The next time you go to John Paul Jones Arena, you may not be required to wear a mask. The University Community received an email from President Jim Ryan preparing them for a lift on the indoor mask mandate effective on March 21, 2022. This date was chosen specifically to allow students and faculty ample time to return to their routines after coming back from any vacation plans they may have over the Spring Break.
However, the requirement for masks indoors will remain true when entering classrooms, UVA Health facilities, and University Transit. President Jim Ryan feels that “nearly two years after this virus emerged and changed nearly everything about life at this University, we have finally reached a point where our medical experts are comfortable revising our mask policy in the ways we’ve described.”
This revision is informed by the following data: hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Virginia and specifically our region, the number of the University Community members in isolation and unable to learn or teach, weekly updates of positive cases on grounds, and the percentage of faculty, students, and staff who are vaccinated.
This news comes shortly after the updated vaccine mandate policies.
In late January of 2022, UVA President, Jim Ryan, wrote to the faculty and student body of the University regarding the updated vaccine mandate policies. The new Virginia attorney general issued an advisory opinion stating that public universities do not have the legal capacity to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students as an enrollment requirement. This contradicts the previous attorney general’s opinion which concluded that universities do have the right to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ryan wrote that this “issue is moot for us at UVA, at least for the time being” and further explained that 99% of the student body complied with the vaccine and booster requirements prior to returning to grounds in mid-January. In regards to this new Virginia attorney general’s opinion, President Ryan along with UVA’s student affairs team concluded that the University will not dis-enroll students who have not yet received their booster, whilst still encouraging them to do so. Yet, in August of 2021, UVA dis-enrolled more than 200 students who did not meet the vaccine mandate.
President Ryan wrote that “what we can say is that we promised from the very beginning to follow the public health advice from our world-class experts at UVA” and further stated that he, as well as other leaders of the University, will continue to follow the advice they are given, as they trust the renowned experts that truly care for the community.
On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, President Ryan wrote again to the UVA community regarding new masking policies for the University. Ryan stated that COVID-19 tracking parameters were beginning to trend in a positive direction, therefore leading to the plan for the lifting of masking policies in the near future, with the aforementioned exceptions.