Student Organization COVID-19 Policies

Last updated on August 31, 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the student organization experience will look very different this year, with nearly all student organization activity shifting online. We are confident that our organizations will use this as an opportunity to think creatively and continue to be a central facet of campus life.  The GW Student Organization COVID Policies are created with the health and safety of our community at the forefront. Student organization officers are to lead the implementation and foster compliance with the requirements. While outlined here in the context of student organizations, students should note that many of these policies are also applicable to informal gatherings of on-campus residents during the fall semester. 

This plan is dynamic and reflects the current situation. As we learn more about COVID-19 and local or national conditions change, our plans and procedures will evolve. Changes will be posted to this site. Contact the Office of Student Life’s [email protected] with questions.

UPDATED: August 31, 2020 | Most recent updates include:

  • Clarifications to travel policies

Events, Activities, & Meetings

Based on CDC College and university and ACHA guidance, convening in groups carries an increased risk of viral transmission. This information, combined with the extremely limited number of students residing on campus means that the vast majority of meetings, events, and activities should be held virtually using online collaboration tools (e.g., Webex, Zoom, Google Hangouts). All students have free access to Webex, a collaborative meeting tool supported by GW IT, and the Office of Student Life will continue to provide information and resources related to online engagement.

Limited in-person events hosted by student organizations will be permitted. For the health and safety of the GW community, the following guidelines have been put in place for student organization sponsored events until further notice.  Any student organization event, regardless of location, must meet all these directives to be fully aligned with GW’s policies and expectations.

On-campus residents will have limited access to campus buildings. Students living off campus during Fall 2020 are not permitted to be on campus unless specifically granted permission. At this time, student organizations may not host on-campus events.

Student organization sponsored events, activities, and meetings that occur in-person will be limited to a group size of no more than 10, including event hosts and attendees. Note that this group size limitation applies to gatherings of any nature, not just student organization sponsored events.

Everyone on campus and in public spaces must wear a cloth mask or face covering in accordance with university guidelines. This includes indoor and outdoor events, even when individuals are more than 6 feet away from one another. All attendees are responsible for providing their own mask/PPE. All event hosts and attendees must practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) distance between themselves and others. All attendees should also follow CDC recommendations for handwashing or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Due to risks associated with food sharing and cross contamination, no food or beverage may be served or provided at student organization sponsored events. Attendees may bring their own snacks and beverages for themselves. Personal food items should not be shared with others and eating at events should be limited. When removing masks to eat, attendees should increase their physical distance beyond 6 feet. Participants are responsible for the proper disposal of personal food item trash. 

Because alcohol impairs judgement and suppresses immune response, it presents additional safety risks beyond those associated with food and beverage sharing. Additionally, recent data indicates that bar and restaurant settings are increasingly the source of outbreaks. As such, no events with alcohol will be permitted. This applies to both on-campus and off-campus events.

Student organizations should limit the number of materials that need to be distributed at events. For example, consider providing digital handouts instead of paper. Attendees should avoid sharing pens, laptops, etc. Giveaways will be allowed in a limited capacity following guidance provided in the mandatory student organization training. This includes procedures for hand hygiene and safe distribution of items. Additional guidance on giveaways is forthcoming.

All in-person events must be added to Engage no later than 72 hours in advance for approval by the Office of Student Life. Additionally, advance RSVPs and on-site check-in must be facilitated via Engage for all in-person student organization activities, events, and meetings.  This will ensure that room capacities are not exceeded and will enable contact tracing if necessary. All attendees and hosts must be checked-in and recorded in the Engage event. Additional resources will be provided to assist with creating events and tracking attendance.

Only GW community members (students, faculty, staff) will be allowed to attend in-person, on-campus events. This includes event attendees as well as any speakers, entertainers, etc. Co-sponsored events with external organizations are not permitted. For the safety of the guests and the GW community, student organizations are required to use virtual resources and online programs to accommodate external, non-GW guests, speakers, etc.

Because external speakers, performers, etc. will not be present on-campus, contracts will only be required if an organization is paying for the virtual services and/or the event is being recorded.  Please note that student organizations should not record and/or distribute any virtual activity featuring an external guest without explicit written permission from that speaker/performer.

In the event a contract is needed, student organizations must follow the usual contract process through the Office of Student Life. Student organizations are not permitted to sign contracts.

Student organizations should continue to remain cognizant of accessibility needs related to their virtual events. Event hosts should ensure that everyone can participate in the event. For online events, this may mean securing a CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) provider to create real-time captioning services. In registration forms, someone should be identified for participants to contact should they need to request an accommodation for your event.

