FAQs About Safety and Prevention

How can I help protect myself and others?

There are simple everyday actions you can take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe at least daily.

If you are sick with fever and cough, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home.
  • Call your healthcare provider for advice about coming in for evaluation. Report any travel history or known contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you have to be around other people (within 3-6 feet) wear a face mask and/or cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

Additional information is available from the CDC.

What is Social Distancing, and who should practice it?

On Tuesday, March 10, the Virginia Department of Health issued the following Advice for Travelers Arriving in Virginia from Countries with Sustained COVID-19 Transmission and a Level 2 Travel Health Notice:

If you traveled to a country or a domestic region where coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is spreading in the community, you may be at higher risk for becoming sick with COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Health recommends that you monitor your health and limit your interactions with others for the 14 days from the time you left the country identified by CDC as a Level 2 Travel Health Notice country or the U.S. area with sustained, community transmission of COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call 877-ASK-VDH3 immediately to speak with a public health official. If you have additional questions about staying home or monitoring your health, please contact your local health department.

Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

1. Remain alert for fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

  • If you feel feverish or develop a cough or have trouble breathing during these 14 days, separate yourself from others and call the local health department for advice on seeking medical care. If you cannot reach the local health department, call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room for specific instructions.
  • Before you arrive, tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • If you seek medical care for other reasons, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and tell the operator about your recent travel.

2. To the extent possible, consider not going to work or school.

  • Work with your employer or school administrator regarding telework options or distance learning.
  • Your local health department can provide you with a letter excusing you from work or school.

3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.

4. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers, movie theaters, and stadiums) and limit your activities in public during the time you are practicing social distancing.

5. Essential services (e.g., grocery shopping, filling prescriptions) should be done in a way that minimizes your activities in public. For example:

  • Use delivery services for meals and groceries if available or ask family members and friends if they are able to assist with these activities. If these options are not available, grocery shopping during non-peak hours and distancing yourself from others is advised.
  • Use pharmacies with drive-through services if available.
  • Ask if routine medical or dental appointments can be rescheduled. If an appointment is advised, call ahead to the doctor's office and ask for specific instructions. Ask if scheduling the appointment during non-peak hours is an option. Before entering a healthcare setting, put on a facemask.

6. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

Can the university provide masks?

  • CDC does NOT recommend that people who are healthy wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who are ill with fever and cough, to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The Student Health Center has a limited supply of masks for this purpose.
  • The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone who is ill (at home or in a healthcare facility).

What is the university doing to prevent the spread of illness?

Washington and Lee has suspended in-person classes effective March 13 and will begin virtual instruction for all students on March 30. Additionally, the university has instituted several policies regarding visitors to campus facilities and university travel to stem the spread of the COVID-19 to the extent possible. Extra cleaning cycles have been added to highly trafficked public restrooms and common spaces across campus. Dining Services will provide sick meals to students who have permission to remain on campus and are unable to eat in campus dining facilities.

I plan to travel outside the U.S. What should I do?

Travel abroad carries potential risks. Be aware that even a country or an area of the United States not currently experiencing an outbreak could suddenly be declared a high-risk area, posing risks of exposure, difficulty with travel, or immigration barriers upon return to the U.S.

  • Visit the Student Health Center or your primary care physician in advance for current travel health and vaccination recommendations.
  • All international travelers must register University-related travel through the Center for International Education travel registry system in order to be enrolled in our global health and emergency assistance insurance.
  • As part of registration, be sure you download and activate the Alert Traveler app. This will provide up to date information on coronavirus outbreaks and any other risks.
  • Enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ("STEP"), to receive current U.S. embassy alerts and messages for your destinations.
  • Travel is not allowed to a destination under a U.S. Department of State travel advisory of Level 4. Exemptions for proposed travel to a destination with a Level 3 travel advisory can be made following a thorough review by the Office of General Counsel.

What if I had close contact with someone I believe to have COVID-19?

  • STAY HOME from school/work until you have received advice from a healthcare professional about what you should do during the 14 days after possible exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • Please notify a university official (see below) BEFORE returning to campus if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, so appropriate measures can be discussed to monitor for illness and reduce the risk of transmission in our community:
    • Faculty and staff should contact Mary Main, executive director of human resources.
    • Undergraduate students should contact the Student Health Center (please call before visiting the center) and Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
    • Law students should contact Trenya Mason, assistant dean for law student affairs.
  • Take your temperature twice a day and remain alert for fever, coughs, or difficulty breathing.
  • If you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing:
    • Students: Contact the Student Health Center right away: 540-458-8401
    • Faculty and Staff: Contact your primary care physician via telephone or email.
    • If employees have questions about leave, they may contact Human Resources at 540-458-8920 or humanresources@wlu.edu.
  • For further guidance, see the CDC's Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential COVID-19 Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings.

What should I do if I recently traveled to a country with an outbreak of COVID-19?

On Sunday, March 8, the Virginia Department of Health issued the following Advice for Travelers Arriving in Virginia from Countries with Widespread Sustained COVID-19 Transmission and a Level 3 Travel Health Notice:

If you traveled to a country with an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), you are at higher risk for becoming sick with COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Health recommends that you stay at home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread (identified as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice country) and monitor your health. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call 877-ASKVDH3 immediately to speak with a public health official. If you have additional questions about staying home or monitoring your health, please contact your local health department.

Take these steps to monitor your health while you stay home:

1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day (once in the morning, once in the evening) and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.

  • If you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing, call the local health department for advice on seeking medical care. If you cannot reach the local health department, call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room.
  • Before you arrive, tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • If you seek medical care for other reasons, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and tell the operator about your recent travel.

2. Stay home and avoid contact with others.

  • If there are others in your household, try to minimize contact by staying in separate rooms.
  • Sleep in separate bedrooms and use separate bathrooms, if available.

3. Do not go to work, school, public events, or group gatherings during this period. As soon as you can, discuss your situation with your employer or school. Teleworking or long-distance learning is encouraged if that is an option available for you.

  • Your local health department can provide you with a letter excusing you from work or school.

4. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are monitoring your health.

5. Avoid all public spaces, public activities, and group gatherings during the time you are monitoring your health.

6. If necessary, your local health department can ensure that your essential needs (for example, food and medication) are being met.

  • A family member or friend who did not travel may bring items to your door, but must stay at least 6 feet away from you and may not enter the home.

7. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).