WC: COVID-19 Response
Based on feedback from students and parents, and with the approval of the Kent County Health Department, Washington College has devised a plan to safely house all students who wish to return to campus, and has outlined a number of measures we intend to take to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.
In anticipation of students returning to campus for spring semester classes, all students – whether living on or off campus – will be expected to quarantine at home for 14 days prior to arrival, will be tested upon arrival (this is the gateway testing), and then will be tested again on Day 12. They will be expected to quarantine-in-place between the first test and the second. (Classes start on Feb. 1, and move-ins will start two weeks prior to the start of classes.)
We will also be implementing surveillance testing throughout the remainder of the semester and the Health Services team will administer testing for symptomatic students as needed. We are still finalizing this, but at minimum we will test 15% of the community on a weekly basis. Any further change to this plan will represent an increase in testing, not a decrease. All students, faculty, and staff who are on campus will be included in this testing model. This data will be reported on our weekly dashboard.
We are following the Maryland Department of Health’s Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) for quarantine and isolation protocols. These include, but are not limited to: housing any student who requires isolation or quarantine separate from the general student population; interviewing the student to begin the contact tracing process; restricting that student’s access to all other facilities; restricting visitors; providing all necessary supplies and services directly to anyone in isolation; performing routine health checks on any individual in isolation; and waiting 24 hours after any rooms in this space have been vacated before entering for cleaning and disinfecting.
The back-to-campus plan also includes these safety measures:
- Physical/social distancing
- Enhanced cleaning protocols campus-wide
- Daily use of the emocha app with three days of “green” status prior to accessing campus facilities
- Mandatory face coverings
- Key Indicators that will inform our Alert Level and guide operational decisions; this will dictate operations for dining services, events, visitors on campus, and access to athletic facilities, the library, and other academic buildings.
- Mandatory influenza vaccine for all students
- Restricted visitor and travel policies
We are developing a robust COVID information website, which will cover everything from general health and safety standards, to event policies, to a guide to living on campus and more. This will go beyond the FAQs that are currently our primary resource. This site will also include our COVID Dashboard and indicate the College’s Alert Level on any given day. We will also be hosting multiple forums (schedule is TBA) where additional questions about the upcoming semester can be submitted and will be addressed by members of the CPG.
A return to campus does not mean a return to “normal,” as many facets of campus life will be different. We also want to be very clear that our ability to remain open in this reduced density format is largely dependent upon adherence to safety protocols. Classes will remain online at the beginning of the semester. If key indicators allow for it, we could shift to some in-person instruction around the end of March.
We are also working on putting together resources that will give students an idea of what to expect upon their return to campus.