We all have a part to play in keeping our campus safe and healthy.

These common questions and answers are designed to provide you with up-to-date information for navigating in-person classes and activities as we return to campus this semester. 

Student Masking, Social Distancing, and On-Campus Meetings

I have received or am going to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Will I need to continue wearing a mask, participating in the Howard COVID-19 testing program, and completing the Bison S.A.F.E. COVID-19 daily screening?

The University’s health and safety measures apply to everyone on our campuses. While the vaccines have been shown to be very effective in providing protection from COVID-19 (the disease), and there is growing evidence that they may prevent infection with the virus that causes the disease (SARS-CoV-2) or the transmission of the virus from one person to another, they are not 100 percent protective, and there are documented cases of breakthrough infections, including in our community.

For these reasons, it remains critically important for everyone, even those who have received the vaccine, to continue to practice all public health measures. These include following the University’s COVID-19 mask guidelines, practicing physical distancing, washing hands regularly, participating in the University’s COVID-19 testing protocol, and following isolation and quarantine recommendations. Our protocols may be updated at any time based on changing public health conditions.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately quarantine at home and contact the Student Health Center at 202-806-7540. Please see the Testing and Testing Protocol page for detailed information regarding quarantine, close contact with individuals who have tested positive, and what to do if you test positive.

The COVID Self-Assessment Form in the Bison Safe App is an easy way to confirm your status and keep our community safe. For instructions, visit the Student Affairs Bison Safe App Features Page.

Where can I learn more about the Bison Safe App?

Howard University announced the launch of Bison Safe, a mobile app designed to enhance the University’s ability to communicate with the community in the event of an emergency in January 2020.

For instructions on the Bison Safe app, visit the Student Affairs Bison Safe App Features Page.

I have been vaccinated and recently been exposed to somebody who tested positive. Do I still need to quarantine?

Please see the Testing and Testing Protocol page for detailed information regarding quarantine, close contact with individuals who have tested positive, and what to do if you test positive.

Why is wearing masks so important?

Masks are a powerful tool for preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Masks act as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and to other people when the person wearing the mask talks, coughs, sneezes or raises their voice. This is called source control. Wearing masks is important to prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Masks protect the wearer and protect other people. Choosing not to wear a mask puts your own health as well as the health of others at risk, such as people who are immunocompromised and may not be fully protected by the vaccine.
  • To be effective, masks must be worn correctly. Masks ideally should be 2-3 layers of tightly woven fabric, cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of the face.

See the latest mask guidance order from DC Health for more information.

Are masks required outdoors?

Masks are required indoors and outdoors while on campus regardless of vaccination status. 

Do I really have to wear a mask in class?

Everyone in the classroom – including fully vaccinated individuals – is required to wear a mask based on DC Health masking rules.

See the common question, Are masks required to be worn on campus? for details.

Are in-person events permitted on campus and what are the restrictions?

For in-person student clubs or organization events, a capacity of 50 or fewer is permitted. For 51 or more, the Office of Campus Life & Activities strongly encourages a virtual setting. Please note that this policy is subject to change as the University reviews infection rates, campus testing results, CDC and DC Health guidelines.

Is it okay for students to gather in groups?

Students can gather with others on campus. But don’t forget to mask up. Howard University requires mask-wearing inside and outside.

See the common question, “Are masks required to be worn on campus?

Are masks required to be worn on campus?

Currently, DC Health masking rules require that everyone (including fully vaccinated people) must wear masks. The delta variant currently poses a serious concern. It is much more contagious than the original strain of the COVID-19 virus and is spreading rapidly in the United States. The latest research shows that even fully vaccinated people can spread the delta variant to others. The threat of the delta variant makes it even more important for us all to do our part by following mask recommendations and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

See the latest mask guidance order from DC Health for more information.

Also see the HUDPS video #MaskUpHoward: https://t.co/scewqHxABR.

Is there an approval process for events on campus?

All recognized student club and organization events must be approved by the Office of Campus Life & Activities through Engage, which helps the University promote campus safety and student health issues.

Student Vaccination Information

Are Howard students required to have COVID-19 vaccinations?

All students will be required to be fully vaccinated effective August 1, 2021. Both students who reside on campus or come to campus for any reason during the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated prior to their arrival on campus.

The policy requires all students who come to Howard University’s campus for the Fall 2021 semester to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus. This is a necessary and reasonable step, focused on the safety and health of all members of our community.

Students are reminded to upload their vaccination cards and documents through the MedProctor portal. The deadline for students to provide documentation of being fully vaccinated was August 1, 2021.

See our updated COVID-19 vaccination policy statement and the student vaccine announcement for more information.

Will everyone on Howard’s campus be vaccinated, including faculty and staff?

