Spring 2021 Semester Plans

Opening up safely

Rock the lawn 2020

Washington & Jefferson College plans to reopen the campus for classes and residents for the Spring 2021 semester. We are fully committed to taking all possible precautions to maintain a safe environment while providing students with the holistic, in-person experience that is so critical to our mission. Recognizing that no institution can eliminate all risk while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our plan is informed by the best available guidance from the federal CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, American College Health Association, and local healthcare partners. It will be updated as necessary to reflect any new guidelines or restrictions that may be recommended in response to a future resurgence of the coronavirus.

Recent News

JayTerm & Spring 2021 Semester Announcement

October 20, 2020
It is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of the Fall 2020 Semester. We are so proud of the W&J Community, especially students, for the due diligence, care and commitment to maintaining a safe environment. It is because of the collective dedication of the W&J community that we have been able to mitigate thus far the effects of COVID-19 on our campus. Student Residence Housing The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are always our top priority. While we had hoped that the course of the pandemic or the availability of a vaccine would have made it possible to bring all our students back to campus, the state of our global public health continues to present risks. The health risks are compounded by the onset of flu season and we are witnessing spikes in many areas of the country. The current circumstances have prompted us to modify our move-in and academic schedules for JayTerm and Spring Semester. As we did in the fall, we will maintain our single rooms for every student who opts in for a residential experience. Our experience this Fall to de-densify the campus helped us to mitigate COVID-19 infections and allowed for maximum safety as students were in control their own space, and if needed, isolate with privacy and lack of exposure to others. Therefore, we believe that implementing this practice for another semester is the best option. We will do our best to accommodate those students who need to be on campus for the spring semester. Students who opt in for residential housing for the Spring Semester will move in on January 9 and January 10, 2021. We will follow the same protocol of a 14-day quarantine period with PCR testing on the day of arrival. More information on the opt-in process will be sent out soon from Student Life. In-residence students are expected to sign and follow the Pledge to Promote Safety guidelines and the COVID Student Safety Policy and Guide as well as policies outlined in the Student Handbook. Academic Calendar JayTerm will begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. All courses will be virtual for the two-week instruction period so that students can maintain quarantine protocols. The Spring Semester is will begin on Monday, January 25, 2021 rather than Wednesday, January 27, 2021 as originally scheduled. The immediate start of the Spring semester ensures that students will have safely completed their quarantine and can attend classes in-person and/or online. Because of the earlier start of the Spring Semester, faculty will be given an extension period for submitting grades for the JayTerm session. To maintain safety protocols and reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, Spring Break has been canceled. However, we will be introducing “days off” in the Spring Semester to provide students with a break from their academic classes. These ‘days off’ will be scheduled sporadically throughout the semester. Faculty and students will be given advance notice of the “days off” schedule. Athletics The Washington & Jefferson College Department of Athletics will continue to work with the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (as well as our affiliate conferences), the NCAA, and local health officials to determine a potential return to competition for the Spring 2021 semester. Minimally, W&J athletic teams will conduct practices and team workouts similar to the fall semester, under the supervision of their coaches, while complying with all health and safety standards currently in place. Practice or athletically related activity will not be conducted on campus between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day. More information will be provided to our student athletes as the PAC confirms the return to play protocol. We encourage you to frequently check your email and the intranet pages for additional communications about the opt-in process, class scheduling, textbook adoptions and more. We continue to have great confidence in the commitment each of you to ensuring that W&J community is a safe and inviting campus community. Sincerely, Eva Chatterjee-Sutton Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students Jeff Frick Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the College Read More

More news for the Spring 2021 semester coming soon!

