Students Return to Campus for Fall Semester

08/25/2021

Washington College is welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester, the first full opening in two years.

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Students have begun to arrive on campus for the first full in-person semester in two years.

Members of the Class of 2025 arrived en masse on Monday morning for a full week of Orientation, joining fall student-athletes, Peer Mentors, Resident Assistants (RA’s) and a few other students who returned the week prior. Transfer students are also on campus for Orientation.

Upperclassmen are due to arrive between the 28th and 29th, with sophomores invited to participate in some class-specific welcome activities designed to help this cohort get better acquainted with the campus, their peers and the resources available to them. With classes offered virtually for the spring 2021 semester and some students remaining at home, this is the first time being on campus for some members of the Class of 2024.

Classes begin on August 30 and all instruction will be in person. There is no virtual learning option planned.

Washington College athletics are also back in action, with all Centennial Championship sports (Volleyball, Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer, and Field Hockey) proceeding with regular trainings and competitions. Trap & Skeet and Rowing all compete in the fall. Fall student-athletes began pre-season trainings on August 18.

Welcoming New Students

New students and their families were officially welcome to campus by newly named president, Dr. Michael “Mike” Sosulski; Sarah Feyerherm, VP for Student Affairs; Dr. Michael Harvey, Provost; and Megan Efland, Council Member for the Town of Chestertown.

Sosulski spoke to the students about how happy he is to be there, interacting as real human beings and not just Zoom squares. “We are actually here together, and together we get to connect in all the ways that we have sorely missed,” he said. “We are getting our community back, and that is pure joy.”

Orientation week for new students includes a full slate of activities throughout the week and weekend, culminating with the New Student Convocation on Sunday August 29 and followed by the traditional all-campus picnic on the Hodson Green.

Health and Safety

The College continues to monitor all conditions locally and statewide and will scale COVID safety standards up or down in response to updated guidance, changing conditions, etc.

The COVID vaccine was included as one of a number of required vaccinations for all enrolled students for the 2021-2022 academic year.  Over 95% of the students are fully vaccinated for COVID, with the remaining percentage receiving approved exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Students with approved exemptions are required to participate in regular surveillance testing. Currently this is set to weekly, however the frequency may change.

The COVID vaccine is strongly recommended for employees of the College. Based on data voluntarily submitted to Health Services, close to 85% of the employee base is documented as being fully vaccinated. Any employee without a vaccine card on file is required to participate in regular surveillance testing.

Overall, the Washington College community achieved a vaccination rate of 87%, with that number expected to increase further in the coming weeks. The goal was 85%.

The College is following current CDC guidance around masking, and anyone on campus is required to wear a face mask in all indoor public areas. This includes but is not limited to classes and labs, the Miller Library, the Johnson Fitness Center, Cain Athletic Center, Casey Academic Center and Hodson Hall (except when eating or drinking).

All enrolled students are also required to undergo gateway testing upon arrival. This includes students living off campus. For students living on campus, a negative test result is required in order to proceed with the check-in process. Students living off campus will not be granted access to campus facilities until they have completed the gateway testing.

As required of facilities who have residential occupancy when a public health emergency is declared, Washington College identified spaces for students who must isolate or quarantine. These spaces are available during the fall semester as well, with Corsica Hall serving as the isolation hall and Reid Hall serving as the quarantine hall. The College is also following CDC guidance around quarantine and isolation procedures for those who become ill, test positive or are identified as a close contact.

There are currently no travel restrictions imposed, though no overnight guests are permitted in the residence halls until further notice. Students are strongly encouraged to carefully consider the data around transmission and infection rates of any areas they may wish to travel to.