Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

In recent weeks, higher education institutions across the Commonwealth of Virginia have made announcements regarding indoor masking requirements. And, today, in response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases on our campus, in our region, and throughout the state, Old Dominion University (ODU) is revising its indoor masking requirement.

Effective this Monday (March 14, 2022), masks will continue to be required in classroom, laboratory, health care, and public transportation settings. However, in all other indoor situations, masking will be optional. Students, faculty, and staff who wish to continue wearing masks are encouraged to do so.

The decision to continue the masking requirement for classrooms and laboratories was driven by our collective commitment to our fellow Monarchs. Students and faculty with in-person classes and related activities spend extended time in enclosed spaces. And, because in-person engagement and learning are so important, we will maintain our highest mitigation levels in these settings until further notice. Additionally, the masking requirement for health care and public transportation settings continue based on broader guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

Throughout the past two years, our practices and protocols have frequently changed in accordance with the latest guidance and information from both the CDC and VDH. As we all know and have personally experienced, COVID-19 is unpredictable. Therefore, if the positivity rate increases and additional guidance is received from the CDC and/or VDH that recommends masking as a safety measure, the requirement will be reconsidered. As such, we ask for your continued flexibility as we navigate the remainder of the Spring 2022 semester and beyond.

During the global health pandemic, we have remained fully committed to exercising personal responsibility both on and off campus. Together, we have successfully navigated many challenges associated with COVID-19. And, with the latest masking changes, our community may be divided, but I am confident that all Monarchs will provide the acceptance, patience, and respect that we all desire and deserve. Please remember that we have community members with families who may be impacted in different ways, as well as other considerations, and may be concerned in varying levels about possible exposure.

I continue to be proud of our Monarch community and the various ways in which we have overcome adversity and uncertainty. Let's end this academic year with the engaging activities and proud traditions that make ODU such a special place to live, learn, and work!

With Monarch Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.