Return to Campus – Undergraduate and Law Students

To: W&L Undergraduate and Law Students
From: Sidney Evans, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Date: Monday, August 9

We are incredibly excited to welcome our students back to campus over the next few weeks. Thank you to all of you who have reported your vaccination information. Because we anticipate achieving a campus community vaccination rate of approximately 95%, we are able to plan for a fall term that is much closer to a typical W&L experience.

While we are grateful to return to many aspects of our typical campus experience, we are also mindful of the contagious Delta variant that is increasing transmission of COVID-19 across the U.S. The university continues to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the COVID-19 Committee is closely monitoring that guidance as well as the campus environment. Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve and our policies and plans will be updated as appropriate.

As we operate during the ongoing and ever-changing pandemic, it's important we continue to be guided by a common set of values: working collectively to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, understanding that our actions affect other members of the community, and agreeing that failure to take actions that consider the greater community puts all students, faculty and staff at risk.

Below you will find important information as you plan your return to campus.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

All students are required to be fully vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine unless they have been approved for a medical or religious exemption.

Masking

Decisions regarding masking are based on the CDC's Interim Public Health Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals, which recommends that:

  • Fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
  • Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

As of Aug. 8, the City of Lexington is listed at the high transmission level on the CDC's Data Tracker COVID-19 Integrated County View. For that reason, all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, are expected to wear masks in public indoor spaces on campus. This does not include residence halls or private housing, including common areas within those spaces.

Face coverings are required on Traveller and other shared university group transportation and at university-sponsored off-campus community-based learning events or any engagement with K-12 schools.

We recognize that local transmission levels may fluctuate often. We will continue to monitor levels in our area and act accordingly. Any student who prefers to take the additional precaution of wearing a mask at any time is encouraged to do so.

Please keep in mind that many members of our community may choose to wear masks in all settings to protect themselves and their family members, many of whom may not be eligible for vaccines, including children less than 12 years of age. No one should be discouraged from, or disparaged for, choosing to wear a mask and/or maintain a six-foot distance from others.

Requirements for Unvaccinated Individuals

All unvaccinated individuals, including visitors and those with medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement, are required to wear a mask at all times when indoors on campus except in their private office, stay six feet away from others they don't live with while inside campus buildings, comply with weekly screening testing, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

Attestation of Personal Health

Students are no longer required to complete the attestation on a daily basis using the Attestation website, but must attest if they have had close contact with a confirmed COVID case or if they are experiencing any COVID symptoms. When a student attests "yes," they should also contact the Student Health Center to determine whether any contact tracing needs to be conducted or if the student needs to isolate or quarantine.

Sick or Exposed Students

Any student who is exposed to someone with COVID-19 should report their exposure through the Attestation website and follow public health guidance for post-exposure precautions and testing. After attesting "yes," the student should also contact the Student Health Center staff to determine instructions for precautions and testing.

Any student diagnosed with COVID-19 should report their diagnosis to the Student Health Center (540-458-8401 or studenthealth@wlu.edu) within 24 hours of diagnosis.

Any student experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is expected to report their symptoms through the Attestation website and call the Student Health Center (540-458-8401) to schedule a test.

Testing

Between Aug. 11 and Sept. 7, the university will administer COVID tests to all undergraduate and law students, regardless of their vaccination status, upon arrival to campus. Students have been assigned to specific test dates in conjunction with their arrival to campus. More detailed instructions about signing up for your initial test will be sent to you in advance of your scheduled arrival.

The Student Health Center will test symptomatic students on site throughout the term, and wastewater surveillance is planned during the first few weeks following our students' return. The full testing plan will be published on the COVID-19 Resources website next week.

Screening testing will be held one day per week for unvaccinated students who have been granted an exemption. More information will be provided to those students in the coming weeks about dates and the location of the testing center.

Building Operations

Most university buildings will be unlocked effective August 16, 2021 during regular business hours.

Resources

For return to campus questions and student-related COVID-19 questions, undergraduate students should contact their class dean, and law students should contact Trenya Mason (Associate Dean of Law Student Affairs). Current information can be found on the COVID-19 Resources website, and other COVID-related questions can be directed to covid19@wlu.edu.

Be on the lookout for additional information and updates in the weeks ahead.