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Frequently Asked Questions

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 09/12/2022

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The Vaccine Requirement

GW requires 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.

Up-to-date means you are fully vaccinated and boosted. To be considered fully vaccinated, you must complete the full series of the vaccination and allow two weeks after the last dose. A booster shot is administered at most 6 months after your initial series. 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.

GW requires students, faculty, and staff in GW-owned or -operated facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an approved exemption. Information on requesting an exemption 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.

Yes, all staff members regardless of work designation are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, 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 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 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.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be included as part of GW’s immunization requirements for students. 

For students, faculty and staff: Once you have received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine, upload your documentation to the medical portal. 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.

GW’s COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2022 New, Incoming Students

GW requires all members of our community to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster shot, or have an exemption on file. To be fully vaccinated means completing your first booster five months after two doses of Pfizer or Moderna and two months after one dose of Johnson & Johnson. Students are not required to complete the second booster that is currently recommended for individuals over 50 or who are immunosuppressed.

All new, incoming undergraduate students (first-years and transfers) must upload their vaccine documentation by July 1. If you are not in compliance with GW’s vaccine and booster requirement by July 1, you will not be able to move into your residence halls and will not be able to register for fall classes on your designated registration day.  

All new, incoming graduate, law and medical students must upload their COVID-19 vaccination documentation and have it verified before they are able to register for fall classes based on their program’s registration schedule.  

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 Booster Requirement

All GW students, faculty and staff are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, i.e. fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible.

The booster requirement aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation and is part of our ongoing efforts to keep the GW community healthy and safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

You must receive a booster dose and upload documentation to the medical portal as soon as you become eligible. Instructions on how to upload documentation are online

If you currently have a medical or religious exemption to GW’s vaccine requirement, the booster mandate does not apply to you. However, you must continue to follow required campus health protocols. 

To find a COVID-19 vaccine and booster near you, visit VaccineFinder.org.

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.

Although the current COVID-19 vaccines continue to protect you from severe COVID-19 infections that result in hospitalization or death, the vaccines become less effective over time in preventing infections. Clinical studies have demonstrated that a vaccine booster dose will increase immune response to COVID-19.

A booster dose is an additional dose after your primary vaccination for COVID-19. If you received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a third dose of any FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine counts as a booster. If you received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a second dose of any FDA- or -WHO-approved vaccine counts as a booster.

Please refer to the CDC's guidance on eligibility. If you received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, you are eligible two months after your initial vaccination. If you received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you are eligible five months after completing your two-dose series. All individuals 16 years and older should get a booster. You are not subject to the booster mandate until you are eligible.

Yes. Mixing of vaccines is allowed. Your booster can be from any FDA- or WHO-approved manufacturer, even if it is not the same as your primary COVID-19 vaccine. There is some evidence that mixing vaccines from different manufacturers may provide a more robust immune response. If you are unsure of what kind of booster to receive, contact your healthcare provider, Student Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff).

If you are eligible for a booster, you can receive a COVID-19 booster dose as soon as you are out of your 7-day isolation and are symptom-free.  If you received monoclonal antibodies, you must wait 90 days. 

If you are eligible for a booster, you must receive the booster dose and upload your documentation for verification to access campus. 

Yes, you may access campus if you have a temporary extension for the booster mandate. You should contact the Student Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff) to request a temporary extension.

We will track booster dose eligibility based on your primary vaccination dates in the medical portal.  No action is required on your part. 

If you need a temporary extension due to a recent COVID infection, recent treatment with monoclonal antibodies or booster availability, contact the Student Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff).

  • Take a photo or scan your booster dose record, and keep a copy for your own records. 

  • Log into the medical portal.

  • Click on the "Enter My COVID-19 Vaccination Information" button on the Home screen.

  • On the pop-up window, click the "Upload" button to upload a copy or photo of your booster dose record (you are not required to enter any dates). 

The Student Health Center (students) or Occupational Health (faculty and staff) will review your booster dose record and add it to your medical record. This is a manual process and may take up to a week for your record to be updated. 

Yes, all staff members regardless of work designation are required to receive the COVID-19 booster vaccine, unless they receive an approved exemption.

Vaccine and Booster Exemptions

Students seeking exemption from any of the immunization and booster 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].

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 or booster. You are no longer required to test weekly. You may still be required to be on campus, e.g., if you are required to work on campus in whole or in part. If so, you will be required to comply with the university’s health and safety protocols. EEOA will engage in the interactive process with you to consider reasonable accommodations if necessary.

Those who have an exemption approved are not required to test weekly. If exposed, you will be placed into quarantine for a minimum of 7 days.

If you have an approved exemption and wish for it to continue, you do not need to take further action. Your exemption will be renewed through June 30, 2023. If your circumstances change and you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, please upload your records to the medical portal.

