COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
To see the university's COVID-19 testing and case data, visit our Return to Campus website.
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
Operations During the Stay-at-Home Advisory
Effective Monday, Nov. 30, Case Western Reserve asks that everyone who can work from home effectively stay off campus through Dec. 23 (the university's last day of full operations in 2020). For more information, read Interim President Scott Cowen and Provost Ben Vinson's Dec. 9 message.
Between Cuyahoga County’s rapidly climbing COVID-19 rates and overall increased travel and gatherings, even those who follow all preventive measures face higher infection risks. Given the number of days that people are contagious prior to showing symptoms, we are requiring testing to be able to identify those with COVID-19 and have them away from others on campus.
Neither masks nor physical distancing eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19, but those measures do lower its likelihood. Testing represents another one of several measures we are taking to try to protect the campus community at a particularly perilous phase of the pandemic—and each of them helps reduce risk.
Given the travel and gatherings relating to Thanksgiving, I can understand the need for testing the week of Nov. 30. But weekly seems like too great of an imposition. Why are we being tested so often?
Cuyahoga County’s COVID-19 infection rate has more than tripled over the past month, and Cleveland’s case numbers are following comparable trends. This growth puts everyone living in this area at greater risk; weekly testing is a way to help mitigate that risk by identifying cases before they become asymptomatic.
If you had a positive PCR test within the past three months, no. If it happened earlier, yes.
No. You should not come to the university’s testing site if you have symptoms. Instead, call University Health Services at 216.368.2450.
You will need to stay off campus and away from others as much as possible for at least 10 days. University Health and Counseling Services will provide more detailed guidance when notifying you.
If you are on campus on a regular basis, you are expected to comply with the university’s expectations.
If your chair or program director agrees, then yes you can. If you are going to be on campus at all, even for just an hour, you should get a COVID-19 test. You do not have to wait for your results to begin work on campus.
If you are not coming to campus between Nov. 30 and Dec. 23, then no, you do not have to get tested weekly. If you will be on campus during that time, you do need to be tested weekly. That said, you do not have to be tested at the university’s site. For example, you can get tested at a local drugstore or schedule testing at one of Cuyahoga County’s neighborhood programs.
Campus Housing—Spring 2021
If you have feedback or questions on Case Western Reserve's updated housing policy for spring, 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.
For a full list of FAQs, read our Oct. 8 message to undergraduate students.
As shared in an Oct. 5 message to undergraduate students, the university is able to increase housing availability for the spring semester while still maintaining the fall protocol of keeping each residential student in a single room.
To be eligible to live on campus for the spring semester, students were required to submit their request by Oct. 12.
Students who responded by that deadline will be prioritized as follows:
- Students living on campus in fall 2020
- First-year international students unable to live on campus this fall because of travel restrictions
- First-year and transfer students enrolling at Case Western Reserve for the first time this spring.
Based on the remaining availability, on-campus housing priority will be given, in order, to:
- Sophomores and juniors not permitted to live on campus this fall
- First-year students and those graduating in 2021 who chose not to live on campus this fall
I am not in one of the categories approved for campus housing, but have extenuating circumstances that require me to live on campus. Are you going to accommodate people like me as you did this fall? (added 10/13/20)
As in the fall, students with extenuating circumstances that make living off campus problematic will be able to apply for exceptions that allow them to live on campus.
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.
You will not be able to live on campus.
Campus life differs 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 are 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 serve grab-and-go meals, and also enforce physical distancing indoors.
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.
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. 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.
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, and then regularly while on campus. Will we be billed for the cost of that required test? (updated 12/11/20)
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Aetna's customer service representatives at 877.850.6038.
As of late November, the university requires weekly testing for students on campus and for faculty/staff who must come to campus through the end of 2020. In the fall, the university switched to a saliva test as part of its surveillance testing procedures.
In September, the university shifted from screening to surveillance testing. Our model, developed in consultation with public health experts, involves testing random samples of students per week to identify potential COVID-19 infection trends. The large majority are undergraduates living and/or learning on campus, but graduate and professional students are also among those in the random samples.
Students in a particular week’s sample receive a message from University Health & Counseling Services notifying them that they need to come to the testing site at Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center on a specific weekday (typically a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday).
Given that the selection process is random, we recognize that, in some instances, students may have valid reasons they cannot get to testing on a particular day. They will have an online opportunity to explain why they need to reschedule and, when appropriate, health services will work to accommodate them.
To be clear, however, participation in this surveillance testing is required for those who wish to be able to continue to live and/or learn on campus. It is an essential aspect of our efforts to keep the campus healthy and well, just as we—and you—agreed as part of the Campus Commitment.
UHCS will continue to 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.
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 and throughout fall semester. Specific measures include dual-delivery of courses; adjustments to classrooms and common spaces to ensure physical 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
- Dec. 9 Message to Faculty/Staff: Extending Working from Home through Dec. 23
- Dec. 2 Message to Faculty/Staff: Travel-Related Quarantines
- Nov. 24 Message to Faculty/Staff: Campus COVID-19 Testing Details for Nov. 30-Dec. 17
- Nov. 23 Message to Students (also sent to Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): Weekly On-Campus Testing Starting Nov. 30
- Nov. 19 Message to Faculty/Staff: Work from Home & Testing Nov. 30-Dec. 17
- Nov. 12 Message to Students (also sent to Faculty/Staff and Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): New Measures to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission Risk
- Nov. 10 Message to Students (also sent to Faculty/Staff and Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): Slowing Our Rapid Rise in COVID-19 Cases
- Nov. 1 Message to Faculty/Staff: Faculty and Staff COVID-19 Surveillance Testing
- Oct. 29 Message to Faculty/Staff: Expanded Testing and On-Campus Adjustments
- Oct. 24 Message to Campus (also sent to Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): New and Expanded COVID-19 Testing
- Oct. 12 Message to Campus: Getting Your Flu Shot This Year
- Oct. 2 Message to Campus (also sent to Parents/Guardians of Undergraduates): Spring 2021 Calendar
- Sept. 2 Message to Faculty/Staff: University-Related Travel this Fall
- 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.
Originally drafted by Undergraduate Student Government President Hunter Stecko, the university’s community commitment is meant to serve as both a reminder for what the community should be doing daily to stay healthy, but also a guide for how students, faculty and staff can work together to help ensure the campus remains open.
In addition to a focus on the mindset those on campus should strive for in their decision-making—thinking for the good of your neighbors and community—the commitment also outlines practical actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, cleaning up after working in common areas and refraining from hosting non-essential visitors on campus.
Dual Delivery of Education
As Interim President Scott Cowen and Provost Ben Vinson III shared in an Oct. 2 message to campus, spring semester will operate on a different schedule.
Below is the spring semester’s primary academic calendar (some programs have different schedules), with the caveat that this schedule may need to be adjusted based on new developments. As part of our efforts to reduce infection risks, the start of the semester is delayed by two weeks and the traditional spring break has been removed. Students will have a day off in each of two separate weeks; those dates are still being finalized.
- Monday, Feb. 1: First Day of Spring Semester Classes
- Friday, May 7: Last Day of Spring Semester Classes
- Monday, May 10, and Friday, May 14: Reading Days
- Tuesday, May 11: Final Exams Begin
- Wednesday, May 19: Final Exams End
- Sunday, May 30: Commencement
In addition, the university will offer remote courses Jan. 8–29, with Monday, Jan. 18, observed as the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day. These for-credit classes are considered part of the spring semester, so spring tuition covers their costs.
Faculty are working 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.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Campus Housing at 216.368.3780 or email@example.com 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.