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Manage expectations for masks and face coverings in gatherings with these guidelines

From: University Relations

In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Commonwealth of Virginia, fully vaccinated individuals on Virginia Tech campuses are not required to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. A congregate setting is an environment where a number of people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity for a period of time. Examples of congregate settings include schools and workplaces.

Exceptions and special circumstances can be considered. To make a request or to ask questions, please contact us at askvt@vt.edu. Employees who need ADA accommodations due to an impairment or for medical reasons should contact adaaccess@vt.edu.

Non-vaccinated individuals should continue to wear face coverings in all settings and also make arrangements to get a vaccination. Vaccinations will help keep you from getting sick from COVID-19 and will help lower the health risks for those around you. For Blacksburg and the New River Valley, vaccinations are available through the New River Health District and local pharmacies. In other Virginia locations, vaccinations are available through your local health district and pharmacies.

Virginia Tech is following the governor’s guidelines which, at this point, do not mandate the vaccine. Rather, the university thanks those who have been vaccinated and plans to provide further information for those who are still considering the vaccine.

As more and more people are vaccinated, and as guidance evolves in response, we can increasingly expect to see situations in public where some people are wearing masks and some are not. In true Hokie Spirit, we will respect these differences, acknowledging that we won’t know the circumstances behind each person’s decision. A masked person who is fully vaccinated might be cautious in a group setting and an unmasked person might be fully vaccinated and comfortable in public without a face covering.

Our Principles of Community and our Community Wellness Commitment rely on our individual commitment to helping our community thrive.

In the workplace it is appropriate to ask IF others have been vaccinated. It is inappropriate to ask WHY someone has chosen not to be vaccinated.

Health care providers, hospitals, and health insurers are unable to share information about an individual’s vaccination status due to HIPAA privacy protections. However, individuals may share their personal information with anyone who asks. HIPAA and FERPA do not apply to information provided by individuals about themselves.

For supervisors:

  • May I ask others for verification that they have been vaccinated? If so, how should I ask this question?

    You may ask others if they have been vaccinated. Consider beginning with a statement of concern for the person’s health and safety as well as that of others around you.
  • May I ask for proof? Do I take the individual at their word?

    You should take the individuals at their word. At this time, there is no system for confirming vaccine status for employees. There is a confidential system for students. New and updated information on vaccination guidelines and public health information will be shared as it becomes available.
  • What can I do if someone is not vaccinated and it impacts a carpool or meeting with others?

    We must anticipate that an unvaccinated person may affect in-person meetings, carpools, comfort levels for working in open cubicles, and other aspects of returning to campus.

    If you have been vaccinated, the CDC has stated that it is now safe for you to attend meetings and other events without fear of serious illness. You should discuss your comfort level with others, including your supervisor, with whom you will be in close proximity.

For individuals and for employees to a supervisor:

  • May I ask others, including my supervisor, if they have been vaccinated? If someone has not been vaccinated, may I refuse to attend an event?

    You may ask others, including your supervisor, if they have been vaccinated. If they have not, you may remind them of Virginia Tech’s request that all unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask or face covering at all times on campus and should make an appointment for a vaccine.

    If you have been vaccinated, the CDC has stated that it is now safe for you to attend meetings and other events without fear of serious illness. You should discuss your comfort level with others, including your supervisor, with whom you will be in close proximity.
  • May I ask that all wear a mask if one person has not been vaccinated?

    The CDC has indicated that vaccinated individuals do not need to continue to wear masks or face coverings, so it is not necessary to ask them to do so.

If current trends continue, we anticipate a full return to campus for students and information on testing and vaccination will be available  in the coming weeks for the fall semester.

Faculty and staff can discuss any concerns with their manager or HR director.  The HR Service Center (540-231-9331) can answer general questions and/or direct you to additional resources such as Employee Relations and Hokie Wellness.

More information will be made available through the Daily Email and online. With continued vigilance, the university will continue to move closer to the end of the pandemic and a full Virginia Tech experience on our campus and across the region.

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