May 2021 Update
I write today with an important update about something we all hold dear: the health and safety of our Highland Cavalier community. UVA Wise has long been respected for its welcoming and caring atmosphere, and, because of that, I know you are curious about our guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, which can help us protect each other and ourselves.
First and foremost, our planning for fall assumes that the overwhelming majority of our community will be fully vaccinated, allowing us to move away from remote learning and return fully to in-person teaching and learning, hands-on educational experiences, and student life. Currently, 60 percent of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with many students reporting as well.
Because our campus community has worked so diligently to protect one another throughout this pandemic, we have made the decision to encourage, rather than require, COVID-19 vaccinations for our entire community.
We hope that all UVA Wise employees and students who do not have a need for medical or religious exemption will get vaccinated as soon as possible. We know that many of you have completed, or are in the process of completing, your vaccination, and we thank you. Vaccination of our community is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and will allow us to more fully return to normal, in-person experiences. Students and employees who do not document a vaccine will be required to continue weekly prevalence testing and to continue to wear a face covering.
Help UVA Wise reach herd immunity by documenting your vaccination. Simply bring (or send a copy of) your vaccination record to the Health Clinic (firstname.lastname@example.org). Going forward, we will continue to monitor vaccination rates and, in consultation with public health experts, consider whether a vaccination requirement for all members of our community will be necessary.
Additional Public Health Measures
On May 17 we announced that all UVA Wise community members who are vaccinated can forego wearing masks both indoors and outdoors. This is in alignment with new guidance from the CDC and Governor Ralph Northam, who also announced his plans to lift additional COVID-19 mitigation measures by May 28. We will continue to work with UVA’s public health experts to evaluate these changes and monitor CDC guidance.
As Provost Folds-Bennett has already shared, we will return to in-person academic instruction this fall, without the strict limitations on spacing and capacity that we’ve had to employ during the past year. We expect that classes will be offered in person without a concurrent virtual option, with the exception of our fully online RN-BSN program and a few targeted online sections of classes offered for upper-level students.
In-person Experiential Learning
We look forward to more undergraduate research and hands-on learning returning in the fall. Ballad Health has already enabled nursing students to reinstitute their inpatient field experiences, and we are monitoring public health guidance to see when we can reinstate in-person music and theater performances and study abroad programs.
Student Life & Athletics
Similarly, we anticipate an increase in the number of in-person activities and events including intramurals, clubs and organizations, student recreation, and other elements of college life. We will continue health and safety best practices, like enhanced cleaning, so that we can all feel safe as we continue to live and learn as a community.
Highland Cavalier athletics is planning to continue to welcome spectators to the stands and will likely increase capacity for these events in the fall; however, decisions on capacity, physical distancing, or other public health measures will be based on up-to-date guidance from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Virginia at the time seasons commence.
I am greatly looking forward to a return to a more “normal” version of life at UVA Wise. Although I’m immensely grateful for the diligence and care you’ve used to protect our community throughout this pandemic, I’m thrilled that we can be together more fully this autumn.
My wishes for a safe and healthy summer.