High vax, low hospitalization rates cited
The University of Vermont today announced that the use of face masks in all indoor locations will become optional starting on Saturday, March 19.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have steadfastly followed the guidance and recommendations of medical and public health professionals,” said UVM Provost and Senior Vice President Patricia Prelock. “This has been one of the core elements of the University’s remarkable success—the other being our community’s dedication and commitment.”
Vice President for Operations and Public Safety Gary Derr added, “All the information we have reviewed supports our transition to a mask-optional campus. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor the situation and if warranted make appropriate changes.”
The university cited several factors that led to the decision:
- 100% of eligible students are fully vaccinated and boosted.
- 100% of employees are compliant with the vaccine policy and nearly 70% have voluntarily reported receiving a booster.
- COVID-19 PCR testing remains available for all members of our community, and we have a significant supply of rapid home antigen tests that we will be making available free to faculty, staff and students shortly.
- Vermont continues to see low hospitalization and ICU rates and the State has ample access to both monoclonal antibody treatments and antiviral drugs.
“We recognize there are members of our community who, for a number of reasons, will feel more comfortable wearing a mask in different situations,” Prelock said. “Please respect their decision. The UVM community has demonstrated an exceptional level of care, compassion, and respect throughout the pandemic. We know that will continue.”
“As we transition to the endemic phase and move away from requirements or mandates, personal responsibility will play an increased role,” Derr added. “Individually, we will have to make decisions based on our particular circumstances. We encourage community members to continue taking advantage of testing on campus, especially if they have symptoms, and to wear masks in places where they want to make sure they are safe.”
University officials reminded campus community members to continue taking precautions, such as refraining from going to work or class if they are experiencing symptoms, and to get tested. The university will continue to provide face masks for those who opt to wear them and to facilitate their use in places where they are still required, such as health care settings and transportation services.