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UVa spends $400k on masks, welcome-back kits in preparation for fall reopening

The University of Virginia will spend nearly $400,000 to purchase masks and protective gear in an effort to safely reopen in the fall.

The university has ordered 25,000 “welcome back kits” from Bright Ideas LLC, a business in Troy. It also has ordered face masks, according to purchase orders reviewed by The Daily Progress.

In an email May 28, President Jim Ryan and other officials said UVa will provide personal protective equipment for students, faculty and staff upon return.

Bright Ideas, which is a small woman- and minority-owned business, will receive $288,000 for protective equipment and $89,7000 for face masks.

Supply Room Companies of Ashland will receive $20,240 for 19,040 face masks.

According to The Cavalier Daily, the kits will include a 14- by 18-inch drawstring bag, two cloth face masks, two 2-ounce containers of hand sanitizer and a touch tool that can be used to pull on door handles and activate keypads.

UVa leveraged existing cooperative contracts to source the items, according to spokesman Brian Coy, and navigated multiple selections and orders due to supply chain fluctuations.

UVa’s procurement, emergency management, health and safety and facilities teams worked together to review products for quality and adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Coy said.

Last month, Gov. Ralph Northam mandated wearing masks in public buildings, including in schools and universities.

UVa updated its policy book to require faculty, staff and students wear masks while inside a university facility, other buildings on Grounds, on university buses or in the presence of others. University community members who are off-site for school or work are expected to wear masks in the presence of others, and contractors, visitors and volunteers are expected to wear masks at UVa, as well.

“Appropriate use of face coverings or face masks is critical in minimizing risks to others near you,” the policy reads.

UVa’s policy went into effect Monday. Failure to comply with requirements of the policy can result in disciplinary action, according to the policy.

UVa currently plans to start the fall semester on Aug. 25 with a variety of safety and public health efforts.

Measures include keeping large classes and those taught by staff with health concerns online; allowing most students to attend class virtually; and testing and conducting contact tracing for those with COVID-19.

More details on how the school expects to enact such measures are expected later this month.


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