W&L Winter Term/Spring Semester COVID-19 Testing Plan

Arrival Testing

Washington and Lee University has contracted with an outside lab (GenetWorx) to provide COVID-19 screening testing using a nasal swab PCR test for students and employees returning to campus in January, at the beginning of undergraduate Winter Term and Law Spring Semester. All students will be tested twice as a part of arrival testing: once within a day of arriving, and a second time approximately 7 days later. Based on CDC guidance, anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the three months prior to arrival for Winter Term/Spring Semester will not need to be re-tested on arrival in January. To obtain this exemption, students may email test results to studenthealth@wlu.edu. Employees are directed to discuss exemptions with Human Resources.

Update: Beginning Jan. 15 and 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.

Diagnostic/Symptomatic Testing

Anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19 is advised to stay home, contact their health care provider for assessment/indicated testing, and to self-isolate while the test result is pending. Students should contact the Student Health Center at 540-458-8401. The Student Health Center will 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. If a follow up PCR test is indicated, samples may be sent out to a commercial lab. Employees should contact their personal healthcare provider or local urgent care center. The cost of such testing is typically billed to/covered by most health insurance plans.

Asymptomatic Contact Testing

GenetWorx will conduct daily testing in the university's modular testing center Monday through Friday between 7am and 2pm. Students and employees who are identified as close contacts of cases and who do NOT have any symptoms of COVID-19 will be scheduled for testing during one of the daily testing clinics on referral from the Student Health Center (students) or Human Resources (employees). Anyone who has been identified as a suspected or probable close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case (by W&L or Virginia Department of Health case investigation/contact tracing) is advised to stay home/self-quarantine and contact the office noted below for authorization to schedule indicated testing. Test scheduling for close contacts will be managed by the university's COVID-19 Care Team (covid19care@wlu.edu) for students and by Human Resources for employees. Individuals may be tested multiple times during a quarantine period.

Screening Testing

W&L is increasing the frequency and volume of screening tests for students and employees during Winter Term/Spring Semester. Screening testing will be conducted at W&L's on-campus testing clinic (approximately 1800 tests each week), throughout the term, using several strategies. All screening testing will be administered by GenetWorx, and will take place at the on-campus testing clinic.

  • 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.

Wastewater and Aerosol Surveillance Testing

The university is testing 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. Wastewater sampling will be done two to three times per week, depending on results. Wastewater testing data assists in keeping track of trends rather than number of cases.

Wastewater testing locations include:

  • Graham Lees East and West (2 samples)
  • Gaines Upper and Lower (2 samples)
  • Third year Village (one sampling point, with the capability to do four points if needed, to narrow down positive results)
  • Sorority Houses (all 6 as one sample)
  • Law School (once per week initially, due to lack of positive results during previous term)
  • Woods Creek East*

*Note: there is no sewer access to Woods Creek Central or West

The university will also be testing HEPA filters from residential and dining HVAC systems and portable units that are being deployed to fraternities and theme houses. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on these filters will demonstrate: 1) their effectiveness at removing the virus and 2) the presence of the virus in the air space, which will identify potential new sites/sources of viral spread. In addition, positive results will further demonstrate the importance of physical distancing and minimizing contact time, particularly during meals when masking is not possible.