From President Tim Sands: Masks still required for Blacksburg, Roanoke campuses
Editor's note: On March 10, the CDC reported that Montgomery County had moved to "Medium." Read the update.
Dear members of the Hokie community,
The omicron wave of COVID-19 has diminished significantly across most of the country and the commonwealth. In the communities surrounding our campuses, reported cases have dropped steadily, and hospitalizations in Virginia have dropped to levels not seen since August. These trends are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Virginia Tech’s student and employee populations have a high level of immunity, and our health care system is now able to prevent and treat serious illness with effective therapeutics.
On Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines at the county level for mitigating the impact of COVID-19, including recommendations for mask usage. The metrics developed by the CDC align well with the key indicators we outlined in my message on Feb. 14. Based on our own internal data and the CDC recommendations updated March 3, Virginia Tech’s campus locations in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area and Richmond have dropped to “Medium” or “Low” community levels, consistent with a transition from required masks in public indoor spaces to recommended or optional masking. Accordingly, masks are not required, but recommended in indoor instructional spaces and optional elsewhere at those Virginia Tech locations.
The community level in Montgomery County, where our Blacksburg campus is located, remains “High.” Our Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke City is “Medium.” However most of the campus is a health care setting, and Roanoke County’s level is “High.” Consequently, masks are still required in indoor public spaces on our Blacksburg and Roanoke campuses.
If current trends continue, we expect mask requirements for Blacksburg and Roanoke will be lifted soon. Masks are still required on public transit. Of course, Hokies are engaged in instruction, research, and outreach activities in communities across the commonwealth and beyond. Please consider the CDC COVID-19 Community Level mask recommendations for off-campus locations where you may be working, studying, or traveling for spring break.
Many in our community will choose to continue wearing masks to protect themselves even if masks are not required. Whether you choose to wear a mask or not, please respect the individual decisions of your fellow Hokies.
The Provost’s Office has developed resources for instructors who have students who are unable to attend class in person. I want to express my great appreciation to our faculty and graduate teaching assistants for their ongoing work to support the academic progress of our students.
We encourage those who are unvaccinated, at elevated risk, live with vulnerable individuals, or desire an additional level of personal protection to continue using KN95 or equivalent masks indoors, and we strongly encourage vaccinations and boosters. Testing will still be available on campus and in the community. Please take advantage of these resources to monitor your health, and if you have symptoms or test positive, take proactive measures and avoid public indoor spaces. More information about updated protocols and resources are posted on the university's Ready site.
Thanks to your efforts, Virginia Tech has led the way in helping keep people safe and healthy from COVID-19 in our communities. Although the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains unpredictable in the long run, your efforts with vaccines, boosters, and masks have enabled Virginia Tech to transition to a more normal spring semester experience.
Please take time to rest and recharge over spring break if you can, and be mindful of those around you who may need your support. I look forward to seeing you after the break and sharing with you the fullness of the experiences that bring our community together every spring.
- Better Together
- Cook Counseling Center at 540-231-6557.
- Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787. Referral to a campus cleric may be made through this office.
- Employee Assistance Program
- Anthem at 855-223-9277
- Aetna at 888-238-6232
- Kaiser Permanente at 866-517-7042
- Optima Health Vantage HMO at 866-846-2682
- Hokie Wellness at 540-231-2233 (students) or 540-231-8878 (employees)
- Office of Housing and Residence Life at 540-231-6205
- Equity and Accessibility at 540-231-2010
- University Ombuds Office at 540-231-3125
- Graduate Office of the Ombudsperson at 540-231-9573