Health & Safety
Washington College’s Covid-19 policies and procedures universally apply to all members of our campus community (students, faculty, staff, and other workers). Individual departments, faculty, staff or students may not make their own Covid-19 rules or policies, unless approved by the President or their designee. Students can contact the Quarantine & Isolation Coordinators group at 443-480-1196.
For guidance on what is/isn't a proper mask and other tips, please refer to the CDC's information.
UPDATED 4/20/22: Campus is now mask-optional - full message is as follows:
Effective immediately, we are transitioning back to a mask optional status for our campus. This change is based on the following data and criteria:
- CDC guidance around masking in Low Community Transmission areas;
- Kent County’s classification by the CDC as a Low Community Transmission rate;
- Low number of cases among our campus community which have steadily decreased since we reinstituted the mask mandate on April 1.
After reaching a high of 23 active Covid cases two weeks ago, as well as a 50% occupancy of our isolation dorm, our numbers have since steadily decreased and we currently only have one active student case and one active employee case, with one student isolating on campus.
We strongly recommend the continued use of face masks in indoor public settings in the following scenarios:
- You are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms at all, even if mild. Those who become symptomatic should seek a COVID test ASAP as well.
- You have had a close contact exposure to someone who tested positive.
- You are unvaccinated or are not yet fully vaccinated, to include the booster shot.
- You have underlying health concerns that increase your personal risk factors.
We also strongly recommend that, as we get closer to some important end-of-the-academic-year events, everyone consider taking the following steps:
- Limit any indoor activities where you are unable to socially-distance
- Before or after the Birthday Ball, don't attend a pre- or post-Ball indoor gathering where you may be in close contact with a wider variety of social groups on campus
- Don't share cups or drinks (this is smart for many reasons in addition to Covid!)
Wearing a face mask is always an option and will remain so. As a community, we should be sensitive to the fact that some classmates and colleagues will prefer to continue to wear a mask indoors and be supportive and respectful of that decision. N95 and KN95 masks have been proven to be effective in safeguarding the wearer, even when others around them are unmasked. On the flip side, feeling comfortable with not wearing a mask indoors is also a choice that is to be respected.
Face masks will continue to be a requirement for anyone who is visiting Health Services or the Counseling Center, as well as anyone who has an appointment for COVID testing.
As was the case before, this mask-optional setting is wholly contingent upon our current Low status for Community Transmission as well as the number of positive cases on campus and occupancy of the isolation dorm. Should those conditions change, or we receive updated guidance from local or state health officials, we may need to shift back to an indoor mask mandate.
Washington College continues to require that students receive vaccines against preventable diseases. This is to help mitigate risk to our campus community and to support public health efforts in disease containment. Required vaccines for the 2021-22 academic year include MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), TDAP (Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis), Varicella (chickenpox), Polio, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, and COVID-19, to include the COVID-19 Booster Shot. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to be current on their vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine the booster shot.
In accordance with state and federal laws, Washington College will honor bona fide medical and religious exemptions for any or all of the required vaccines. For more details on how to request an exemption (and other FAQ's), click here.
Flu shots are strongly recommended, but are not on the list of required vaccinations for the 2021-22 academic year. We do strongly encourage any student who has not yet received a flu vaccine to get one during the winter break and prior to the return to campus in January.
At this point in the pandemic, social distancing when possible should be considered a personal best practice/safety standard. As always, if those around you prefer to continue to maintain a greater distance, the right thing to do is to be respectful of that.
While our spaces have largely returned to normal occupancy, we will also ensure that there is space available for any members of our community who are unvaccinated and require physical distancing or for any other reasons wish to maintain a greater distance from others. And those who are unvaccinated and/or choose to wear a mask in these spaces for personal reasons, they are encouraged to do so.
Social Distancing & Informal Gatherings - In lieu of imposing a specific mandate around gathering sizes, we offer the following guidance:
- Be smart about socializing and keep your gatherings small and reasonable for the space.
- Use social distancing as a guide - if the number of people gathering in your space does not allow for attendees to have at least 3' of distance between themselves and others, you have too many people.
- Go outside whenever possible.
COVID Testing Protocols
Washington College COVID-19 testing protocols for the Spring 2022 semester are as follows:
Even with the majority of our campus vaccinated, the American College Health Association strongly recommends that institutes of higher learning implement gateway testing. With the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we know that there will be COVID cases on campus and the gateway testing will help us to manage the spread while focusing on mitigation strategies.
In accordance with this recommendation, gateway testing is required for all students living on or off-campus, regardless of vaccination status. There is no cost to students associated with the gateway antigen testing.