Additional Information

Reopening Campus

The W&J COVID-19 Response Team began meeting in March 2020 to plan for a wide range of future scenarios, and more recently expanded this work with the appointment of several subcommittees. We have collaborated closely with many other colleges and universities, as well as experts in relevant fields, to develop the best practices we have adopted for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. As our plan was drafted, we sought input from leaders of our board of trustees, our faculty, and our student body. All decisions were made with the following priorities at the forefront:

  1. Ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
  2. Maintain continuity and quality of instruction for the greatest number of students.
  3. Provide a holistically developmental experience to the greatest number of students.
  4. Sustain essential operations.
  5. Safeguard the college’s financial stability and ability to compete.
  6. Support a culture of trust and shared commitment to continuous adaptive change.

As the Spring 2021 semester resumes, you can expect some of our policies and procedures to evolve based on our ongoing assessment of effectiveness and any changes in the external environment. The COVID-19 page will be kept up to date to provide accurate and timely information. We will also continue the practice of communicating updates by email; therefore, it will be important for you to continue to monitor your W&J email.

Returning to Campus
Remote Instruction & Work
Cleaning Procedures
Physical Distancing

Questions and Answers

What happens if students violate the Pledge to Promote Safety?

Students who violate the expectations outlined in the Pledge to Promote Safety will be required to leave campus.

If I plan to study remotely, can I change my mind in the middle of the semester and join classes on campus and reside in a residence hall?

If you are interested in joining the community after the start of classes, and there are spaces available, this may be possible. You will need to work with the Office of Residence Life and plan to undergo testing upon arrival and a 14-day quarantine period.

How will orientation be impacted?

Orientation will be delivered virtually, initially; traditional orientation activities have been postponed, and more information will be provided to First Year students in the coming weeks.

How will classrooms be adjusted to ensure social distancing?

Classrooms have been evaluated to ensure accurate capacity of each classroom while adhering to physical distancing. If necessary, furniture will be moved or removed to ensure the appropriate measures are in place. The number of students permitted in classrooms will be limited. The Remote Learning 2.0 workgroup is planning for this limitation and the Registrar’s Office will be working with department chairs to reassign classrooms to allow for maximum in person attendance and to the extent possible.

What precautions are being taken to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization of classrooms and public spaces?

Since we moved to online instruction in March, deep cleanings for all our academic and administrative buildings has been completed. Specific attention has been given to cleaning and sanitizing offices, classrooms and high traffic areas.

We implemented a 7-step cleaning method for uniformity and standardization to our processes. This is meant to provide the same high-quality cleaning standards in all areas of campus. Cintas is laundering, sanitizing, and delivering fresh cleaning cloths and mops each week to prevent any cross-contamination or improper sanitization. Ecolab is now our provider of cleaning supplies, which includes an EPA certified disinfectant that has reduced the required dwell time from 10 minutes to 2 minutes. We are securing several electrostatic sprayers for applying disinfectants. These devices have been praised for their ability to provide even coverage to areas that are typically tough to reach with traditional spray bottles, i.e. back sides of handrails, doorknobs, faucets, etc.

The cleaning processes at W&J have been re-engineered through new cleaning techniques, supplies and equipment to achieve greater effectiveness. Sanitation frequency is increased from once per day to three times per day in Admissions, Campus and Public Safety, the Campus Center, the Commons, the Hub, the Clark Family Library, the Lodge, the Ross Family Recreation Center and Henry Gym, and the Tech Center. Frequency of cleaning is doubled throughout the rest of campus. Each building will have a checklist provided to the custodians to reference cleaning methods and frequencies for daily and weekly cleaning tasks. In addition to the cleaning methods, we will also be using the Maximo work order system to track and monitor the maintenance of our HVAC systems. This will include the changing of necessary filters in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines and CDC recommendations.

What precautions are being taken to allow for social distancing for workspaces?

At least six feet of distance from co-workers and between workspaces will be maintained where possible. Face masks must be worn while in a shared workspace. Sharing of work materials will be limited or eliminated.

Will the Clark Family Library be open?

Yes, the Clark Family Library will be open and will operate at half capacity with social distancing and mask wearing. Hours may be limited and some services may be impacted.

Will we install plexiglass in any locations on campus?

Plexiglass has been installed in a number of locations around campus.