 Exposure and Positive Cases

When a GW student, faculty or staff member tests positive, they are contacted by Student Health or Occupational Health. They are sent an electronic survey by the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST). On this form, positive cases are asked to disclose their close campus contacts and any classes they attended in person in the past 48 hours. CCST will inform any confirmed close contact of next steps.

No. All external GW exposures to COVID must be reported to the CCST by emailing [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 Student 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.

When someone in a classroom tests positive for COVID-19 and this information is disclosed to CCST via survey, CCST may notify the instructor/teaching assistant. If you are identified as a close contact, you may be personally notified. If you are not personally notified, there is no specific action required on your part. It may take 24-48 hours to send notifications after a case is identified. If at any time you are worried about a possible COVID-19 exposure, you may self-schedule a COVID test at a GW test site.

Fully vaccinated students who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should contact the Student 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.

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.

COVID-19 Testing

 

No, routine asymptomatic testing is not required for students, faculty and staff.

Our mandatory testing program has given us insights on how COVID-19 is transmitted on campus. At this stage of the pandemic, we find most people who test positive do have symptoms (often mild) and we think that they can decide on the basis of their symptoms to schedule testing.  While mandatory testing is paused, campus access is not dependent upon compliance with mandatory testing nor will you receive reminders to make appointments.

If COVID-19 cases on campus or in the community spike, or if a new COVID-19 variant arises that is more dangerous or resistant to vaccines or treatment, we may re-institute mandatory testing in the future.

Yes! We encourage you to schedule a COVID-19 test through GW at any time. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should schedule a symptomatic test. If you are testing for another reason, and have no symptoms, schedule an asymptomatic test. Schedule online through the medical portal.

If you are unvaccinated, we strongly recommend that you test on a weekly basis. However, this is no longer mandatory and campus access is not dependent upon mandatory testing.

If you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 you should stay home, wear a mask, and schedule a symptomatic test as soon as possible. You should test if you have a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 or if directed to test by the CCST after a campus exposure.  It is a good idea to test before and after travel and before or after you have been in large gatherings or events where you may have been exposed.

If an outside COVID -19 test is positive (PCR or antigen) you must promptly submit the result through the medical portal.  While mandatory testing is stopped (or paused), you are not required to upload a negative outside COVID-19 test.

Antigen tests are not as sensitive as a PCR test for COVID-19. A single negative antigen test does not rule out COVID-19 with much certainty.  However, if you have a positive antigen test, you most likely have COVID.  We use antigen tests to clear out of isolation status sooner than ten days because a positive antigen test is associated with being contagious to others.

 

Mask Information

Masks are mandatory in indoor instructional settings, such as classrooms and teaching laboratories, as well as GW transportation services such as the Mount Vernon Express, VSTC Express and SafeRide.

In addition, masks remain required in university health care facilities, including the Student Health Center and the GW Medical Faculty Associates, which is consistent with the District of Columbia’s guidance

In all other university-owned or -operated facilities and contexts, especially when in crowded indoor spaces for extended periods of time, masks are optional but remain strongly recommended. 

All students, faculty and staff can pick up free N95 masks at our test centers and other locations on our campuses.

N95 masks protect from aerosol transmission of the virus, especially indoors.  While no mask provides 100 percent protection, a N95 mask is more protective than double masking or wearing single-layer masks.

No, N95 masks distributed for general campus use should not replace an N95 mask or respirator that is required in some occupational settings where fit testing is required.

Fit-testing is not required for general use on campus. Please follow the directions below to ensure your N95 mask fits snugly.

  • Remove your mask from the package with clean hands.

  • Unfold the mask and pull the bands outward on both ends.

  • Position the mask on your face with the adjustable metal strip facing up on the bridge of your nose.

  • Place the two bands over your head.

  • Press down on the metal strip lightly to ensure the mask is securely sealed.

Facial hair may create a poor seal and can reduce the effectiveness of an N95 mask. It is recommended that there is no facial hair in areas where the mask contacts the face. The CDC has additional information and suggested facial hairstyles that work better with N95 masks.  An instructional video is also available.

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.

The use of N95, KN95 or double masking is strongly encouraged.

Visitor Information

Visitors are not required to demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative COVID-19 test. This applies to attendees at events in GW venues (Smith Center, Lisner Auditorium, Jack Morton Auditorium, etc.) except where expressly stated.

No, visitors and guests do not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and are no longer required to verify full vaccination against COVID-19, except where expressly stated. 

Campus Access

All GW students, faculty and staff are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, meaning you are fully vaccinated and have at least one booster dose. Campus access through a GWorld card is granted to those in compliance with this requirement. 

International Students, Faculty and Staff

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