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Frequently Asked Questions

The new 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, Keeping GW Healthy Training, and Student, Faculty & Staff Travel Notification. The portal offers issue-based instructions, troubleshooting tips and guidance to assist you in resolving questions or concerns independently wherever possible.

Updated 9/21/2020
* = Question and/or answer has recently been updated.

General

Many in our community have worked tirelessly to prepare plans for the fall, and we have been evaluating numerous contingencies as the pandemic has evolved this summer. Most recently, we have been reviewing these plans in the context of some very important considerations: the latest data on the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many areas of the country, guidance from our public health experts, and impact on our residential experience. We have also listened to the ongoing feedback from the GW community, including a sentiment of growing unease among our faculty about in-person instruction and among our students about living on campus.

Based on these considerations, we have made the difficult decision to hold all undergraduate courses online for the fall semester, with limited exceptions. We will provide housing on campus only for a limited number of students who have extenuating personal or academic circumstances. Residential students will attend courses online and will be expected to comply with public health and safety measures including social distancing, mask wearing and regular testing for COVID-19. These students will also attend courses online. Additionally, most graduate programs will be conducted online, with certain programs holding discipline-specific in-person classes.

We are continuing to gather information about the current spread of the virus and projections about its trajectory—both in the D.C. region and nationally—and how these factors and any local government limitations will affect our operations next semester.  There are too many uncertainties at this point to be able to provide an update.  While we continue to consider all options for the spring semester, we are actively pursuing efforts to support the safety of the campus community if we can begin to bring more of our community back to campus. We expect to provide an update on spring planning in mid-October and are aiming for a final decision about spring in early December.

GW is committed to minimizing travel outside the national capital region (NCR). Any university-affiliated travel that is believed to be essential will be subject to approval from the relevant dean or vice president during the fall 2020 semester. Travel by faculty or staff is not essential if it can be postponed or managed by alternative methods, such as electronically. Professional or educational conferences are defined as non-essential travel. 

The District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Virginia and State of Maryland require that face coverings be worn inside essential business, which includes the university. GW is following D.C. regulations at all of its campuses/centers, regardless of location, i.e., Virginia and Maryland unless the other jurisdiction is more restrictive. The District of Columbia requires masks outside as well, when anyone is likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time. Relevant exceptions are as follows:

  • A person is actually eating or drinking;

  • A person is in an enclosed office that no one else is permitted to enter;

  • A person is aged two (2) years old or younger;

  • A person is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability, or is physically unable to remove a mask;

  • A person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker;

  • A deaf or hard of hearing person needs to read the lips of a speaker;

  • The equipment required for a job precludes the wearing of a mask and the person is wearing that equipment, or when wearing a mask would endanger public safety;

  • A person has been lawfully asked to remove the mask for facial recognition purposes; and

  • A person is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining social distance of at least six (6) feet from each other person.

GW is allowing students, faculty and staff to eat in designated areas (break rooms, individual office/cubicle, other flex spaces approved for dining) as long as they are maintaining the required 6 feet of physical space from others, compliant with room occupancy limits and keeping their area clean. We are not allowing individuals to eat in classroom/lab spaces or common areas like building lobbies. The individual should immediately put their mask back on when they are finished eating/drinking.

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

If you have extenuating circumstances and need temporary, one-day emergency access to campus, you will need to do the following:  

1. Foggy Bottom Campus: Visit the GWPD Community Police Center at the corner of 22nd and G streets. The center will be open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. starting Tuesday, September 8.

2. Virginia Science & Technology Campus: Visit an Allied Universal staff member at the front desk of your building, Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. starting Tuesday, September 8.

3. Complete an on-site symptom screening and fill out a verification form about your emergency request to visit campus.  

4. Once complete, the security officer will call a representative to provide you temporary access only to your office and/or the location you will be able to access. Your access will be automatically turned off at that day's close of business.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

GW is proud of the robust resources and services it has provided, and will continue to provide, to students online.  We recognize, however, that many undergraduate students will not have access to certain in-person resources they would have had as residential students. And we further recognize that the pandemic has caused unprecedented financial dislocation for many members of our community. We have accordingly decided that we will provide a 10 percent tuition reduction to Foggy Bottom undergraduate students who do not live on campus. This includes students assigned to live on Mount Vernon campus.

