Has the University considered delaying in-person classes until the omicron surge passes?
We have and we understand and appreciate this question. We are doing our best to balance the need for in-person instruction while mitigating the risks that come with a virulent strain of COVID-19. We believe that testing, extensive masking, limiting the opportunities for spread in dining and other venues, as well as a robust system of testing throughout the semester will all work to get us through this period of high transmission in the community. We have proven that we can do that in previous semesters throughout the pandemic. Still, we are also carefully watching the case numbers in the area, as well as our own case numbers and testing results, while working closely with our partners in public health and health care. If we see our own cases increase too much we will take a number of steps (including potentially going online again, limiting exposures, or increasing testing further) to curb that spread.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:32 pm
Why are the first three days of classes virtual?
Since entry testing results will not be available for 24-48 hours, all classes on Monday, January 10 through Wednesday, January 12 will take place virtually. This will give the contact tracing team time to make notifications and further assess campus conditions.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:32 pm
What if we have a lot of positive cases on campus? Will we see additional restrictions or see a move to online learning?
Our public health team will continuously monitor the situation in consultation with local and state officials and our health care partners. And while no option is off the table, we will not send students home, close the campus, or move all classes permanently to virtual learning for the rest of the semester. We have come too far and learned too much to return to such an approach.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:32 pm
Why are you requiring boosters?
Overwhelming evidence has shown that vaccines are extremely effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID. Further, the risk is reduced even more in those who have been boosted. We are striving to protect all members of our campus community. Omicron is significantly more transmissible than previous variants and we want our community to have the greatest protection possible within our congregant setting and keep students in their classes and activities.
Additionally, under the new CDC guidelines about quarantine and isolation, anyone who is unvaccinated OR is not boosted, but is eligible for a booster (see below) must quarantine if a close contact of a positive case. Boosted individuals do not have to quarantine if a close contact.
For us, as with other Virginia universities, we have to balance our community’s health and safety with the determination to get back fully to in-person classes and activities. There is nothing we want more.
Throughout our COVID response, UMW has been following CDC guidance and collaborating with other institutions, the Virginia Department of Health, the Rappahannock Area Health District, and our healthcare partners. Collectively, it represents the consensus of the best scientific and medical advice in the Commonwealth. It is from these conversations and collaborations that we came to this decision.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
How do I know if I am eligible for a booster?
The CDC currently defines eligibility as six months past the Moderna series, five months past the Pfizer series, or two months past the J&J series.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
What happens if I am eligible to be boosted, but I haven’t by January 18?
Unless you have an approved reason for delay (e.g., currently in isolation with COVID) or you have filed a complete and approved religious/medical waiver, you are expected to have received your booster and submitted your documentation via the Qualtrics survey link that went to your UMW email address on December 30 (check your Spam, Junk or Other folders if you haven’t seen it).
Students who are eligible but not in compliance risk being cut off from UMW systems or being disenrolled from classes. Employees who are eligible but not in compliance will be addressed through HR employee procedures.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
What if I now need a medical or religious waiver?
Students fill out these forms (medical / religious) and submit to SHC here, Employees fill out these forms (medical / religious) and submit to HR here. Note that the forms require a notary or a medical professional to sign off.
You will need to begin daily symptom attestation and weekly COVID testing upon return to campus.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
Why are you allowing medical/religious exemptions to vaccines and the booster?
Virginia law requires that medical and religious exemptions be offered for vaccines.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
What if I had COVID recently? When can I get my booster?
According to the CDC and RAHD, as long as you are out of isolation and your symptoms have resolved, you can get a booster. The one exception is if you have received a treatment of monoclonal antibodies which would typically require you to wait 90 days before getting a booster. If you are being denied a booster by a medical professional for other reasons, UMW will require some documentation from that provider explaining why and indicating when you will be are eligible. Documentation can be submitted on the booster survey sent out on December 30.
If you tested positive for COVID over winter break, please complete the COVID self-report.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
What if all my classes are online and I will never come to campus at all for the spring semester?