In August, following extensive deliberation and feedback from faculty, staff, students and parents, we decided to extend the vaccination requirement to include faculty and staff who will be on campus during the Fall. This is a necessary and reasonable step, focused on the safety and health of all members of our community.

See the faculty and staff vaccine announcement for more information.

Why is Howard University requiring vaccinations?

Several factors significantly influenced this decision. First, the vaccines have proven highly effective in significantly decreasing the transmission of COVID-19. Recent data indicate that 97 percent of people now entering hospitals for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Additionally, nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the United States are now among unvaccinated individuals. The safety record for the vaccines has also been very encouraging, with limited widespread concerns.

Our concern regarding the spread of variants also frames our decision regarding a University-wide vaccine requirement. Data has proven that the best way to fully protect our community is through vaccination. To date, we have provided over 45,000 COVID-19 vaccines to district citizens and members of the Howard University community. We are further encouraged by recent surveys demonstrating that 90 percent of faculty and staff have already been vaccinated for COVID-19 and that over 87 percent of students have also been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Does Howard University provide vaccinations?

The Howard vaccination clinic is located in the lobby of the Howard University Hospital building between the hours of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. There are no appointments necessary. We will also continue to provide free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff at the on-campus testing center located in suite 3600 of the Howard University Hospital (HUH) Towers building.

Howard University has been providing vaccines through our Faculty Practice Plan vaccine clinic since December 2020. We have provided over 45,000 doses and can vaccinate students, faculty and staff on campus, at no cost to community members.

What does being fully vaccinated mean?

As of August 1, 2021, vaccination of all Howard students, faculty, and staff has been required. Being fully vaccinated means that two or more weeks have passed since receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series or since receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine.

Students must provide proof of being fully vaccinated prior to arriving on campus by submitting documentation through the MedProctor portal. Students will not be permitted to live in on-campus housing until they are fully vaccinated and provide proof of having been vaccinated.

Which COVID-19 vaccines will meet Howard’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement?

Howard University will accept vaccines either authorized for emergency use or granted approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). As of June 17, 2021, this combined list includes Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD, Sinopharm and Sinovac. The FDA and WHO may authorize additional vaccines in the coming weeks and months.

How do I provide documentation of my vaccination?

Students are reminded to upload their vaccination cards and documents through the MedProctor portal. The deadline for students to provide documentation of being fully vaccinated was August 1, 2021.

Will Howard provide vaccinations for international students?

For international students who cannot become fully vaccinated in their home countries and domestic students who cannot access a vaccine prior to arriving on campus, Howard will provide vaccinations, free of charge. These students can present to the vaccination clinic located at 508 W Street NW, Washington, DC 20059, the Numa P. Adams Building.

After receiving their vaccination, students must leave campus immediately. Students may not return to campus, except to receive their second dose of a two-dose series, until they are fully vaccinated according to the standards mentioned above.

As of right now, international students who will actively work to get vaccinated upon their arrival in Washington, D.C. must abide by DC Health’s guidelines and assume personal responsibility for finding housing off campus since they cannot live on campus. The University is exploring options to help international students find temporary housing solutions off campus, and we will update you further if and when we are able to progress in those plans.

Students enrolled in online programs that do not have any on-campus components are exempt from this requirement.

I won’t be fully vaccinated when I arrive on campus for the Fall 2021 semester because COVID-19 vaccines are not widely available in my country or to my age group. Will I have to study remotely and be unable to participate in campus activities?

Students will not be able to access campus facilities or activities unless they are fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exception. For international students who cannot become fully vaccinated in their home countries and domestic students who cannot access a vaccine prior to arriving on campus, the University will provide vaccinations, free of charge. Students will not be able to live in residential housing unless they are full vaccinated. 

I am an international student, and my country allows for the mixing of two COVID-19 vaccines (e.g., AstraZeneca and Pfizer). Will I be considered “fully vaccinated”?

Yes. As long as you submit documentation of having received two different WHO or FDA-approved vaccines within the right interval, you will be considered fully vaccinated.

Are there exemptions or exceptions to Howard’s vaccination requirement?

Students can apply for exemptions for medical and religious reasons. In addition, the policy also contains an exception for students to be on campus if they have a vaccination appointment coming up. Students will not be able to live in residential housing unless they are full vaccinated.

For international students who cannot become fully vaccinated in their home countries and domestic students who cannot access a vaccine prior to arriving on campus, the University will provide vaccinations, free of charge. These students can present to the vaccination clinic located at 508 W Street NW, Washington, DC 20059, the Numa P. Adams Building. After receiving their vaccination, students must leave campus immediately. Students may not return to campus, except to receive their second dose of a two-dose series, until they are fully vaccinated according to the standards mentioned above.

See the common question, "How do I request a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?"

How do I request a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?

Students must obtain official documentation from a licensed health care provider certifying that you should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine because you have a contraindication recognized by the CDC.

