Collage of GW photos including people walking past the George bust, students at a national monument, and George's Army at a game

 

FAQs

   

The GW COVID-19 Campus Assistance Portal is a one-stop resource to help you navigate any challenges you may encounter with campus and GWorld access, COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 symptom surveys, access badge status, and student, faculty and staff travel information. The portal offers issue-based instructions, troubleshooting tips and guidance to assist you in resolving questions or concerns independently wherever possible.

Updated 9/16/2021

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Fall Semester 2021

We understand and share your concerns, but we want to assure you that we have created a safe environment for learning. At this time, we are planning for a full in-person return. Our medical and public health experts continue to monitor and evaluate the latest data about COVID-19 transmission in our community, as well as local and national public health guidance.  The vaccine requirement, in combination with indoor mask-wearing and surveillance testing, contributes to our layered approach to safely resume in-person teaching, learning and working this fall.

Additional information on in-person learning this fall is available for undergraduate students and graduate and professional students. If you have further questions, we recommend that you check with your advisor on options that may be available to you within your area of study. 

Organizers of a large event or meeting with external guests must keep a record of who was in attendance. This will be important for contact tracing should we identify an attendee who had COVID-19.  Student groups can track their events using the Engage software. Others may use the RSVP function of many electronic invitation services or keep a sign-in sheet with names and email addresses. You should keep this information for at least 10 days after the event.

 Exposure and Positive Cases

When a GW student, faculty or staff member tests positive, they are immediately contacted by Colonial Health or Occupational Health to assess them for symptoms, ensure they get adequate healthcare, and inform them of how to go into  isolation. Within hours, they are interviewed by the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST). The CCST determines who their close campus contacts were in the past 48 hours. CCST will in turn contact each one of those people. CCST will inform any confirmed close contact of whether and how to go into quarantine and the requirement for a symptomatic COVID-19 testing after the exposure (which varies according to vaccination status).

No. All external GW exposures to COVID must be reported to the CCST. Click here to report an exposure. The CCST can also be contacted by email [email protected]. The CCST will evaluate the situation and determine the nature of the exposure, if the employee requires quarantine or testing and if anyone else on campus could be at risk. Managers, supervisors and professors should NOT take it upon themselves to advise others to go home, miss class or to get tested.

First, stay home and do not come to work or class. If you have any symptoms, contact Colonial Health (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff) for guidance. The outside test should be reported here.  A healthcare provider and the CCST will follow up with you.

You may or may not have been exposed, since exposure requires that you have been in close proximity to the person (not just in the same classroom). If you have any symptoms of COVID, stay home, contact CHC (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff) and schedule a symptomatic test in the medical portal. When someone tests positive in a class, the CCST acquires a class roster and compares it to our vaccination records. Vaccinated people will be instructed to get a COVID test in 3-5 days. Vaccinated people do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Unvaccinated people will be required to quarantine and get a symptomatic test immediately after being identified, and, if negative, test again in 5–7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.

Fully vaccinated students who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should contact the Colonial Health Center at 202-994-5300; faculty and staff should contact Occupational Health at 202-677-6230.  These numbers are answered 24 hours a day, every day of the week by a clinician who can evaluate you for treatment or a referral.

If you're notified by the Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST) that someone with COVID-19 identified you as a close contact, you will follow the steps listed here

GW students, faculty, or staff should upload a positive COVID-19 test result received from outside of a university testing site to the medical portal. Detailed instructions are available here.

Visitor Requirements

Yes, a form should be filled out for those under 18. If a minor is unvaccinated, they must attest that they have received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their visit to campus.

If a visitor cannot present an approved visitor confirmation form, they are not permitted to access GW facilities.

For visitors, a COVID-19 PCR or antigen test is acceptable as long as you have no symptoms.

 

The Vaccine Requirement

GW will require students, faculty, and staff in GW-owned or -operated facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an approved exemption. Vaccination is the best and fastest way to move us closer to our pre-pandemic campus experience and the end of the pandemic.

To be considered fully vaccinated, you must complete the full series of the vaccination and allow two weeks after the last dose.

GW will accept any vaccine authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). The list of current FDA-authorized vaccines are available online. Authorized WHO vaccines are listed here. As of now, the WHO and/or FDA have authorized Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, the Serum Institute of India, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The final dose must be completed two weeks prior to being on campus.

GW will require students, faculty, and staff in GW-owned or -operated facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an approved exemption. Requests for exemptions to the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons were required to be submitted by June 7.  More information is available here.

