COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
Frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
Given the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have revamped this page to allow visitors to find information of greatest interest to them quickly. As answers to frequently asked questions are updated, the question will note the date of the most recent change.
For a full list of messages sent to the Case Western Reserve community, visit our COVID-19 Campus Communications page.
If you have questions not addressed on this page, please email email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have feedback or questions on Case Western Reserve's updated housing policy for fall, please submit our form.
Those who submit questions already answered in the FAQ will not receive responses. The answers to common questions will be answered by additions to the FAQ, so check back often.
Your contract will be cancelled automatically and changes will be reflected in your account in the Student Information System. The university will begin issuing refunds after the first day of classes.
As noted in the Aug. 6 email, the trend in students’ choices to go remote appeared likely to reduce on-campus residency enough to avoid restricting housing options. But last week’s slowdown in such decisions, coupled with the county public health agency’s recommendation that school districts open remotely, persuaded us of the need to be more aggressive in lowering occupancy.
We have recommended that incoming students “pack light” so that moving out of campus residences will be less burdensome. If developments require the university to transition to remote operations, we will provide as much notice as possible and pro-rate room and board fees based on the time spent living on campus.
One way the university would go remote would be if the state or another government entity ordered that students be sent home. Otherwise, the decision would involve an assessment of relevant factors, including students who have tested positive or who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive; new case counts in the region; hospitalizations and capacity levels; and local or state guidance.
Our first response would be to have the campus shelter-in-place—i.e. to have all courses and activities transition to remote operations—in the hope that such measures would significantly slow the spread. We would only send students home if conditions indicated we would not be able to protect their health adequately on campus.
Just as we have adapted to new developments since the pandemic began, we will continue to assess conditions throughout the coming weeks. That said, we would need to see dramatic improvements across multiple areas—case counts, test availability, etc.—before changing housing policies. These include availability of tests and timeliness of results, county and state public health guidance, campus compliance with risk-mitigation requirements, and exposure and infection incidence on campus.
Our housing office staff are working as quickly as possible to reallocate rooms based on the university’s new residential policy. They will do their best to keep roommates in relatively close proximity, but are managing an extremely complex process in a tight time period.
The university will provide updates regarding timelines of notifications when possible, but for now we ask that you give them an opportunity to make and share those changes before calling or emailing for any purpose other than cancellations.
You will not be able to live on campus.
Campus life will differ dramatically from students’ typical experiences. Students may not enter residence halls or rooms in which they do not live; students must maintain physical distance and wear masks at all times (indoors and out) unless in a room by themselves. Student organizations will be permitted to have in-person meetings, but must submit detailed event plans (including risk-mitigation measures) for each of them as part of securing permission to use campus spaces. Fall varsity athletics are canceled, as are winter ones through the end of the calendar year. Dining halls will serve grab-and-go meals, and also enforce physical distancing indoors.
If you cancel your contract by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight EDT on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 9, you will not be billed.
(This is an updated date and time as of 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6.)
Yes. Any university-recognized chapter must abide by this policy in terms of (a) ensuring each student lives in a single room, and (b) only allowing students in approved categories to reside in that house or building.
I am not in one of the categories approved for campus housing, but have extenuating circumstances that require I live on campus. Are you going to accommodate people like me as you did in the spring? (added 8/6/20)
Given the health considerations that drove this decision, exceptions are unlikely. They will be granted only for truly exceptional circumstances—and even then only to the extent we have single rooms available. To request a waiver, please complete this form.
Yes, our policies regarding students living off campus—other than those living in privately owned Greek houses—has not changed. That said, local landlords are aware of this change in the university’s on-campus housing policy, and we expect they will be vigilant about tenant compliance with occupancy limits.
Yes, first-year students who started at Case Western Reserve in the spring are among those permitted to live on campus this fall.
The configuration of students’ current residences does not affect eligibility for on-campus housing, as those spaces will be used to accommodate students who qualify for housing under the new model described in the message from the president and provost.
