Planning for Residential Students

January 06, 2022

Throughout this week, more than 6,000 residential students are gradually returning to our residence halls for the Spring 2022 semester.  First, we strongly encourage these residential students to obtain a COVID-19 test on their own (PCR or antigen) 48 hours prior to coming back to campus.  Students who test positive must isolate at home instead of returning to campus.  This pre-arrival test will help keep our campus safe.  Second, upon arrival to campus this weekend, all residential students will be required to take a COVID-19 test before they are permitted to move in.  As a reminder, these health and safety requirements for living in the residence halls were communicated directly to residential students and families in an email update from Campus Living and Residential Education (CLRE) on December 30.  CLRE will send another update this week.

Based on the trajectory of COVID-19 transmission in the D.C.-region and in the U.S. and the Omicron variant’s high transmissibility, we anticipate that a large number of our returning students will test positive for COVID-19.  We believe that the combination of our vaccine and booster mandates, routine testing and indoor mask requirement will help keep our community members protected from severe illness or hospitalization resulting from COVID-19.  Data shows that symptoms tend to be milder among fully vaccinated and boosted individuals. 

As we shared previously, this current surge in COVID-19 cases requires us to review our approach to returning to campus this spring to ensure our residential students remain as safe and healthy as possible.  In the event that the number of positive cases in residence halls overwhelms GW’s ability to execute the current isolation protocols for residential students, we developed several contingency plans.  

To maximize residential housing capacity, GW has proactively reserved 250 beds in a nearby hotel in case residential students need to be temporarily relocated.  This provides GW with over five times as much space as was available for the fall term.  If this action is not enough and we exceed capacity, we are prepared to move to an isolation-in-place strategy while ensuring students have access to medical care, dining resources and coursework materials.

Though these measures may prove to be unnecessary, our preparation ensures GW students will have a comprehensive and robust in-person campus experience.

Our Medical Advisory Group continues to monitor the rates of COVID-19 transmission in the D.C. region, and we will provide updates to you as necessary. 

Sincerely,

Scott Burnotes
Vice President of Safety and Facilities

M.L. “Cissy” Petty
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Ray Lucas, M.D.
COVID-19 Coordinator
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine