Officials loosen COVID-19 guidelines with monthly testing after full vaccination

Media Credit: File Photo by Eric Lee

The University required weekly testing for on-campus students since August, and experts credited the policy with helping control the pandemic within the campus community during the past school year.

By May 31, 2021 12:46 PM

GW will now only require monthly COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated students on campus.

Ray Lucas, the associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said officials plan to continue the monthly testing requirement into the fall semester for on-campus students who have uploaded full vaccination documentation to their medical portal. He said officials no longer require testing for fully vaccinated students returning from domestic travel, but students who traveled outside the United States must still get tested three to five days upon return.

The University required weekly testing for on-campus students since August, and experts credited the policy with helping control the pandemic within the campus community during the past school year. Lucas said the state of the pandemic continues to change, so guidelines are also subject to shift in the future.

“As with the beginning of the pandemic when new restrictions were added over time, the situation is rapidly changing,” he said in an email. “As the pandemic is winding down and we try to return to normal operations, the situation is again changing.”

Lucas said GW has not changed testing requirements for unvaccinated students, and students are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said more than 1,600 residential and non-residential students who are authorized for campus access have switched to monthly testing, and more than 4,000 students have uploaded vaccine records so far.

Lucas said fully vaccinated students can still get tested anytime if they’re worried about exposure to the coronavirus or believe they may have symptoms. Students who have symptoms and schedule a test are required to quarantine until receiving negative test results regardless of their vaccination status, he said.

“There is no need to test more frequently if you are fully vaccinated,” Lucas said. “Although rare, vaccination breakthrough infections can happen. Therefore anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can schedule a COVID test if they are worried about an exposure or are feeling ill.”

He added that the University will monitor the appearance of coronavirus variants, vaccination and case rates to determine whether to end testing requirements or increase testing frequency in the fall semester.

This article appeared in the June 4, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.

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