Need based aid will be adjusted for students who do not live on campus based on the updated cost of attendance for the fall semester.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance has posted a list of frequently asked questions for students and families.

Academics

As we have shared previously, knowing the dynamic nature of this pandemic, we have been preparing for fall scenarios that rely on a strong online operation. We have learned from the spring and summer and used our experiences and additional time to further enhance our teaching, learning, and community engagement at a distance. We directed considerable resources into virtual instructional technology, and our staff and faculty have been actively collaborating to develop innovative ways to continue to provide a rigorous and high-quality academic experience for all students.

More than 400 faculty have signed up for FLEX camp sessions to transition existing in-person coursework to online formats.  Over 370 faculty have attended Blackboard workshops and webinars. Our Libraries and Academic Innovation teams and Division of Information Technology will continue to provide support for faculty who are adapting coursework for online instruction in preparation for the fall semester.

 

A full range of academic support continues to be offered virtually in fall 2020. Tutoring and course review sessions through Academic Commons will be offered in an online format. Writing and research consultations will also be available online. Coaching, offered through the Office of Student Success, will also be available in a virtual format.

Academic Commons offers several short videos addressing different virtual learning strategies for the unique circumstances of the fall 2020 semester. They also offer a variety of live virtual workshops to equip students with the tools they need to succeed in this new environment.

Course material information for all students is available at go.gwu.edu/coursematerials and via gwshops.com. Students may purchase from either site. The majority of course materials listed as books are also available digitally. GW is offering free shipping on course materials and supplies during August, and an email with the code will be sent to students’ gwmail.gwu.edu address; ground shipping is provided. Returns should be sent to: GW Campus Store, 800 21st Street, NW, Marvin Center LL, Washington, DC 20052. For order specific, or other questions please submit questions online, send an email to [email protected] or call 202-994-6870.

Residential students from areas D.C. defines as high-risk states, should have course materials and supplies shipped to their on-campus residential assignment. During their 14-day quarantine period limited essential items, such as your course materials will be delivered to the residence halls as part of residential package delivery. Outside of the quarantine restrictions, students will be able to pick-up textbook orders inside Marvin Center on the ground floor next to the GWorld office and will need to select on-campus pick-up.

Gelman, Himmelfarb, Burns, and VSTC Libraries will be open and operating for the fall 2020 semester with some restrictions listed below. Eckles Library will not reopen in the fall.

Additional information about library operations
 

Student Life

Our Student Affairs teams are developing more ways to help students continue to engage virtually with one another and the broader university community, including through student organizations and virtual programming.  All students will have access to a robust schedule of virtual opportunities to connect and create communities.  Student organizations will function virtually, and a virtual student organization fair is planned for the first weeks of school.  Weeks of Welcome during the first six weeks of school will provide virtual programming to kick-off the new year.  Student Affairs will work with student organizations to support student-to-student events, with the Program Board on larger events and with the Student Association on student advocacy programming, among others.  

First-year and transfer students will receive additional support and resources to aid their transition into the community, with virtual orientation beginning August 3.  Student Affairs will also launch a new program, Thrive GW, to pair incoming students with campus mentors.

Academic advising will continue virtually, and plans are also underway for experiential learning and career services, including virtual career fairs, micro-internship opportunities and one-on-one career coaching, among others.  

More information will be shared leading up to and throughout the fall semester.

 

Limited on-campus services will be available for students living on-campus, including the Colonial Health Center, Gelman Library and Lerner Health and Wellness Center. Residential Life and Student Affairs staff will lead specialized small group activities for students living on-campus in addition to virtual programming planned for all students.

GW is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which has postponed its entire fall sports schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic. For more information about GW Sports, visit gwsports.com.

Housing

Students living on-campus will be expected to commit and adhere to required health and safety guidelines established by the university, the District of Columbia and other local jurisdictions. Public health measures will include regular testing for COVID-19, protocols for quarantine and isolation, requiring cloth face coverings outside of living spaces, enhanced cleaning protocols, and social distancing, including providing each student living on-campus with their own bedroom. Visitors will not be permitted. Additional information will be provided by Campus Living and Residential Education to those approved for fall on-campus housing.

