In response to the surge of COVID-19 cases across the United States caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Georgetown University is taking extra health precautions for the spring semester.
While students are permitted to return to campus beginning Jan. 11, the university will begin operations virtually with all classes, events and other campus programming held online until Jan. 31, according to a Jan. 5 email sent to campus community members from University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95).
All campus dining locations will operate on a grab-and-go basis and Yates Field House, a main campus recreation site, will remain closed.
Students are advised to consider the plan, including high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the possibility of limited isolation space in the Leavey Center Hotel — which was used for isolation space in the fall — when deciding when to return to campus, according to an email sent to students from Vice President and Chief Public Health Officer Ranit Mishori (MED ’02) on Jan. 5.
“We urge you to consider these factors when making your decision regarding the best time for your return to campus. As a reminder, you are not required to move back to campus on January 11, unless there are specific circumstances that require you to return by then,” the email reads.
To ease the transition to campus for the spring semester, The Hoya has compiled a list of these new procedures and policies.
Pre-arrival and Arrival Testing
Students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus for the spring semester are required to take both a PCR lab test and rapid antigen test upon arrival on campus, according to an email sent by Vice President and Chief Public Health Officer Ranit Mishori (MED ’02) to campus community members Jan. 5.
Students traveling to campus from outside the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia region should take either a PCR test or a rapid test 24 to 48 hours before departing for campus and those who test positive should isolate where they are, according to a second email to students from Mishori sent later in the day Jan. 5.
Individuals are exempt from PCR testing on campus if they tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days of their scheduled campus arrival and have already sufficiently quarantined, according to the email. These individuals still must take a rapid test upon arrival to campus. If they have not done so already, recovered students should email their positive COVID-19 test results to [email protected].
Prior to arriving on campus, students should schedule a PCR test at the Healey Family Student Center (HFSC) or the Leavey Center via the One Medical app for the date they expect to arrive on campus. Upon their arrival, students should proceed to their testing site where they will take a PCR test and rapid antigen test.
Those who test positive will receive guidance on isolation and next steps from staff. Students who test negative will move into their on-campus residences as usual.
If students need to return to campus during the weekend or after COVID-19 testing, which operates Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, is closed, they should go directly to their residence hall and wear a mask while inside university owned buildings, according to Mishori’s Jan. 5 email to students. These students should pick up a rapid antigen test the next morning at the Leavey Center Hotel and schedule a PCR test for when testing reopens, according to the email.
In the case that there is an overflow of students who test positive for COVID-19, students should expect to be isolated two to a room in the Leavey Center Hotel or in their on-campus residence hall, according to the email.
“We may not be able to provide isolation space at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center for all residential students who test positive if we continue to have a significant positivity rate on campus,” the email reads.
The university has acquired additional isolation rooms at an external hotel near campus, according to an email sent by Mishori to students on Jan. 10.
In the case of limited space in the Leavey Hotel, COVID-19 positive and negative students may be housed in the same room or apartment.
Students, faculty and staff are required to wear masks in indoor public places on campus and should wear properly fitted high-grade masks such as N95s, KN95s or KF94s, according to the university’s COVID-19 FAQ page. Students should not wear cloth masks or masks with valves or vents because they do not sufficiently reduce transmission, according to the page.
Students will be able to pick up free N95 masks when they get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, according to Mishori’s email. Free high-grade masks will all be available at entrances to most campus buildings and employees can receive masks from their departments, according to the FAQ page.
Although current university guidelines allow for fully vaccinated individuals to remove their masks indoors while speaking or lecturing, due to current pandemic conditions faculty and staff are strongly discouraged from doing so, according to the FAQ page.