Dear Wake Forest community,
As the New Year approaches, we are preparing to welcome you back to campus for the start of the spring semester. Thanks in large part to widespread cooperation with the booster-shot requirement announced on December 10, Wake Forest will be able to begin the Spring 2022 semester as scheduled with some additional precautions in place to mitigate the potential for COVID-19 transmission on campus. We remain in regular communication with public health experts regarding risks specific to the Omicron variant. Updates to current protocols, recommendations and important reminders follow.
The University will continually review protocols and recommendations for updates as needed based on the available data and advice of public health experts. We anticipate that the current requirements will remain in effect through the month of January.
Updates to Protocols:
- Visitors to the Reynolda Campus must provide proof of vaccination and a booster shot, or a negative test result, to attend indoor events. PCR and rapid antigen test results will be accepted and tests must be taken within 48 hours of the event. Requirements for athletic events in Joel Coliseum can be found here.
- Face masks are required indoors. This policy is in line with Winston-Salem’s continuing city-wide indoor mask mandate, and increased efforts will be made to monitor and enforce the mandate in buildings on campus, including public spaces, study areas and hallways in academic and administrative buildings. Face masks are highly effective at preventing transmission, and compliance is especially important given the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
- During campus events, food and drink must be served and consumed outdoors to avoid removing masks indoors.
- The Division of Campus Life will work directly with student organizations to review options for holding events in the month of January as safely as possible.
- The University is revising isolation and quarantine protocols to align with new CDC guidance that shortens the isolation period for vaccinated persons who test positive for COVID-19. Updates to University isolation and quarantine protocols will be posted to the Our Way Forward website no later than January 4. Additionally, for students who live on campus, Wake Forest will provide isolation rooms for vaccinated students who test positive and for students with a vaccination exemption who test positive or are identified as a close contact.
- The pandemic continues to have some country-specific impacts that may affect international students and programs. The Center for Global Programs and Studies and International Student and Scholar Services will communicate, as needed, directly with students and faculty traveling to or traveling from other countries.
In support of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the University community, the following actions are recommended for all faculty, staff and students:
- Updated guidance on protective face coverings: To mitigate transmission, medical experts advise face masks be correctly fitted, leaving no gaps around the sides of the face or nose. Wearing a cloth face mask with a disposable mask is advised in indoor environments, especially with groups of unknown vaccination status. The KN95 disposable face masks are also recommended. Wake Forest encourages all faculty, staff and students to review CDC guidance and stock up on their personal supplies of appropriate protective masks before the start of the semester.
- Pre-arrival Testing: Wake Forest strongly recommends that students, faculty and staff get tested through a local pharmacy, medical provider or self-administered test before returning to work or study on campus following the winter break. We understand that COVID tests are currently in short supply, and we encourage you to start seeking providers now. Wake Forest is not able to provide pre-arrival testing.
In the event of a positive test result, do not come to campus. Undergraduate and graduate students are required to report positive test results to the Student Health Service, and faculty and staff are required to report positive test results to the Faculty/Staff Clinic. These health care providers will issue guidance in the event of a positive test result. As a reminder, a negative test represents only a snapshot in time; vaccines, masks and other precautions remain important to mitigating viral spread.
Vaccine Booster Reminders:
Your cooperation with the vaccine booster requirement has played a significant role in Wake Forest’s ability to return to campus as planned for the spring semester. Vaccines and boosters have proven effective at reducing the risk of transmission and the severity of symptoms, including symptoms related to the Omicron variant.
- All students who are eligible and have not been approved for a medical or religious exemption must provide proof of receiving the vaccine booster no later than Jan. 7, 2022 (upload documentation here).
- Faculty and staff who are eligible to receive a booster as of Dec. 31, 2021, and have not been approved for a medical or religious exemption, must provide proof of receiving a vaccine booster no later than Jan. 31, 2022 (see directions to upload documentation to Workday here). We strongly encourage all faculty and staff to receive the booster shot before engaging on campus.
- More details on the booster requirement for students, faculty and staff are included in the email sent to the University community on December 10.
While it is possible that changing public health conditions may require additional measures, we are optimistic about starting the spring semester with the updated precautions noted above. Again, we will continually review these protocols. We thank you for your cooperation as we seek to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on-campus operations.
Best wishes for the remainder of winter break.
Executive Vice President