How will we manage social distancing in elevators?

One person should use the elevator at a time. Masks should be worn in elevators. If you utilize the elevator, you are encouraged to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer upon departing the elevator.

What precautions are being taken regarding air ventilation in campus buildings?

Buildings were inspected to identify opportunities for enhanced air ventilation. Specific precautions taken are that 1) new ventilation equipment was installed in specific areas on campus; 2) air handlers have been adjusted to increase the amount of external air brought into our building; and 3) air filters were upgraded throughout the campus as needed.

Will large events be held on campus?

We will follow CDC and PA DOH guidelines to determine whether and how we can hold various sized events. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Will computer labs be open?

Computer labs will be available at half capacity. Cleaning supplies will be available in each computer lab so that students can sanitize keyboards and workspaces while using the facility.

Can the College guarantee that I will not be exposed to COVID-19 while on 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. 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.

Is W&J following the guidelines of CDC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for safely reopening the campus?

Yes, W&J is following the current guidelines in place for the federal CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, and local healthcare partners to safely reopen the campus. We are continually monitoring the situation as it develops and will continue to update our procedures to continue to follow guidelines.

Has W&J been in touch with local medical professionals for guidance on plans?

Yes, our senior administration has been working with Washington Health System physicians to ensure that we are following appropriate health and safety precautions.

Will I be required to wear a mask when on campus? If so, when and where?

All W&J employees who are on campus must wear a mask, scarf, or protective covering unless they are in a private office or while eating or drinking. Students must wear a mask, scarf, or protective covering when in public areas, including campus buildings and while obtaining their meals from The Commons.

How will my health and the health of others be monitored?

All employees are required to sign the Pledge to Promote Safety before returning to campus to work. Employees are also required to complete the Symptom Checker form before coming to campus each day. If an employee is exhibiting symptoms, this information would be shared with our healthcare staff and determinations can be made as to whether further testing is needed.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are learning remotely, contact your healthcare provider for the best course of action. If you are a student residing on the W&J campus, please contact Student Health Services to be advised of the appropriate measures.

What will happen if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to stay in their rooms and work with Student Health Services virtually to determine what kind of care is needed.

In the event that a student needs to quarantine, food will be delivered to their room. Residence Life, Student Health and Counseling and Student Life staff will be checking in on students regularly, as will peer leaders (Resident Assistants, LINK mentors and our Prez2Prez Peer Health Educators).

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to isolate within their home residence for a period of 10 days and will not be permitted to work on campus. Human Resources will also work with the employee to conduct contact tracing, as will the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Neither Human Resources or the Pennsylvania Department of Health releases the names of individuals who have tested positive. If an employee does test positive, W&J encourages them to utilize the contact tracing process rather than providing this information directly to others. This will ensure HIPAA and privacy are followed.

What happens if I need medical care?

The Student Health & Counseling Center staff and services are available. Counseling will operate as a Telehealth service. Some basic medical care will be offered through the Center; we continue to collaborate with Washington Health Center Clinic where W&J students are prioritized for care.

What should I do if I plan to travel personally?

If you plan to travel personally, you will not need to register your personal travel plans with W&J.

We encourage all W&J Community members to follow recommended travel guidelines according to State of PennsylvaniaU. S. Department of State, and the CDC guidelines. See our Travel Guidance document for more information.

According to the PA Department of Health, if you travel to these states you will need to quarantine for 14 days upon return. We ask that you coordinate with your supervisor for the ability to work remotely during this time.

What is being done to assist students managing their mental health while in quarantine?

Plans are in place for a great deal of virtual contact during the quarantine period. First-year students will participate in virtual orientation activities. Resident Assistants and LINK mentors will be hosting virtual check in contact daily. In addition, other peer leaders and offices are planning connection points for all our students during this time.

How can commuting students access dining services on campus?

Take-away dining is available in all three dining venues. Dining will operate using JayCash or credit cards; no cash transactions are possible this fall. Seating for non-residential students is available in the Rossin Ballroom, GnT’s, the Ski Lodge and outdoors. All of these spaces offer socially-distanced seating options.

