The University of Richmond and Virginia Tech plan to operate fully in-person fall semesters in 2021, the universities announced this week. On Thursday, UR downgraded its COVID response status from red to orange, its first downgrade since the fall.
The loosened restriction allows more opportunities for students to visit other residence halls and greater access to lounges and gathering spaces.
UR reported one active case this week and 322 total cases this semester.
"My hope and expectation is that the fall semester experience will be much like the pre-pandemic experience, with enhancements based on what we have learned through the course of the pandemic," Virginia Tech president Tim Sands said.
Virginia Tech plans to continue to test students for the coronavirus this fall, which may include testing all students living on campus during move in.
The university cannot mandate vaccinations unless the state requires it. The state cannot require people receive the coronavirus vaccine until it is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine has received emergency-use authorization to date.
Virginia Tech has not determined if it will require masks in the fall. It will continue to reserve isolation and quarantine space for students, and it plans to operate housing and dining operations close to normal capacity.
It will maintain its COVID-19 online dashboard, which counts cases on campus, into the fall.
"I look forward to a time when students may study abroad again, when students and faculty will work side by side to discuss and solve global issues, when campus comes alive with a multitude of activities and alumni and parents are frequent visitors, when downtown Blacksburg is bustling with students and residents, and when the ground beneath Lane Stadium shakes on football weekends,” Sands said. “I am more hopeful and optimistic than ever that this time will come this fall and that Virginia Tech will feel like the Virginia Tech we all love and cherish."
Virginia Tech has reported 1,312 positive cases this semester and 30 new cases in the past week.
Children's Hospital at VCU begins inoculations
The Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University began administering the Pfizer vaccine to pediatric patients 16 years and older with underlying conditions on Thursday. The hospital is also offering shots to up to two caregivers per patient.
The children's hospital plans to give 850 vaccines, and it is contacting families who qualify.
"Our committee on equitable vaccine distribution identified the first group of patients to be offered the vaccine based on comorbidities and COVID prevalence data," the hospital said in a statement.
Jaehon Roberts, a 16-year-old patient in the Healthy Lifestyles Center, was the first patient to receive a vaccine.
UVA, VCU hospitals ranked in top 3 in VA
The University of Virginia Medical Center ranked 51st in Newsweek's ranking of the best hospitals in the country and No. 1 in Virginia. Virginia Commonwealth University placed 83rd nationally and third in the state.
Newsweek ranked 300 hospitals nationwide and 2,000 globally, in part on performance data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Eight Virginia hospitals placed in the top 200 in the United States.
Newsweek has published its ranking the past three years.
UVA hires new student affairs chief
The University of Virginia named Robyn S. Hadley its vice president and chief student affairs officer. She comes from Washington University in St. Louis.
She will oversee the dean of students, the department of student health, the office of African American affairs, the career center and student activities. She starts June 1.
Hadley succeeds Pat Lampkin, who is retiring after more than 40 years at UVA.
Liberty will hold in-person graduation ceremonies
Liberty University will hold in-person graduation ceremonies this spring following Gov. Ralph Northam's announcement this week. K-12 schools and colleges in Virginia can hold outdoor graduation ceremonies with up to 5,000 attendees or 30% of the venue's capacity, whichever is smaller.
Liberty will host separate ceremonies from May 11-15 and will be broadcast online for those unable to attend. A full commencement ceremony will take place virtually on May 15.
— Eric Kolenich