We have been closely tracking in our community the presence of the Omicron variant, and COVID-19 more generally. Our community is vaccinated and receiving boosters, so despite a higher positivity rate than in the fall, we are not seeing serious illness in our positive cases.
As today’s community message confirmed, in-person instruction will begin on Tuesday, January 18 as previously announced. We ask that you anticipate disruptions in your teaching this semester as students test positive and are required to isolate. Thank you ahead of time for providing instructional continuity for these students.
Please see below for additional guidance.
Campus Health and Safety Measures
GW’s mask mandate remains in effect. The use of N95, KN95 or double masking is strongly encouraged. We expect these masks will provide increased protection for those who wear them. N95 masks soon will be available to the community.
We continue to view our classrooms and academic spaces as some of the safest places for our students and faculty, but we will monitor transmission trends through contact tracing.
We will continue to limit some in-person activity on our campuses until January 31. All in-person social gatherings and events should be held virtually or postponed. Visitors to campus will be limited to those supporting essential functions. In-person interviews should be held virtually.
Access to the libraries will be limited to students, faculty and staff. Occupancy of study rooms and tables will be limited to single occupants and masking compliance will be rigorously monitored. Please refer to the Onward site for library hours.
Labs and Shared Areas
Beginning January 18, research and lab spaces may resume full operations. These spaces may be used to their full capacity, and normal undergraduate access is restored.
There is a rigorous testing plan in place for students. Residential students began returning to campus last week. We have asked them to take a PCR or an at-home antigen test 48 hours prior to their planned arrival date and to remain at home to isolate should they test positive. Students are also testing immediately upon coming to campus and again after a mandatory three-day quarantine, and they are being asked to return home or isolate should they test positive at any point. You may hear from students in this position who need guidance on continuing their coursework.
All non-residential students are required to test at a GW test center by January 14 to ensure access to campus by January 18. Students testing positive will be asked to isolate at home, and they also will need guidance on continuing their coursework.
Additional isolation space has been obtained at the Yours Truly hotel in case residential students need to be temporarily located. If the hotel exceeds capacity, we are prepared to move to an isolation-in-place strategy while ensuring students have access to medical care, coursework materials and dining resources.
Test Result Notifications
Because of the increased number of positive cases on campus, our COVID-19 notification process has changed. Should you test positive, you will receive an email with instructions on how to proceed, rather than a phone call. Similarly, some of our contact tracing efforts have moved online, and those who test positive will be asked to fill out a form listing the close contacts they are aware of.
Faculty Testing Positive
Should you test positive, we understand that you will need to isolate. If your health permits, please move your classes to remote instruction until your isolation period ends. The Instructional Core ([email protected]) is available to provide assistance with transferring your in-person instruction to a virtual platform. As in all cases, should your illness be more serious, please consult with your department chair and dean.
Thank you for your attention to this information as the spring semester continues, and as always, thank you for all you do on behalf of GW.
Christopher Alan Bracey
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs