IMPORTANT: Changes to Arrival Testing, Masking and Booster Requirements – Students, Faculty and Staff

To: W&L Students, Faculty, and Staff
From: The COVID-19 Committee
Date: Wednesday, December 29

We hope this email finds you well and enjoying Winter Break.

On Monday, Dec. 27 the CDC updated the guidance for isolation and quarantine of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 as well as those were exposed to someone with COVID-19. The new guidance requires close contacts who are unvaccinated, or who are fully vaccinated but not boosted, to quarantine. Requiring close contacts who are not boosted to quarantine could put a significant strain on the university's isolation and quarantine space, as well as on our COVID Care resources.

Due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, the new CDC guidance, and the expected surge of cases in our region in the coming weeks, the following changes to the university's COVID-19 precautions are effective immediately.

Booster Requirement

All students, faculty, and staff, except those who received exemptions to the vaccine requirement, are required to receive a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 booster by January 31, 2022. We strongly encourage everyone to get a booster sooner than that, preferably before returning to campus, as boosters provide increased protection against infection and serious illness and close contacts who received their booster at least one week prior to exposure are not required to quarantine.

We will continue to do the previously announced drawings for both students and employees during the month of January. The earlier you report your booster, the better your chances to win. To find booster options near you, check the CDC's Vaccines.gov website, or to find booster options in Virginia, check the VDH's Vaccinate.Virginia.gov website.

Changes to Arrival Testing for Students and Employees

The university's arrival testing plan has been revised to test students closer to their arrival on campus and to include start-of-term testing for employees. All students are now required to test within five days of arrival and employees are required to test between Jan. 6 and Jan. 13.

Students and employees must self-schedule a PCR test through the Aura app on one of the dates listed below.

  • Thursday, Jan. 6 from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. (expanded hours)
  • Sunday, Jan. 9 from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (new date)
  • Monday, Jan. 10 from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 11 from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 13 from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (regular COVID-19 testing schedule resumes)

If you develop possible COVID-19 symptoms before your scheduled PCR test, you need to get an antigen test at your health care provider's office or perform a home antigen test to ensure you have a negative result before you complete your post-arrival PCR test.

In addition, we request anyone who is able get a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. If you test positive before returning to campus, stay home, do not return to campus during your isolation period, and communicate your positive test result to COVID19Care@wlu.edu.

During the Winter Term/Spring Semester, the university will continue to require unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff with exemptions to obtain an on-campus COVID-19 PCR test weekly. In addition, we will continue to offer optional on-campus PCR testing weekly for all fully vaccinated faculty and staff who would like to be tested and are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Masking Update

Masks are required at all times in all public indoor spaces on campus, including common areas in residence halls and open office spaces, until further notice. KN-95 masks have been shown to be more effective than cloth masks at slowing spread of the virus, so the university will provide additional KN-95 masks to all students, faculty, and staff at the start of Winter Term/Spring Semester to encourage their use on campus.

We will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the remainder of the break and we look forward to returning to campus in January.