Student Guidance for Spring Semester Return

December 23, 2021


Dear Students, 

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: January 10
  • Updates and Adjustments on our Campuses through January 18
  • Return to Campus Testing; Required for Campus Access
  • Research and Lab Spaces
  • University-Sponsored Travel
  • Study Abroad

The information in this email and other updates are available at


Spring Semester to Begin Virtually

Spring semester 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.  

Your instructors will contact you prior to your first classes with instructions regarding how to access your courses during the virtual period.

Accelerated Booster Deadline: January 10

Additionally, 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.

The GW Medical Faculty Associates’ Vaccine Center offers free booster doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.  Walk-ins are welcome, but you may also schedule an appointment online.

In Virginia, GW Nursing is partnering with My Dr's Pharmacy to administer COVID-19 boosters; appointments are required.

Many local health departments, retail pharmacies and doctors offices also offer the COVID-19 booster. 

Updates and Adjustments on our Campuses through January 18

  • 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 make available 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.
  • Clinical programs may conduct limited in-person learning activities with social distancing and personal protective equipment. 
  • 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 you can.  If it is positive, please report the result in the medical portal, begin an at-home isolation and do not return to campus.  

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 in addition to your pre-arrival test.  As part of our plan for a gradual return to campus and to ensure capacity, we ask students to test at a GW test center following the schedule below:

Non-residential/Off-Campus Students

  • All non-residential students are required to test at a GW test center by January 14 to ensure access to campus by January 18. 
  • 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. Pull a ticket upon entrance to the garage and then ask for a validation ticket at the testing center. You will need both tickets to exit the garage.

Residential Students

  • All residential students with approved winter break campus housing are required to test at the Foggy Bottom Testing Center on January 3.
  • We strongly encourage all returning residential students to complete a PCR or antigen COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to returning to campus.  If your test result is positive, do not travel and report your positive results to the Campus COVID-19 Support Team.
  • Students approved to return early to university housing, between January 3-7, are required to take a COVID-19 test at the Foggy Bottom Testing Center on the day of arrival or the next day if you arrive after the testing center is closed.. Your next test should be scheduled for three days after your first test.  Students will quarantine in their room until they receive a second negative PCR result. 
  • All remaining residential students returning to campus housing on January 8 or 9 must complete a check-in process, which includes a COVID-19 test on arrival.  If the arrival test is positive, students will be encouraged to return home to isolate.  If they are unable to return home, they will be provided a space to isolate.  If the arrival test is negative, students will be directed to move-in to their residence hall room.  Your next test at the Foggy Bottom testing center should be scheduled for three days after your arrival test.  Students will quarantine in their room until they receive a second negative PCR result. 
  • Campus Living and Residential Education (CLRE) will provide detailed instructions to you next week. 

Unvaccinated Students with a GW approved medical or religious exemption

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 (other than your residence hall room for residential students) for at least seven days. You will continue to test weekly and conduct daily symptom monitoring as long as they remain unvaccinated with an approved exemption.

NOTE! For all students, once you have completed your return to campus COVID-19 testing, 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.

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