Living on campus is an important part of the Washington College experience, giving you the opportunity to meet new people, experience new ideas, and develop important study habits and life skills.
October 16, 2020
In response to our initial communication to return a limited number of students to campus in January 2021, students and parents responded overwhelmingly with:
- A request to revisit the number of students who can be housed safely on campus, and
- A request for clear details relating to the overall safety plans (testing plans, quarantine protocols, etc.)
On the first matter, we have determined that we can accommodate all students who wish to live on campus during the spring semester by allowing for:
- One student per bedroom/per suite (every student will be housed in a single)
- 10% of available beds reserved for Quarantine & Isolation space
The single factor allowing for the increased head count is the sharing of fixtures within suites. Previously, we accounted for one student per suite only, which meant no sharing of bathroom fixtures. By eliminating that one restriction -- while still housing all students in single rooms -- we can accommodate additional students plus maintain the 10% reserves for quarantine. (Note: this does require that students already living off campus remain in their approved off-campus housing. Also, at this time, we are still not granting any new waivers for off-campus housing.)
This decision was made in close consultation with the Kent County Health Department and in accordance with guidance issued recently by the Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) in Maryland Department of Health's Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs).
On the second matter, we acknowledge that our initial communication did not dive deep into how we would implement our plan. We recognize that this did not meet your expectations and apologize for the lack of clarity and detail.
To begin to address that, we offer below a high-level overview of the safety measures that are critical to our reopening plan. Please know that our team has been working around the clock to benchmark safety measures that other colleges have successfully implemented, to coordinate with our local Health Department, and to carefully evaluate and plan for every facet of this return to campus.
In benchmarking other colleges’ efforts to return students to campus and following best practices as laid out by various departments of health, we identified three conditions essential to safely reopening campus. They are:
- House every student in a single room
- Have sufficient space available for quarantine and isolation
- Have a robust testing plan, to include both gateway testing and regular surveillance testing throughout the entire semester
Our spring plan accounts for all three of these conditions.
As noted above, the revised plan to welcome all students back to residence halls has every student living in a single room. This plan also designates 10% of our available beds as Quarantine & Isolation space, which is the recommended standard.