By Olivia Montes
On Aug. 20, the Washington College Contingency Planning Group released the updated COVID-19 guidelines and safety protocols. While the campus community has reached nearly an 87% total vaccination rate, surpassing its initial goal of 85%, the total community transmission level within Kent County still classifies as a High risk.
According to a report from The New York Times, Kent County has reported a total average of three cases per day, with an increase of 77 percent from the average reported two weeks prior, remaining at a particularly high risk for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike within the area.
To combat the potential spikes in COVID-19 cases on campus, the WC CPG has initiated new policies, as well as reinforced recommended practices, to prevent further transmission to abide by regulations enforced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is the updated list of new policies and commonplace action items and reminders students, staff, and faculty should keep in mind throughout the fall semester:
Indoor face mask-wearing policy: According to the email, it is required that all individuals must wear face masks and other coverings “in all indoor public areas, regardless of vaccination status,” including in all classrooms, labs, and other large meeting areas, including the Casey Academic Center, Johnson Fitness Center, and Miller Library. WC will not require students to wear masks in their own dorm or suite rooms or alone in private offices. However, regarding residence hall kitchens, laundry rooms, and student lounges, the CPG only strongly recommends wearing masks in the company of fellow students. However, it is still advised that all students continue using “good judgement” throughout the semester concerning mask-wearing.
Student-athlete mask-wearing policy: In following mask-wearing guidelines enforced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, WC Athletics mandates all student athletes to wear masks or other face coverings in all indoor settings and during team travel and meetings. Masks must also be worn both during in-person athletic and non-athletic interactions. Physical distancing will also be mandated for athletes, regardless of vaccination status.
Ban on overnight guests: Until further notice, both on and off-campus overnight guests will be strictly prohibited in all student residential halls and living spaces. The CPG will be reevaluating this ban later on in the fall semester.
NAVICA: Upon arriving on campus, all currently-enrolled students are required to undertake gateway COVID-19 testing. As it is being managed through the testing app NAVICA, all students must have a registered NAVICA account and be connected to the College via the app before arriving on campus. According to the CPG, “[any] failure to register in advance is going to result in lengthy delays at the testing site.” Any issues regarding the app, including absent emails from NAVICA or missing connection codes to the College, should be immediately directed to Health Services.
Transportation: According to the Aug. 26 email sent by WC Transportation, “all WC-owned, leased, or contracted vehicles used for official College business may now be used at their normal capacity,” including buses, cars, and minivans. Masks and other face coverings are required to be worn at all times when in vehicles. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will also be available. Each selected leader is required to clean every high-touch surface before and after each trip.