BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Due to a rise in coronavirus cases across the country, the worsening concerns about the delta variant, and the recent guidance update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Tech says face coverings will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors in designated public areas.
As a part of this mandate — which was issued on Thursday, Aug. 5 — the university has implemented an interim requirement for face coverings in instructional spaces at the start of the fall semester.
According to Virginia Tech, both instructors and students –no matter their vaccination status — will be required to wear masks in all classrooms and laboratories when classes start on Aug. 23.
School officials will then reevaluate this interim requirement in September after they thoroughly review both campus and regional data related to the overall public health status.
With regard to instructional settings that differ from customary classroom and laboratory configurations, department heads are asked to contact the Office of Emergency Management to determine if they need to make any adjustments to the mask-wearing requirement.
In addition, starting Tuesday, Aug. 10, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors at all Virginia Tech-owned or leased facilities in communities with substantial or high community transmission will be required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Examples of these spaces include all lobbies, foyers, atriums, hallways, and elevators accessible by the general public, as well as auditoriums, arenas, theaters, museums, concert halls, or other areas used for a performance or an exhibit.
This mask requirement does not apply to private workplaces — such as an office, work area, or employment meeting space that is not open to the public in the normal course of business — or outdoor settings.
In addition, face coverings are encouraged, but not required, in on-campus residence halls due to the lower risk of transmission among a largely-vaccinated student community.
However, wearing masks is required in public settings, such as dining facilities, when people are not eating or drinking.
“Virginia Tech has achieved a high level of vaccine adoption, and we expect that progress to strengthen in the days ahead,” said Mike Mulhare, assistant vice president for emergency management. “At the same time, it would irresponsible to ignore the latest data, science, and public health guidance about the delta variant and the increasing risk it poses to the community around us. By requiring face coverings in public indoor spaces, we add an additional layer of protection to help us deliver a consistently full and safe experience as we start the fall.”
As of Thursday, the university’s vaccination dashboard says 88 percent of all students and 73 percent of all employees have verified they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Students have until Friday, Aug. 6 and employees have until Sunday, Aug. 15 to submit their vaccine information.
Virginia Tech will allow unit supervisors and their teams to determine mask requirements based on their unique work-related conditions. However, in such cases, team members should discuss specific circumstances under their supervisor or unit head’s guidance. In addition, the Division of Human Resources and a college or unit human resources professional may also offer assistance.
If students have any questions about these changes, they are encouraged to call the Dean of Students Office at (540) 231-3787.
Any university faculty, staff, or student in Blacksburg, Roanoke, or the greater Washington, D.C., metro area who is not fully vaccinated is required to participate in a surveillance testing program, which includes mandatory testing at least once a week initially.
Virginia Tech says you can find answers to frequently asked questions about these new requirements on the Ready website.