mask mandate in the near future, hopefully as early as March 28,” the email reads.
As of Friday, there are 29 active cases of COVID-19 in the University Community, 15 of which are students, per the U.Va. COVID Tracker. The seven-day case average has been declining steadily since mid-February, with a seven-day average of 3.29 new cases reported Thursday. There are 43 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.Va. Health System, and one percent of student isolation beds are currently occupied.