Students approved for on-campus housing this fall will have their own bedroom, allowing students to quarantine in place in compliance with requirements by the D.C. government.

Beginning Friday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m., access to all of GW’s campuses will be limited to only those who have special permission to be on campus. GWorld card access to university buildings on the Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Virginia Science and Technology campuses will be disabled on this date for those without permission to be on campus. Access to GW centers and offices in leased spaces will also be restricted. 

On-campus housing is being provided to a limited number of students with extenuating personal or academic circumstances, with public health measures. All other students should not come to campus unless they have been granted a limited exception for extenuating circumstances and should plan to access services virtually.

Housing and meal plan charges were applied to student bills on Thursday, July 16, based on those who had a fall housing assignment as of July 15. The charges will be reversed, and you will not be required to pay for housing or your meal plan. The reversal of charges may take some time. Continue to check your bill for updates and if your charges have not been removed by August 27, please contact Student Accounts for assistance.  

Campus Living and Residential Education will work with students whose belongings remain in the off-site storage facilities and who now will not be returning this fall to live in on-campus housing to determine a plan to reunite these students with their belongings. The Campus Living and Residential Education team will reach out directly to these students to provide options for reunification with their belongings.

Campus Health

The university has established a CLIA-certified laboratory to support a large-scale, in-house testing program. At this time, the program covers persons that are part of the fall 2020 on-campus cohort and will be carried out without charge to individuals. Regular surveillance testing of asymptomatic persons is proposed to continue throughout the fall semester, and testing will also be immediately available to any member of the fall 2020 on-campus cohort who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed.

In-house testing allows for the earliest possible identification and containment of all infected persons, including asymptomatic infections. It also enables the university to monitor any changes in COVID-19 transmission over time and across our diverse campus facilities and activities, so that we plan and scale modifications to operations based on specific changes in metrics. Testing for the virus antibody at two points in time (the beginning and end of the semester) will be used to determine the cumulative transmission of the virus over the course of the semester.

The Colonial Health Center (CHC) will serve as the main health care resource for students. The new GW Occupational Health program will provide support for the ongoing health and safety of GW faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are two types of COVID-19 tests. A viral PCR test tells you if you have a current infection. An antibody test tells you if you potentially had a previous infection.

Viral PCR testing for COVID-19 is critical to identify, isolate, and provide treatment for persons infected with the virus. This testing allows the university to ensure its members are cared for and to contain the spread of the virus not just on campus but within the broader communities of which we are a part.

For viral PCR testing, a healthcare professional will place a flocked polyester swab up nose at least 1 cm (0.5 inch) and rotate around your nasal membrane and leave in place for at least 5 seconds, and then repeat the swabbing procedure in the other nostril. While this will not hurt, it might be uncomfortable. The antibody testing is a serology (blood) test. A healthcare professional will prick your finger, and a small amount of blood (1 teaspoon) will be collected.

All members of the fall 2020 on-campus cohort will be tested, excluding students, faculty, and staff affiliated with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and who spend time only within the health care campus (Ross Hall and the Medical Faculty Associates buildings).

No. At this time, testing is limited to the fall 2020 on-campus cohort. The testing population will be reevaluated for the spring 2021 semester.

To find additional COVID-19 testing sites in your area, visit the Medical Faculty Associates, the District of Columbia Coronavirus website, the Maryland Coronavirus website, or the Virginia Department of Health website.

Yes, as stated in the COVID-19 Campus Health and Wellbeing Policy, viral PCR testing is mandatory, as this test is critical for the university to identify, isolate, and provide treatment for persons with an active COVID-19 infection. Antibody testing will be offered as a free clinical laboratory test for all members of the on-campus cohort. It is not mandatory but encouraged since it will assist the university in tracking the total COVID transmission over the fall semester. 

No. The university will cover the cost of all tests for faculty, staff, and students conducted by the public health laboratory.

