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.
UPDATED 8/17/21: With Kent County now officially listed as having substantial spread of COVID, and in accordance with CDC guidance, we are adopting this revised indoor mask policy effective immediately. This means that for now, we will require both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor areas on campus.
Effective immediately and until further notice, our COVID guidelines now include the following:
- Everyone on campus must be masked in all public indoor spaces; private offices and student rooms and suites are not considered public and therefore the requirement does not apply in these areas.
- Public spaces are all of those areas where you are likely to come in contact with individuals that you do not live with or share an office with. While not an exhaustive list, the following are examples of public indoor spaces:
- Classrooms and labs
- JFC and Cain Athletic Center
- Casey Academic Center (CAC)
- Miller Library
- Hodson Hall – in dining areas, masks are required except when eating or drinking
- Theatres and other large meeting areas
- Students are strongly encouraged to wear face masks within shared public spaces in their residence halls, particuarly in situations where students may be gathered in smaller spaces. This includes laundry rooms, lounges, kitchens and hallways.
- Co-workers who are all vaccinated and who regularly occupy the same workspace may – by agreement – remove their masks indoors when no outside visitors are in that shared workspace. Unvaccinated individuals must remain masked indoors.
- For vaccinated individuals in outdoor spaces, masks are optional. For unvaccinated individuals in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible, masks are required.
- We reserve the right to require masks be worn by all attendees at some large outdoor events. If this is a requirement, that information will be clearly communicated and posted.
- During gateway testing, masks will be required by everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
- Any unvaccinated individuals who are required to participate in surveillance testing are required to be masked for that regular testing.
We are hopeful that this change will be short-lived, but as we have all learned, there is no way to predict the ever-changing nature of this virus and its impact on our operations. What we can and will do is adapt our campus-wide policies as needed, which means there is the potential for scaling our safety measures up and down in the coming months.
Please also understand that your professors, peers and other staff at the College may be keeping that mask on for a variety of reasons, all of them valid. It’s important that we refrain from making snap judgements as to the “why” because it’s personal and different for everyone. Some just feel it’s still the right thing to do, others may live with young children or have loved ones with compromised immune systems. And yes, some many be unvaccinated and that is also for their own reasons.
Our sincere hope is that as our community comes back together we will all commit to these simple things as it relates to our mask-wearin’ friends:
- Don’t assume.
- Don’t judge.
- Don’t ridicule/poke fun at.
- Don’t apply peer pressure to convince someone to go unmasked.
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. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to be current on their vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.
We recognize that some international students may have difficulties in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine at home or may have questions about whether the vaccine they receive is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is Washington College’s standard for accepting the vaccine. Washington College will assist students in this situation in setting up vaccine appointments upon arrival.
Flu shots are strongly recommended, but are not on the list of required vaccinations for Fall 2021. Washington College typically offers a fall flu clinic for students for easy access. So any student who wishes to get a flu shot can wait until after they arrive on campus, which will extend their protection from this vaccine further into flu season. Details about any onsite or local flu shot clinics will be shared with students once avaialble.
We will be continuing with some level of social distancing, though we will no longer mandate a 6’ distance. In many areas around campus, removing the social distancing mandate also removes the need for restricting capacities, effectively restoring these areas to pre-COVID standards.
That being said, please be patient and kind with respect to physical distance. Everyone
has a different level ofcomfort with the “re-entry” to post-COVID normal and handshakes,
hugs and chest bumps may very well be in the
category of “too soon” (or never!) for other members of our community. In short, if those around you prefer tocontinue to maintain a greater distance, the right thing to do is to be respectful of that.
Within those spaces that return to normal occupancy, we will also ensure, whenever possible, that there is space available for any members of our community who are unvaccinated and require physical distancing or for any other reasons wish tomaintain a greater distance from others.
COVID Testing Protocols
Washington College COVID-19 testing protocols for the Fall 2021 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 students traveling from all over to come to Chestertown, this will catch any breakthrough cases and help to provide assurances that we are coming together as a COVID-free community.
