West Virginia University is committed to providing an on-campus learning experience as the spring 2022 semester approaches; however, with the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and throughout the state because of the omicron variant, the University is implementing several updated campus health and safety protocols ahead of the start of classes that begin on Monday, Jan. 10.
“Given the prevalence of the omicron variant and evidence that it likely is more transmissible than previous strains, including the delta variant, we are taking several measures to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 as students, faculty and staff return to campus,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coben, dean of the School of Public Health and associate vice president for Health Affairs. “Now more than ever, we are asking our unvaccinated students, faculty and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine and for those who are vaccinated to get a booster if they are eligible.”
“It is imperative that we all do our part to protect ourselves and each other as we navigate this latest wave in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Coben added.
Five key areas to be aware of changes include:
- the definition of “fully vaccinated.”
- mask requirement.
- isolation procedures.
- quarantine procedures.
- free antigen self-test kit.
Read through each topic thoroughly to understand how the guidelines have changed. If you have any questions after reviewing the new guidelines, visit the Return to Campus website for the latest updates. Questions related to COVID-19 and WVU’s health and safety protocols can be submitted or sent via email to email@example.com.
To best protect our campus and local communities, do not ignore symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the health and safety protocols and do not report to campus for work or class. By personally taking the precautions necessary to protect yourself and others, we will keep our campus healthy and safe during this latest variant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from recent studies in South Africa and the U.K. suggest that boosters significantly enhance vaccine effectiveness against infection of the omicron variant. Boosters also decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death for those who are vaccinated but become infected with COVID-19.
Based on this information and guidance from public health officials and WVU medical experts, the University is updating its requirements for students, faculty and staff regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations.
To be considered fully vaccinated at WVU, an individual now must have both:
- Received their primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine (two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine).
- Received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after receiving their primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or at least two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.
The University continues to strongly encourage, but not require, vaccinations. The latest protocols update the definition of “fully vaccinated” for the WVU System.
Those on the Health Sciences Campus involved in patient care, including residents, fellows and students, are required to follow separate WVU Health System or other clinical provider’s policies, including those related to COVID-19 such as masks, PPE and vaccinations.
Verifying a COVID-19 vaccination
Students, faculty and staff will receive an email in the coming days with instructions and a link to verify their vaccination status, including their booster if eligible.
All students, faculty and staff must verify their vaccine status by Friday, Jan. 28.
COVID-19 vaccination clinics and dashboard
The University highly encourages those who have not gotten their primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine or those who have not yet received a booster to do so as soon as possible. Vaccines continue to be readily available across the country.
All upcoming clinics will be posted at book.novelhealth.ai/MCHDC as they become available. Students, faculty and staff should monitor the site for the latest information and follow these instructions to schedule an appointment. Free parking is available in Area 49 and lot ST-4.
WVU Medicine Student Health has the Pfizer vaccine available for WVU students at its clinic in the Health and Education Building. Walk-in appointments are offered during regular business hours (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
The Monongalia County Health Department is offering free vaccinations by appointment on most days at its facility at 453 Van Voorhis Rd. Anyone who wishes to be vaccinated can call 304-598-5119 to schedule an appointment. Other vaccination opportunities can be found at vaccines.gov.
Given the change in requirements for students, faculty and staff to be considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at WVU, the University’s public dashboard will be updated to report the vaccination verification rate on a biweekly basis beginning in early February for the Morgantown, Beckley and Keyser campuses.
Omicron is a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 and can cause severe symptoms and illness, especially in those who are unvaccinated. As a result, the University is strongly recommending the use of KN95 masks which provide an additional protection. Layering of masks and surgical masks is also better than a single cloth mask.
Masks will temporarily be required for everyone — regardless of vaccination status — indoors in all WVU System buildings and facilities beginning today through at least Feb. 1 when public health conditions will be reevaluated. The University is proactively making this move to assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and the omicron variant.
Masks are also required in clinical and patient care areas of the Health Sciences Campus.
Additionally, masks are required inside the Mountainlair, Evansdale Crossing and dining halls except when eating. Masks are also required inside the WVU Student Rec Center except when exercising.
