Dear undergraduate students:
We are writing to you today as most of you are preparing to return to St. Louis for the start of the spring semester on Monday, January 25. We hope you have had a healthy and restful winter break and that you were able to spend time with your families. As you begin thinking about your return to campus, we wanted to share some additional reminders with you about the spring semester as it pertains to safety and the campus environment. We applaud all of you for your commitments to safety this past fall, and we are so grateful for the steps our community continues to take to keep each other safe. We can do this!
Please know that the most updated information about COVID-19 and Washington University can always be found on our WashU Together website.
We know some of you are choosing to begin the spring semester remotely, and some of you have also decided to study remotely for the full semester. For those of you not returning to campus, we look forward to welcoming you back when you feel comfortable returning. For those who are planning to return in the next 10 days, please carefully review the information below.
Entry and surveillance testing
YOU MUST SIGN UP FOR YOUR ENTRY TEST NOW IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO! All undergraduate students returning to campus are required to receive a COVID-19 entry surveillance test, just as we required in the fall semester. Entry testing runs daily from 8-4 p.m.in the Mudd Field tent (where surveillance testing took place during the fall semester) from January 19 through January 29. Sign up for your entry test on the WashU Rec Store site. You will be expected to self-quarantine in your apartment or residence hall room until your test result is known. This usually takes 24-36 hours. You will receive an email for a negative result or a call from Habif Health and Wellness staff with a positive result. Until you receive your negative result, you should only leave your residence hall to pick up grab-and-go meals and then return to your room to eat. Please arrange for a food delivery service if you are off campus or choose from one of our campus grab-and-go options.
Bi-weekly surveillance testing will resume on February 1. Instructions for signing up for surveillance testing will be provided by email to all undergraduate students during the first week of undergraduate classes.
As was the case in the fall, we must all continue to be vigilant, flexible and attentive to the current conditions. The University will be closely monitoring COVID-19 cases in our campus community as we begin the spring semester and, if needed, will adjust our strategies and expectations with the goal of keeping everyone here safe. This could include, if there are a significant number of positive cases to start the semester, that we temporarily restrict students to all but essential activity on campus.
We all must continue to adhere to the public health principles
Despite the fact we are hearing some good news related to a vaccine becoming more widely available, we do not anticipate that a significant portion of our student community will be vaccinated for most of this spring semester. The latest information about vaccines and health was shared this week in a message from our provost. Since a vaccine won’t be widely available soon, for the safety of everyone it remains imperative that we continue to all closely adhere to the university’s COVID Community Pledge and Policy Acknowledgement. You are required to continue to follow the public health principles even if you have already had COVID-19 or if you have been fortunate to have already received a vaccine. Now, more than ever, our individual choices about safety have a direct impact on everyone in the Washington University and St. Louis communities.
Self-Quarantine before Returning to campus
For anyone planning to return to campus in the next two weeks, you should already be in the middle of your self-quarantine that we announced at the end of the fall semester. As a reminder, undergraduate students are asked to significantly limit their interactions with others in the 14 days prior to departing for St. Louis for the start of the spring semester. This includes staying at home as much as possible, washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask if you must be in contact with anyone outside your home, and keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others outside of your family. Please monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and if they develop, seek medical advice before coming to St. Louis. Students should call Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-4959 or the COVID Call Center at 314-362-5056. Do not come to campus if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Please note these very important travel reminders:
- Don’t travel if you’re sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or loss of taste or smell), stay home.
- Bring masks and hand sanitizer with you and use both while traveling.
- Wear a mask at all times in airports, on planes, or in any closed space with other people. If you have access to a disposable surgical mask (also known as an isolation mask), consider wearing one during flights, or while riding trains or buses.
- Stay at least six feet away from other people as much as possible.
- If you are flying, double check to make sure you choose an airline that requires and enforces masking for everyone on board. Do the same with train or bus travel – be sure to check the policies of the transportation companies you choose and only travel with one that requires masks.
- If you are seated near a passenger who is not wearing a mask, ask to be moved to another seat.
- Use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in airports or other transportation hubs.
- Avoid gathering with groups of people, paying particular attention to boarding areas, information desks, and other places where a crowd may form.
Self-screening is an essential part of monitoring and controlling the spread of COVID-19 on campus. By completing the self-screen every day and before coming to campus, we engage in understanding what the COVID-19 symptoms are and recognize these symptoms early before we potentially infect others. We all have pledged to complete this screening every day, so we can keep each other safe. As a reminder, the self-screening tool is available at screening.wustl.edu.
Campus In-Person Activity
We cannot stress enough how important it is to remain vigilant as we begin the spring semester. In order to be together, we must continue to STRICTLY follow the public health guidelines. We remain hopeful that as we move through the spring semester we will be able to reevaluate the campus alert level to allow more in-person activity. Unfortunately, the conditions right now in St. Louis do not allow us to do this. We will begin the spring semester at the orange alert level.
However, we are pleased to announce, based on current public health guidance, that we will be reopening limited seating in all our dining areas on January 25th as we begin the spring semester. Also, the Sumers Recreation Center is currently offering modified winter break operating hours for students only and will begin its expanded spring hours beginning Monday, January 25th.
We also hope you will consider joining one of our many student groups. Our spring Student Activities Fair will be held on Friday, January 29th from 2:30-4:30pm CST. Join us at wugo.wustl.edu and browse the Virtual Activities Fair.
Thank you for all that you are doing to support one another as we begin our spring semester. We know we can have a successful start if we continue to work together!
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs