Weekly COVID-19 Update - Faculty and Staff

To: W&L Faculty and Staff
From: COVID-19 Committee
Date: Friday, January 15

Below is this week's update on the university's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to check the COVID-19 Resources website for the latest campus messages and resources, and to submit your questions to covid19@wlu.edu.

Changes to Testing Plan

Until we see case rates decline, we are increasing the frequency of screening testing for all students. During this period, all students will be tested at least once weekly. This will start from arrival testing and continue until further notice. We have made this change based on high case rates both in the local area and nationwide, and based on the initial test positivity rate among student early arrivals, which was significantly higher than the rate observed for fall arrivals.

Faculty and staff continue to have the ability to test as often as weekly by scheduling through their Aura account. Please DO NOT schedule or complete on-campus testing if you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms; instead contact a healthcare provider for evaluation and testing. On-campus testing is intended to screen individuals without symptoms.

Vaccination Information

Currently, COVID-19 vaccination is optional for employees; however, the university reserves the right to reevaluate this position if the campus community's public health status further impacts day-to-day operations. W&L strongly encourages every member of the university community to be vaccinated as soon as the opportunity arises. While we hope employees will make the choice to help protect themselves and our community through immunization, we know that some have concerns. We recommend you speak with your physician to make the best decision for yourself. Regardless of your vaccination status, community health expectations remain in place: maintain physical distance, wear your mask, and wash your hands frequently. Employees who have received vaccines are not exempt from following all current guidelines and restrictions.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is overseeing the state's COVID-19 vaccination response, which is being rolled out in phases. Higher education faculty and staff in Virginia are included in Phase 1c. Our region is currently in Phase 1a and in the planning stages for 1b. Information and progress specific to our region will be posted on the VDH district website.

The VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Response webpage has valuable information about the rollout, including an interactive tool for determining which phase individuals are eligible for. From the Vaccination Response page, click the blue button titled "Find Out What Phase You Are Eligible For" to determine your eligibility and register to be notified when the vaccine becomes available for your phase. You can also call 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343) for information on access to COVID-19 vaccine.

While W&L is hoping to be able to offer an on-campus vaccination clinic for employees administered by a third-party, as we do with flu vaccines, we do not yet know when that might be available to us. In the meantime, we recommend you use the interactive tool and registration process on the VDH website. For some members of our community, this may result in getting a vaccine earlier.

Update on Building Access

As in the fall, access to most campus buildings will remain by ID card access at all times. We have recently added card access control equipment on the Science Center, Reid Hall, Early-Fielding and Evans Hall. The card readers and door controls in these buildings are being programmed and will be brought online starting Friday, Jan. 15. Questions about building access should be directed to DoorAccess@wlu.edu, or contact Public Safety (540-458-8999) if you need immediate assistance.