Important Information for the Start of Fall 2020

Dear Graduate Students,

As we get ready to return to campus this fall there are many new policies and protocols being put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our community. To be successful, all of us must do our part to work together in the true spirit of Pro Humanitate.

Please note that this year the Fall Semester begins August 26th. There will be no Fall Break. On-campus instruction for face-to-face and blended courses will end November 24th, before the Thanksgiving holiday. The semester will extend to December 12, but only remotely after 11/24.

This page contains a lot of important information about COVID-19 as relates to the fall semester. Please take time to read the entire message.

Wake Forest policies related to COVID-19

Wake Forest is asking all students (graduate and undergraduate) to adhere to University-wide policies to ensure the health and safety of our community. Visit the Policies website for full details. We want to draw your attention to some of the key policies:

Cloth face coverings – All members of the Wake Forest University community (faculty, staff, and students) must carry a cloth face covering while on campus, and wear it in the presence of others. Students will receive from their program directors two face masks prior to the start of the semester and a thermometer.

COVID-19 education and training – All students will be required to complete a COVID-19 education and training module online. Access the module here.

Daily wellness screening – All students will be required to participate in a daily wellness screening via SneezSafe, an online health website; details are provided here.

Social distancing – Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors.

Adherence to COVID-19-specific hygiene – Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available hand washing. Practice cough/sneeze etiquette.

Getting seasonal flu shots – Flu shots will be required for all students, faculty and staff. Documentation providing proof of influenza vaccination should be provided to Student Health Services by December 15, 2020.

COVID-19 testing – After consultation with the public health team, WFU made the decision not to conduct pre-arrival required testing of asymptotic and healthy faculty, staff and graduate students — which is consistent with the recommendations of the CDC. The decision to take a different approach for undergraduate students is a recognition of the fact that a large number of undergraduates will be residing and socializing together in University housing. Graduate students may opt-in by accessing the Wake Forest University Azova Health Portal. Detailed instructions are available here. The cost is $129.

Student self-quarantine for students returning from outside the United States – under CDC guidance, any student returning from outside the United States will be expected to self-quarantine for 14 days in the United States prior to any in-person engagement with the University community.

Code of Conduct Addendum – Graduate students will be required to sign and return the Public Health Emergency Addendum to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Non-Academic Code of Conduct.

More information about these policies will be provided via email over the next few weeks. Much of the training on these policies will come via our COVID-19 education and training module. Please keep a close eye on your email and ensure you act on them in a timely manner.

Things to do now to prepare for the fall semester:

We recommend that graduate students do the following to prepare for the fall:

Students who are not returning to campus from outside the US are encouraged to limit their risk for exposure to COVID-19 for 14 days prior to coming to campus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Minimize going out in public places, especially crowded public places.
  • If you do go away from your home, wear a face mask and stay at least 6 feet from others.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. If you don’t feel well, stay at home.
  • Avoid others that you know are sick.
  • Get in the habit of doing all of these things now, because you will need to continue to practice these when school begins.

Ensure you have needed supplies in your home related to COVID-19 – Create a kit with extra hand sanitizer, cloth face masks, thermometer, cleaning supplies, small first aid kit (Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter pain medicine, over-the-counter cold medicine), and a good supply of prescribed medications that are taken regularly.

In this kit, you might also want to include a supply of replenishing drinks, such as Gatorade and food that you could eat without a lot of preparation (soup, crackers, granola bars, etc.), as well as other supplies (toilet paper, detergent, soap, disinfecting wipes or surface cleaners, etc.) that might needed in the event you became ill and needed to stay at home for a time.

If You Become Ill Once the Semester Begins

It is IMPERATIVE that students with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) call the Student Health Service (336-758-5218) or your primary care physician before going for an evaluation. If you believe your life is in danger, you are gravely ill, or another person near you is gravely ill, you should call 911 immediately.

Please follow these important instructions for students with COVID-19 living off campus.

See the CDC guidelines for quarantine.

During this time, the Wake Forest University Student Health Services clinic will be open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm M-F. There will not be a nurse on site after clinic hours; however, a nurse will be available by phone during this time. Online scheduling will not be available, so all students needing to be evaluated for illnesses or injuries should call for an appointment (336-758-5218). After hours, you may call the same number to consult with a nurse.

Roommates/Housemates/Family Members in Your Home

This academic year, you may be in a living situation where you have a roommate, housemate or family members and will be sharing common areas such as bathrooms or kitchens. It will be especially important to keep your living spaces as clean as possible.   Note the COVID prevention and “clean and disinfect” guidelines below; regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your dwelling.

Prevention of COVID-19

All individuals should follow the guidance of the CDC in preventing COVID-19. Key recommendations include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

TA or Lab Responsibilities

Faculty will be in touch with their students about expectations as classes resume. If you are a TA or if you have responsibilities in labs, research projects or internships, please contact your faculty director and/or supervisor via phone or email for guidance.

Some students may be in a category based on age and/or severe underlying medical conditions that might increase their risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In an effort to support working students’ well-being, an accommodation form will be made available upon request.

Resources Available for Students Living Off-Campus

The Off-Campus COVID resources page has information and an FAQ section for reference.

WFU Student Health Service will announce their fall hours on their website before the start of classes.

There are many meal services available to students off campus, including meal plans for apartment or commuter living. Visit the Wake Forest Dining fall website for more information.

Students can visit the websites for the Wellbeing Center, University Counseling Center, ZSR Library, Learning Assistance Center, and other centralized campus resources and services for access options. Students with ADA accessibility or technological resource questions can also contact their instructors and/or degree program leaders.

Please note that access to many Reynolda Campus facilities and services – including dining, student health, recreation and/or libraries, etc. – could be limited due to social distancing.

Also be aware that student study spaces have changed and are very limited at Brookstown and on other campuses. Some areas will be designated for use by reservation only.

Questions or concerns related to living arrangements or rental properties

Students should work with their respective landlords or rental/property companies regarding any questions related to their housing or fellow renters’ claims to space/property.

International Students on Wake Forest sponsored F-1 or J-1 visas

If you are a Wake Forest sponsored international student in F-1 or J-1 status, please be sure to refer to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website for information. There you can find details about travel, work and maintaining your visa status.

Where to Find the Most Up-To-Date Information

One of the challenges associated with the coronavirus situation is that things are changing very rapidly; the recommendations in place currently might change as new information is gained. The best place to find information on Wake Forest’s response to coronavirus and policies for the fall is at ourwayforward.wfu.edu. The website is being updated as the situation changes and as new information is gained. You may also submit a question via our online form.

Thank you for your continued assistance in protecting the health and safety of the Wake Forest community.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences