W&J’s COVID-19 Response-Fall 2020

Updates, news, and resources concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

fall 2020 reopening

Your Safety Is Our Priority

Throughout this challenging and unprecedented time, the safety of our community has remained top-of-mind. We’ve implemented a number of new protocols designed to keep our campus safe, and our faculty, staff and students healthy. Please check this page regularly for updates about our safety plans and protocols, including information about visiting campus, our cleaning procedures, and health monitoring. The Helpful Links section includes quick access to information from the federal CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, and local healthcare partners, whose guidance we closely followed to formulate our Fall 2020 plans, and continue to follow as we finalize our Spring 2021 plans. We’ve also provided a COVID-19 case tracker to keep you informed about cases on our campus. The below tracker was last updated on Dec. 3, at the end of W&J's fall semester. It will be updated on Jan. 28 when student quarantine ends.

Diligence, New Safety Protocols Help Washington & Jefferson College Finish Fall 2020 with Low Covid Case Rates

December 11, 2020
WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 11, 2020) – College campuses are often seen as a microcosm of society at large, but during the Fall 2020 semester that analogy didn’t apply at Washington & Jefferson College in one main area: Coronavirus cases. While positive cases spiked in Washington and Allegheny counties throughout the semester, W&J logged only six positive student cases between August and November, amounting to less than one percent of the on-campus population. “We took every precaution to ensure that campus was a safe and healthy environment for students to return to,” said President John C. Knapp, Ph.D. “We recognized that this safety was, in large part, dependent on our students, faculty and staff to follow state mandates for social distancing and wearing masks. We trusted these members of our community to keep themselves and others safe, and they did just that.” About half of W&J’s total student population lived on campus this fall, and the College implemented a number of new protocols to keep them, as well as faculty and staff, safe. Residential students were given a PCR test upon move-in and asked to quarantine in their rooms for 10 days. Random sample testing was conducted throughout the semester, with results posted to W&J’s COVID-19 Response webpage: www.washjeff.edu/coronavirus. Classes were offered remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, and then transitioned to a remote/in person hybrid. All returning students, faculty, and staff members signed a Pledge to Promote Safety at the start of the semester, promising to uphold safety protocols, including mask-wearing and social distancing. Additionally, the College had support from its alumni community. The Clinical Advisory Panel, a group of W&J alumni in the medical field, met frequently with W&J staff throughout the fall to advise W&J on Coronavirus topics. Fall 2020 was a challenging semester beyond health and safety, as faculty adjusted courses for an online environment and many students adjusted to remote learning. Staff also worked – mostly remotely – to implement new technologies and programming to keep personal connections strong despite distance. The diligence and responsibility of W&J’s community, and especially the students, was the greatest contribution in keeping campus safe. Student Government Association President Hallie Hess ’20 said students were a large part of College’s success in managing COVID-19 this fall. “The accountability students were showing for themselves, their peers, and even the staff and faculty, was tremendous,” she said. “Students were incredibly vigilant on following the guidelines laid out by the College and were dedicated to upholding them so we could remain on campus in the best capacity we could. When students saw anyone in the campus community not adhering to the guidelines, they spoke up which allowed for the College to ensure maximum safety. I am very proud of this success and I believe it is truly representative of the spirit of the student body and the dedication they take to upholding our college standards.” President Knapp agreed, noting that he expects students will again commit to keeping campus safe during the Spring 2021 semester. “We have seen our students act responsibly in a number of situations, from their academic classes and internship appointments to their interactions with each other and with community members,” Knapp said. “We have no reason to doubt that our students won’t continue to behave responsibly when they’re on campus. Our expectations of our students are high, and we have confidence in them to continue doing the right thing.” About Washington & Jefferson College Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY. Read More

Additional Information

Reopening Campus

The College is following the guidelines of the federal CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, and local healthcare partners to implement the appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of the disease as we reopen campus. We are continually monitoring the situation as it develops and will continue to update our procedures to continue to follow guidelines.

No institution can eliminate all risk while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In addition to the measures the College is instituting, the students, faculty and staff are expected to take the necessary precautions, and to be mindful and respectful of each other to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

Mask Policy
Pledge to Promote Safety
Health Monitoring
Visiting Campus

COVID-19 Case Tracker

# of active student cases in isolation

# of active faculty/staff cases in isolation off campus

Counts updated every Thursday. Last updated: 03/04/2021

W&J College is committed to providing weekly updates to the W&J Community and surrounding areas as it relates to COVID-19 active cases on campus. Updates will resume on Jan. 28, 2021 when student quarantine ends. COVID-19 is a disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 Case Tracker is a component of the W&J College plan to identify and report, if any, the number of new SARS-CoV-2 infections (active cases) among students and employees on campus. The Tracker will be updated weekly on Thursday. Active on-campus student cases will be immediately isolated for a period of no less than 14 days in designated campus housing (the 14-day isolation is recommended by the CDC). Commuting students and faculty/staff who have been identified as active cases will also be required to isolated in their home locations for the 14 day time period.


% of positive tests reported from random sampling

Testing Schedule:
October 25 and November 8

Random sampling of the on-campus student population will begin on September 13, 2020 and continue every two weeks throughout the Fall semester. A 25% random sampling of clinically well students will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 every two weeks in accordance with CDC and The American Collegiate Health Association guidelines. W&J College Student Health and Counseling Service will reach out to provide daily assistance to students in isolation and will also be open and available to all students daily and to schedule testing as clinically indicated.

Footnote: During the time period of August 22 - September 2, 2020, students who opted-in to staying on campus were tested for COVID upon move-in and required to quarantined for a 10-day time period. During this quarantine period, there were three positive cases reported in our on-campus student population. These students were placed in isolation and had no contact with others on campus.

As of 03/04/2021

All students, faculty and staff are required to take the daily screening survey if they are on campus for classes or work. For more information about our health & safety guidelines, visit our Fall 2020 Reopening page at https://www.washjeff.edu/wj-fall-2020-reopening/

Helpful Links

Health Care Tips from the Centers for Disease Control

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, and make sure you wash your thumbs, wrists, and in-between your fingers. This is the best defense against the spread of all viruses.
  2. Stay home when you are ill. This will help you to recover more quickly and decrease the spread of illness when on campus.
  3. Use a tissue or the crook of your arm when you cough or sneeze. Promptly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  4. Get plenty of rest/sleep.
  5. If you have not had the flu vaccine, please consider getting one. While this will not protect against the coronavirus, the vaccine may prevent against the flu.