People walking past George statue; Question Mark

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 7/13/2021

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.

Members of the on-campus cohort this summer will be required to provide proof of vaccination by August 1, but we strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as possible and immediately upload their documentation to the medical portal immediately following their final dose.

We are actively planning to be on campus beginning this fall, with courses being held in person. 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].

No, GW’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement only applies to students, faculty and staff who are or may be expected to be on campus during the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. Visitors will be required to abide by the university’s COVID-related health and safety protocols, as applicable.

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. 

Your vaccine documentation must be uploaded in the medical portal by August 1 so that your campus access is available by the start of fall semester. If you miss this deadline, your access to campus will be affected. 

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

To meet the August 1 deadline for vaccine documentation submission, these dates can help guide your process. 

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.

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.

Your vaccine documentation must be uploaded in the medical portal by Aug. 1 so that your campus access is available by the start of fall semester. If you miss this deadline, your access to campus will be affected. Instructions on how to upload your documentation are available online.

To meet the Aug. 1 deadline for vaccine documentation submission, the following dates can help guide your process.

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.

As a reminder, your vaccine documentation must be uploaded in the medical portal by August 1. If you miss this deadline, your access to campus will be affected. 

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. Please check hours of operation

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.

International Students, Faculty and Staff

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. Please check hours of operation.

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.

The on-campus residence hall housing application process for fall 2021 is underway for currently enrolled undergraduate students (ie: rising sophomores, juniors and seniors). Campus Living and Residential Education (CLRE) has been communicating with all currently enrolled undergraduate students who are eligible and/or required to live in on-campus housing. 

If you are currently enrolled and plan on returning in the fall and have not received information from CLRE about housing and believe you should have, please email [email protected] to request assistance. 

If you plan to, or may want to, live on campus in the fall, and did not complete your application by the original April 30 deadline because you were unsure of your plans for fall, we encourage rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to reach out to the CLRE office at [email protected] so that we can work with you through the process. Applying for housing now will increase your chance of receiving your preferred room and building preference. You will not be billed for room and board until later in the summer, which will give you time to decide if you want to be in person for next academic year and make adjustments to best fit your needs. 

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.

Campus Health

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 monthly COVID-19 test. If you are given a vaccine exemption, you will be required to test weekly.

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, any residential student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be relocated for isolation 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 monthly 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.  You should schedule your first test as soon as possible when you return.  Until you complete that test, your access to campus will be restricted to your residence hall (if applicable), the testing sites, and parking garages.  The first test begins your monthly testing cycle.

Summer semester hours of the testing sites are available online.  

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

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

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.

Campus Access

The value currently set for your On Site (or On Campus indicator) can be reviewed in GWeb. Reference this document for more 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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