Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,
We are temporarily reinstating an indoor mask requirement for the Main and Medical Center campuses, beginning Thursday, April 7. Please also see information below regarding COVID-19 testing and isolation procedures for undergraduate students.
We are taking these steps in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on the Main Campus and Medical Center campuses this week, particularly among undergraduate students. We have not seen a comparable increase in cases on the Law Center campus. Thankfully, with the vast majority of our community up to date on vaccination, we are not seeing cases involving severe illness.
This increase is partly due to the impact of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant. BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the United States, including in DC and on our campuses. While recent studies show that BA.2 does not cause more severe illness than the initial Omicron variant, they also show that BA.2 is even more transmissible.
These circumstances present a challenge, but we have learned to adjust our mitigation measures to respond to changing conditions throughout the pandemic. Another adjustment is needed now to curb transmission on campus.
Temporary Reinstatement of Indoor Mask Requirement
Beginning Thursday, April 7, everyone will need to wear a mask indoors on the Main and Medical Center campuses, except when in their personal residence or private office or while actively eating or drinking. This requirement will be in effect until further notice.
We strongly recommend wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95), which are available for free on campus. We also strongly recommend that all members of our community wear a mask when attending indoor social gatherings and events off campus as well.
In the March 18 message, we shared that the University’s mask-optional policy is contingent on public health conditions and that we may need to reinstate the indoor mask requirement or other restrictions for short periods.
We will continue to monitor campus case numbers and positivity rates, COVID-19 community levels in DC and nationally, and global developments relating to the pandemic, which will inform our decision of when to resume the mask-optional policy.
All undergraduate students will need to take a PCR test after Easter break the week of April 18, unless they have tested positive within the previous 90 days. Please schedule your test in advance via the One Medical app or website. If you get tested through a third-party provider (i.e., not One Medical), please report your result through the COVID-19 Test Result Submission form.
If you have been exposed to anyone with a known COVID-19 infection, please get tested on day 5 following your exposure.
Please also get tested when selected to participate in the University’s random asymptomatic testing.
Isolation Procedures for Undergraduate Students
We are nearing full capacity at our campus hotel and have secured additional isolation space at a nearby hotel.
Residential students who test positive may need to share a hotel room or isolate in their campus residence, which means that COVID-positive and negative students may need to be housed together in the same room or apartment.
Students who test positive who prefer to isolate at home may travel home by private transportation, wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95) while in a vehicle with others, but should not travel home by public transportation (e.g., plane, train, ride-share).
Dining and Events
We encourage grab-and-go dining and eating in the outdoor tents on campus, whenever possible. Events may continue as planned.
We’ve developed the frequently asked questions below to provide additional information, which we hope you will find helpful.
As we’ve done multiple times before, we will get through this surge together and continue to thrive despite these short-term restrictions.
Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, FAAFP
Professor of Family Medicine, Vice President and Chief Public Health Officer
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the procedure for students isolating in their campus residence after a positive COVID-19 test?
Students isolating in their campus residences will need to:
- Stay in their room, and not leave except to use the restroom, get tested, get medical care or pick up their meals.
- Wear a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) when around other individuals while completing the activities outlined above or while in their shared residence.
Students may visit Georgetown’s Isolation Support site for more information and resources.
My roommate is isolating in our campus residence. What should I do?
We recommend that students:
- Wear a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95) when around their roommates in their residences.
- Stay in their own bedrooms with their doors closed, if possible, when in their campus residence.
- Avoid entering the bathroom when others are present, if possible.
- Disinfect the bathroom and kitchen as often as possible.
- Eat in separate rooms, if possible, or in the outdoor tents on campus.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
What factors does Georgetown consider when making decisions about its public health guidelines?
We take many factors into account before making or changing any public health guidelines. We regularly monitor multiple sources of data, including, but not limited to, CDC and DC Health guidance and statistics, community transmission in the DC region, and the University’s test positivity rate, rate of increase in cases, and isolation data.
