The COVID -19 pandemic has been disruptive for almost every student’s life. Whether your school remained open or not, life on campus has changed dramatically. Masks are ubiquitous, vaccinations are almost a prerequisite for enrollment and most colleges still require social distancing.
While many of these rules are fairly obvious, there are many gray areas which can trip up your academic career if you are not careful.
Among the most confusing requirements is how much information to provide about your time away from campus. For example, do you need to inform your school if you tested positive for COVID -19 over the summer?
CDC Guidelines for Colleges
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that college populations are often at high risk for COVID -19 because of the cramped living arrangements, frequency of social interactions and penchant for high-risk behaviors. That is why the CDC has issued stringent guidelines to colleges and universities.
Among the primary recommendations that the CDC has issued are:
- Colleges should screen all students at the beginning of every term.
- Colleges should implement a rigorous COVID -19 testing program throughout the school year.
- Colleges should comply with local health policies in responding to positive test results.
Although the CDC is a highly respected public health authority, it does not possess the power to mandate a specific policy for colleges. That is why the recommendations it has issued are merely guidelines that higher institutes of learning may adopt or disregard as they choose.
This means that there is no universal standard for COVID -19 reporting among colleges. Every institute of higher learning is unique with its on-campus population, social culture and position in the wider community, so each has developed its own prevention and response strategy to the COVID -19 pandemic.
Almost all institutes of higher learning will take into consideration the broader COVID -19 environment in their local region and adapt their testing, reporting and response protocols accordingly.
A good example is George Washington University here in DC, which will require full vaccination for students attending in-person. George Washington University requires that undergraduate students be fully vaccinated unless exempted for medical or religious reasons. Students also will be tested for COVID -19 once a month even if fully vaccinated.
So, in the case of George Washington University students, it is incumbent upon them to notify school health administrators of a positive COVID-19 test, but if you are fully vaccinated, you will probably not be quarantined.
What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19
If you are already past the infectious phase and no longer symptomatic, then it is probably beneficial to notify your health administrators.
If your exposure was more recent, then your school may recommend that you remain off-campus until you are no longer infectious, but there should be remote learning options available to you.
Most schools now recommend that you get fully vaccinated (and a federal judge recently upheld Indiana University’s vaccine mandate), so that you can avoid general COVID -19 screenings. Even if you are not required to get vaccinated, your school could require regular testing or remote class attendance.
If you are accused of violating your college’s COVID -19 policy, you may still have a good defense against the allegations and, possibly, a case against your school. Although the college has broad authority to implement public health policies, those policies cannot infringe on your rights.
Contact a DC Student Defense Attorney Today
At DC Student Defense, we help students protect their rights and safeguard their academic futures against accusations and onerous punitive measures. If you’ve been accused of violating your school’s COVID -19 policies, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a 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.