University of Virginia officials announced on Tuesday that students may gather outside in groups of up to 25, provided everyone wears a mask and social distancing is observed.
UVa Dean of Students Allen W. Groves, in a message emailed to students posted on his office’s website, said the decision to increase the outdoor gathering limit was made because COVID-19 cases are declining.
The indoor limit for students is still set at six.
“With viral prevalence rates now at a low point, university public health officials have approved an increase in the size of outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people, effective immediately,” Groves wrote to students. “This means you will be able to spend more time outdoors participating in club sports, [recreation] events, outdoor theater and music rehearsals, and performances.”
Groves said soccer teams, for example, will be able to scrimmage in teams of 11 and music and theater groups could rehearse and perform in groups up to 25. Requests for groups of more than that must be approved by a Student Affairs review team.
Groves said the team has approved spring cultural programming and concert events for as many as 300 individuals, provided plans are in place for “strict observance of all public health measures.”
The decision comes as COVID cases have plummeted among students, falling from a high average of 109 a day in February to just over 3 cases a day this week.
“It’s important to remember the pandemic is still not behind us. Concerning variants continue to emerge, including in the Charlottesville area,” Groves wrote. “Although the number of vaccinated individuals continues to rise, the majority of local citizens and UVa students are still waiting to be vaccinated. For these reasons, it remains very important to continue wearing a mask, maintaining a 6-foot physical distance, and limiting indoor gatherings to six people.”