For students living on campus, an appointment must be scheduled for Gateway Testing. Appointment date and time can be selected using the sign-up form in the Housing Portal. Health Services will administer a rapid antigen test. Rapid testing will again be managed through the NAVICA app. For any new/transfer students, information will be sent out by email prior to the start of the semester, with instructions for enrolling with NAVICA.
For students living off-campus, please log into the Housing Portal and use the sign-up form to select a gateway test appointment prior to the first day of classes (Jan. 24). Off-campus students are strongly encouraged to complete their gateway test prior to Jan. 22, as we anticipate higher traffic to the testing site over the weekend. Testing is available Mon-Fri 9 AM to 4 PM.
The gateway testing process is as follows:
- If the gateway antigen test is negative, students will proceed with move-in.
- If the gateway antigen test returns a positive result, the student will be considered positive for COVID and will be required to isolate. Unlike last semester, no confirmatory PCR test will be administered. Currently, the lengthy delays in getting results from these send-out test do not allow for timely action and communication around positive results, so we will be foregoing this step in Spring 2022.
- Gateway Testing Costs:
- There is no cost to students for gateway antigen tests.
Vaccinated students, staff or faculty will not be required to participate in surveillance testing. For the spring 2022 semester, both the COVID vaccine and the booster are required in order to be exempt from this regular testing.
Students who received vaccine exemptions, and/or booster exemptions will be required to participate in regular surveillance testing, which will be weekly at minimum. Testing will be administered in Kirby Stadium. Anyone who is required to participate in surveillance testing will sign up for a weekly timeslot. There is no cost for surveillance testing, which will be done with a rapid antigen test. As with the gateway testing, any student who tests positive with the rapid antigen during surveillance testing will be considered COVID-positive.
For staff, faculty or other workers, surveillance testing will be required for anyone who does not have a vaccine record on file with Health Services.
Any student who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID will be tested by the Health Services Team using the rapid antigen test. Due to the lengthy delays in receiving results of send-out PCR tests, they will no longer do the 2nd confirmatory PCR test to confirm the initial result. A positive rapid antigen will be accepted as COVID-positive and the student will be required to isolate (either in-place if permitted or in the College's isolation housing) or go home to isolate.
Health Services is available during normal business hours Mon-Fri. The testing site is also open Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If a student becomes symptomatic during evening hours or over the weekend, the Q&I Coordinators will be able to assist with an at-home test kit. Any student who begins to exhibit symptoms outside of normal business hours should call 443-480-1196 and speak with the Q&I Coordinator on duty.
Both Gateway and Surveillance Testing will be managed using the NAVICA app. All students will must enroll with NAVICA and complete the app set-up prior to arrival. Any Washington College worker who does not have a vaccine card that includes the booster on file will need to enroll in NAVICA in order to meet the requirement for regular surveillance testing.
NAVICA information will be emailed from Health Services to any new/transfer students. Please carefully review that email and take the steps to get set up with NAVICA before you return to campus.
NOTE: If a student who is ill is able to safely travel home to recover, they are encouraged to do so. For students with symptoms, clearance to return will only be granted once the student has satisfied all isolation requirements, which range from 5-10 days in isolation (depending on vaccination status and the severity of symptoms) and may include proof of a negative COVID test. See Quarantine & Isolation section for full details.
Due to the high transmissibility of Omicron, contact tracing -- which has previously been conducted primarily by phone by our Health Services team or the Kent County Health Department -- will look different this semester. In some cases, we may ask students or workers to notify their close contacts directly and to let them know they can contact Health Services (Health_Services@washcoll.edu or 410-778-7261) with questions or additional instructions. Additionally, we may use a wider variety of communication methods including group emails and texts in addition to phone calls.
It is still important to understand the difference between close contact and community contact:
Close contact is when someone was closer than 6' to a person who tested positive or is suspected to be positive. This contact had to last more than 15 minutes, masked or unmasked.
Community contact is similar to what you experience in going to a grocery store or other retail outlet. Passing someone in the hall or speaking for a few minutes while maintaining proper social distance represent community contact.
We are no longer requiring that students, staff or faculty utilize the emocha app or any other type of daily attestation. There may be instances where you are asked to complete a paper attestation form or receive a temperature check during entry to a particular facility.
All members of our community are expected to continue to self-monitor for any COVID (or other illness) symptoms, and take steps to seek testing and/or treatment right away should you become ill. Even mild symptoms should be reported, as COVID can present in ways that feel very similar to allergies or a slight cold.
Know What to Do If You Show Symptoms of COVID-19
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms that seem like allergies or a slight cold to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing Fatigue
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Students who believe they have contracted COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate in their room and call Health Services (410-778-7261) during normal office hours (or the Q&I Coordinator on duty after hours - 443-480-1196) for further instructions. Students will be advised about how and where to get tested and next steps.
Seek medical care immediately if you are experiencing any Emergency Warning Signs, which include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face.