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Virginia Tech to require indoor mask use for all

Virginia Tech (Source: NBC12/file)
Virginia Tech (Source: NBC12/file)
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 7:41 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Tech announced Thursday it will require the proper use of masks by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors in designated public areas. Masks will be encouraged, but not required, in on-campus residence halls.

The decision came following recently updated guidance from the CDC, amid a growing number of cases across the country due to the Delta variant.

As part of the mandate,Tech says it has instituted an interim requirement for face coverings in instructional spaces at the start of the semester; instructors and students will be required to wear masks in all classrooms and laboratories when classes begin Aug. 23.

The university says it will reevaluate the requirement in late September, following a review of campus and regional public health data.

“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 [be] 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.”

Beginning August 10, all faculty, students, staff and visitors at all Virginia Tech-owned or leased facilities in areas with substantial or high community transmission will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

Tech says the requirement does not apply to private work spaces, such as offices, work areas or meeting spaces that are not open to the public.

While masks are encouraged in on-campus residence halls, they will not be required. The university says this is due to a lower risk of transmission among a largely-vaccinated student community.

Masks will not be required in outdoor settings.

Students who plan to return to campus say they expected some type of mask policy, but their biggest concern is campus shutting down again.

“I know myself and some of my friends have been worried that you know we’re coming to campus or coming to school or coming in looking forward to online classes, and a lot of people seem to be on edge that maybe things might be pushed. Going back online, which is not what the college experience is really about,” said Jacob Morris a senior physics student Virginia Tech.

As of August 5, 88% of all students and 73% of employees had verified they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Students have until Friday to submit their vaccine information.

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.

More information can be found here.

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