Message to the VCU Community - December 29, 2021

VCU Omicron Updates for Spring Semester

To members of the VCU community,

We are following last week’s Omicron variant update with important information about the 2022 spring semester.

At this time, we are maintaining our regular start for the spring semester. We continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our community and are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.

Vaccinations and boosters

Vaccinations are one of the most important ways we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. All members of the VCU community must be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption. 

VCU considers fully vaccinated to be 1) having received an initial vaccination shot (or shots) and 2) having received a booster shot when eligible. 

Everyone who is eligible for a booster must report receiving one to VCU by Feb. 1. Those eligible for a booster after Feb. 1 must receive a booster within 30 days of becoming eligible and report receiving it to VCU. 

We will send additional information soon about how to report your booster status. 

Visit the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine page to determine your booster eligibility. To find an appointment near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov

Continued COVID protocols

We will continue our fall COVID-19 protocols concerning mask wearing, indoor and outdoor gatherings and more. 

Masking indoors will continue throughout the university as masking effectively reduces the spread of viruses and, combined with COVID-19 vaccination, can greatly reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The CDC also recommends indoor masking in areas with substantial community spread.

Masking is also required at outdoor events with more than 50 people. Unvaccinated community members and visitors must follow CDC guidelines for indoor and outdoor activities.

Required COVID-19 tests

Return-to-campus tests are required for all unvaccinated new and returning residential students. Those students will receive more information about the testing process from Residential Life and Housing soon.

Unvaccinated students and employees will continue to be required to test on a weekly basis.

Working remotely

As we monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our community, employees who can successfully work remotely should work with their supervisors for approval to do so through Jan. 17. We will share more information about work status around Jan. 17 based on COVID conditions in our community. 

Many roles will be required to be on campus before Jan. 17 to interact with students and guests, perform research and more; that is why supervisor approval is required for remote work. 

CDC quarantine/isolation guidance

VCU will follow updated CDC guidance, which shortens the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. Additionally, the CDC is shortening the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. 

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. Full details are available here.

Thank you

Our community's commitment to promoting health and safety during the fall 2021 semester proves that we can unite and overcome this new phase of the pandemic. VCU's 99% vaccination compliance rate, coupled with your continued commitment to the public health measures in place, will allow us to be Better Together again this spring. 

Please continue to monitor the One VCU: Better Together website and email updates for the most current information about university operations.

Thank you for all you continue to do to take care of yourself, each other and our VCU community.

Sincerely,

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Arthur Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System

Meredith L. Weiss, Ph.D.
Vice president for administration