Should I wear a mask in indoor public places off campus?
As you consider your personal risk level and of those around you, you should consider wearing a mask in indoor public places in the coming weeks, especially in busy or crowded settings, outside of our campuses. Wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95) provides the wearer with substantial protection from infection, even when around others not wearing masks.
What happens if there is a positive case in a course I am teaching or enrolled in?
If you are notified of a positive case in a course you are teaching or enrolled in, please follow the guidance below regarding potential exposure.
What should I do if I’ve been exposed, or potentially exposed, to someone with COVID-19?
In line with CDC guidance, please take the following actions:
- Wear a mask around others for ten days after the potential exposure. Everyone is required to wear a mask in indoor public places on the Main and Medical Center campuses until further notice.
- Get tested five days after your most recent exposure.
- Stay home and get tested if you develop symptoms.Please report your symptoms to the Public Health team by completing the COVID-19 Symptom Check-In survey . If you receive a positive test result from a third-party provider (i.e., not One Medical) or at-home antigen test, please report your result through the COVID-19 Test Result Submission form.
Should I get tested more frequently?
While we do not require regular, frequent testing (unless you are not up to date on vaccination), we strongly urge you to get tested when selected to participate in the University’s random asymptomatic testing. Randomized asymptomatic testing helps us assess and anticipate the degree of community spread. You should also get tested when you have symptoms and following an exposure. In addition, you may get tested whenever you’d like.
I’m not feeling well, but I think it’s just allergies. What should I do?
Please stay home if you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Even though many people experience seasonal allergies at this time of year, if you aren’t feeling well, please don’t assume it’s because of allergies. Please report your symptoms to the Public Health team by completing the COVID-19 Symptom Check-In survey, and get tested.
Should I get a second additional COVID-19 vaccine dose (“booster”)?
Georgetown’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement remains the same. Students, faculty, staff and visitors must be up to date on COVID-19 vaccination (i.e., primary series and, when eligible, one additional dose), or have an approved medical or religious exemption.
Following last week’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization, a second vaccine “booster” shot may be advisable if you:
- Received the Johnson & Johnson vaccineas both the primary and booster dose at least four months ago.
- Are 50 or older and received any booster dose at least four months ago.
- Aremoderately or severely immunocompromised, 12 years and older, and received any booster dose at least four months ago.
If you are in one of the above groups, please talk to your doctor about whether you should get a second additional dose at this time. If you decide to receive a second additional dose, please upload documentation of this dose through the GU360 mobile app or GU360 website.
Should I be concerned about attending large social events or traveling?
Please consider community transmission and your own personal circumstances when making decisions about whether, and how, to attend large social events or travel. You may consider getting tested before and after attending events or traveling, and wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95) while around others in crowded settings.
What factors should I consider when making such decisions for myself and others?
As you plan your activities and assess your risk, consider the following:
- Your personal risk (e.g., immunocompromised status, high-risk medical conditions),
- Your vaccination status (you’re most protected when up to date with your vaccination),
- The type of mask you can wear (e.g., N95, surgical),
- The length of time you are spending with unmasked people, or in an area of high transmission,
- The type of activity (e.g., minimal interactions, singing, yelling),
- The setting (e.g., indoors, ventilation status, proximity to others and density),
- The anticipated number of people you will be interacting with and your tasks/responsibilities (e.g., dining, greeting or hosting).
As someone with a compromised immune system, are there preventive treatment options against COVID-19?
A new treatment with certain monoclonal antibodies has been shown to help prevent COVID-19 in individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. This treatment is not a substitute for vaccination. Please talk to your doctor about whether you are eligible for pre-exposure treatment with monoclonal antibodies.
I have COVID-19. What treatment options are available?
There are new oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 for individuals at high risk for complications. You may also qualify for treatment with certain monoclonal antibodies by infusion. If you are infected, please talk to your doctor about available treatments and your eligibility.