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Message from leadership to VCU community - August 9, 2021

Masking updates and employee vaccination requirements

Dear VCU and VCU Health Communities,

As One VCU, our community is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of each other and those we serve. In keeping with our public health responsibilities, we continue to monitor COVID-19 infection rates in the Richmond metro area and there is no doubt that the Delta variant is a serious threat. 

These past few weeks, we heard from thousands of concerned students, families, faculty, staff, team members and patients through surveys and information sessions. Their message to us was clear: they are ready for VCU to take additional measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The following decisions are the right thing to do and uphold our values.

Vaccination will be required for all VCU and VCU Health System employees

All VCU and VCU Health System employees will be required to report COVID-19 vaccinations. If you have already reported your vaccination, there is no action required on your part. If applicable, you may submit a request for a medical or religious exemption. Additional information is forthcoming from the university and health system about the medical and religious exemption process. 

For university employees, this decision aligns with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Directive 18, which directs state employees, including university employees, to be vaccinated (with allowances for medical and religious exemptions), and mirrors the vaccine requirement for VCU students. For the VCU Health System, this decision is similar to existing policies and procedures for the mandatory flu vaccinations, which have been in place for several years.

Masking indoors, effective immediately for the university and continuing at health system facilities

Effective immediately, masking indoors will be reinstated throughout the university and remains in effect for health system facilities. Studies show that masking effectively reduces the spread of viruses and, combined with COVID-19 vaccination, can greatly reduce the transmission of COVID-19. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend indoor masking in areas with substantial community spread. At this time there is rising prevalence of COVID-19 in the City of Richmond and surrounding communities. We will continue to monitor the prevalence rate. 

We believe these mitigation strategies — including vaccination and masking — will be effective, at which point we can assess the need to continue requiring masks at the university.

 

No one is happy that this pandemic surge is causing us to take these steps. But the science behind these public health measures is clear. Doing so will help protect you from getting sick and protect those around you who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. 

For more information about university vaccination reporting and requirements, university employees should visit https://together.vcu.edu/faq/employee-vaccine/. For more information about health system vaccination reporting and requirements, team members should log into the VCU Health System intranet.

These decisions will give us the best chance to safely continue our mission-critical operations. The university and the health system will implement these decisions based on the operational needs of each organization and our entire community must remain flexible as we continue adjusting to changing circumstances. 

As One VCU, now is the time to demonstrate our commitment to public health. Thank you for your commitment to protecting the health of our community and for taking necessary steps to end this pandemic. 

Sincerely,

Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health System

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