2022 - 2023 COVID-19 Policy FAQs
These Frequently Asked Questions and Answers are continually updated to address new and changing issues and concerns. Please check back often for the latest information.
Last updated: January 13, 2023
VACCINE REQUIREMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Do I have to get vaccinated for COVID?
All individuals who will have any on-campus presence are required to complete an initial series of COVID vaccination (2 doses of Pfizer/Moderna or 1 dose of J&J) prior to coming to campus.
Do I have to get boosted for COVID?
Initial booster doses are strongly encouraged for everyone who is eligible. Individuals are eligible to receive the first booster dose 5 months after receiving the second dose of Pfizer/Moderna or 2 months after J&J dose.
I got my first series of COVID vaccine. Why should I get the booster?
You should get boosted to enhance or restore protection that may have waned over time after receiving the initial COVID vaccine series.
Where can I get my COVID vaccination or booster dose?
It's easy to schedule your COVID vaccine or booster at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/
How do I submit proof of my COVID vaccination status?
All students are required to submit proof of completed vaccination series at the Health Services website. Students who have previously submitted proof of vaccination do not need to resubmit. Students who are requesting a medical or religious exemption must email Health Services at email@example.com each academic year.
If you are a current employee who has already provided proof of your vaccination status or previously requested and received an exemption from the vaccination mandate, you do NOT need to take any further action for the Fall semester. New employees will be asked to provide proof of vaccination by Human Resources prior to onboarding. Employees who require a medical or religious exemption should email Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to wear a mask?
Westfield State University will continue to be mask optional throughout most of campus. As a mask-friendly campus, however, we encourage mask wearing as an effective tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The MA DPH recommends the wearing of masks indoors if you have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk of severe disease because of age or underlying conditions. Individuals identified as close contacts should follow masking recommendations from MADPH (addressed below).
Masks will be required in all classrooms and instructional spaces during scheduled class times for the Spring 2023 semester. However, to provide more flexibility, faculty have the option of NOT requiring mask wearing in their classes.
Masks are also required in Health Services and the Counseling Center as they are in all healthcare settings in Massachusetts. Employees have the option of requiring that a mask be worn in their individual single-occupancy offices. Masks may also be necessary anywhere that there is posted signage indicating masks are required. Individuals may also choose to wear a mask at any time.
I am returning from isolation. Should I wear a mask?
Per MA DPH, you may return to campus on Day 6 following a positive COVID test or the start of your symptoms. You will be expected to wear a mask through Day 10 but may remove your mask prior to Day 10 if you have had two negative tests taken 48 hours apart.
I've been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Do I need to wear a mask?
If you have been exposed to someone with COVID, you do not need to quarantine as long as you remain asymptomatic, regardless of your vaccination status. However, you must wear a mask any time you are around others indoors for the 10 days following your exposure, unless you are unable to mask due to a medical condition.
Where can I get a mask?
Free medical procedure masks will be available at designated locations throughout the academic year to all members of the Westfield State community. Masks will be available in the SAIL office on the lower level of the Ely Campus Center, at Health Services, and in many departmental offices. Students are encouraged to visit SAIL while employees should speak with their supervisors to request masks, if needed. KN95s and KN94s will also be available for employees and may be obtained by speaking with your supervisor.
COVID-19 TESTING EXPECTATIONS & PROCEDURES
Where can I get tested if I am symptomatic?
Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing. Students and employees may request a rapid self-test kit at Health Services by contacting email@example.com or (413) 572-5415. You may also seek testing at an off-campus location or through an at-home test.
Employees who are exhibiting COVID symptoms should not come to work and seek testing at an off-campus location or through an at-home test. Employees who feel they may have COVID should consult their medical provider, alert their supervisor, and contact Tiffany Fangman, COVID Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to get tested for COVID if I am asymptomatic?
Westfield State strongly encourages exempted unvaccinated students to test weekly. Exempt unvaccinated employees will continue to be expected to test weekly and report any positive test results. Test kits may be requested by contacting Tiffany Fangman at email@example.com.
I tested positive. Who should I tell?
If you test positive off-campus or on an at-home COVID test, you should notify Tiffany Fangman, COVID Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students should also notify any faculty whose class you were in during your contagiousness period and/or whose class you will miss due to isolation. Employees should also contact their supervisor.