For religious exemptions, if the bona fide religious beliefs of a student are contrary to the immunization requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine you must complete a notarized religious exemption form, which includes a letter from your clergy or religious representative and submit it through Med+Proctor before you register for classes or apply for housing.

I have been vaccinated but I have a compromised immune system and may not be fully protected. What should I do?

If you believe you are immunocompromised, please consult your physician and take additional precautions, such as mask wearing and social distancing even in situations where these are not required.

I am a student in an online program that includes no on-campus presence. Do I need to be vaccinated?

No. If you are a student in an online course or program that does not require on-campus presence, it is not required that you be vaccinated. However, we encourage all of the Howard community to get fully vaccinated.

I am a student in a hybrid online/on-campus program. Do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes. If you are a student in a course or program that requires on-campus presence, you will need to be fully vaccinated and submit documentation of your COVID-19 vaccination.

I am a visiting student attending Howard University through the Consortium of Universities in the Washington metropolitan area. Do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes. If you are a student enrolled in a course or program at Howard that requires on-campus presence, you will need to be fully vaccinated prior to the Fall 2021 semester and submit documentation of your COVID-19 vaccination.

How has Howard developed its approach to COVID-19 vaccines?

We have been working closely with the Department of Health, public health experts on campus, as well as other institutional experts in reviewing guidance from the CDC, analyzing data from testing and vaccination reports at our clinics, and monitoring transmission of variants. We will continue to have a comprehensive data-informed decision-making process. We have also consulted with our sister academic institutions in the Consortium of Universities in the Washington metropolitan area, most of whom have adopted similar vaccine mandates. Additionally, Howard University Hospital has adopted a mandate for all employees to be vaccinated.

I already had COVID-19. Should I still receive the vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated even if you have been sick with COVID-19 or infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While you will probably have some natural immunity, it is unclear how long it may last. Therefore, you can get vaccinated as soon as you finish isolation (generally 10 days after being infected).

I live outside the United States and have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA or WHO. What should I do? Will I need to be revaccinated?

If you have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized by the FDA or the WHO, you will need to be revaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine upon arrival on campus.

I am only able to receive one dose of a WHO-approved vaccine in my country? Should I wait to get the vaccine in the US?

Please get whichever vaccine is available to you at your earliest opportunity, so you at least have some protection.

I need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but I am also due for some other vaccines. Will I be able to receive them at the same time?

Please consult a physician to confirm that that receiving other vaccines at the same time as COVID-19 vaccination is safe for you.

How will I know who is and who is not vaccinated?

You will not know who is and who is not vaccinated, but students, faculty and staff will not be allowed on campus unless they have met the vaccine requirement or have received a religious or medical exemption. Howard University will follow best practices, and comply with applicable laws, in maintaining privacy and security with respect to employee vaccination status.

How will Howard protect my privacy?

Howard will continue to comply with all applicable privacy, confidentiality and public health laws relating to collection and maintenance of health-related records. The University recognizes the importance of protecting private health information and will protect faculty, student and staff privacy by limiting what sensitive information is collected, who has access to it, how it is used and how long it is retained to the extent possible while protecting public health.

Campus Covid-19 Testing for Students

What is the testing policy for Howard University students?

Students, faculty and staff will be tested a minimum of weekly through self-testing procedures. Student athletes and health professional students may be tested more often. Testing centers will be located throughout campus where individuals will be able to set schedules online, visit the centers, swab themselves and drop off swabs at the center.

See "What is the COVID-19 testing policy for Howard student-athletes?"

See "What is the COVID-19 testing policy for health professional students?"

See the Bison S.A.F.E. testing and testing protocol webpage for more information. 

Do I have to be tested if I’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. Testing policies for vaccinated members of the Howard community will be reviewed regularly as the University continues to assess the data.

See the Bison S.A.F.E. testing and testing protocol webpage for more information.

What is the COVID-19 testing policy for Howard student-athletes?

Vaccinated student-athletes will be tested three times per week (the frequency of testing may be modified to comply with NCAA guidelines). 

See the Bison S.A.F.E. testing and testing protocol webpage for more information.

What is the COVID-19 testing policy for health professional students?

Health professional students will be tested twice per week. Students participating in clinical rotations must additionally adhere to the testing regimen outlined by the facility where training is being conducted. Several health professional schools, upon prior approval, have begun conducting local testing of their students, including the College of Dentistry, College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, and College of Medicine.

Will Howard University provide free COVID-19 testing?

We will continue to provide free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff at the on-campus testing center located in suite 3600 of the Howard University Hospital (HUH) Towers building.

Monitored self-administered COVID-19 testing will be made available in residence halls, and the following additional locations:

1. Blackburn Student Center 

2. Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library 

3. Founders Library 

4. West Campus