Start of Winter Term - Faculty and Staff

To: W&L Faculty and Staff
From: COVID-19 Committee
Date: Thursday, January 7

As President Dudley announced to the community, students will be invited to return to campus in stages throughout the month of January. As we prepare for their return, the COVID-19 Committee will provide regular updates to the campus community as we did in the fall. We are currently updating the COVID-19 Resources website to reflect changes and information for the upcoming term, and you can continue to submit your questions to covid19@wlu.edu.

Beginning of Term Arrival Testing

Arrival testing will take place in Evans Hall between 7am and 2pm daily, beginning next week. The first round of testing for our critical infrastructure employees began earlier this week, with the majority of faculty and staff testing scheduled to take place late next week. By Monday, Jan. 11 all employees will have received individual emails from Covid19Testing@wlu.edu with instructions for how to schedule your test and access the results.

Daily Attestation and Statements of Community Values

All employees are asked to continue to complete the Daily Attestation this term. When you log in to complete the Daily Attestation on Monday, Jan. 11, you will be asked to review and acknowledge the Employee Statement of Community Values for this term. There are three different statements, so please be sure to select the Employee version and follow the prompts to read and acknowledge it.

We created three versions of the Statements of Community Values (for employees, undergraduate students, and law students) in an effort to better communicate our shared responsibilities and values to each audience. In addition, all current Guidelines and Restrictions will be posted on the COVID-19 Resources website to make it easier to find updated information quickly. Details regarding the Guidelines and Restrictions for the start of the Winter Term/Spring Semester will come in a separate email.

Enhanced Testing Plan

W&L will implement an enhanced testing plan for the Winter Term/Spring Semester. Key elements of the testing plan include the following:

Arrival Testing

All students will be tested twice as part of arrival testing: once within a day of arriving, and a second time approximately seven days later.

Diagnostic/Symptomatic Testing

The Student Health Center will continue to test students who are exhibiting symptoms on site for the Coronavirus antigen with a rapid test that gives results in 15 minutes.

Asymptomatic Contact Testing and Screening Testing

We have partnered with a new lab, GenetWorx, to administer both daily testing of asymptomatic individuals who have been identified as close contacts of a positive case, and regular screening testing of students and employees. In addition, W&L is increasing the frequency and volume of screening tests for students and employees during Winter Term/Spring Semester. We will conduct approximately 1800 tests each week, throughout the term, using several strategies:

  • All students will be tested at least every other week.
  • Student athletes will be tested one to three times per week, depending on the contact level of their sport and whether or not they are competing.
  • If there are clusters of cases in particular areas of campus, individuals who have spent time in these areas may be tested.
  • Critical Infrastructure employees will be tested at least every other week. All other employees will have the option of testing on request, no more frequently than bi-weekly unless a known exposure has occurred.

Asymptomatic contact testing and screening testing will take place in a new modular unit that has been set up for on-campus testing clinics, located behind Baker and Davis halls.

Surveillance Testing

The university will continue to test wastewater from various campus buildings as a sentinel early indicator for presence of the virus in identified locations. These results help direct targeted screening testing and messaging to students who reside in those areas. We will also be testing HEPA filters from residential and dining HVAC systems and portable units in order to determine their effectiveness at removing the virus and to detect the presence of the virus in the air space, which will identify potential new sites/sources of viral spread.

You can read the full testing plan on the COVID-19 Resources website.

Environment Level

We will begin the term with the W&L COVID-19 Environment Level at yellow-high, due to the substantial increase in COVID-19 cases locally, regionally, and nationally since November; the current significant strain on local and regional hospital capacity; and the potential for the increased prevalence of positive cases in our area to hamper our ability to provide sufficient services and adequate levels of essential staff to run the university. Information about the Environment Level, including updated indicators being monitored by the COVID-19 Committee, can be found on the Environment Level page of the COVID-19 Resources website.

Town Hall Meetings

The COVID-19 Committee will be hosting Town Hall meetings via Zoom to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to ask questions about the university's plans for the start of the term.

  • The faculty Town Hall will be held Friday, Jan. 8 from 11am-1pm. An email with registration link has been sent to faculty from the Provost's office.
  • The staff Town Hall will be held Monday, Jan. 11 from 10am-11am. No registration is needed. Use the following link to join the meeting: https://wlu.zoom.us/j/99489583167

Looking Ahead

Please be on the lookout for additional communications in the coming days. We look forward to having our students back on campus!