Organizations may host events and activities off-campus. Off-campus events must abide by the policies set forth for organization events, in addition to any local and facility specific regulations. If the university’s policy differs from the local/facility expectations, the more restrictive policy must be followed. For instance, if the local guidance allows for gatherings up to 50 individuals, the event still cannot exceed 10 per the student organization guidelines.  While off-campus, GW community members must always follow CDC and DC/local public health guidelines

Effective social distancing is difficult to maintain in crowds or large groups. It is important to consider your risk level and personal wellness before joining a protest or large gathering. If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, or other symptoms of COVID-19 you must stay home to protect yourself and others in the community. Students should take precautions to protect themselves and others against COVID-19 during these activities and follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, and handwashing. Additional resources regarding the Student Code for student activists can be found in the Student Code Protest Activities guide.

In light of the risks of COVID-19 community spread, many organizations recommend adopting remote and virtual engagement and postponing all in-person campaigning and canvassing. Students should research local jurisdictions to learn more about their specific recommendations. Consider virtual ways of organizing including virtual phone banks, text banks, and letter writing events. If canvassing, students should follow all CDC recommendations for social distancing and hand washing.

Due to the nature of most recreational sports programming there is no way to safely maintain appropriate physical distancing guidelines and other safety precautions established for large groups without supervision. Therefore, we are cancelling Intramural and Club Sports programming, including practice and competition, for the fall semester which aligns with a trend across many National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association member schools in our region. Additionally, we are moving all Intramural Sports to an Esports platform for GW students beginning this fall. We are currently finalizing an agreement to host Esports on the GEEX platform for GW students as well as the ability to host Extramural competitions against other local universities. This system allows us to manage programming for all Intramural and Club Sports participants at GW which we believe leads to increased participation for the fall semester.

In line with this, student organizations are not permitted to host their own sporting events (kickball, dodgeball, basketball, etc.).

The research on the spread of COVID-19 through particles and aerosols created while singing, shouting, exercising and playing instruments is not fully understood. When possible, consider holding these events virtually. For these types of in-person activities, additional guidelines must be followed. We will continue to review new information as it is released and make additional recommendations as needed.

When engaging in activities with physical exertion, dancing, increased vocal projection, shouting, and acting, the physical distance between individuals should be increased to 12 feet. Masks must continue to be worn in accordance with university guidelines. Theatre rehearsals are permitted so long as students wear face masks and can maintain social distancing practices of at least 12 feet between performers.

Rehearsals and performances must be limited to no more than 1.5 hours. Performances should be recorded or live streamed as the total number of performers, crew members, and audience members cannot exceed 10  or the capacity of the space, whichever is fewer.

At this time, no in-person instrumental rehearsal for brass and wind instruments (i.e. any instrument that would require the removal of a face mask) will be permitted.

We strongly encourage organizations to post events to Engage - required for in-person events and recommended for virtual events. Updates to university policy limit access of residence halls to current residents of that building. Students must continue to follow the residence hall poster policy and cannot poster in a residence hall that is not their own. Off-campus students may not access campus to place physical posters in GW buildings.

Fall Org Fair

The annual Fall Org Fair will be held virtually in early September. Student organizations will be assigned to a 2-hour block of time based on their primary organization category. Each organization will be able to choose from a variety of virtual tools to engage with potential new members. More information will be provided in the following weeks.

Campus Spaces & Room Reservations

Current bookings for the 2020-2021 academic year have been cancelled as room capacities and campus needs have changed.  No student organization bookings will be allowed for fall 2020. This includes classrooms, Marvin Center, District House, major event spaces, outdoor event spaces, and indoor and outdoor tabling spaces

Outdoor events and activities are preferred since they allow for more spacing and fresh air. However, the same requirements on social distancing and masks still apply. Physical barriers may be erected to define spaces if needed and event hosts should ensure all individuals are staying 6 feet apart whenever possible. Social distancing guidelines also apply to any lines for the event.

The office and storage space assignments from 2019-2020 will remain in place through at least the fall 2020 semester. Reassignment of these spaces creates social distancing challenges and we are unable to safely and effectively facilitate new assignments and moves.

Due to the most recent fall 2020 campus operation updates, offices and storage spaces will not be accessible to students organizations. If an organization has an immediate need to retrieve items, they should email [email protected] for assistance.

Please note that we are unable to forward mail and packages at this time. As such, we encourage student organizations to utilize their on-campus or personal addresses for delivery of mail and packages whenever possible. Mail and packages that are received during this time will be held and stored until the campus operating status allows for safe distribution of items.

