Thanksgiving Break Health and Safety Guidance

November 16, 2020

Dear GW Community, 

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we encourage you to review guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to have a safe Thanksgiving. The CDC recommends limiting travel and celebrating the holiday with those in your immediate household to minimize your exposure to COVID-19 or the flu. Currently, transmission of COVID-19 is currently at record-breaking levels across the U.S. and travel is risky in this context.

We also want to make you aware of new guidance issued by the District of Columbia regarding self-quarantine, testing and travel. The university follows D.C. guidelines in order to help maintain the health and safety of our GW community.

If you travel to a location other than Maryland, Virginia or a low-risk state, please be aware of new guidance when you return to D.C. to live or work:

  • You must limit your activities and self-monitor for 14 days upon your return, or
  • You must limit your activities until you get tested for COVID-19 (within 3-5 days after  your return) and receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

Guidance for visitors has also been updated by the District. Visitors should follow the steps below: 

  • Get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of traveling to D.C. If they test positive, they should not travel. 
  • If visiting D.C. for more than three days, a person must get tested a second time within 3-5 days of their arrival. 
  • A person traveling to D.C. for a family emergency or funeral does not need to get a COVID-19 test prior to travel if getting a test is not feasible.
  • The self-quarantine and testing requirements do not apply to persons who will be in the District for less than 24 hours.

Virginia and Maryland have also issued new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Although the university has strong health and safety measures in place for the community, including mandatory COVID-19 testing and daily symptom monitoring for the on-campus cohort and testing for off-campus students, these measures are only part of the larger effort to keep our community safe.

As the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors, it is especially important to limit gatherings, wear masks and socially distance, even with friends and close contacts. On- and off-campus social gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less, per university and District guidelines. For more information on GW’s response to the coronavirus, visit

Today brings us news of a second vaccine for COVID-19, the Moderna vaccine, that initially seems to be strongly effective. We are proud that scientists in our medical and public health schools have participated in the trials for this vaccine, and hopeful that, over the next year, an effective vaccine will provide hope for a brighter future. Until then, we must all continue to take precautions to protect our own health and the health of those who are most dear to us. 

Thank you for your continued cooperation. We hope you have a safe and restful Thanksgiving break. 


Lynn Goldman
Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health

Scott Burnotes
Vice President for Safety and Facilities

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

M. Brian Blake
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dana Bradley
Vice President and Chief People Officer