University of Virginia students can leave their face coverings in their spring break luggage once they return to Grounds on Monday.
UVa officials are lifting the requirement for students, staff and anyone visiting Grounds to cover the faces in the face of COVID-19.
“Effective March 28, we will move forward with the plan we discussed last week to make masks optional while in class,” school administrators wrote Friday in an email to the UVa community. “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 was signed by Provost Ian Baucom and J.J. Davis, UVa’s chief operating officer.
May’s graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022 will proceed as planned and attendees will be encouraged, but not required, to be vaccinated.
“In conjunction with our current policies, we anticipate that masks will not be required for indoor or outdoor elements of the celebrations,” the administrators wrote. “We also strongly encourage everyone who attends [graduation] to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations before traveling to Charlottesville, but we will not be imposing a vaccination requirement.”
The policy will be the closest thing to pre-pandemic normal for a graduation since 2020 when the ceremonies were held online only. In 2021, anyone who had been vaccinated was allowed to doff their masks, but seating arrangements were influenced by social distancing.
UVa Health, which operates a multitude of clinics, out-patient and inpatient medical care facilities across the region as well as UVa Medical Center, will follow their academic and business department siblings, allowing bare faces in non-clinical spaces.
“Masks will continue to be required in all buildings where patient care is provided,” the email states. “UVa Health will email team members directly with more information about this change. Guidelines for patients and visitors to UVA Health will be updated in the coming days at UVaHealth.com.”
Officials said those with compromised immune systems or other medical issues that make them more susceptible to either getting COVID-19 or having a severe case, may continue to don masks for protections.
“This step does not preclude anyone from continuing to wear a mask while in class, and research suggests that a high-quality mask like a KN-95 or N-95 can offer effective protection,” they wrote.
Officials also asked staff, students, faculty and others to tote along a face mask in case they are asked to put it on.
“As we navigate the shift to most settings being mask-optional, we are encouraging everyone to treat each other with respect and common courtesy. Depending on the situation, this may mean being willing to put on a mask when asked, communicating masking preferences in advance, or offering to meet virtually if appropriate,” they wrote.
“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 states.