This message is sent on behalf of Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life.

Dear Wake Forest undergraduate students,

I hope you are enjoying some time away from your studies and, like me, looking forward to a fresh start in 2021. In that spirit, I write to you today with an update regarding Wake Forest’s plans for the spring 2021 semester. Campus opens for students moving in for the first time on Jan. 23 with residence halls opening for all students on Jan. 24. Classes will start on Jan. 27.

Status update

We continue to monitor the number of reported cases of the virus in our community, in North Carolina, and throughout the United States. As infectious disease experts have warned, the colder temperatures and subsequent indoor gatherings have contributed to a resurgence of COVID-19 across the country. In regular consultations with public health officials, we continue to make adjustments to our approach and fine-tune strategies to promote health and prepare for a successful semester.

Because the situation remains fluid, we ask that students and families stay flexible and prepare themselves for possible changes. For example, this could include purchasing travel insurance in case plans for the semester change or a student is exposed to and/or contracts COVID-19 before arrival.

Pre-arrival requirements

Wake Forest will be repeating some of the key strategies that helped us start our fall semester successfully, including requiring undergraduate students to be tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantining and completing daily symptom screening for 14 days before accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities. These actions underscore the University’s focus on and commitment to early detection and response.

Once again, we are sure that the semester will challenge us all in ways we cannot anticipate, but we believe that our success in the fall shows that by following public-health guidelines we can continue to engage with our community and deliver an on-campus experience for students. By meeting the requirements below before arrival, you will enhance our chances of starting the semester well and completing the semester successfully.

There are four key requirements to prepare for your arrival:

  • Complete the pre-arrival testing process
  • Self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms for 14 days prior to accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities
  • Resume using the SneezSafe tool for daily symptom screening for 14 days prior to accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities
  • Provide flu vaccination documentation in the Student Health Portal or receive an exemption

Some students will receive communications about other requirements, including new students, students in the Wake Washington program, students coming to campus for the first time and students coming from locations outside the U.S. (who are planning to live on campus or in Winston-Salem). Student-athletes and students approved to stay at the Best Western Plus through the intersession also will receive separate communications.

Below, we provide details of these four key requirements. Please read the following instructions carefully.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

Undergraduate students must be tested for COVID-19 before moving into campus housing, accessing campus or participating in the Wake Washington program. Undergraduate students will be permitted to access campus or other Wake Forest facilities only if they have a negative test result or if they meet CDC criteria for release from isolation precautions after a positive test for COVID-19.

The results will enable Wake Forest to create a baseline assessment of both individual and population health. There are some exceptions to the testing requirement; additional information about those exceptions and how to submit test results is provided below.

Students will be required to obtain and submit a COVID-19 test that meets Wake Forest’s standards. The following types of COVID-19 tests (which look for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) are acceptable:

  • PCR or NAAT COVID-19 tests — Nasal or Saliva sample
  • COVID-19 antigen testing (rapid tests)

SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibody (blood test) tests are not acceptable for pre-arrival screening.

Tests of acceptable types are available from a variety of sources, and costs will vary, as will coverage by insurance. As long as the test meets the requirements above, you can obtain it from any provider. We have listed a few possible options below:

  • — Tool for finding testing locations near you
  • All county health departments in the U.S. offer testing, including free testing.
  • Pixel by LabCorp — At-home nasal swab ($119; LabCorp will file against your health insurance, or you can pay by credit card).
  • Questdirect by Quest Diagnostics — At-home nasal swab or limited onsite testing ($129 paid by credit card).
  • CLR — At-home saliva-based PCR test ($110 paid by credit card).
  • CVS — On-site, self-administered nasal swab testing at select CVS locations (potentially no upfront cost, CVS will file against your health insurance).
  • Walgreens — On-site, self-administered nasal swab testing at select Walgreens locations (potentially no upfront cost, Walgreens will file against your health insurance)

You will need to submit your results through the Student Health Portal. Details about how to submit will be shared in subsequent emails and on the Our Way Forward website.

Some students may need to follow different instructions:

  • Students who previously tested positive for COVID-19:
    • Students who tested positive on or after Oct. 24, 2020, and previously notified Student Health Service of the positive result do not need to do any further testing before accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities. The University will send a message to these students on Friday, Dec. 18. If a student does not receive a message from the Student Health Service, pre-arrival testing will be required. If you have questions, please use the methods at the bottom of this email.
    • Students who have documentation of a positive PCR, NAAT or antigen test for COVID-19 on or after Oct. 24, 2020, and have not provided it to Student Health Service will need to provide documentation of the positive test and have completed the CDC precautions to be released from isolation. Students will receive information about how to submit these results through the Student Health Portal. Once students have been notified by the Student Health Service of clearance for arrival, no further pre-arrival testing will be required.
  • Students coming from locations outside the U.S. (who are planning to live on campus, in Winston-Salem or Washington, D.C.) AND students who left the U.S. during the break: Follow the CDC travel guidelines, including testing before and after air travel to enter the United States and quarantining for seven days after arriving in the United States (and to self-quarantine for 14 days before accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities, if possible.) The CDC also has helpful guidelines for knowing when to delay travel. State and local recommendations or requirements also may apply. Additional information will be sent to our international students; for others who may have left the country, please contact for additional details on travel quarantine.
  • Students facing financial constraints: Eligible students received an email with specific instructions.
  • Student-athletes: The Athletics Department will communicate directly with student-athletes about the testing requirements for their respective sports.
  • Students approved to stay at the Best Western Plus through intersession: The University will communicate directly with you about testing options.

Quarantine and Isolation Requirements Prior to Arrival

Undergraduate students residing in University housing or off campus must complete a 14-day self-quarantine period concluding on the day before accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities or returning to their off-campus residence. While in self-quarantine, students are expected to remain in their residence and avoid exposure to others. If contact with others either in the residence or while performing essential functions is unavoidable, students should maintain a minimum of six feet of distance, wear a mask, and practice diligent hand washing.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 (with or without symptoms), the student must isolate per CDC recommendations and meet CDC criteria for release from isolation. While in isolation, students are expected to remain in one place and avoid contact with others and follow CDC recommendations for isolation to prevent the spread of the virus. Should this isolation period cause the student to be unable to access campus or other Wake Forest facilities before classes begin, the student should email (if they live on campus or in University-sponsored housing),, and contact each of their faculty members to advise them of their delayed return.

Regardless of a student’s initial test results, if a student subsequently develops symptoms of COVID-19 while in self-quarantine, the student should contact their medical provider or seek medical evaluation for their symptoms to determine if additional testing or isolation for COVID-19 is necessary.

DO NOT come to campus or the Wake Washington program if you have been exposed to or have had symptoms of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days.

Testing and Quarantine Schedule

Students should begin planning for testing soon so they can ensure being able to test in the testing window listed below and receive results in a timely manner. Because of the national increase in cases, access to testing may be more difficult to obtain and the length of time until test results are available is increasing and could take as long as 5-7 days. Those requesting at-home tests should factor in extra time for mail delivery of the test and submission of results.

If possible, plan to be tested at the beginning of the testing window and submit your results as soon as possible. This will allow Wake Forest time to receive and process test results and facilitate your arrival.

Arrival DateTesting WindowResults SubmissionQuarantine Period
Jan. 19-22Jan. 5-10No later than Jan. 1514 days before arrival
Jan. 23 or laterJan. 9-15No later than Jan. 1914 days before arrival

CLARIFICATION: Off-campus students are expected to test in the Jan. 9-15 window as that will provide Wake Forest with a valid test closest to the student’s interaction with the rest of the student body.

Daily Screening Requirements

Undergraduate students who will be residing in University housing, accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities or interacting with other Wake Forest students are expected to resume using SneezSafe to log daily symptoms starting 14 days before accessing campus or other Wake Forest facilities or first interacting with other Wake Forest students.

New students and students coming to campus for the first time can find information about SneezSafe registration here.

Documentation of flu vaccination

All students must submit documentation of a flu vaccination via the Student Health Portal or receive an exemption. The deadline for students returning to Wake Forest to submit documentation of their flu vaccination was Dec. 15 in accordance with the University’s Influenza Policy. If you have not submitted proof of your flu vaccination and have not received an exemption, you will not be able to access campus or other Wake Forest facilities in the spring until this is resolved. More information is available on the Student Health Service website.


Questions should be submitted through the Our Way Forward website or to the Call Center at 336-758-7500 weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Eastern through December 23; the Call Center will be closed from December 24-January 3 and will reopen on January 4. Please do not reach out directly to the Student Health Service.

In early January, we will provide more information about how the University will manage its response to the pandemic over the course of the spring semester. We can’t wait to see you at Wake Forest soon!


Penny Rue
Vice President for Campus Life