GW Launches COVID-19 Testing Protocol for GW On-Campus Community

A limited number of students, faculty and staff authorized to be on campus this fall will participate in regular COVID-19 testing and symptom monitoring.

August 27, 2020

GW COVID testing

COVID-19 testing on the Foggy Bottom campus will take place at the Charles E. Smith Center. (William Atkins/ GW Today)

The George Washington University launched its free COVID-19 testing protocol as a limited number of students facing extenuating personal or academic circumstances and faculty and staff with special permission return to campus ahead of the start of fall semester classes.

Members of the GW community will receive the diagnostic test developed by researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Over the summer, the university developed and implemented measures to maintain a healthy and safe environment for the GW on-campus community. This included mandatory COVID-19 testing for everyone who will be present on the GW campuses this fall. Designated students, faculty and staff on campus will be tested throughout the semester and are expected to monitor their symptoms daily. 

"GW faculty and staff have been working around the clock to bring the testing centers and lab into reality," said Lynn R. Goldman, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health. “The testing does not replace but adds an additional layer of protection to the other measures we are taking including wearing masks, social distancing, cleaning and hand washing. The protocols that we have established to prioritize safety and health are unprecedented for a university and represent our commitment to a future full re-opening of the George Washington University."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to a COVID-19 diagnostic test developed by scientists at Milken Institute SPH earlier this month. The team, led by associate professor Cindy M. Liu, set up a new public health laboratory in Science and Engineering Hall to accommodate testing for the GW community. 

Rapid, accurate testing means GW will not have to rely on outside laboratories that have long delays in providing results, Dr. Liu said. 

All students authorized to live in the residence halls will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing near the time of their arrival on campus and three to five days afterward if the first test is negative. Students residing on the Foggy Bottom campus who are arriving from one of the states on DC’s high-risk states list are required to quarantine in their room for the DC-mandated 14-day quarantine. All other residential students will be released from quarantine after two negative COVID tests. Residential students will be tested weekly throughout the semester.

Faculty, staff and non-residential students who have been approved to be on GW campuses this fall must also participate in mandatory COVID-19 testing. Provisions are being made for those who need to be on campus intermittently.

Testing locations are available on the Foggy Bottom Campus at the Smith Center and on the Virginia Science & Technology Campus at Enterprise Hall. The nasal swab test will take approximately five minutes. 

On-campus faculty, staff and students, and off-campus students who depart the D.C. metropolitan region and travel to and return from a high-risk state as determined by DC Health will be required to quarantine off-campus for 14 days, regardless of test results.

Additional information on testing and symptom monitoring requirements for residential students, off-campus students, on-campus faculty and on-campus staff can be found on GW’s Fall 2020 website. 

In addition to testing, individuals on campus are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times, practice social distancing and not gather in any groups larger than 10 people. They also must abide by the Commitment to Health and Wellbeing and the COVID-19 Campus Health and Wellbeing Policy

For information on COVID-19 testing and tracing, visit GW’s fall 2020 website