Update for Fall Term - Undergraduate Students

To: W&L Undergraduate Students
From: Sidney Evans, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Date: Friday, September 11

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

Reminder - COVID-19 Restrictions

The following COVID-19 restrictions remain in place until further notice:

  • Physical distancing of at least six feet is required at all times, in all locations, indoors and out
  • Face coverings are required at all gatherings, at all times, unless you are outdoors and more than six feet apart
  • No indoor gatherings, on or off campus, of more than 10 people
  • No outdoor gatherings, on or off campus, of more than 25 people
  • No visitors other than current W&L students in residences, including residential halls, townhouses, apartments, Greek houses, and off-campus housing

You should treat every person as if they have COVID-19, and act accordingly by taking the necessary precautions.

If you are experiencing any symptoms that might be COVID-19 related, stay home, stay away from other people in shared residence spaces, and call the Student Health Center (SHC) immediately at 540-458-8401 for advice about coming in for evaluation. The SHC has the ability to do rapid result testing for students experiencing symptoms.

Clarification - Personal Travel

All non-essential personal travel outside of the Lexington/Rockbridge area is strongly discouraged at this time. Students are expected to log all travel in the Daily Attestation application and complete a 14-day self-quarantine after return to Lexington. There is not a person or committee assessing individual level of risk for each travel inquiry; however, to review COVID-19 case rates in the specific area you are traveling through or to, see https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map for county-level data.

Self-quarantine is defined as staying 6 feet away from others at all times (including a roommate); not attending classes in person; leaving your room only for essential activities (e.g., to collect a meal to go, use the bathroom, or to go outside for a short walk alone); and careful attention to use of face coverings, hand hygiene and frequent cleaning/disinfection of shared spaces such as a bedroom and bathroom. If you develop a fever or other possible COVID-19 symptoms during the self-quarantine, call the Student Health Center immediately to schedule a visit for assessment and possible COVID testing.

Students should not travel if they cannot adequately self-quarantine upon return to Lexington since the university's quarantine rooms are reserved solely for students with known COVID-19 case exposures/contacts.

Students are responsible for any academic implications resulting from discretionary travel. If a student has in-person classes, they will need to communicate with their faculty to inquire about options for completing coursework during the 14 days of self-quarantine after returning to Lexington. Faculty have discretion and are not required to offer virtual instruction for a self-quarantine situation resulting from a student electing to travel.

Dining Facilities Information

We have had several questions regarding physical distancing and related guidance at the university's dining facilities. As with other parts of campus operations this fall, Dining Services has chosen to meet and exceed Virginia Department of Health's Phase 2 guidelines, which are more stringent than the Phase 3 guidelines being followed by dining establishments elsewhere in Virginia. These arrangements are the result of trying to provide as safe a dining environment as possible for students and Dining Services personnel.

Evans Dining Hall and the Marketplace have been dedicated to student dining, while other campus dining venues are open for takeout service only, with queues arranged at all facilities to ensure physical distancing. To help safely feed people, the seating capacity in Evans Dining Hall and the Marketplace have both been reduced well under 50%. Current dining in capacity in Evans is 104 people (350 normally), and in the Marketplace its 146 people (350 normally).

Among the other measures in place:

  • Every individual table is 6 feet from people at the next table (shoulder to shoulder);
  • No tables seat more than 8 people, and many tables seat only 4 people;
  • Students can only sit with the group with which they arrived; and
  • Students can only be unmasked while actively eating, and must put their masks back on after they finish eating.

We recognize these are slightly more relaxed rules than if a student elects to take out and eat their meal in their residence with others. Evans Dining Hall and the Marketplace are set up in a very intentional way - these facilities provide closed environments with personnel sanitizing the space between every use, monitoring students' dining interactions and reinforcing face covering and physical distancing protocols.

Dining Services is currently providing roughly 3,800 total meals per day to students. Due to the reduced seating capacity, students who elect to dine in are encouraged to leave the dining hall once they have finished their meal. To allow more students to enjoy having meals together, Dining Services continues to offer expanded meal period hours. For more information, see this schedule.

Reminder - Ongoing Testing

Testing for COVID-19 is continuing in a number of ways, on and off campus, to help maintain the safety of the W&L community and the surrounding Lexington/Rockbridge area. Ongoing testing includes:

  • Diagnostic/Symptomatic Testing: Students with possible symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to stay home, contact Student Health at 540-458-8401 for assessment/indicated testing, and to self-isolate while the test result is pending. The Student Health Center can test students on-site for the Coronavirus antigen with a rapid test that gives results in 15 minutes. This test is recommended for individuals with symptoms, within the first five days of illness.
  • Asymptomatic Contact Testing: Students who are identified as close contacts and who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 may be tested on campus at weekly testing clinics, held each Monday, on referral from the Student Health Center. Testing of asymptomatic close contacts is intended to determine whether or not they are already infected with the virus, and should occur no sooner than five days after the last exposure/contact with the infected case. Students should call the Student Health at 540-458-8401 or e-mail studenthealth@wlu.edu to discuss authorization for testing.
  • Surveillance Testing: W&L will conduct ongoing, weekly surveillance testing using several strategies. If there are clusters of cases in particular areas of campus, we will ask people who have spent time in these areas to be tested. We will also select students and employees to participate in surveillance testing, such as testing individuals in a designated higher-risk group or facility, and/or testing a random population sample. This testing, which will include approximately 200 tests each week, will be conducted at W&L's on-campus clinics, or in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health if needed for outbreak investigation. If you are selected for surveillance testing, you will receive an email from covid19testing@wlu.edu with instructions for scheduling your test.

Testing data can be found on the W&L COVID-19 Dashboard.

Athletics Facilities Update

The Washington and Lee Richard L. Duchossois Athletic and Recreation Center, the Duchossois Tennis Center and the W&L Natatorium are open to current students, faculty and staff. These facilities have modified hours and rules due to COVID-19, and a swipe card is needed for entrance into the buildings. Information regarding hours, use guidelines, and specific regulations that must be followed for each facility can be found on the Athletics website.

For Your Reference