W&J’s COVID-19 Response

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, Spring 2021, and Fall 2021 plans. We’ve also provided a COVID-19 case tracker to keep you informed about cases on our campus.

Important Announcement Regarding Homecoming 2021 Attendance

September 17, 2021

Prior to the start of the fall semester, a mandatory vaccination requirement for students, faculty, and staff was instated based on our commitment to protect our community members and their families, including those who are unable to be vaccinated. To further our commitment to keeping the campus community safe, college leadership, with guidance from the W&J Clinical Advisory Panel, has made the decision to require Homecoming & Reunion Weekend attendees to be fully vaccinated prior to attending the weekend’s festivities. This policy follows what has become the standard requirement for concerts, sporting events, theater performances, and other large events across the nation. In keeping with the requirement of students, faculty, and staff, all attendees also will be asked to upload proof of vaccination during online registration or required to show proof of vaccination upon arriving on campus. Additionally, in accordance with the College’s masking policy announced August 9, all campus guests are required to wear a mask in any indoor campus setting, except for when actively eating and drinking. Guests who have already registered for the weekend are asked to inform us of vaccination status by completing the Self-Attestation Form by October 1. Those who have not yet registered can verify their vaccination status during online registration. For more information about the College’s policies and procedures throughout the weekend, visit the Staying Safe at W&J FAQs page.

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COVID-19 Tracker Reporting

Percentage of Students Vaccinated
Percentage of Faculty/Staff Vaccinated

As of September 2, 2021. These metrics will be updated monthly as some vaccinations require 21-28 days between vaccinations.
The percentages account for fully vaccinated and/or in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.

Active Cases in Student Population
Active Cases in Faculty/Staff Population

Updated on September 16, 2021. The active cases will be updated on a weekly basis (Thursdays) based on positive cases identified through testing of unvaccinated individuals and self-reporting of positive cases to Student Health & Counseling Services and W&J College Human Resources.

With the dramatic rise in COVID-19 and its Delta Variant, W&J College will be reinstating its reporting of new active COVID-19 cases on campus beginning the week of August 30. The reporting of new active cases will be based in weekly testing of unvaccinated students and employees (average of 17% of our population), and the self reporting of positive test results from vaccinated individuals with a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Vaccinated students who are experiencing symptoms will work with the Student Health & Counseling Services for testing. Any residential student who tests positive are provided with daily assistance while in isolation. Any employee testing positive will notify W&J College Human Resources and remain at their home locations for a 10-day time period as recommended by the CDC.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. As stated on its website, “On July 27, 2021, CDC released updated guidance on the need for urgently increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage and a recommendation for everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public indoor places, even if they are fully vaccinated. CDC issued this new guidance due to several concerning developments and newly emerging data signals. First is a reversal in the downward trajectory of cases. In the days leading up to our guidance update, CDC saw a rapid and alarming rise in the COVID case and hospitalization rates around the country. Second, new data began to emerge that the Delta variant was more infectious and was leading to increased transmissibility when compared to other variants, even in vaccinated individuals. This includes recently published data from CDC and our public health partners, unpublished surveillance data that will be publicly available in the coming weeks, information included in CDC’s updated Science Brief on COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccination, and ongoing outbreak investigations linked to the Delta variant. Delta is currently the predominant strain of the virus in the United States. Below is a high-level summary of what CDC scientists have recently learned about the Delta variant. More information will be made available when more data are published or released in other formats. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/delta-variant.html"

The W&J College COVID-19 Response Team, in coordination with the W&J Clinical Advisory Panel and its review of recommendations for college/university testing protocols, has determined that the regular testing of unvaccinated individuals for the Fall 2021 semester is necessary with the significant increases in COVID-19 cases and variants that are being discovered to keep our community healthy and safe.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Are W&J College students required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 the 2021/2022 Academic Year?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccination requirement has been added to our immunization requirements outlined on page 35 in the W&J Student handbook. The inclusion of the COVID-19 vaccination was recommended by both the COVID-19 Response team as well as the W&J Clinical Advisory Council.  The current W&J health policy states that “All incoming freshmen and transfer students are required to provide a medical history, a physical examination, and proof of required immunizations. A physical exam is performed for students planning to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the team physicals as scheduled by the Athletic department. The team physical examination does not replace the required college entrance physical.

What if I need an exemption from the vaccination requirement?

Consistent with federal and state laws, as well as W&J policy, students may request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and other immunization requirements listed in the student handbook. The exemption form can be found here: Exemption to Immunization Form and submitted to the Office of Student Life. This exemption form can also be found at MyW&J on the Student Life page under the Student Life File Finder sidebar. First year students should email the completed form to gateway@washjeff.edu, and upperclass students should email the completed form to studentlife@washjeff.edu.

Will I be required to show that I’m fully vaccinated?

Proof of vaccination, or exemption, will be required for all students enrolled at W&J for the upcoming calendar year. The process of doing so will be announced in mid-July and posted on MyW&J. As always, we will ensure that information submitted protects the privacy of our students.

What if I haven’t received my vaccination(s) before start of the Academic year?

W&J will work with those students who need to receive the vaccination. The College has partnerships with local health systems and providers to support our public health and community efforts.

I am an international student or have been living abroad, should I receive an approved vaccine for the country I am currently living in, or wait until arriving in the U.S. for the Fall 2021 semester?

At this time, we expect that any vaccines that receive the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use listing will meet our requirements. We will closely monitor the CDC, Pa. Department of Health and consult our clinical advisory council on any updates to vaccination approvals. As of June 1, 2021, the WHO has listed Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK, Bio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, Sinopharm, and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use.

Are W&J faculty & staff required to be vaccinated by the start of the Fall 2021 semester?

As of June 1, more than 80% of W&J faculty/staff have been fully vaccinated or are in the process of vaccination which is higher than the state of Pennsylvania and the national average. At this time, we are not requiring vaccination of our employees.

If I am not fully vaccinated by the start of the academic semester, will I still need to follow CDC best practice mitigation protocols?

We will be announcing later this summer the protocols that will need to be followed for those who are not vaccinated. We are closely monitoring updates to recommendations and policies by the CDC, and the Pa., Department of Health, as well guidance from the W&J Clinical Advisory Council, to help guide our decision-making process. Our primary goal is to ensure that our campus community is healthy & safe, while ensuring an optimal living and learning environment.

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Vaccines are strongly recommended. The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19.  If you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you may also help protect people around you.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19, because you might become infected more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long that protection will last.

Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?

No. COVID-19 is new and so are the vaccines to prevent it. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

Why do I need two COVID-19 shots?

Currently authorized vaccines and most vaccines under development require two doses of vaccine. The first shot helps the immune system recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. You need both to get the best protection that lasts longest.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

The vaccine will not make you sick. There may be side effects, but they should go away within a few days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. These side effects are signs that the vaccine is working to build immunity. If they don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call the office.

Are there long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Because all COVID-19 vaccines are new, it will take more time and more people getting vaccinated to learn about very rare or possible long-term side effects. At least 8-weeks of safety data were gathered in the clinical trials for all the authorized vaccines, and it’s unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination.

How do I know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. These trials were very similar to trials done for other licensed vaccines, but were done more quickly due to the urgent need to reduce illnesses during the pandemic. CDC and the FDA will keep monitoring the vaccines to look for safety issues after they are authorized and in use.

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.