Do commuting students have access to support services at the College?

Almost all support services will be available virtually. This includes PAL tutoring, Financial Aid counseling, Health & Counseling, Student Activities Programming, Wellness and Fitness information, and general student services support.

Can commuting students study on campus?

In addition to spaces in academic buildings, several classrooms are being identified for additional study space and/or spaces from which commuting students can participate in virtual courses. We know that some of you will have limited travel time between courses so we are working to designate private/semi-private spaces for this purpose.

What safety precautions are commuting students required to take?

Since you will be on campus, you must complete the Pledge to Promote Safety. Commuter students who violate the expectations outlined in the Pledge will be required to study remotely.

On days that you come to campus, you must fill out the daily symptom checker as well. While on campus, you are required to wear a mask covering your mouth and nose and social distance and follow the COVID-19 Student Safety Policies and Guide.

How can commuting students retrieve any packages that arrive on campus?

Any packages that a commuting student anticipates will arrive on campus have been forwarded to their address on file. This is being done at no cost to the student.

How will commuting students be kept up to date on information?

It is critical that commuting students check their W&J email regularly. This is the primary way information from the college will be communicated. Each Wednesday, the Your Connection newsletter will be sent to the student’s inbox and will contain important campus updates and information.

What are the JayTerm and Spring 2021 plans?

JayTerm will begin on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. All courses will be virtual for the two-week instruction period so that students can maintain quarantine protocols. The Spring Semester is will begin on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 rather than Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021 as originally scheduled. The immediate start of the Spring semester ensures that students will have safely completed their quarantine students and can attend classes in-person and/or online. Because of the earlier start of the Spring Semester, faculty will be given an extension period for submitting grades for the JayTerm session.

How will the housing process and move-in process take place?

Students who are assigned housing for the spring semester, via the opt-in process which will be shared later the week of October 19, will move in to their housing on Jan. 9  and Jan. 10. Residence Life will be providing an assigned move in time slot as well as a testing slot. Upon arrival, students will have a 2-hour slot to move in. During this time, 2 guests may accompany the student – all must be masked and adhering to social distancing. Once students complete their testing, they will begin a 14-day quarantine period. This time frame coincides with JayTerm classes which will be taught virtually.

Once the 14-day quarantine period is over, are students permitted to leave campus?

Students are able to leave campus for essential travel – this includes internships, work or personal obligation which are considered necessary. To minimize risk to the campus, we request that non-essential travel be postponed until the end of the semester.  Students who opt to spend a night away from campus will be expected to quarantine upon return.

Am I requested to self-quarantine before I arrive on campus?

Since we are requiring a 14-day quarantine in the spring for all on-campus residents, we are not requiring a self-quarantine prior to arrival. That said, we encourage students to be cautious about exposure and practice safety measures.

Will spring break still take place?

To maintain safety protocols and reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, Spring Break has been canceled. However, we will be introducing ‘days off’ in the Spring Semester to provide students with a break from their academic classes. These ‘days off’ will be scheduled sporadically throughout the semester.

Will the Pittsburgh Pipeline for students be operating?

The Pipeline will not run; the local shopping shuttle will continue to operate.

Will the College hold its traditional Matriculation ceremony?

Matriculation was a virtual experience for all students in the fall. We will hold our Conversation with the President and Crossing the Seal Ceremony for any first-year students who are new to campus and those students in residence who were unable to attend in the fall.

Will I be required to sign a waiver of liability or other agreement upon returning to campus?

All of our on-campus students for the spring will be asked to sign the Pledge to Promote Safety at move-in.

Do students need to check-in regarding their health each day?

Yes, students are expected to complete the Daily Symptom Checker each day before coming to campus.

What are the housing and dining costs for the fall semester?

