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University Protocol on Ebola

To help keep the George Washington University community safe and healthy, the university issued a protocol on November, 24, 2014 (PDF)—which remains in effect (April 4, 2016)—for travel to and from Ebola-affected countries, which are those countries designated for enhanced screening and monitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The most up-to-date information on countries affected by Ebola is available through DHS.

Individuals who travel to Ebola-affected countries or who have contact with a person known to have Ebola may be at risk for exposure. Ebola is a serious, often fatal disease. It is spread through direct contact with individuals who are infected with Ebola and showing symptoms of the disease.

Prohibited Business and Education Travel

At this time, the university prohibits all business- and education-related travel for students, faculty and staff to Ebola-affected countries identified by the CDC and DHS, which are currently Guinea and Sierra Leone. 

Reporting Personal Travel to Ebola-affected Countries or Contact with a Person Known to Have Ebola

There are two situations in which you are required to contact the university’s Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM (4936): 

  • If you travel to an Ebola-affected country; or
  • If you are in contact with a person known to have Ebola

Prior to traveling to an Ebola-affected country, you must inform Office of Emergency Management staff of your travel plans, including your verifiable scheduled dates of departure and return and the specific locations that you will visit. When you return to the United States and before you return to campus, you must contact the Office of Emergency Management again. If you have been in contact with a person known to have Ebola, you are also required to contact the Office of Emergency Management. 

Arrangements for Academics and Work

In either situation, you may be required to take certain additional actions, based on current CDC and other applicable guidelines. In such cases, the university will work with you to make appropriate arrangements for work responsibilities, classes and coursework, as applicable to your university role.

If you are a faculty or staff member, and you are required to take additional action that includes staying away from the university, you will be paid your regular compensation during the time you are required to stay out, as long as you meet the following conditions: 

  1. You have complied and continue to comply with this protocol; and
  2. You are available to telecommute if requested to do so by the university   

Students Studying in Health-Related Fields  

Students, faculty and staff from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Milken Institute School of Public Health should follow policies specific to their schools to the extent they are inconsistent with this university policy.  

Additional Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Ebola

What countries are GW students, faculty and staff prohibited from traveling to for university business- and education-related reasons? 

The university prohibits all business- and education-related travel for students, faculty and staff to Ebola-affected countries, which are those countries designated for enhanced screening and monitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Currently, those countries are Guinea and Sierra Leone. The most up-to-date information on countries affected by Ebola is available through DHS.

I am planning to travel to an Ebola-affected country outside of GW business- or education-related reasons, what do I need to do?

If you are traveling to an Ebola-affected country, you are required to notify the Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM before you leave and when you return to the United States.

Why do I have to let the university know about my travel plans?

GW has implemented this protocol to help keep the university community safe and healthy. Individuals who travel to Ebola-affected countries may put other members of our community at risk for exposure to this very serious illness.

If I travel to an Ebola-affected country, do I have to self-monitor for 21 days when I return?

Before you return to campus, you are required to contact the Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM. You may be required to take certain additional actions, based on current CDC and other applicable guidelines.

I came into contact with a person who has been diagnosed with Ebola. What should I do?

If you have had contact with a person known to have Ebola, you are required to contact the Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM. You may be required to take certain additional actions, based on current CDC and other applicable guidelines.

If I travel to an Ebola-affected country or come into contact with a person known to have Ebola and do not let the university know, what are the consequences?

All students, faculty and staff must notify the Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM prior to travel to an Ebola-affected country and upon return or if they have been in contact with a person known to have Ebola. We are doing this in the best health and safety interests of our community and consistent with what we believe are best practices. Individuals who do not comply with this protocol may be subject to disciplinary or other action, based on applicable university policies and procedures. 

I live on campus and may have come into contact with a person known to have Ebola. What do I need to do? 

If you have come in contact with a person known to have Ebola, you are required to notify the Office of Emergency Management at 202-994-GWEM. If you are asked to isolate yourself following a screening, the university has identified several on-campus housing options with private amenities for residential students, faculty or staff.

What if someone from my residence hall or office contracts Ebola? How can I be reassured that I won’t contract Ebola?

It is important to remember that Ebola is spread through direct contact with individuals who are infected with Ebola and showing symptoms of the disease. Additional information is available from the CDC. If you have further questions and concerns based on a particular situation, please contact the Office of Emergency Management. 

If I am a student and am not able to attend class because I traveled to an Ebola-affected country or have been in contact with a person known to have Ebola, will my absences be excused? Can I make up my coursework?

The university will work with you to make appropriate arrangements for your classes and coursework. You should check with your academic adviser for more specific guidance. 

I am a GW student who has been asked to take additional action and cannot attend class. Can I attend student organization meetings or activities?

The Office of Emergency Management will work closely with you and will provide guidance to you based on your particular circumstances and upon CDC and GW medical staff guidance. 

As a faculty or staff member, will I be paid if I am unable to come to work because I have been asked to take additional action and stay home?

If you are required to take additional action that includes staying away from the university, you will be paid your regular compensation during the time you are required to stay out, as long as you meet the following conditions:

  1. You have complied and continue to comply with the university’s Ebola protocol for students, faculty and staff; and

  2. You are available to telecommute if requested to do so by the university         

My local department of health is aware that I traveled from an Ebola-affected country and told me that I am fine to return to work. Why do I have to follow GW’s travel protocol?

At a minimum, GW follows guidelines from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia departments of health, as well as from the CDC. In addition to these guidelines, GW is taking additional actions to help keep our residential university community safe and healthy.

What will the university do to help keep me safe if there were to be a patient with a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola at the GW Hospital?

The GW Hospital is prepared and ready to care for an Ebola patient. The hospital has a specialized, isolated unit that can treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases. This unit is physically separate from other patient areas. GW Hospital physicians, nurses and staff are highly trained in the specific and unique protocols and procedures necessary to treat and care for this type of patient. Remember that Ebola is spread through direct contact with individuals who are infected with Ebola and showing symptoms of the disease.

I am feeling ill, but I have not traveled to an Ebola-affected country and have not been in contact with a person known to have Ebola. Could I have Ebola?

If you have not traveled to an Ebola-affected country or been in contact with a person known to have Ebola, you may be showing symptoms of another illness, such as the flu. We recommend that you contact your health care provider.

Is there a vaccine to prevent Ebola?

There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines, according to the World Health Organization.

How can I protect myself from getting Ebola?

Ebola is spread through direct contact with individuals who are infected with Ebola and showing symptoms of the disease. If you have not had direct contact with someone who is both infected and showing symptoms of the disease, there is no need to take additional actions.