Officials have instructed faculty not to ask students or staff about their vaccination statuses or encourage them to wear a mask in their classrooms this fall.
Interim Provost Chris Bracey said in a letter to faculty Wednesday that officials expect masks to be optional for fully vaccinated individuals and for social distancing to no longer be required for the fall semester. He said faculty members are not expected to “police” vaccine compliance in their classrooms and should expect that students are following proper guidelines.
About 99 percent of students on campus this fall are expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the roughly one percent of the on-campus student population granted exemptions from GW’s vaccine requirement will be required to wear masks, receive weekly COVID-19 tests and monitor their symptoms daily.
“We expect our students to adhere to University and District policies, guidelines and directives or may face consequences for not abiding by the Code of Student Conduct,” Bracey said in the statement.
Bracey said officials are creating tracking systems to maintain compliance with the vaccine policy as they prepare for students to return to campus next month.
Officials have said fully vaccinated members of the GW community must receive monthly COVID-19 tests and must receive a COVID-19 test before being granted access to campus buildings.
Bracey said students, faculty and staff can book a COVID-19 test before returning to campus and view the fall testing center schedule once it’s posted later this summer.
People who feel vulnerable in the classroom are encouraged to wear masks or face shields if they need protection, Bracey said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks with at least two layers of fabric.
Bracey said if cases spike suddenly during the fall semester, officials would consider a variety of responses, which could include mandating mask-wearing, increasing testing and/or symptom monitoring, requiring social distancing and offering remote instruction for some or all courses.
He added that faculty should expect an increase in students missing class for two weeks for reasons like arrival delays, testing positive for COVID-19 and quarantining. He said all classrooms have installed technology for faculty to record lectures, and faculty will receive training on how to distribute recorded lectures to individual students or entire classes with Blackboard.
“As always, we expect faculty to provide academic accommodations for students who have legitimate reasons to miss class,” Bracey said.