by TAMARA OMER
During a Board of Visitors meeting that took place on Jan. 20, President Troy Paino addressed the current surge of COVID-19 cases within the Fredericksburg region.
With the anticipation of about 1,700 students returning to reside on campus, UMW’s COVID-19 implementation team has planned to enforce stronger COVID-19 protocols and testing policies for the spring 2021 semester.
“We will be delivering some messages in the week to come about the importance of us being very conscious of our impact on the community,” said Paino.
Spring 2021 protocols and policies
Protocols such as MMDC (Monitor, Mask, Distance, Clean) will remain in place for the spring semester, although increased testing and monitoring of cases will occur as well. Details for updated COVID-19 policies and protocols were discussed during UMW’s Return to Campus presentation and can be found on UMW’s Return to Campus page.
“Every student, in order to have access to the university whether residential or off-campus, will be required to complete an entry test in the Anderson Center,” said Tim O’ Donnell, co-coordinator of the COVID-19 response team, in the presentation.
Entry and prevalence tests will be administered by MWHC (Mary Washington Healthcare). Commuter students will also be required to complete entry tests before accessing campus.
More changes include increased prevalence testing throughout the semester. Every week, 500 students will be randomly selected to participate in COVID-19 testing. All students will be required to take an exit test at the end of the semester.
According to Jeff McClurken, the Co-Coordinator of UMW’s return to campus plan, only students are required to test for COVID-19.
“Faculty and staff have been encouraged to get tested at one of the many Rappahannock Area Health District clinics,” said McClurken.
COVID-19 Monitoring resources:
There are two ways students can track case numbers or stay informed on whether or not they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. They can either download the COVIDWISE app or check the COVID-19 dashboard.
The COVIDWISE app was developed by the Virginia Department of Health and notifies users if they have come into contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.
UMW also has a page that includes data on covid cases occurring on campus. Students are able to view how many entry tests, self-reports, SHC tests and cases are recorded cumulatively from Jan. 1 to the end of the semester.
For positive testing results/symptomatic students:
Students who test positive at an entry, prevalence or exit test will be given a PCR test, and will be relocated to either an off or on campus site reserved for isolation purposes.
Students who experience symptoms of the virus while on campus are advised to contact the Student Health Center immediately. Soon after they contact the health center, attend a telehealth appointment, and are approved for symptomatic testing, they will be relocated to Marshall Hall for an administered rapid antigen test.
If students are reported as negative but are still experiencing a high level of symptoms, they will be given a PCR test and will be relocated in order to isolate.
If students are reported as positive they will be redirected to a space to be isolated.
According to UMW’s Covid care coordinator, Elizabeth Southern, there are four dorms available for students who need to isolate or quarantine on campus. Two of them are for students who need to isolate, and two are for students who need to quarantine.
Students will not be able to decide where they get to stay during their period of isolation or quarantine.
“The students don’t really have a choice as to which dorm they move into as the decision is based on availability,” said Southern.
Second week Spring 2021
On Jan. 29, an email was sent out to all UMW students regarding an update on in-person classes. Due to a prediction of inclement weather, in-person classes were being held remotely from Monday, February 1 to Tuesday, February 2.
Although in-person classes were delayed, testing protocols are still being implemented
“All students are still required to complete COVID-19 entry testing prior to accessing campus,” wrote Vice President for student affairs Juliette Landphair