We will exercise discretion in enforcing the mandate for those who have extenuating circumstances that are beyond their control and that will cause delays in vaccination.

International students should follow guidance posted here.

For employees whose positions are designated as requiring in-person work in whole or in part, you will be required to be vaccinated, unless you have received an exemption for medical or religious reasons, in which case you may still be required to be on campus and adhere to university health and safety protocols.

We appreciate that faculty may have circumstances that warrant additional consideration, under existing university policies. If you have questions or need additional guidance, please consult your department chair, your school's dean’s office or the Office of Faculty Affairs at [email protected]

COVID-19 vaccination status is a requirement to be on campus. GW will require students, faculty, and staff in GW-owned or -operated facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an approved exemption.

Routine COVID-19 testing will not replace the requirement for vaccination.

Yes, all students are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they plan to attend classes in person or participate in any in-person campus activity this fall or for online students who need to come onto campus for a school-related reason. (This is a requirement for faculty and staff as well.)

Students under the age of 26 must submit records of all required childhood immunizations in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

For questions, please email [email protected].

The Pfizer vaccine is approved by the U.S. FDA.

Like many other universities and other employers, GW has considered the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) currently in effect for the COVID-19 vaccines and has concluded that such authorizations do not prevent the university from requiring vaccinations as a condition for being on campus beginning in the fall semester. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised that COVID-19 vaccines are generally safe and effective for the immunized individual and help to protect the general community from the worst effects of COVID-19. The EUA speeds up the production and distribution of a vaccine but requires the same clinical studies and standards for safety and effectiveness as those for FDA to grant a full approval. 

Vaccine documentation was due on August 1. 

If you still need to upload your vaccine ducumentation, we urge you to do so in the medical portal as soon as possible. Your documentation is verified manually and may take up to a week to register in the system due to the volume of submissions.

Instructions on how to upload your documentation are available online

How to Comply with the Vaccine Requirement

The only way to demonstrate compliance is to upload your vaccine record in the medical portal. Each upload is reviewed and verified, so it may take up to a week before your status reads “compliant” in the portal. Please see the instructions for uploading proof of vaccination.

Vaccine documentation was due August 1.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be included as part of GW’s immunization requirements that are due each fall. 

Once you have received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine, we urge you to upload your documentation to the medical portal as soon as possible. Your documentation is verified manually and may take up to a week to register in the system due to the volume of submissions. Instructions on how to upload your documentation are available online.

COVID-19 Vaccines

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that COVID-19 vaccination not only protects the community but also is safe and effective for an immunized individual. We encourage members of the university community to consult with a health care professional if you have any questions about the safety of the vaccine and your own health condition. Additional information is available on the CDC’s website.

All of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA or the WHO have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19. Any of these vaccines will satisfy the university’s vaccination requirement.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to GW students, faculty and staff and their family members at GW's asymptomatic COVID-19 testing center. You do not need to be a District of Columbia resident to receive the vaccine. The vaccine is available to those ages 12 and older. Appointments are not required.

Some pain and redness at the injection site and body aches, chills, fatigue or mild fevers are common side effects and can typically be managed with over the counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you have side effects severe enough to miss work, you should notify your manager. You may be eligible for pandemic or other types of leave if you miss work due to an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Read more from the CDC.

Yes, you may want to have a conversation with your health care provider first. See the CDC guidance for more information.

Generally yes. Certain underlying health conditions put you at higher risk for developing severe COVID-19 infections, so getting a vaccine may be very important for you. If you have a weak immune system, you may not have a strong response to the vaccine and still should practice other measures to protect yourself from COVID-19. However, we encourage you to discuss any concerns with your health care provider prior to receiving the vaccine, and if your health care provider does not recommend getting the vaccine, you may request an exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical reasons.

Yes, all available COVID-19 vaccines are egg-free.

According to the FDA, none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use by the FDA contain animal products. Ingredients for each are available on the FDA website.  Animals may have been used in testing these vaccines.

If you received your vaccine from GW, please email [email protected].

You may also contact your vaccination site directly or your state's health department. A list of immunization records by state can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

The Delta variant is a strain of COVID-19 that has undergone mutations that make it more contagious and capable of causing more serious disease than the original virus strain. Unvaccinated people are at the most risk from the Delta variant. Although less common, a vaccinated person can get infected with the Delta variant, but all the available vaccines are very effective in preventing severe disease.

If you are fully vaccinated and still acquire COVID-19, that is called a breakthrough infection. Breakthrough infections are more common with the Delta variant. The CDC is tracking all breakthrough infections that result in serious illness, hospitalization and/or death. However, most breakthrough infections cause few to no symptoms. Because population tests are incomplete, we do not have reliable information from reporting by states.  However, the CDC has conducted special studies that show that vaccine effectiveness for all three authorized US vaccines is declining over time. The risk of infection for vaccinated people currently is very low, and at present vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection mostly  have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.  Across the country, vaccinated people make up less than five percent of all COVID 19 infections but they are a much higher proportion in parts of the country with higher rates of vaccination.

The federal COVID-19 Task Force has announced that everyone who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will begin to be eligible for booster shots later this Fall.  The reason for booster shots is not only gradually waning immunity but also because of the breakthrough infections from the Delta variant. There are a number of steps that need to be taken involving review by advisory committees to the FDA and the CDC, however, at this time it seems that these will be available to you  6 -8 months after your last immunization. At this time, the vaccines are still very effective for people, with the exception of those with medical conditions that cause severe immunodeficiency. If you have such a medical condition you may obtain a booster shot today, regardless of when you received your last vaccine. Eventually there will be recommendations for boosters for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well. 

International Students, Faculty and Staff

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to GW students, faculty and staff and their family members at at GW's Medical Faculty Associates' West End location (2300 M Street, NW). You do not need to be a District of Columbia resident to receive the vaccine. 

The vaccine is available to those ages 12 and older. Please bring your vaccine card to receive the 2nd dose.

You may schedule an appointment online. The clinic is open Monday - Friday from 7:30 a.m - 3:30 p.m.

The vaccine is also available in the District at 11 high-capacity, walk-up sites. No appointments are needed. More information on days, hours and locations is available at vaccinefinder.org

If an international student, faculty or staff member cannot get a COVID-19 vaccine prior to arriving on campus, they will be given a temporary exemption and the university will facilitate their obtaining a vaccine.

To request a temporary exemption, students should email the Colonial Health Center at [email protected]. Staff and faculty should email Occupational Health at [email protected]

GW will accept any vaccine authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). The current FDA-authorized vaccines are available online. Authorized-WHO vaccines are listed here. Currently, the WHO and/or FDA have authorized Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac and the Serum Institute of India vaccines.  

Students who are unable to receive any of these COVID-19 vaccines prior to arriving in the U.S., should email the Colonial Health Center at [email protected] to receive a temporary exemption. Staff or faculty should email Occupational Health at [email protected]

Once you arrive in the U.S., you will need to take steps to receive a U.S. FDA-authorized vaccine to be fully compliant with GW’s vaccination requirements. 

Until you receive an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine, you will be required to wear a mask, quarantine following travel and take part in daily symptom monitoring and weekly PCR COVID-19 testing through the GW Public Health Laboratory. This test is provided at no charge to members of our campus population. 

If you reside in a country administering COVID-19 vaccines, for the sake of your own health and safety, we recommend you get any vaccine available in your home country, making sure that the last dose is at least two weeks prior to your arrival in the U.S. 

Once you receive the full dosage, upload your documentation to the medical portal

Once you arrive in the U.S., you will be individually evaluated by the Colonial Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff). The provider will work with you on a re-vaccination strategy based upon the specific vaccine you already received.

If you have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized by the U.S. FDA or WHO, upload your documentation to the medical portal.

Once you arrive in the U.S., you will be individually evaluated by the Colonial Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff). The provider will work with you on a re-vaccination strategy based upon the specific vaccine you already received.

Further care and individual recommendations will be based upon this evaluation.

The vaccine is available based on residency and not on citizenship status. Public health and medical experts are encouraging individuals to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine available to them as soon as possible. Please do not wait until you return to your home country.

No matter where you are currently living in the U.S., we suggest that you follow the guidance in your local jurisdiction to register and receive the vaccine.  Information on how to receive the vaccine in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia is available here.

When you arrive at the vaccine clinic, you will need to show your ID and may also need to show proof of residency like a lease or utility bill with your local address. If you are currently a student residing in one of GW’s residence halls you will need to show your GWorld card at the D.C. vaccine clinic.

If you are traveling to Washington, D.C. from a foreign country, you will need a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel to enter the United States.

Unvaccinated individuals who have an approved exemption need to start travel quarantine at their D.C.-area residence after arrival.  They must take their first COVID-19 test on campus when they arrive and another test five days later.  If both are negative you will be released from travel quarantine by the Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST). Additional information on this process is available here

Vaccinated individuals arriving from a foreign country must begin their monthly (every 30 days) testing cycle when they arrive on campus.  You must test again 5 days later due to your international travel.  You do not need to undergo travel quarantine.