No. Because of the time constraints involved in making reassignments in time for the start of classes, the university will be making all assignments.
Because the university is entirely focused on adjusting housing assignments in response to this new policy, we will not be able to provide a definitive answer to this question until later this year.
Yes. If you are living in an off-campus apartment, you will have an off-campus budget. If you are living at home, you will have a commuter budget. In both cases, the likely impact is that there will be a reduction in grant. The federal regulations require us to use the appropriate cost of attendance.
For more information, please visit the financial aid website.
Yes. If you secured your space through the university (as opposed to a landlord or property management company) the housing policy applies to you.
The university’s policy requires that sophomores live on campus, but this fall the university is prohibiting us from living on campus. Given the unusual circumstances for the fall, will the university enforce the requirement for sophomores this spring?
No, the requirement that sophomores live on campus will be waived for spring semester 2021.
Students are able to apply for a leave in SIS. There is no need for them to be in touch with Undergraduate Studies. Students who do not plan to live in Northeast Ohio or take any courses this semester must either: initiate a Term Withdrawal in SIS if they are rising seniors, juniors, or second-year students; or request to defer enrollment if they are incoming first-year students.
It depends how many people are living in the suite relative to the number of bathrooms. Our goal is to reduce the number of students living in the suites to one to two students because students share a bathroom. In apartments, the ratio is one person per bathroom (most apartments have two bathrooms).
My roommates and I are seniors who registered to live in a suite in the Village, but now are considering living off campus for the fall. If we do not live in our suite in the fall, would we still be able to live with each other in the suite in spring?
Unfortunately, the complexity of reassigning so many current students in a short time require that the housing office focus exclusively on that process. Given the dramatic shifts in the pandemic’s spread over the past several months, it is extremely difficult to predict conditions in the new semester. Staff will update students regarding this question as soon as possible after addressing assignments and move-in for this fall.
I understand that those still eligible to live on campus must be tested for COVID-19 before moving into their residence halls or Greek houses. Will we be billed for the cost of that required test? (added 8/6/20)
The testing required by the university for students living on campus will not be billed to students. Please know, however, that students who become ill and need testing for symptoms or exposures may have that testing billed to insurance.
Unfortunately, such notification is not possible. Housing needs to know who does and does not plan to return to be able to reallocate rooms effectively and efficiently.
Students who would need to proactively cancel their housing contracts are those who are eligible to live on campus per the student message sent Aug. 6. Those who do not have to proactively cancel their housing contracts are those who are not eligible to live on campus per that same email.
No, but they do have to complete the health assessment every morning before coming to campus.
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. Common symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
For more information on symptoms, visit the CDC's symptoms page.
- Stay home.
- If on campus, call Health Services at 216.368.2450. Please do not come in. Faculty and staff, or students who are off campus, should contact their primary medical providers.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home. As much as possible stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
- Limit contact with pets and animals.
For additional information on what to do if you are sick, visit the CDC website.
Since the spring, faculty, staff and students have reported fewer than two dozen cases to the university; several of those individuals were working from home, and so their infections did not involve campus transmission.
For the latest numbers of cases in Ohio and Cuyahoga County, visit the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 page.
Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19, including test kits for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location.
Students are also welcome to ask questions of a Medical Plan representative via email@example.com or Aetna's customer service representatives at 877.850.6038.
The university plans to test all undergraduates living on campus following their arrival on campus. After completing that process, efforts will turn to testing undergraduates living off campus, and finally, graduate and professional students.
Throughout this time, UHCS will promptly arrange testing of symptomatic students and those potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19.
For students traveling from states under Ohio's Travel Advisory and quarantining before entering the residence halls: All students will be tested for COVID-19 shortly before their quarantine is complete. The university will contact students and provide transportation for testing. If students test negative for COVID-19, they will proceed to move into residence halls or Greek housing on Aug. 23, assuming they began quarantine on Aug. 9. (Students who test positive will be isolated on campus, per university protocol.)
