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UVa allows food and drink back into meetings and sports events

Two days after lifting a vaccination booster requirement for students, University of Virginia administrators on Wednesday dropped another COVID surge-related restriction to allow food and drink inside school facilities, including at sports events.

Administrators are also ordering all faculty to return the classes to in-person by Feb. 21, unless they receive an exception.

With COVID cases climbing due to the omicron variant at the start of the spring semester, officials banned food and drink in school facilities, including John Paul Jones Arena, as a way to help stem the virus’ spread.

The school also allowed faculty with family members who may have health issues or family with fragile health to teach their courses virtually.

“Thanks to these and other mitigation measures, including indoor masking requirements and boosters, we have been able to avoid a significant spike in cases and continue to enjoy many elements of normal university life,” administrators wrote in a message emailed to the university community. “These changes reflect our stable case counts and the expectations of our public health experts that the omicron wave will continue to subside.”

The message was signed by President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill and UVa COO J.J. Davis.

The temporary restriction on eating and drinking will end as of Saturday. The university’s indoor mask requirement remains in effect. Anyone attending must wear a mask at all times, unless “actively eating or drinking.”

“We continue to recommend that events be held virtually or outdoors, if possible, especially for events where enforcing masking may be difficult, where the vaccination status of attendees is unknown, and/or where the venue and crowd size make physical distancing a challenge,” they wrote.

All instructors who can are expected to begin teaching in-person as of Feb. 7 and no later than Feb. 21.

On Monday school officials dropped a mandate that students receive vaccine boosters by Feb. 1. That was lifted in the wake of recently elected Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ ruling that schools could not legally make that requirement.

Miyares, a Republican, over-ruled the ruling made by former Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat.

Miyares’ ruling came after the booster deadline.

UVa in January lifted a requirement for employees to receive vaccine boosters following Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order prohibiting state agencies from requiring COVID vaccinations as conditions of employment.

Youngkin’s order also came after the booster deadline had passed.


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