If you test positive, you should also notify any close contacts you may have had while you were considered contagious. A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of you for at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. Your period of contagiousness begins 48 hours prior to symptoms starting or your positive test date if you were asymptomatic.
Why should I notify close contacts?
By telling close contacts they may have been exposed, you are helping to protect everyone. To help you identify your close contacts, ask yourself questions to better remember who you might have had close contact with.
- Where did you go and who were you with in the 2 days before you had symptoms or tested positive?
- Did you go to school, work, or participate in social or recreational activities?
- Who was sitting near you during classes, meetings, or meals?
- Did you meet up with friends, go to an exercise class, or visit a place of worship?
- Did you have any appointments or attend any events?
- Reach out to all individuals you know directly. If you do not know their contact information, you may attempt to inform them through other channels such as notifying the businesses, venues, places of worship, or event organizers where you were. Provide them details of when you visited and where you may have exposed others.
ISOLATION & EXPOSURE PRECAUTIONS
I tested positive. Do I have to isolate?
Yes. Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals who test positive for COVID must isolate for at least 5 days. The 5-day count begins on day 0 which is the day your symptoms began or you tested positive if no symptoms. Students are expected to isolate off-campus.
Students are expected to contact their faculty members regarding accommodations four coursework during their isolation period. When leaving campus, students should bring everything they need with them during isolation. This may include textbooks, laptops, phones, chargers, prescription and over-the-counter medications, clothes and toiletries for the duration of isolation. Students are encouraged to pack lightly to minimize exposing others while temporarily moving out.
How do I return from isolation?
Per MA DPH, you may return to campus on Day 6 after your positive test or the beginning of your symptoms. You will be expected to mask through Day 10 but may remove your mask prior to Day 10 if you have had two negative tests taken 48 hours apart.
What happens if I violate isolation expectations?
Students who violate isolation expectations may be referred to Student Conduct.
Employees who violate isolation expectations may be referred to Human Resources.
What do I do if I am unable to secure off-campus housing for my isolation period?
Unless experiencing an emergency situation, students are expected to isolate off-campus. Students may contact the Dean of Students for an emergency appeal if they are unable to do so.
I was informed that I was identified as a close contact. What should I do?
Close contacts should follow recommendations from the MADPH. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID, you do not need to quarantine as long as you remain asymptomatic, regardless of your vaccination status. You must wear a mask at any time you are around others indoors for the 10 days following your exposure unless you are unable to mask due to a medical condition.
You should also seek testing based on your COVID status. If you have not had COVID in the past 90 days, you can test with either a rapid antigen or PCR test. People who had COVID in the last 90 days should test with a rapid antigen test, not a PCR test. People who had COVID in the last 30 days are not recommend to test on day 6 but should use a rapid antigen test if they develop any symptoms.
RESIDENTIAL LIFE & DINING
Are face masks still required in the residence halls?
Currently, there is no requirement for mask wearing in the residence halls. We do, however, require students who have recently tested positive to follow CDC guidelines which state masks must be worn for a period of time after a positive test. We also encourage all members of our community who feel more comfortable wearing a mask to please do so.
Are there any new policies or restrictions in the residence halls for the Spring 2023 semester?
Not at this time, but students should regularly check their email and this website for updates to our COVID-19 safety protocols.
Is it safe to eat in the Dining Commons?
Dining facilities provide hand sanitizer upon entry, follow strict protocols for employee health, maximize outdoor air exchange, and utilize UV lights in the HVAC system to kill viruses and germs. Its team of dedicated staff disinfect surfaces and high-touch areas every 30 minutes. Additionally, sanitizer stations are available throughout the Dining Commons offering wipes and sanitizer for anyone who would like to use them.
What if I am nervous about eating in the Dining Commons?
We offer a to-go program that uses re-usable containers to allow students to take meals to go. We wash and sanitize each container between uses and also provide disposable cutlery for use as well.
How does the to-go reusable container program work?
- Students pay a starting dining deposit of $7.00.
- Take a to-go box and enjoy.
- Return your used to-go box for cleaning.
- Take a new box or a key chain to exchange for a box the next time you visit.
Are masks required in the Dining Commons?
Patrons are not currently required to wear masks in the Dining Commons unless directed by a health care provider or as personal situations or preferences require. Please respect others' choices about masking.
COVID Safety Expectations
Students who violate Westfield State University COVID safety expectations may be referred to Student Conduct. Employees who violate Westfield State University COVID safety expectations may be referred to Human Resources.