Western Carolina University students living in residence halls will be asked to submit documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result taken three to five days before they leave their permanent residence and prior to their return to campus for the start of the 2021 spring semester.
Any student who fails to comply will be denied access to residence halls and meal plans until successfully submitting negative test results, university officials announced this week.
“Residential Living is implementing the entrance testing requirement for the residence halls to help conserve the limited on-campus quarantine and isolation facilities at the start of the term,” said Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs.
“During the 2020 fall semester, students living on campus who tested positive were encouraged to quarantine or isolate at their permanent residence, and offered an on-campus option if returning home wasn’t possible. When commuting students tested positive, they were directed to quarantine and/or isolate at their off-campus residence,” Miller said.
As in the 2020 fall semester, WCU Health Services will offer no-cost surveillance testing to all students who make an appointment at the start of spring 2021 classes, he said. Free testing will be available by appointment throughout the semester.
“As part of our commitment to keeping our campus community healthy and well, we strongly encourage all students and employees to test in their local area before returning to campus in the spring,” he said. “Local public health departments, pharmacies, primary care medical providers and individual insurance companies can provide specific information.”
University officials also are encouraging all students, faculty and staff to continue practicing the Catamounts Care strategies designed to help prevent the spread of the virus – including wearing a mask or face covering, maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet away from other people, and practicing proper hand hygiene – and to follow government restrictions related to the pandemic.
“The university is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation and is prepared for many possible scenarios that could come into play as we move forward that may result in a change of operations for spring semester,” Miller said.
Visit www.wcu.edu/coronavirus for updates and additional information. A website with information focused on operations for spring 2021 will be posted in the coming weeks.