Vaccine Exemptions

Students seeking exemption from any of the immunization requirements for medical or religious reasons must submit:

  • If you are seeking an exemption due to a good faith religious objection, you must submit a personal letter explaining how the vaccination violates your religious beliefs

  • If you are seeking an exemption for medical reasons, a personal statement of need for a medical exemption, and a letter from the attending clinician may be required. 

  • Upload your documents to the medical portal.

  • The Colonial Health Center may contact you if there are questions or to seek clarification regarding the information provided.

  • For questions, please email [email protected].

You will first need to complete the “COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption Request Form” indicating that you are seeking an exemption and upload it through the portal. Instructions are available online.  Medical exemption requests are reviewed by Occupational Health. Religious exemption requests are routed to the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Access (EEOA) for review and approval. Upon reviewing your request the EEOA Office or Occupational Health may contact you if there are questions or to seek clarification regarding what you have stated in your request. If you have questions, you can contact the EEOA Office at [email protected] or 202- 994-9656. You can contact Occupational Health at 202-677-6230 or [email protected].

If you miss the June 7 deadline to submit your exemption request, there may be a delay in evaluating your request, which may impact your ability to be on campus. You may be placed on leave without pay until your request can be reviewed.

The most common reason to receive a medical exemption is a known allergy to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. If you have other health-related reasons you think would prevent you from getting the vaccine, your request will be evaluated by Colonial Health (for students) or Occupational Health (for faculty and staff). You may be asked to provide documentation from your health care provider to support your request.

If the EEOA Office has questions about the nature of your religious beliefs and/or what kind of accommodation may be appropriate, it may ask that you submit a letter from someone who can attest to your religious or sincerely held belief and/or membership in a church or organization that subscribes to a particular doctrine, faith or observance that might assist in providing documentation for your accommodation request.

Granting of the religious or medical exemption only means you will not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccination. You may still be required to be on campus, e.g., if you are required to work on campus in whole or in part, and if so, you will be required among other things to comply with the university’s health and safety protocols (i.e., masks, daily symptom checks in the medical portal and weekly COVID-19 testing). EEOA will engage in the interactive process with you to consider reasonable accommodations if necessary. 

Those who have an exemption approved will have to wear a mask, complete daily symptom checks in the medical portal, and do weekly COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 Testing

Yes, once you are compliant with the requirement to be vaccinated with a FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine, you will be required to have a COVID-19 test every 15 days. If you are given a vaccine exemption, you will be required to test every 7 days.

To check the due date for your next required test, click on the "Show Badge" button on the Home screen of the medical portal. The due date is at the bottom of your badge below the QR code.

If you are overdue for your next test, your badge will read "Overdue".  Please schedule an appointment to be tested if you need to reactivate your access to campus.

If you have had a possible exposure and/or have received a positive COVID-19 test result outside of the GW public health laboratory testing, you should fill out a COVID-19 Exposure Report; this report will be forwarded to the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST) for any needed follow-up.

You should contact the Campus COVID Support Team at [email protected]. Please include your GWID in all messages to CCST.

Starting with the fall 2021 semester, Campus Living will assess the situation of all residential students who test positive for COVID-19 for possible relocation until released by the Colonial Health Center (CHC).  Unvaccinated roommates will quarantine in their room until released by the Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST).  Vaccinated roommates are exempt from exposure quarantine but should contact CHC if they develop symptoms.

In anticipation of our reopening this fall, we must keep our community safe during the ongoing pandemic.  GW’s urban location prevents us from closing the campus to external factors beyond our control.  Additionally, the possibility exists of breakthrough COVID-19 cases in vaccinated individuals and of variants that may resist the vaccines.  Routine testing, in addition to public health practices, including vaccination, will alert us of any risks to our population.

Outside of the 15-day testing requirement, everyone is encouraged to take a COVID-19 test at any time if you have symptoms or have been told to test by a medical provider.

We will immediately inform all members of any changes to this requirement.

No.  Until you complete your test, your access to campus will be restricted.  

You may receive notices about overdue testing while you are off-campus.  You may disregard them.

We can only accept tests taken at a GW testing site and processed by our public health laboratory to meet the testing requirement.

Anyone expected to need access to a GW-owned or -operated building for any reason during the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year must be vaccinated as part of GW’s vaccine requirement.