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, Kirby Stadium should be your first stop upon arrival. Health Services will administer a rapid antigen test. You will need to be enrolled in the NAVICA app for this, and information will be sent out by email prior to the start of the semester, with instructions for that.
The gateway testing process is as follows:
- If the gateway antigen test is negative, students will receive their key and proceed with move-in.
- If the gateway antigen test returns a positive result, then a confirmatory COVID test
is required. (see below for associated costs)
- If the confirmatory COVID test is negative, students will proceed with move-in.
- If a students opts for a LabCorp test, they will be required to quarantine until the results are returned. Rapid tests are available for the confirmatory test.
- If the confirmatory COVID test is positive, students will be placed in Isolation and will follow those protocols.
- If the confirmatory COVID test is negative, students will proceed with move-in.
- Gateway Testing Costs:
- There is no cost to students for gateway antigen tests.
- If a gateway antigen test returns a positive result, a confirmatory PCR test is required.
This test is billable. The two options are:
- Rapid PCR Tests - cost is $75 when administered by the College, and the cost will be billed to the student's account. Results are returned in approximately 15 mins.
- LabCorp Test - this type of COVID-19 test will be billed to the student's health insurance, so
the associated billing will be determined based on the family's plan. Nothing will
be billed to the student or family by Washington College when using the LabCorp option.
- If a student chooses the LabCorp option for the confirmatory test, they will be required to quarantine until the results are returned, which is 2-3 days.
Vaccinated students, staff or faculty will not be required to participate in surveillance testing.
Unvaccinated students 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 particiate 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 surveillance testing will need to have a confirmatory PCR test administered.
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 one of two options (see below). Symptomatic students should assume they are positive and follow all guidance for quarantine or isolation while they await test results. Symptomatic testing is available Mon-Fri during regular business hours only, but if a student does become ill over a weekend, all other support and resources will be available.
With the recent addition of a PCR machine that can be used to adminster rapid tests, there are now two options for symptomatic tests:
- LabCorp Test - We can adminster a LabCorp test, which gets sent out to their facility and returns results in about 2-3 days (not guaranteed). When this type of test is sent, we include the student's health insurance information and then the associated billing (if any) will be determined based on the family's plan type. Nothing will be billed to the student or family by Washington College.
- Rapid Test - We can administer a Rapid Test using the PCR machine, which returns results in about 15 minutes. This test costs $75 when administered by Washington College and will be billed to the student's account. We will not require a rapid test, it is a choice for students if they wish to know the results immediately. The expense can possibly be submitted to the family's insurance plan after the fact.
Medical tests for ill students will result in additional expenses. The billing for symptomatic tests is the same as it is for things like a flu test or rapid strep test.
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 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 on Aug. 9. 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 it has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, it has been at least 24 hours with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and all symptoms have improved. Return to campus is only permitted once you have been sent an email confirmation from either health services or the Q&I coordinator confirming the date that you may return to campus.
Washington College will work closely with the Kent County Health Department to conduct contact notification and training in the event of a positive or presumed case of COVID-19 or if someone is symptomatic. The process of contact notification will include outreach to anybody that the person identifies as a potential contact both on campus and off- campus.
Contact notification will begin when an individual either becomes symptomatic and/or is found to be COVID positive. Washington College has several employees who are trained as contact tracers and will begin the process of notifying those who may have had close contact with the individual. Contact tracers will contact individuals by phone using the primary student contact number supplied to the College. They may also use other methods to contact individuals. All students, faculty, and staff who are contacted are expected to comply with the contact notification or tracing requests. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the case triggers a contact tracing investigation which will be taken over by the Kent County Health Department.
All students are expected to comply when contacted by a contact tracer. Failure to do so may be considered a violation of College policy. If you are unsure about whether someone contacting you is a legitimate contact tracer, please call Health Services at 410-778-7261.
it is important to understand the difference between "close contact" and "community contact" as it relates to contact tracing.
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.
Contact tracers will make direct notification ONLY to those who are identified as having had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID or is suspected to be positive.
Symptom Checking & Attestation
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.
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 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)
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.