University issues updated mask requirements for indoor spaces
Editor’s note (9/14/21): After a thorough review of public health data including high transmission rates in the New River Valley and across Virginia, and consistent with the advice provided by local and state public health officials, Virginia Tech will extend its requirement of proper use of masks by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors in designated public areas until further notice.
The story below has been modified the reflect the changes that were first announced in August and adjusted the week of Sept. 13.
In its ongoing effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the growing challenge of the delta variant, and a corresponding rise in cases in communities across the country, and to align with the recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Tech will require the proper use of masks by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors in designated public areas.
As a part of this mandate, the university instituted a requirement for face masks in instructional spaces at the start of the fall semester. Both instructors and students, regardless of vaccination status, have been required to wear face masks in all classrooms and laboratories since Aug. 23.
In the case of instructional settings that differ from customary classroom and laboratory configurations, department heads should contact the Office of Emergency Management to determine if any adjustments to the mask wearing requirement may be appropriate.
Indoor public spaces include all lobbies, foyers, atriums, hallways, and elevators in university-owned or leased facilities accessible by the general public; academic spaces used by students for classrooms or teaching laboratories not typically open for access by the general public; and auditorium, arena, theatre, museum, concert hall, or other areas used for a performance or an exhibit of the arts or sciences; and any public meeting room. Library spaces and training rooms are also indoor public spaces.
In addition, all Blacksburg Transit (BT) riders must wear a mask while on the bus at all times.
Indoor public spaces do not include private work places, meaning any office, work area or employment meeting space that is not open to the public in the normal course of business.
Individuals who are not vaccinated are required to wear a mask in all indoor spaces other than a private office or one’s own residence hall room.
In residence halls, wearing of masks is encouraged for vaccinated individuals but required for those who are unvaccinated except when in their assigned room. Wearing of masks is required in public settings such as dining facilities, when individuals are not eating or drinking.
Masks are not required in outdoor settings at this time.
“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 masks 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.”
Virginia Tech will permit unit supervisors and their teams to determine mask requirements based on unique work-related circumstances. In such cases, team members should discuss specific circumstances under the guidance of their supervisor or unit head. The Division of Human Resources and a college or unit human resources professional may also provide additional assistance.
Students with questions may contact the Dean of Students Office (540-231-3787) for assistance.
Any university faculty, staff, or student located 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 that will include mandatory testing at an initial frequency of at least once a week.
Frequently asked questions regarding these new requirements may be found on the Ready website.