The Clemons Library on Grounds is known best for its long hours— it is the only library at UVA open 24 hours a day on weekdays. Due to these hours of business, it is typical for students to spend extensive periods of time there to get work done. The second floor of Clemons is even more popular because of its tendency to attract students who want to study with friends or collaborate on group projects. The floor includes study rooms, bright lighting, booths and tables that all work to make the floor a very interactive place. It has been especially lively this semester, serving as one of the main study hubs on Grounds since UVA’s largest library, Alderman, is closed for major renovation.
New COVID-19 restrictions, however, are now modifying Clem-2’s hours. The floor will be closed from 12-8am. UVA has stated that this change is due to mask non-compliance on the floor. The hour reduction comes months after the floor was already modified extensively to protect students from COVID-19. Long study tables were fitted with plexiglass shields to form individual cubicles, and they have remained in place over the course of the fall semester. Even with the protective barriers, students still prefer this study area over others because of its talkative and welcoming environment. Now, students will be told to vacate the floor come midnight. It is unclear whether these changes will solve the problem, and many students are frustrated about the change because of the increasingly limited space on Grounds to study.
Clemons Library is not the only location on Grounds that has undergone changes because of UVA’s COVID policies. Unlike last year, masks must be worn at all times in fitness facilities unless actively swimming. At the Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC), students are required to wear a mask even while sitting in the hot tub. And earlier this semester, UVA closed the AFC’s indoor basketball courts due to mask non-compliance among students playing on the courts. The policy still allows for use of the outdoor basketball courts, weather permitting.
While both changes are said to be temporary, there is no indication that any of the closures, nor the general mask mandate, will be lifted for the remainder of the academic year. So for the time being, students, many of whom are becoming increasingly angered by these constant changes, will have to continue adapting to policy shifts and disruptions as they try to navigate a “normal” but seemingly unfamiliar semester of classes, events, and new experiences.