Since the COVID -19 pandemic began, universities around the country have been implementing strict guidelines to keep their students as safe as possible during the school year.
From social distancing to contact tracing, the typical college experience has been closely regulated to limit the spread of the virus at many schools. And students can face serious academic consequences if they are accused of violating these policies.
As the COVID -19 vaccine becomes more available to college students, and the end of the pandemic seems not entirely out of reach, many students are wondering if their universities will still be enforcing these rules in the 2021 Fall Semester.
While it’s impossible to answer for every college and university in the DC area, the safe bet is that most schools will continue to require social distancing and contact tracing until a critical mass of students have been vaccinated. DC student defense attorney Shan Wu explains below.
As colleges and universities began to re-open for in-person learning in the fall of 2020, various government bodies released COVID -19 prevention guidelines for schools to follow, from the CDC to the DC government.
For reference, here are some of the guidelines issued by the DC government:
- Social distancing: Masks, 6-feett social distancing, and a limit on large gatherings should be enforced on all campuses
- Sanitation: All facilities need to be regularly cleaned in accordance with CDC guidelines
- Ventilation: Air and water systems should be up to the standards set by the CDC
- Symptom screening: Students and staff should be screened for symptoms multiple times a week
- Isolation: Students and staff who test positive or show COVID symptoms should be isolated immediately
- Contact tracing: All schools should cooperate with the DC Department of Health’s contact-tracing program, to ensure that isolation, testing, and treatment are available for everyone who has come into contact with a positive COVID -19 case
Until the DC government has issued new guidelines, schools will still be required to adhere to these standards, meaning college students should expect contact tracing, health monitoring, and social distancing to continue in the 2021-2022 school year.
However, every school has approached compliance with these measures differently, and it’s entirely possible that schools will be relaxing some of their specific rules if they implement a vaccine mandate for students returning in the fall.
Rutgers University became the first US university to introduce a vaccine mandate when they announced in late March that their students will be required to get the vaccine if they want to attend classes in-person or live on-campus in the fall, with some medical and religious exceptions..
Since then, schools all around the country have followed suit, including several in the DC area. As of April 19, three DC schools have officially announced vaccine mandates for the 2021 Fall Semester:
- Georgetown University
- American University
- George Washington University
Many college leaders are stating that 100% vaccination, or close to it, will be a prerequisite for college life going back to normal. So college students should expect that, as more of their classmates get vaccinated, their schools will start to relax some of the social distancing requirements.
And it’s a good bet that schools with vaccine mandates will be able to make this transition sooner than others.
What to do if you’re accused of violating your school’s social distancing policies
With all of these rules and regulations in place, it can be easy for students to get confused. As a result, many students have found themselves facing academic consequences, even as serious as suspension or expulsion, because of an alleged violation of their school’s COVID -19 policies.
The most important thing you can do in this situation is contact an experienced student defense attorney. At DC Student Defense, it’s our job to help students protect their rights and safeguard their academic futures against accusations and disciplinary charges.
If you’ve been accused of violating your school’s COVID -19 policies, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation and talk about your case.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.