This includes faculty, students, and staff in all schools and departments (including 1st and 2nd year students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences), regardless of the frequency of your presence in a GW-owned or -operated building.  Only those with an approved religious or medical exemption are released from the vaccine requirement.

Yes, can take a COVID test prior to the end of your testing cycle. Your testing cycle will reset when you complete your appointment. You may check the due date of your next test in the medical portal.  Click on the “Show Badge” button in the Home section.
 

Yes, if you are overdue to take your test, your campus access will be affected.  Fully vaccinated individuals must test every 15 days; exempt individuals must test every 7 days. However, your GWorld Card access will be restored within one hour after you take your next test. 

After you check out from the test site, it can take up to an hour to clear the hold from your GWorld account.  Your access is not dependent on the results of your test. If the Public Health Lab later releases a positive test result, you will be contacted by either the Colonial Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff), and CCST will place a new hold on your GWorld account.

If you stay current with your testing schedule, you will maintain access to campus.  Vaccinated individuals must test every 15 days, unvaccinated individuals must test every 7 days. 
 

We are finalizing details for our GW Public Health Lab testing staff to travel to non-Foggy Bottom locations to provide testing for students, faculty and staff. We will share more information prior to the start of the fall semester. 

The Public Health Lab (PHL) or the Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST) will contact you about retesting as soon as possible.  

If you consistently receive invalid test results, a PHL provider will observe your self-collection process.  You may also request that a provider collect the sample for you.

Check your destination’s and airline’s testing requirements.  GW offers polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests from our CLIA-certified site. 

In the medical portal, click on the “Labs” link in the Medical Records section.  You may print your test report from there.

Indoor Mask Requirement

It is strongly recommended to remain masked when teaching and to use a microphone if necessary. However, a faculty member or lecturer may remove their mask if they remain at least six feet from the class at all times and if every student in the class is masked.

If you need to watch a student’s mouth movements, the student may briefly remove their mask to speak so long as you are masked and observe from six feet or more. Likewise, if you need to demonstrate mouth movements, you may remove your mask to demonstrate, so long as you are six feet from your students.

The university does not endorse any commercial products, but an example of an acceptable clear mask as a good option for speech and language instruction can be found here. Another safe approach would be for the student to make a tele-appointment during your office hours and to watch them speak by a teleconference.

You may wear a slitted mask to play instruments. When not playing, you should switch to a full mask. Additionally, you must use a bell cover on the end of your instrument to prevent aerosols. 

Masks must be worn when singing, dancing and performing inside. Unmasked performances can occur outdoors.

Yes, if you are indoors. This includes individual exercise activities, such as weight lifting or cardio, and group exercise classes, such as yoga, pilates, HIIT, zumba and others. If you are swimming, replace your mask when you exit the pool and coordinate with others to avoid congregating at pool exits. 

Intercollegiate teams may unmask for practice and competition if they have a more frequent testing cadence. Intramural and informal team sports players must wear a mask if indoors. Outdoor team sports is the safest option.

Yes, you need to keep your mask on while you are indoors and in shared space with others. If you have a private, enclosed office with a door, you may unmask when you are alone. Masks are required for all meetings with two or more people.

If you are only with your assigned roommates and suitemates, you may remove your mask when your doors are closed. If there are any visitors from outside of your room/suite, everyone must be masked. Masks are required in common areas of residence halls.

You may briefly remove your mask while actively eating and drinking and then must replace it. For example, if you are sipping from a glass, you may remove your mask. If you are holding a glass and not actively drinking from it, you must wear your mask.

Outdoor receptions and events are good options if you are serving food and drink. For meal breaks at work, consider sitting apart from others or eating outdoors.

Select a mask type that has two or more layers of breathable fabric and that completely covers your nose and mouth. Please see the CDC website for guidance on preferred types of masks.

N95 masks are generally not required for non-medical professionals.

If you have an approved exemption and are unvaccinated, you should wear a mask outdoors if you expect to be in close proximity to others for longer than just a few minutes. If you are vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask if you will be in crowds. If you are vaccinated and with young children who cannot yet be vaccinated, by wearing a mask you can help the children feel more comfortable in the mask.

Campus Access

Visit onward.gwu.edu/access for detailed steps and other information.

Yes. Members of the GW community can gain campus access if you are fully vaccinated. You must upload your vaccine documentation to the medical portal following these steps. Once your documentation is verified, you must take a COVID-19 test at a university testing location. Your GWorld card access will be restored to the access you had pre-pandemic generally within two business hours. Additional information is available here

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