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COVID policy updates and testing protocols

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Posted on Friday, January 15, 2021

Earlier this year, we shared the updated COVID-19 Reopening Plans for Westminster and announced new testing protocols for Spring semester. Since then, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC have updated their guidelines for higher education. As such, we’ve needed to adapt our policies and will continue to do so if necessary as guidelines change. This email includes policy updates and details about our revised testing protocols.

Policy Updates
1. The use of family pods is no longer permitted by the PA DOH. As such, students must now wear masks in residence halls unless they are in their own room.  
2.  According to the CDC, the quarantine period has been reduced by the CDC to 10 days if no symptoms are reported or as few as 7 days if a person is tested after day 5 and results are negative.
3.  PA DOH requires testing protocols that include re-entry testing as well as surveillance testing of a sample of our population weekly. We will implement the attached testing protocols for Spring 2021.
4.  Daily screening is required. Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to download the COVID Alert PA app to assist with your daily screening.

Re-Entry Testing – All faculty, staff, and students will be tested upon return to campus per PA DOH guidelines. Staff, administration and some faculty will be scheduled for testing between January 4-6. Faculty will be scheduled for January 11.  Employees will receive more detail from Human Resources about testing appointments.
Commuter, fraternity, and off-campus students will be scheduled for testing on Tuesday, January 12, and move-in/testing appointments for residents will be scheduled Thursday, January 14 through Monday, January 18. The meal plan begins on January 14. All students will receive an email from Residence Life will a link to schedule their individual appointments.

All students are highly encouraged to quarantine at home for 14 days prior to their scheduled return to campus. Residential students are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival on campus at their own expense, especially if home is more than 6 hours from campus. Labs results should be posted to the Student Health Portal. Students who are symptomatic or test positive should stay home and notify Student Affairs to make arrangements for an alternate move-in date and temporary virtual learning status.

Students who provide a negative test result conducted within 72 hours of arrival on campus will be tested using  a rapid antigen test and will not be required to quarantine upon arrival. Students who are not tested at home will be tested using a PCR test and will need to quarantine on campus until negative test results are received. Students will be asked to quarantine in their assigned rooms, leaving only to pick up food from the dining halls. Students who test positive will be asked to isolate for 10 days and will begin the semester virtually. Residential students who live more than 6 hours from campus will isolate in Thompson House. Those who live within 6 hours, are commuters, fraternity residents or who live off campus will be asked to return home to isolate.

Surveillance Testing - Westminster College will perform ongoing testing of a random selection of 10 percent of students, faculty, and staff each week, according to PA guidelines. Westminster College athletics will follow the testing protocols for each sport as recommended by the NCAA and the Presidents Athletic Conference.