Currently, testing is offered at the Foggy Bottom and Virginia Science and Technology (VSTC) campuses. Both campuses will offer surveillance, or asymptomatic, testing of the general fall 2020 on-campus cohort. However, only the Foggy Bottom campus will provide testing for persons who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or persons who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The test sites are as follows:

  • Foggy Bottom: Smith Center, 600 22nd St., NW, Washington, DC 20052
  • Virginia Science and Technology Campus: Enterprise Hall, 44983 Knoll Square, Ashburn, VA 20147

At the onset of the fall 2020 semester, all members of the on-campus cohort will be tested weekly. However, this frequency may be reevaluated and scaled due to specific changes in disease transmission rates and/or outbreaks.

You will be able to make an appointment for testing at the Foggy Bottom Campus or the Virginia Science & Technology Campus by going to the My CHC Portal.

When you make an appointment, you will first be asked if you are a student or an employee at the university (NOTE: if you are both a student and an employee, select a student test), then select either surveillance (asymptomatic) or sick (symptomatic) test. Next, you will be provided with testing site and appointment time options. A portal instruction document (PDF) is available if needed.

At this time, individuals with symptoms can only be tested on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

You need to bring two things:

1. The confirmation QR code that you receive after you have made an appointment, downloaded on to your phone or printed out on a piece of paper. 

2. A photo ID (GWorld card, driver’s license, or passport).

First, you will be asked to go to the registration desk, where someone will scan your QR code, then ask to see your photo ID. Next, you will be provided with a test specimen tube labeled with your information, which you will bring to the next stop, the sample collection station. At the sample collection station, someone will swab your nostrils to collect the sample for testing. This whole process is expected to take less than 10 minutes.

The GW Public Health Lab will process your test and provide test results within 24 – 48 hours. 

All test results will be made available through My CHC Portal. Each individual will receive a prompt via email or text to log into the My CHC Portal to receive their test results. Individuals with a positive test result will also receive outreach from the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST) to discuss the next steps.

If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral PCR test, it means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. 

However, it is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative) in some people with COVID-19. This means that you could possibly still have COVID-19 even though the test result is negative. If your test is negative, your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with all other aspects of your medical history (such as symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location of places you have recently traveled) in deciding how to care for you.

If your test results are negative, you should continue to adhere to the policy, including guidelines on social distancing, symptom tracking, personal protective equipment (PPE), handwashing, etc. But, no additional actions are required.

If you have a positive test result, it is very likely that you have COVID-19. 

There is a very small chance that this test can give a positive result that is wrong (a false positive result). Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine how best to care for you based on the test results along with medical history, and your symptoms.

If your test results are positive the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST) will reach out to you to discuss your next steps. You will be directed to contact either the Colonial Health Center (students), GW Occupational Health program (faculty and staff), or your primary care physician. Additionally, you will be advised not to come to campus and to isolate based on CDC guidelines. Your provider will provide additional information on isolation and how you will be cleared to return to on-campus classes or work. Once you have a positive test you will be excused from the viral PCR testing for a total of 90 days.

Additional information can be found on the following pages:

If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, you could have been infected with the coronavirus previously, whether or not you ever developed symptoms of the disease.

There’s a very small chance that your COVID-19 test results could be wrong. This is called a false positive or false negative test result. Your best course of action is to adhere to the behaviors outlined in the policy and contact Colonial Health Center (students), 202-994-5300, or the GW Occupational Health program (faculty and staff), if you develop symptoms and/or your symptoms escalate. 

All test results, positive and negative, will be reported to D.C. Health, Virginia Department of Health or other state or county governmental entity as may be required by law. Your test results will be disclosed to the Colonial Health Center (students), the GW Occupational Health program (faculty and staff), and the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST). For all positive results the CCST will transmit case reports as required by D.C. Health and the Virginia Department of Health.

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 CCST for any needed follow-up by GW.

The university will require seasonal influenza immunizations for on-campus students, faculty and staff, with exceptions based on medical conditions and religious beliefs in compliance with legal requirements and standards of medical care. This will help reduce the number of people with flu-like symptoms that healthcare professionals need to treat.

GW community members can order PPE through the university's COVID-19 Product catalog.

You should contact the Campus COVID Support Team at [email protected].

