The University of Richmond extended its universal indoor mask mandate for community members regardless of vaccination status until Nov. 5, officials announced in an email Tuesday morning.
This is the second extension of the indoor mask mandate in the 2021-2022 academic year. UR announced the previous extension in a Sept. 8 email, which moved the mandate’s end date from Sept. 12 to Oct. 7 as a response to COVID-19 data in the Richmond region.
The decision to extend the mandate again was based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Virginia Department of Health criteria and a recent change in state workplace regulations that requires employees to wear masks indoors in areas with high and substantial levels of community transmission regardless of their vaccination status, according to the Oct. 5 email sent by David Hale, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Jeffrey Legro, executive vice president and provost; and Shannon Sinclair, vice president and general counsel.
The city of Richmond and Henrico County are classified as having high levels of transmission, according to an Oct. 4 report by the Virginia Department of Health.
UR has experienced 61 cumulative COVID-19 cases during the current fall term, 2 of which were active as of Oct. 5, according to UR’s COVID-19 dashboard.
“We hope that in the coming weeks local case counts will continue to decrease and the situation on campus will allow further adjustment to our COVID-19 policies,” Hale, Legro and Sinclair wrote. “If conditions on campus are favorable and the case rates in our community improve, we will revisit the requirement for universal indoor masking and will revise our policies accordingly.”
According to reports by the New York Times, the city of Richmond has experienced a 43% decrease and Henrico County has experienced a 22% decrease in the average number of cases of COVID-19 reported per day over the past two weeks.
UR’s email encouraged any community members who may be experiencing symptoms of the virus to get tested.
Students seeking to get tested should contact the Student Health Center, which will provide them with the proper guidance on accessing a test on campus, they wrote.
Hale, Legro and Sinclair also explained UR’s recent partnership with BetterMed Urgent Care, which allows faculty and staff to schedule a telehealth visit with a BetterMed provider. The provider then determines if a COVID-19 test is appropriate and helps the faculty or staff member schedule a test at a BetterMed facility, according to UR’s website.
The email included resources that explain UR’s policies regarding isolation, quarantine and close contacts, including an FAQ for faculty and staff.
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As of Oct. 5, 96.8% of students and 93.7% of full- and part-time faculty and staff who have reported their vaccination status are fully vaccinated, according to UR’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Despite a June 24 email from UR officials that stated reporting vaccination status was mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff by June 30, 99.9% of students and 97.7% of full- and part-time faculty and staff have reported their vaccination status as of Oct. 5.
“Coupled with our very high vaccination rates on campus and additional mitigation strategies, including weekly prevalence testing of unvaccinated students, we consider universal masking indoors as a necessary measure at this time,” Hale, Legro and Sinclair wrote.
UR will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions on- and off-campus and will notify students, faculty and staff of any changes prior to Nov. 5, according to the email.
Contact contributor Kathryn Kimmel at email@example.com.
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