Indoor mask mandate issued for all community colleges in Virginia


MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia’s Community College System has announced an indoor mask mandate for all community colleges in the Commonwealth, according to a statement released Friday by Patrick & Henry Community College.

In step with this mandate from the VCCS, Patrick & Henry Community College will require face coverings indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people on campus starting Monday, Aug. 9.

The Martinsville community college says the only mask exceptions will be for employees who are working alone in their offices, as well as student athletes who are competing or actively practicing on the court.

In a statement to the college presidents, the chancellor of VCCS said this decision was made largely because of a substantial increase in transmission rates in every one of the 23 community colleges’ service regions. The chancellor also cited recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged colleges to consider requiring the use of face coverings in in-door public spaces.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have repeatedly stated our shared commitment to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff and to make safety-related decisions based on the best guidance of healthcare professionals,” VCCS Chancellor Glen DuBois wrote in his email to the college presidents. “The rise of the virus’s easily transmitted Delta variant is requiring us, once again, to reconsider what is necessary to continue to pursue our academic mission as safely as possible.”

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), approximately 74,000 new cases were reported between June 22 and Aug. 3, with more than 90 percent of those new cases caused by the delta variant.

“At P&HCC,  the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff is our number one priority. If you are sick, someone you love is sick, or you are worried about becoming sick, you’re probably not focused on class,” Patrick & Henry Community College President Greg Hodges added to this sentiment. “As such, doing everything we can to keep our family safe goes hand-in-hand with our core mission.”

Both DuBois and Hodges stress that the situation caused by the pandemic is ever-changing and requires much flexibility.

According to the Medscape website for physicians and other healthcare professionals, U.S. data show that the delta variant is roughly twice as contagious as the initial strain of COVID-19. In addition, unvaccinated people infected with this strain are more likely to need hospitalization.

Students are urged to check their college emails regularly for updates on pandemic precautions and other important notices. As of this writing, Patrick & Henry Community College plans to continue offering a full range of in-person and online courses this fall.

Although the vaccine is effective in preventing serious illness, health officials are recommending both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus.

If you need to get vaccinated, you can either find one near you by clicking here or stop by the P&HCC vaccine clinic on campus from noon to 2 p.m. on Sept. 7.

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