Faculty Guidance for Spring Semester Return

December 23, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

Yesterday, you received from GW leadership an update that the university will begin the Spring 2022 semester virtually to allow for a gradual and careful in-person return to campus. Please read below for additional guidance on the following topics: 

  • Spring Semester to Begin Virtually
  • Accelerated Booster Deadline 
  • Updates and Adjustments on our Campuses through January 18
  • Return to Campus Testing - Required for Campus Access
  • Research and Lab Spaces
  • Reminder about Travel Quarantine
  • University-Sponsored Travel
  • Study Abroad

The information in this email and other updates are available at go.gwu.edu/dec2021updates

Spring Semester to Begin Virtually

Spring semester classes will begin virtually to allow for a gradual and careful in-person return.   The university will reopen on January 3, following winter break. In-person operations are projected to resume on January 18, but faculty should be prepared to extend the period of virtual instruction past this date should circumstances warrant.

Please contact your students prior to the first day of class with instructions regarding how to access your courses during the virtual period.

Beginning January 3, the Instructional Core team will be available to assist you with transitioning your in-person lectures to digital platforms for virtual learning. Please contact [email protected] with specific questions.

Accelerated Booster Deadline

The university will accelerate its COVID-19 booster dose mandate and will require that all eligible, returning community members receive a booster and upload documentation to the medical portal by January 10, instead of February 1. The booster dose is required for access to campus.

Updates and Adjustments on our Campuses through January 18

  • Clinical programs may conduct limited in-person learning activities with social distancing and personal protective equipment. 
  • Hybrid employees should report to work virtually unless directed otherwise by their supervisor.  In-person and designated on-site employees should check with their supervisors for guidance on reporting to campus.
  • All in-person social gatherings and events should be held virtually or postponed.
  • All campus facilities will remain closed to the public.  Visitors to campus will be limited to those supporting essential functions.
  • The indoor mask mandate will remain in place on campus and in the District. The use of N95, KN95 or double masking is strongly encouraged.  The university is procuring N95 masks to distribute on campus.
  • Grab and go on-campus dining will be available for on campus students, faculty and staff only.
  • Lerner Health and Wellness Center and the West Hall Fitness Center will be closed.
  • The libraries will have limited in-person operations, including restricted access for several libraries the first week of January. Please refer to the Onward site for full details. Occupancy of study rooms and tables will be limited to single occupants and masking compliance will be rigorously monitored.
  • Athletic events will take place without ticketed fans. Athletic teams not in their NCAA designated 20-hour playing season, or whose season is not imminent, should not hold practices or any in-person events.
  • Club and intramural sports competitions are cancelled.
  • Musical and artistic performances will be postponed.

Return to Campus Testing

We are asking all campus members to obtain a COVID-19 test on their own (PCR or antigen) 48 hours prior to your planned return date if possible. If it is positive, please upload the result in the medical portal, begin at-home isolation, and do not return to campus. Notify your supervisor as you would according to usual sick policies.

To ensure the safety of our fellow community members, all students, faculty and staff are required to take a COVID-19 test at a GW test center upon returning to campus. As part of our plan for a gradual return to campus and to ensure capacity, we strongly encourage faculty to test during the week of January 3 to prevent a testing bottleneck the following week, even if you will be working virtually during the subsequent weeks. Faculty should test by January 12 at the latest.

The university will offer one hour of free parking in the G Street Garage at the Foggy Bottom Campus to those who test between January 3-14. If you are coming to campus just to take a test, pull a ticket upon entrance to the garage and then ask for a validation ticket when you check in at the testing center.

Once you have completed your return to campus COVID-19 test, your GWorld card will be activated within an hour of testing and you may access campus.  

Research and Lab Spaces

Until the university returns to full in-person operations:

  • Any lab and shared area may be utilized up to 50% of its capacity. Principal investigators or project leaders may determine how best to divide responsibilities or rotate team members to ensure a safe density of personnel.
  • Undergraduate student access is restricted. Undergraduate students may receive approval to work on site in laboratories on a very limited basis. Requests for access must be submitted by the student to the school’s Associate Dean for Research with justification and approval from their advisor or principal investigator. The Associate Dean for Research will review and forward requests for approval to the Office of the Provost for those requiring access.
  • Those planning to work onsite in research spaces who will be away from campus during the break and returning to campus should test prior to entering research spaces.

Additional information about accessing research spaces is available here.

Reminder about Travel Quarantine

If you are unvaccinated by virtue of a GW approved medical or religious exemption and are traveling back from outside of D.C., Virginia or Maryland, you will have a mandatory travel quarantine and will not be able to access campus for at least seven days.

University-Sponsored Travel

The university will continue to allow limited international travel in accordance with the latest version of the Interim Policy for International Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Students, faculty, and staff traveling domestically will be expected to follow the established domestic travel policies for their school/department and the current local/CDC travel guidelines.

Study Abroad

Spring 2022 Study Abroad currently is going ahead as scheduled, but we encourage students to pay attention to border closures and visa constraints, and to register for GW courses as a back-up. The Office for Study Abroad will monitor the in-person status of programs and provide regular updates to students registered for a study abroad program as well as resources for students to check border closures and other COVID-19-related changes. 


Thank you for your attention to this information and for your ongoing efforts to keep our community safe and healthy. I wish you a happy new year.


Christopher Alan Bracey
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law