As in the fall, UMW will offer an opt-out waiver to fully online students who agree never to seek access to a UMW campus or facility, or in-person activities; however, the University will not provide separate online options for in-person classes for students who do not wish to receive the vaccine or booster.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:36 pm
What type of mask should I wear?
If you have been using loose-fitting cloth or surgical masks, now is the time to double mask or to upgrade to a better fitting and more protective mask such as a KN95 or equivalent.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:37 pm
If everyone is vaccinated and boosted, why do we need to continue to wear masks?
The omicron variant is more transmissible, and while vaccines and boosters are effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization, they don’t prevent all infections. Choosing a quality mask and making sure you wear it properly and consistently protects you and others. If you have any risk factors or are not fully vaccinated, please consider wearing masks to protect yourself even when not required.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:37 pm
I don’t feel well. What should I do?
If you aren’t feeling well, whether or not you think it’s COVID, please avoid contact with other people. Get rest, drink plenty of fluids and seek medical attention as needed. Let your professors know why you are missing class.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
If I don’t feel well and am avoiding contact with other people, how can I get food?
A roommate/suitemate/friend can pick up take-out food from the UC 4th floor with your ID or you may utilize any available delivery options. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Chris Porter at email@example.com.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
What are things I can do to prevent the spread of infectious diseases on campus?
They include simple everyday preventive measures, such as staying away from other people when you are sick, covering your coughs and sneezes, and washing your hands often. Remember to wear a double mask, a KN95 mask or equivalent properly if you must go out or be around others.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
Where can I find a test if I am feeling sick?
For students, the Student Health Center is open during the week for appointments. You should call them in advance at 540-654-1040 to schedule an appointment. For after-hours and weekend support, you may contact also call the Student Health number and be connected with a nurse hotline. If you need medical attention or testing after-hours or on the weekend, local urgent care centers are available.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:37 pm
When and where is entry testing?
Entry testing will take place on Sunday, January 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Anderson Center. Please park in one of the main parking lots and walk over to Anderson Center. The lot next to the arena is small and not suitable for increased traffic. Please sign up for a testing time here.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
Do I have to participate in entry testing?
All residential students and students who are not fully vaccinated with a booster need to test on Sunday, January 9. Fully vaccinated and boosted students who live off campus are also encouraged to participate. If you will not make it back to campus by Sunday or are ill, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so alternative arrangements can be made.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
May I participate in entry testing as a faculty/staff member?
Yes! As long as we have available slots, you may participate. Please sign up using this link.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
I don’t want to come back until classes start in person. Can I wait to return?
We are requesting that all residential students and unvaccinated students who are able to return to campus on Sunday, January 9 do so in order to participate in entry testing. Our purpose for going virtual for the first three days is to have time to get the results from the PCR tests. It’s important that we test as many people as possible, so please plan to return on Sunday.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
I had COVID recently but I am out of the isolation period and don’t have symptoms. What if I test positive on the entry PCR test?
One of our case investigators will make contact and collect information from you if your PCR comes back positive. The contact investigator will work with our health professionals and health district to determine additional quarantine and isolation needs. Depending on supplies, UMW may also provide a rapid test to confirm you are beyond your infectious period. If you have a printout of your previous test results or a doctor’s note, be prepared to submit that as documentation of a previous infection.
If you tested positive for COVID over winter break, please do not come to campus until you have completed a full ten days of isolation and your symptoms have resolved. We also ask that you complete the COVID self-report so that we can follow up with you on entry testing expectations.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
What are the advantages of providing PCR entry tests rather than antigen entry tests?
This approach was taken in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health. The process uses a reliable and sensitive test (PCR). Students can and should limit their interactions with others (including being around others without masks) until they receive their test results. Students who have symptoms or have a known exposure should get tested BEFORE they come back to campus and delay their return if they are positive and are within the ten-day isolation window. Any positive cases should be reported via the campus self-report form.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
Are there any changes to testing for spring 2022?
Similar to fall 2021, all faculty, staff, and students who are unvaccinated will be required to test weekly. For spring 2022, that will include any person who has not received their booster and provided documentation to UMW.
