Early on September 2, Provost Liz Magill notified students the temporary mask mandate had been extended. It was meant to expire on September 6th, but now it will be re-evaluated no later than October 1st. This mask mandate, for all indoor UVA properties, extends to all “students, faculty, staff, contractors, and visitors” regardless of vaccination status. The indoor and outdoor regulation remains in place for those who are unvaccinated. The reasoning behind this extension is due to concerns over the Delta variant and the increase of cases in the Charlottesville area and the state of Virginia more broadly. As of September 2nd, there are 140 active cases on Grounds, with only 90 being from students, while the rest are from faculty and staff. These are all likely breakthrough cases, since UVA’s student body is 98% vaccinated and those who remain unvaccinated undergo strict processes to ensure they do not have the virus.
The email, sent to all students of the university, further reminds everyone about the policy regarding masks in Scott Stadium, for the upcoming football game on Saturday against William and Mary. The policy concerning football games states guests must wear a mask if they are unvaccinated, and you must wear a mask if you are in an indoor space regardless of vaccination status. Provost Magill also stated the University is not requiring masks outdoors, but “[they] strongly encourage everyone – vaccinated or unvaccinated – to do so in order to limit opportunities for the virus to spread at the game.”
This announcement ended with an emphasis on University administrators continuing to work with experts to drive their decision-making about COVID-19 policies, and the unpredictability of this virus places the University in a position where they “must be ready to adjust our response to it.” This policy continuation, while predictable, presents challenges for some students who were initially very hopeful masks would be a temporary policy. For most students, the announcement did not come as a shock, given the abundance of caution the University has taken since the beginning of the pandemic.