As of Aug. 2023
On May 5, 2023 the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency shortly followed by the United States Government declaring an end to the national emergency. COVID-19, however, continues to be present, thankfully in a less virulent form, for most people.
The American College Health Association recently released suggested guidelines for colleges and universities based on current conditions. Those guidelines were considered when adopting the following policies and recommendations for Wilkes.
Masks are not required unless you are recovering from COVID or visiting Health and Wellness Services and other health or medical spaces on campus. Continue to respect others' wishes. If asked to mask up before entering a space, please do so. Masks are available at Health and Wellness Services. If there is a significant increase in the number of positive cases on campus at any point in the semester additional masking stations will be identified.
It is clear that getting vaccinated and boosted is the best way to combat COVID-19. The FDA has approved a vaccine which will be available this fall keeping current with the most recent Omicron variant. The CDC is likely to recommend a once-a-year vaccine similar to annual flu inoculations. The University recommends that all students, staff, and faculty receive at least one bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Those in high-risk categories (65 years of age or older and those who are immunocompromised) should consult with their health care professionals with respect to frequency and type of vaccination recommended. The University is working with the Wilkes-Barre Department of Health in hopes of providing vaccination opportunities on campus. Additionally, the CDC provides a site for free vaccine locations. The University will not be tracking who has been vaccinated at this time.
Isolation is required for those who test positive. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will isolate for at least five days, per CDC guidance. Testing is available for students who need it. Students who have symptoms of COVID-19 can contact Health and Wellness Services at 570-408-4730 to be tested and treated. Resident students who test positive and are unable to return home to isolate will consult with Health and Wellness Services and Residence Life for isolation instructions.
Follow the guidelines below when testing positive:
- Stay home for five days.
- If, on day six, you are fever-free without the use of medications, have no symptoms or your symptoms are improving, you may return to work or classes as long as you wear a mask for 10 total days.
- If you have a fever or related symptoms on day six, continue to stay home until your symptoms resolve.
- Inform those who you have had close contact with so that they can monitor their symptoms. Close contact is defined as being within six feet of others for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. You should notify those who you had close contact with up to two days before symptoms started or testing positive.
COVID-19 protocol for class attendance
Students who are engaging in isolation at the direction of the Wilkes Barre Health Department, Wilkes University Health Services Office, or their health care professional, should not attend class. Students will be required to provide documentation of isolation directions from their healthcare professional to the office of Health and Wellness Services. Students will not be penalized for absences, missed exams, labs, or other critical academic activities, unless they fail to notify their instructors of their absences. Students must take responsibility for their absences and keep up with their coursework if they cannot attend class. They must:
- Inform their instructors/professors and the Office of Student Life and Success of their inability to attend class prior to class meetings.
- Refrain from coming to the classroom or visiting the instructor/professor.
- Maintain open communication by notifying instructors and student health services (firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-408-4730) as soon as they become aware of the situation.
- Keep up with classwork, unless they are unable to do so.
- When available, attend class remotely and submit assignments digitally, unless they are unable to do so.
- Work with their instructors to reschedule exams, labs, and other critical academic activities as soon as possible.
Exposure to someone with COVID-19
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine, as of CDC guidelines issued in Aug. 2022. You should do the following:
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Test on day six.
- If you develop symptoms, get tested and stay home. If you test positive, follow the guidance for isolation.
International travel recommendations
When traveling on a university sponsored trip it is recommended that you have the most current vaccination and carry a testing kit in the event you develop symptoms while abroad.
The University’s Health Service will monitor active cases on campus and in the community on a regular basis and will consult with the Wilkes-Barre Department of Health and University leadership if there is a spike in the number of positive cases and take additional steps to mitigate the spread of illness.