Weekly COVID-19 Update - Undergraduate Students

To: W&L Undergraduate Students
From: The COVID-19 Committee
Date: Friday, January 15

Below is this week's COVID-related update. 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. Following their arrival test, students should use their Aura account or app to schedule future testing and maintain a 7-day compliance window. Please DO NOT schedule or complete on-campus screening testing if you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms; instead call the Student Health Center for evaluation and instructions regarding testing.

Reminders re: Travel to Campus

Given the higher than anticipated initial test positivity rate among student early arrivals, we would like to remind those students who are scheduled to return over the next two weeks to self-quarantine from now until their arrival on campus. We would also encourage you to get tested before traveling back to campus if possible, and to avoid traveling if you are experiencing any potential COVID-19 symptoms.

Dining Services Update

All dining will be to-go only during our staggered arrival time, with no seating in our dining areas on campus until at least Feb. 1. This will be the case for fraternity house dining as well, with only those students who live in the fraternity houses eating on-site, and all other members picking up meals to go during this period. We appreciate your patience while we get through arrival testing for all of our students.

Already had COVID-19 or received the vaccine?

Students who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus or who have been fortunate enough to receive the COVID-19 vaccination are still expected to follow our Community Values, Guidelines and Restrictions for Winter Term. This includes participating in the campus testing program, completing the daily attestation, and following all recommended health precautions, guidelines and restrictions in the same way as other students.

Post-Arrival Protocols

As a reminder, W&L's guidelines related to travel back to campus are based on current VDH/CDC travel guidance. You should monitor your health carefully for 14 days after travel, stay home until after your first negative test result, and reduce non-essential activities for at least 7 days and until after your second negative test result about a week later.

Class attendance is considered an essential activity. Non-essential activities would include in-person group social, recreational and club activities. You can attend classes after your first negative COVID test result on arrival, but should not participate in other non-essential in-person group activities until after your second negative COVID test, as long as you remain without symptoms during this time.

Vaccination Update

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is overseeing the state's COVID-19 vaccination response, which is being rolled out in phases. 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 students COVID-19 vaccinations at the Student Health Center, 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 of our students, 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.