In addition, Ohio now offers pop-up testing sites; visit the state's website for more information.
- Stay home from work, school and away from other public places.
- Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call Health Services or your provider immediately.
- Get rest and stay hydrated.
- Cover your cough and sneezes.
- For medical emergencies, call 911 if off campus or 216.368.3333 if on campus and notify the dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19.
- Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes towels and bedding.
- Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs.
For more information visit the CDC webpage on caring for yourself at home.
Please refer to our Do I Need to Self-Isolate or Quarantine page for more information.
Prevention methods for COVID-19 (coronavirus) include:
- wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- wear a mask when in public (masks are required on campus both indoors and outdoors);
- practice social distancing (maintain at least 6 feet distance);
- avoid close contact with other people who are ill;
- cough into your elbow;
- regularly clean door handles and other surfaces with disinfectant spray or wipes; and
- stay home if sick.
- Stay home.
- Limit contact when running errands.
- Choose safe social activities.
- Give yourself a buffer zone. Try not to get physically close to people when you’re outside your home. As a general rule, try to be 6 feet away from the closest person.
- Rethink your greeting. Don’t hug or shake hands.
- Avoid groups of people. More people = more chances to come in direct (or indirect) contact with the virus.
Studies show that effective handwashing can reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses by as much as 20 percent. Below is specific guidance from health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides extensive guidance on handwashing; among its key recommendations are to wash hands no for no fewer than 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), and if using hand sanitizer, make sure it has at least 60 percent alcohol.
As of July, the State of Ohio requires masks indoors and outdoors, except when keeping a distance of 6 feet from others, when actively eating/drinking, and a few other exceptions. (Read the full order online.) Case Western Reserve requires masks in all spaces, except indoor offices where you are alone.
The university has taken significant measures to protect the health and safety of our community, especially in preparation for fall semester. Specific measures include dual-delivery of courses; adjustments to classrooms and common spaces to ensure social distancing; protective measures for faculty, staff and students; requirement of masks indoors and outdoors; quarantining of students who are ill or exposed, as well as those from specific states with high rates of COVID-19; and more.
Recent information is available online, including:
- CWRU's Return to Campus website
- July 8 Message to Undergraduates (also sent to Faculty, Staff and Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): Our Plans for the Fall Semester
- July 14 Message to Faculty: Policy for Faculty Who Wish to Remain Off Campus
- July 20 Message to Faculty/Staff: Protocols for COVID-19 Symptoms and Diagnoses
- July 31 Message to Undergraduates (first sent to Undergraduates in Affected States, then to Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): For undergraduates coming from Ohio travel advisory states
- Get a flu shot. We strongly recommend that everyone obtain seasonal flu vaccination. While it will not prevent COVID-19, influenza is in widespread circulation in Ohio, and initial symptoms can be similar to novel coronavirus. Any illness right now can increase anxiety and concerns.
- Wash your hands. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Don’t share food and drinks.
- Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently (e.g. door knobs, desks, phones)
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Dual Delivery of Education
As Provost Vinson outlined in his July 19 emails to undergraduate students and graduate/professional students, fall semester courses will be delivered in one of three ways: primarily in-person, a mix of in-person and remote, or entirely remote. In addition, some remote courses are delivered synchronously—that is, students must attend at the time it is being offered—or asynchronously—meaning students can attend when offered “live” or watch a recording of the course at another time.
Undergraduates and students in the School of Graduate Studies are able to see the “Mode of Instruction” for each course in the Student Information System (SIS).
Details are still being added to courses located in professional schools (where degrees come directly from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing; Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences; School of Dental Medicine; School of Medicine; School of Law; and/or Weatherhead School of Management). Students in those programs will receive updates from their school or program leaders as soon as designations for those courses are complete.
Faculty are working now to develop alternative approaches to meet the course objectives under these new restrictions, and will communicate directly with students regarding how they will address this issue in their particular classes.