Travel & Transportation

All members of the GW community traveling from high-risk states (as defined by the District of Columbia at coronavirus.dc.gov) will be asked to self-quarantine for approximately 14 days upon arrival back to the national capital region and immediately start daily symptom screening. Residential students traveling from high-risk states will be given priority access to the GW campus arrival PCR COVID-19 testing as well as (if the first result is negative) a second PCR test 3-5 days later. Starting July 27th, all students traveling back to Washington, DC from high-risk states  will be required to either: (1) self-quarantine at a residence in the national capital region for 14 days following the D.C. Mayor’s Order 2020-081, (2) self-quarantine in their on-campus room until both test results are negative; or (3) if a test is positive, they will be isolated for 14 days from the date of a positive test.

Because travel increases the chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19,  student organization sponsored travel will not be permitted outside the 495 Beltway.

The university has determined it is necessary to continue the suspension of all non-essential international travel for students, faculty, and staff until further notice. Accordingly, all student organization sponsored international travel is suspended until further notice.

If offering in-person events locally, organizations should focus events that are within walking distance for members or can be reached by members traveling  individually. If transportation is needed for a local event, all health and social distancing guidelines apply. This includes maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals and wearing a cloth mask or face covering at all times. 

 

Based on CDC transportation guidance, if you must take public transportation, wear a face mask or covering before entering the bus or train, and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible. 

 

Students should significantly limit or avoid the use of ridesharing, rental vehicles, or personal vehicles and only use vehicles that allow for 6 feet of distance between individuals.  All passengers and the driver must wear a mask. Increase ventilation by opening windows and limit time in vehicle.

 

Organization Training & Advising

The Student Org Resource Desk in Marvin Center will be closed until further notice, however the Office of Student Life will continue to offer support through Org Help email and virtual office hours. Student organizations may sign up for virtual Org Help Hours. Throughout the summer, Org Help Hours are available on Wednesdays from 3-5 pm and Fridays from 12-2 pm (Eastern). If slots are filled or they don’t fit your schedule, please email [email protected] with your question or to request a meeting.

Student organizations with an assigned Staff Advisor should plan to meet with their advisor virtually or via phone throughout the semester. Advisor assignments are reviewed on an annual basis. Updated advisor assignments will be released in the next few weeks. You can view your organization's staff advisor assignment in your organization's profile within Engage. If your group does not have an assigned staff advisor, “Org Help” will be assigned the role of Student Org Advisor.

We are working closely with the Student Association to determine the best course of action for student organization budgets and spending. The Student Organization Finance Desk is also closed until further notice. Please email [email protected] with any finance questions. More details on finance operations will be provided prior to the start of the fall semester.

 

On August 5th, the Student Association Finance Team announced that Student Organizations will need to resubmit their 2020-2021 budget request. The budget request process opened on August 5th and will close at 12 PM Eastern on August 21st. Email [email protected] with any SA finance questions.

All student organizations will complete a mandatory training at the beginning of the fall semester. This training will cover policies and procedures, COVID-19 information, and resources for managing your organization virtually. More details will be provided to student organization leaders as the semester approaches.

 

Additional training will be offered throughout the academic year through the Excellence in Leadership Sessions (ELS) program. Several sessions will be offered this summer to help your organization better prepare for the fall. All ELS sessions will take place virtually (live) or through an online module (on demand). In addition to the mandatory fall training, organizations must send officers to four additional ELS workshops throughout the year, one of which must be on topics related to Title IX. More information coming soon.

Enforcement & Accountability

Maintaining a healthy campus environment is the responsibility of all members of the university community. In addition to individual responsibility, members of the community should foster accountability in the people around them and should address instances of non-compliance directly, if they are comfortable and it is safe to do so.

Each in-person event must have at least one designated event host who represents the organization and is responsible for ensuring all guidelines are followed. If an attendee refuses to follow established guidance, they should be asked to leave and may be reported for non-compliance. Alleged violations of these policies by a student or student organization should be reported to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, [email protected], or 202-994-6757. Potential consequences for failure to abide by these policies may include, but are not limited to, censure, loss of privileges, and frozen financial accounts.

Spring 2021

While the above guidelines focus heavily on the fall semester, student organizations can expect the same or similar guidelines throughout the spring semester or until there is an effective and widely utilized vaccine available. For this reason, we will not be approving purchase requests or signing contracts for spring events that do not meet the fall guidelines. We will continue to review COVID-19 information and guidance provided by the university, public health experts, and local officials as the situation evolves. These guidelines are subject to change and may be scaled back if conditions allow.