At any time during the semester if you fall out of compliance because of your testing frequency or from missing too many daily system monitor checks, and you are notified that your GWorld access has been suspended, you will need to: 

  1. Immediately schedule a test for the next time you will be on campus.

  2. When you arrive on campus, obtain a COVID-19 test. 

  3. For Foggy Bottom Campus: Visit the GWPD Community Police Center at the corner of 22nd and G streets. The center will be open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. starting Sept. 8.
    For Virginia Science & Technology Campus: Visit an Allied Universal staff member at a front desk, Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. starting Sept. 8.

  4. Once there, present your green “cleared” badge (as displayed on your medical portal) to the security officer. They will call a representative to activate your GWorld card access but only if the suspension on your account is due to an overdue test.

Update your symptoms in the medical portal. The portal is mobile friendly and this daily tracking should take less than two minutes per day once you are in a regular routine.

International Students

Financial Impact

Dana Bradley, chief people officer spoke with GW Today about these personnel actions and transition assistance for those affected.

Due to the financial impact of GW’s updated fall plans and to continue to protect our core academic mission, university leadership made the decision to temporarily suspend university base and matching contributions to the 401(a) Retirement Plan for Faculty and Staff (the 401(a) Plan) beginning in October.

GW Benefits provided answers to questions about what this means for faculty and staff in a recent infomail.

Neighbors

The Zoning Commission has passed a text amendment giving relief to D.C. colleges and universities. Nonetheless, the decision to move most classes online renders the request for relief moot for the fall.

In order to protect the health and safety of GW students, faculty and staff, all buildings will be restricted 24/7 and require an authorized GWorld card for entry. 

GW will be providing a fall housing option for a limited number of undergraduate students with extenuating personal or academic circumstances. Students who met the university’s criteria for residential housing were notified on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, and provided with instructions to apply to be considered for on-campus housing. We expect the fall 2020 on-campus student population be less than 10% of our usual capacity.

The university does not have any plans to change the current on-campus residency requirements. GW is providing very limited housing on campus, and thus first-, and second-, and third-year students who are not able to secure on-campus housing in the fall will be credited with a semester of on-campus residency.

Due to the reduced number of students projected to live on campus during the fall 2020 semester, GW does not anticipate using its Mount Vernon Campus residence facilities. As the circumstances change, the university may reconsider Mount Vernon’s operating status. We will notify the public of any change.

No. As a result of the significant reduction of the university’s on-campus student population, GW will not place students in these facilities during the fall 2020 semester.

As a result of GW’s decision to move all classes online for the fall semester, the university anticipates a significantly reduced number of students living on-campus. This change has eliminated the need to secure an off-campus facility for isolation purposes.

The university is actively discouraging students from moving into nearby off-campus housing. Access to campus will be limited during the fall semester, with public health measures in place. Students not permitted to reside on campus will attend courses online and access most services virtually.

The university will direct students to comply with public health protocols in place during the fall in order to adjust response and expectations based on current and evolving public health circumstances. These directives will include adhering to District requirements regarding quarantining, limiting the size of gatherings, wearing masks and social distancing. The Code of Student Conduct provides that the university may enforce its directives off campus. 

GW is outreaching to all student organizations and emphasizing that they will be held accountable for failure to comply with university directives and public health guidelines through the Code of Student Conduct.
Outcomes will be specific to each case and may include warnings, censure, probation, public health education, and the possibility of immediate and/or long-term removal from the university. 

Additionally, members of the university community will be required to adhere to the COVID-19 Campus Health and Wellbeing Policy. The policy requires the GW community to self-monitor for disease symptoms, practice personal safety and health practices, adhere to all posted signage and campus directives, and provide immunization and vaccine records as directed subject to exceptions related to medical conditions and religious beliefs. Members of the community will also be requested to comply with the infection control and mitigation protocols of the university, including testing, isolating and quarantining, if directed by officials.

The Vern Express Shuttle operations will be suspended until further notice.

The public can access testing via the GW MFA which has testing capacity for tests ordered by our clinicians. The MFA also has cooperated with D.C. Health to set up and operate COVID-19 drive-in and walk-in test sites throughout the district.

The university plans to develop and update regularly an online dashboard to share with the larger GW community the number of confirmed cases and transmission rate, while preserving the privacy of individual members of the campus community.

Many campus buildings will be closed. The buildings that are open will be restricted to approved GWorld holders. Neighbors can still walk through campus open spaces and go to restaurants and stores on campus that have public street access.