In these unusual circumstances, the School of Graduate Studies will adjust those rules to allow those activities to take place remotely. Deadlines to submit materials for degree certifications also will be revised to accommodate the timeline changes this situation creates.
The answer to this question will vary by the nature of your work and, in some cases, the direction of your employers. Below are some broad guidelines, but we strongly encourage that you also consult with the university faculty or staff member coordinating your program and your employer.
- If your work involves contact with individuals whom the CDC identifies as high risk for complications from contracting COVID-19 (for example, nursing home, senior center, dialysis center, etc.):
We recommend that you consult with your campus program representative and employer about ways that you can contribute remotely.
- If you work in a public setting that involves a broad range of individuals coming and going (for example, a downtown courthouse, board of elections, city hall, etc.):
We recommend that you consult with your program representative and employer regarding whether you can contribute remotely. If the nature of your work makes doing so impossible (and you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19), we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.
- If you work in a more traditional office setting and your employer has not recommended remote work:
If you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19, we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.
For all other circumstances, consult with your campus program representative and employer for guidance.
In some instances (such as certain small seminars), faculty may prefer to have students participate on a conference call rather than use an online option (such as a videoconference). The Office of the Provost and [U]Tech are working closely with professors to provide assistance and answer specific questions; for additional resources and guidance, please visit UTech's webpage.
The specific adjustments necessary will depend on the course, but among the recommendations offered have been:
- For some lab courses, faculty can provide types of results students would have achieved through their experiments and have them conduct the analysis part of the assignment.
- Performance-based assignments could be completed and observed via videoconference.
- Faculty can consider other kinds of assignments that align with the course objectives.
The university is modifying classrooms to allow for physical distancing as well as installing safety features such as plexiglass and hand sanitizer stations. Images of sample classrooms were shared in The Daily on July 27.
As was shared in a June 11 message to faculty, staff and students, the university’s Board of Trustees approved a modified academic calendar for the Fall 2020 semester.
The revised calendar maintains the originally planned Aug. 24 start of classes, but makes the last day of in-person instruction Nov. 20—the Friday before Thanksgiving. The fall calendar includes classes on Labor Day and October’s traditional two-day break, with no classes on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 23-25). The semester’s last week of classes (Nov. 30-Dec. 4) will be conducted remotely, as will reading days and final examinations.
The physical education requirement will not be waived, but several physical education courses do have remote options; they are designated as such in the Student Information System. Because some of the remote courses have specific equipment requirements, students must contact the instructor of record for permission before registering for that course.
Returning to Work on Campus
The following steps must be completed before a unit is allowed to return to campus:
- Staff from emergency management will assess each work area and work with facilities staff and individual supervisors to provide necessary materials and guidance;
- Supervisors will receive guidance regarding how to reduce risks through preventive measures including daily temperature checks and staggered schedules to lower the number of people in a space; and
- Returning staff must attend an orientation regarding these efforts that includes a question-and-answer session with leaders from human resources, health services and emergency management.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your local health provider for guidance; if you are working on campus, you also should contact University Health Services (UHS) at 216.368.2450 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, you should notify your supervisor that you will not be reporting to work that day.
Based on the nature of symptoms, UHS will offer assistance regarding next steps and, if necessary, ask that you provide the names of colleagues in your work area(s) and others with whom you may have interacted prior to showing symptoms.
If you have a concern about working on campus when your unit is notified of a return date, please discuss your concerns with your supervisor.
Case Western Reserve requires that people arriving from any state listed on Ohio’s travel advisory (e.g. those with COVID-19 rates of 15% or higher) on the day of departure to quarantine for 14 days. These guidelines change frequently, so please refer to the state’s guidelines for the most updated information.
Those who paid personally for travel that had to be canceled per the university’s direction will be reimbursed per the university’s usual policies and protocols. Please see Item #7 on this online document for more information.
As of Wednesday, March 11, there is no sponsored international travel for anyone and no sponsored domestic travel for individuals who engage directly in delivery of health care. Other sponsored domestic travel is strongly discouraged (i.e. it should only occur if it’s absolutely essential).