Individuals, upon entering the residence halls, are required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
Students and guests who are fully vaccinated can remove their masks in the residence halls if:
- They are on a residence hall floor (including floor lounges). Note: There are some halls where a residence hall floor may be on the main level. Masks are still required in the main lobby/common areas of those halls. They can remove their masks once they are in the residential hallways.
- They are in a residence hall bedroom; however, a mask must be worn when responding/opening their doors.
- They are eating or drinking.
- They are in a residence hall fitness center.
Isolation procedures (for those who test positive for COVID-19)
The CDC recently announced new recommendations for isolation and quarantine procedures. WVU has incorporated these recommendations and will now adopt the following procedures.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, must isolate for at least five days. This includes any positive PCR test or any positive rapid antigen test.
Those individuals should remain in isolation until the following criteria are met.
The individual is now:
- At least five days from symptom onset and those symptoms have improved and has been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
- Persons who continue to have fevers and/or symptoms that do not improve within five days should remain in isolation until they meet the two criteria described above.
- Persons who test positive who never develop symptoms may discontinue self-isolation five days after the date of their first positive test.
- All individuals should wear a well-fitted face mask for an additional five days following the completion of their isolation period when around other people.
Students living in the residence halls who have COVID-19 will be isolated in Gaskins House. Non-residential students should isolate at their homes or residences.
After completing isolation, students may return to classes and resume other activities on campus, but they must wear a mask at all times for an additional five days when in the presence of others. Similarly, on-site and hybrid employees may resume on-campus work after completing isolation but must wear a mask for five additional days while around others, including in residence halls common areas or when exercising in public facilities. Repeated testing is not recommended or required at this time.
The CDC also updated the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19.
Individuals who have received a COVID-19 booster or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months or received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last two months do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19, but they should wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days after the exposure.
Individuals who are unvaccinated or those who are not yet boosted but are more than six months out from receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or more than two months out from receiving the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine are required to quarantine for five days. These individuals must also wear a well-fitted mask for an additional five days following the completion of their quarantine period, including in residence halls common areas or when exercising in public facilities.
Further, anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 — regardless of vaccination status — should be tested five days after exposure.
If symptoms occur at any point during the 10 days following exposure, the individual should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms the symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
Testing and monitoring
In partnership with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, WVU is providing students, faculty and staff with a free antigen self-test kit as they return from winter recess.
The tests should be used if the student, faculty or staff member is exposed or develops COVID-19 symptoms.
Students, faculty and staff must present their Mountaineer Card or employee ID to pick up a complimentary self-test and KN95 mask Monday, Jan. 10 through Friday, Jan. 14 at the following locations:
- Mountainlair (Blackwater Room) – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- WVU Student Recreation Center (lobby) – noon to 4 p.m.
- Health Sciences (near the Pylons) – 2 to 4 p.m.
WVU Tech campus pick-up will be at the Student Life Office at 505 S. Kanawha Street during normal business hours.
WVU Potomac State College residence hall students may pick up a self-test and KN95 mask during check-in on Sunday, Jan. 9. Faculty, staff and other students may pick them up Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Heath Center.
COVID-19 testing will be available throughout the semester in partnership with the Monongalia County Health Department, which will continue to offer community testing opportunities for the WVU community. Visit https://www.monchd.org/ for more information.
All WVU community members are required to report if they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining due to suspected or known exposure to COVID-19. In Morgantown, students and employees should report their positive results to CareServices@mail.wvu.edu.
Meetings and events
The University asks that health and safety protocols be used during all in-person meetings and events through Feb. 1, when public health conditions will be re-evaluated.
While strongly encouraged, masks are not required of individuals in private office spaces behind closed doors. With the mutual consent of the participants, masks may be removed in private meetings.
Masks are strongly encouraged, but not required indoors at WVU Athletics venues during public events.
COVID-19 module for new, incoming students
New students starting at WVU this spring are required to take the COVID-19 education module by Sunday, Jan. 9. Those who are returning this spring do not need to retake the module.
New students who are required to take the module should have received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with additional details. Students should check their junk and spam folders if they did not receive the email with instructions for completing the module.
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