The housing charge is at the lowest rate, $3,894, for all students in residence, for the Spring 2021 semester. Additionally, all students in residence will be required to have the 19-meal plan, at the cost of $2,742, for Spring 2021.

How much is the activity fee?

The current activity fee can be found on the tuition and fees schedule page.

Can new international students begin their study at W&J remotely?

Yes. If you are unable to enter the U.S. with an F1 visa and arrive at W&J before the start of the Spring 2021 semester, Monday, January 25th, you are welcome to study remotely for the Spring 2021 term.  If you are unable to arrive before the start of  classes, unfortunately you will not be able to join us on campus until the Fall 2021 semester.  Note that if you are a transfer student, joining W&J in person after the start of classes may be possible. Please inquire about this possibility by reaching out to the Director of International Student Initiatives, Dr. Dana Poole, dpoole@washjeff.edu.

I am a continuing international student with F1 visa status. Can I continue to study remotely in the Spring semester?

Yes, you can continue to study remotely and can make the decision to do so based on your comfort level and considerations for health and safety.

Be aware that at this time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not announced any guidance related to Spring 2021 enrollment for international students. It is possible that DHS could require in-person attendance in order to maintain your SEVIS record. If DHS makes this decision, and you study remotely,  we will need to terminate your SEVIS record for Authorized Early Withdrawal and you will no longer have an active SEVIS record. If this is the case, there are paths to the reinstatement of your record or issuance of a new SEVIS record, but the termination and renewal of status could result in loss or postponement of  F1 student related benefits (ie. OPT, CPT) until you have maintained active status for one year.

It is important that you contact the Director of International Student Initiatives, Dr. Dana Poole, dpoole@washjeff.edu to communicate your plans for the Spring and to learn about how immigration related issues should be a consideration.

We know that this guidance is very important and we will share updates as soon as we receive them. We also recognize that this information is complex, and is better explained through advising related to your individual situation. Please be in touch with any questions.

Will degree seeking international students be present on campus for the Spring 2021 semester?

New and continuing degree seeking international students are welcome to join us on campus in the Spring 2021 term, but should be aware their ability to study in-person could be impacted by the anticipated guidance published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We encourage students to wait to make plans until we have additional Spring 2021 guidance from DHS.

Please be advised that it is important that you contact our Director of International Student Initiatives, Dr. Dana Poole, dpoole@washjeff.edu to communicate your plans so we can prepare for your arrival. Dr. Poole can help you understand how immigration related issues should be a consideration in your decision to travel and course enrollment.

What are the arrival and start dates for Spring 2021?
Will W&J host exchange students in the Spring 2021 semester?

W&J has suspended inbound exchange programs for the Spring 2021 semester. We encourage students from our partner institutions who are interested in joining W&J as an exchange student in the future to be in touch with the international office at their home institution.  We look forward to hosting students from our partners in the future.

If I received the vaccine, am I still required to wear a mask?

Yes, W&J has adopted an indoor mask mandate, for all students, faculty, staff and guests, based on a guideline from the CDC to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As you are likely aware, and as is true of almost any community in which you find yourself, some on our campus are unvaccinated. This means that a mask is an especially important safeguard when in shared space indoors (and outdoors when you wish).

While the CDC and other experts are advising that the vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) have shown success in its clinical trials as well as real-life conditions, in protecting against COVID-19, it is important that the W&J Community continue to follow CDC guidelines. Experts are still learning about the protection of the vaccines in real-life situations, as well as understanding the new variants being discovered.

We will continue to monitor CDC and Pa. Department of Health web sites for any updates and changes they recommend to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

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.

Spring 2021 Timeline

  • January 9-10

    Move in Day for JayTerm and Spring Semester

  • January 25

    Classes begin

  • February 17

    Symposium on Democracy - No Classes

  • March 23


  • May 11

    Spring Term Ends

These modifications were made in consultation with faculty leaders and the Curriculum and Program Committee. We will determine and communicate plans for JayTerm prior to the registration period. At this point, we anticipate our Spring calendar will be in place, as planned.