Keep in mind, this can change at any moment. The university will update you promptly should this direction need to be revised.
Information for Parents
Students with symptoms are asked to self-isolate in their residence hall or apartment. Students on campus receive meals and supplies for self-monitoring and hygiene, and UHS staff also follow their progress, Students should contact UHS right away if their symptoms worsen.
Students who are on-campus can contact Residence Life at 216.368.6325 or email@example.com or Campus Housing at 216.368.3780 or firstname.lastname@example.org if they need assistance. Students should also contact Health Service at 216.368.2450 if their symptoms worsen.
Please refer to the Do I Need to Self-Isolate or Quarantine page for instructions on what to do if your student was exposed.
UHS has received similar reports, and has investigated every one. In instances of confirmed or suspected cases, UHS contacts any member of the campus community known to have been in contact with that student.
Additional Questions and Guidance
If you are a faculty or staff member, you can contact IMPACT Solutions, a confidential and free counseling and referral program for benefits-eligible employees. To learn more, visit the CWRU Human Resources website.
In addition, we have a number of tips for managing fears and anxiety around coronavirus. We hope the following information will help you better understand reactions you may have and, if needed, point you to helpful resources.
- Contact a counselor. If you need to speak with a counselor, please call (216) 368-5872 any time.
- Take care of your mind. Constant searching, scrolling or consumption of coronavirus news will can make students feel more anxious and afraid. Take breaks from media coverage and use this page for updates rather than checking unreliable sites.
- Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Reach out to others and offer support, empathy, information and, if possible, tangible help. Stay connected using technology such as video chat, Zoom group calls, and cellphone texting and conversations. Personal relationships are crucial in maintaining perspective and elevating mood.
- Increase your feel-good activities. Whether mindfulness, talking to your friends and family members, going for walks, journaling, or watching Netflix, now is the time to increase positive experiences in your daily schedule. For a quick stress reliever, University Health and Counseling services offers free guided meditations.
- Take care of your body. Eating healthy meals, exercising, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, and limiting your alcohol consumption can help your immune system. Even while maintaining a safe distance from other people, you can still go outside! Regular exercise can reduce anxiety.
Additional mental health resources can be found here.
While CWRU works to protect the health of our campus community, UH&CS is open and here to support our students.
We continue to operate under normal business hours.
Health Services is currently offering phone and video visits, with in-person visits at the discretion of Health Service staff.
- If you would like an appointment with Health Services, please call (216) 368-2450 to speak with a medical professional.
- You are welcome to continue using myhealthconnect.case.edu for requesting refills and to send messages to your provider.
- If you have a fever, cough, any respiratory symptoms or concern for COVID-19 exposure, please call (216) 368-2450 to receive instructions,
We recognize the anxiety and emotional strain that these circumstances may place on students, as well as the disappointment and sadness that many feel. Our staff are committed to working with students to provide guidance and support around mental health needs.
Students continue to have access to counselors through phone visits, and can:
- Connect with a counselor any time by calling (216) 368-5872, regardless of the state in which they are living, for in-the-moment support. If after hours, an on-call counselor will speak with them and they receive a follow-up contact the next business day.
- Continue ongoing counseling visits if they live in Ohio. Due to states' licensing laws, counselors cannot provide therapy across state lines. That said, university counselors can help students connect with counseling services within their own states.
Please refer to our Prescription Refill page for information on how to request a refill.
We appreciate your patience as we defer routine care for your health and safety at this time. We do not know when routine immunizations and titers will resume. If you need an essential immunization (such as tetanus), please call 216.368.2450.
The Student Medical Plan provides coverage throughout the United States. Students are encouraged to see Aetna network providers whether in the Cleveland area or elsewhere. A list of providers can by accessed on the Aetna Student Health website. Students may also print an ID card and review the Plan's coverage and exclusions on this site. Aetna's customer service representatives are available to answer any questions and can be reached at 877.850.6038. Visit the Medical Plan website for more FAQs.