The COVID-19 epidemic has thrown everyone’s holiday plans into question, and universities are no exception. Schools are revising their usual policies regarding winter break in effort to accommodate the unique situation that many students face.
As a result, some students are scrambling to change their plans. One question you might be asking yourself: Can’t they make an exception for me or my child? Can I sign a waiver?
For the most part, universities will not make exceptions to their COVID-19 policies, even for the holidays. However, many schools are being flexible on some issues, like housing accommodations.
Contact tracing over the holidays
Contract tracing programs ask people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to provide health officials with a list of all the people they’ve come into contact with over some weeks. This is done so their exposure can be tracked and people can be warned.
Many D.C.- area universities are engaging in contract-tracing programs, either independently or through city programs. Those that aren’t, however, are still regularly testing their students and monitoring symptoms. Here’s a list of how some of the biggest schools in the city are tracking COVID this year:
- George Washington University doesn’t have a university contract tracing program, but it does have a rigorous policy involving weekly testing, required isolation and symptoms monitoring for anyone who tests positive.
- Georgetown University has similar policies regarding regular testing and required isolation for anyone who contracts the virus. However, they are also using an app developed with One Medical to keep track of students’ symptoms as well as collaborating with the DC government’s contract-tracing program.
- Howard University is similarly keeping track of students’ health through the University’s Bison Safe app.
- American University, on the other hand, doesn’t use an app or contact tracing, although it does offer regular testing for students.
There are not many ways to get around these measures. In fact, students can get into legal or academic trouble by failing to follow their school’s guidelines. Presumably, even with pleading or offering to sign a waiver would not make a difference for a legal or academic incident.
So while your child’s school may not be able to keep track of what they’re doing over winter break, they will most likely resume testing and symptoms monitoring upon their return.
Housing and campus services
The other major change that universities are making as a result of the pandemic is limiting the number of students allowed to stay and study on campus.
While each school is responding to the pandemic differently, it’s a safe bet that by spring semester, most universities will still require at least some classes to be online while continuing to limit the number of students in the dorms.
Doing some research into your school’s specific policy will help you make a plan for next semester, as well as for the holidays. While most universities are shutting down over winter break, there may be some exceptions that will allow students to stay on campus.
For example, at George Washington University, all students are expected to vacate their dorms no later than December 23rd. However, students who will be returning in the spring semester have the option to apply for winter break housing under special circumstances.
Students taking advantage of winter break housing will also be subject to further restrictions, like not allowing guests in the dorms.
Like George Washington, most universities are being very strict about limiting the number of students allowed on campus. However, if you have special circumstances, there’s more likelihood that there will be an option to accommodate your child for housing.
Hire a student defense attorney today
It’s great that universities are putting so much thought into how to keep their students safe. But sometimes university bureaucracy can be a bit unyielding, and that can cause problems for people with special circumstances. If you or your child have encountered academic or legal trouble, or you just need help negotiating the best option for you over the winter break, DC Student Defense can help. Contact us today for a legal consultation.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.