We will also be implementing random testing of vaccinated individuals. These random samples may be selected from the whole campus community or may be focused on certain areas of the university if there are concerns about community spread.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
What will happen if I don’t come to weekly testing as directed?
You are responsible for completing your test each week. For students, one week of missed testing will result in a suspension of your UMW network and the suspension will stay in place until testing is completed. Two weeks of missed testing will result in a network suspension and a meeting with the COVID Care Coordinator to discuss your schedule and accommodations. Three weeks of missed testing will result in a network suspension and referral to be removed from classes for the semester.
For employees, Human Resources will follow up through appropriate progressive discipline actions in accordance with Faculty Handbook and/or from the Department of Human Resource Management.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:38 pm
Quarantine and Isolation
If I test positive, how long will I need to isolate?
The isolation period can range from five to ten days from the onset of symptoms (or positive test if asymptomatic) based on a number of factors. If you are asymptomatic or your symptoms have resolved (including no fever for 24 hours or more with without use of medication) AND you have the ability to mask anytime you are around others, then you may leave isolation after day five. The CDC recommends that immunocompromised individuals remain in isolation for the full ten days as they tend to be infectious longer. We will utilize symptom checking and testing, as appropriate, to determine if you may leave isolation after day five. If you are still exhibiting symptoms, cannot mask around others, are immunocompromised, or test positive on a rapid antigen test, you will need to continue to isolate for the full ten days. Even if you are approved to leave isolation after day 5, you will need to wear a KN95 mask or the equivalent around others at all times until you complete day 10.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
When does the isolation period start?
For individuals with no symptoms, day 0 is the day your positive test was administered. If you are exhibiting symptoms, day 0 is the day those symptoms began.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
Under what circumstances will I need to quarantine if identified as a close contact?
If you are unvaccinated or eligible for a booster but haven’t yet gotten one, you would need to quarantine if identified as a close contact or have a known exposure.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
CDC guidance says I can leave isolation/quarantine after five days as long as I am symptom-free or my symptoms are resolving (no fever), but I need to mask around others for an additional five days. What if I have a roommate? Do I have to wear a mask around them?
The congregate nature of college settings presents additional challenges with the new quarantine and isolation guidance. If you have a roommate, it is not practical to expect you to be able to mask at all times from day 6-10 when around them, particularly during sleep. If you are an on-campus student with a roommate and meet the criteria for being released after day 5 described above, you will be permitted to leave the isolation space to attend class, pick up meals, and engage in other university matters, but you will be expected to continue sleeping in the isolation space for the full ten-day period.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
Can I go home to isolate/quarantine?
Yes, as long as you can travel home without risk of spreading the virus to others (i.e. able to avoid public transportation). UMW has limited quarantine/isolation space and so individuals who can and want to go home are encouraged to do. Similar to the last two years, on-campus quarantine/isolation space is only available to residential students. Off-campus students, faculty, and staff need to make arrangements to isolate or quarantine in their homes.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
Campus Services and Events
How will dining work this semester? Will the 4th floor of the UC be open?
We will begin the semester by only offering take-out options for dining. Until we know the prevalence of COVID on our campus and our ability to minimize transmission, it is important for people not to congregate in settings where masks are not being worn. We encourage all members of our community to maintain distance from one another when eating and drinking. The ability to return to in-person dining will be reassessed on a regular basis.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
I heard the fitness center relaxed their masking requirements at the end of last semester. Will there be new restrictions?
We were hopeful that we could relax the masking requirements in the fitness center after having a successful fall semester, however with the transmissibility of the Omicron variant being four times higher than Delta, it will be necessary for all individuals to remain masked, even when exercising. We will continue to assess conditions on a regular basis with the goal of making adjustments after the surge passes.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm
Will we be able to hold in-person events for our clubs, organizations or departments? Are there any restrictions?
At this time, we are not prohibiting in-person events. Students are asked to use good sense when gathering with others. The proper use of quality masks (double mask or KN95 or equivalent) is extremely important. The serving of food and drink at events, which require individuals to remove their masks in group settings is discouraged.Last updated: January 6, 2022 12:39 pm