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CNU adds mask requirements; students, staff already have vaccine requirements

That goes for classrooms, labs, shared offices, indoor hallways and residence halls during move-in. People won't have to wear masks when they're outside.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Christopher Newport University's (CNU) students had to confirm their vaccination statuses by the start of August; now, they will also have to put masks back on in campus buildings.

A COVID-19 update on the university's website says the mask requirements will be temporary. The school is trying to stop the spread of the delta variant.

"I am sorry about this - we must temporarily re-mandate wearing of masks, indoors, by everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, in shared spaces, effective Thursday morning, August 12 at 5AM," the announcement reads. "If we wear masks now, we speed the day when they can go away once more."

That goes for classrooms, labs, shared offices, indoor hallways and residence halls (during move-in). People won't have to wear masks when they're outside, in a dorm room or common area of a residence hall, or in a single-person office.

Social distancing is still recommended for large groups outdoors, and anyone who wants to wear a mask where they're not expressly required is allowed to.

CNU is also bringing back its symptom tracker map, Campus Clear.

Students were required by the Board of Visitors to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 1, unless they had a medical or religious exemption. 

Staff members will have to be vaccinated because of Gov. Ralph Northam's recent requirement for state employees to get their COVID-19 shots.

If you've already been vaccinated, you'll need to provide the record for your vaccine(s). Christopher Newport Human Resources is expected to send out a link with instructions for how to do that soon.

"Thank you. We are so grateful for your good spirit," the announcement says. "We will move beyond this surge and into the semester we all hope for. We just have to power through this delta variant set back."

You can read CNU's full Aug. 11 update here:

Dear Colleagues:

This message is the first of a few headed your way this week. Thanks for your patience and attention.

Reporting vaccination status: As the Governor ordered in his statement last week, vaccination is now mandated for state employees, so in the next couple of days we will provide details for reporting your vaccination status, or your medical or religious exemption. And as we promised, we will make it as simple as possible for our campus community. The message with the link and instructions will come to you from Christopher Newport Human Resources – HR – so please be on the lookout. And even the many of us who received the vaccine at the clinic on our campus during the early months of 2021 need to provide our vaccine report. The deadline is Sunday, August 22 to attest your vaccination, or your medical or religious exemption.

Next – and I am sorry about this - we must temporarily re-mandate wearing of masks, indoors, by everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, in shared spaces, effective Thursday morning, August 12 at 5AM. I know this is not good news, and we all thought vaccination would free us from face coverings. But the reality of the delta variant power and prevalence in Newport News forces us to bring out the masks again, for a while.

If we wear masks now, we speed the day when they can go away once more.

This policy applies to all classrooms, labs, shared offices and indoor hallways. It does not apply to single-occupant offices, or student rooms or common areas in residence halls. Visitors to residence halls during move-in will need to wear masks. So will campus vendors and all other campus visitors.

Masks will not be required outdoors – but if you are unvaccinated, we urge you to practice physical distancing at crowded outdoor events and whenever possible indoors. If you wish to wear a mask for any reason outdoors or while in individual offices or student rooms, please do so. Others will too.

This is not forever – hopefully not even for long. Just for a while. We will plan to re-evaluate our situation by mid-September. But we will, as we always have, protect this campus community with every tool available.

Campus Clear – we will reinstate the symptom tracking app shortly – details will follow later this week so please be on the lookout.

And there are a number of changes to announce in plans and locations of upcoming Welcome Week events, and even events as the semester begins. Details to come shortly.

As always, if you have questions about these policies or anything related to the virus, please begin with Jim Hanchett, our Chief Communications Officer, at jim.hanchett@cnu.edu.

Thank you. We are so grateful for your good spirit. We will move beyond this surge and into the semester we all hope for. We just have to power through this delta variant set back.