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Local universities share monkeypox policies amid first reported U.S. death

Though some colleges have reported a few cases, most still say the transmission is low.

WASHINGTON — Thousands of students are returning to college, having to deal with another virus this time -- monkeypox.

The United States just reported its first death connected to the disease in Texas.

Leading up to the start of the school year, local colleges and universities have been sharing their tips for students on preventing the spread of monkeypox and policies if they contract them.

Some, like, the University of Maryland, George Washington University, American University, and University of District of Columbia have reported a few cases each leading up to the start of the school year.

Overall, colleges maintain that it’s unlikely you’ll catch the virus when it comes to casual contacts, like being in a classroom with someone who has it – but recommend masking around infected people.

WUSA 9 received information from George Washington University, American University, Howard University, and the University of Maryland on their recommendations for students to prevent the spread.

RELATED: VERIFY Fact Sheet: Monkeypox outbreak

Those recommendations are as follows:

  • Avoid contact with people diagnosed with monkeypox
  • Wear a mask around anyone who is infected
  • Do not touch clothing or objects that someone who has the virus has touched
  • Wash your hands regularly

University policies differed for students whose roommates contract monkeypox:

  • Howard University said the room would be thoroughly cleaned and the roommate placed in isolation.
  • GWU said they’re doing isolation in place – so roommates will not be moved to different rooms – they’ll have to do their best to keep their distance in their dorm – or create their plan to isolate elsewhere.
  • AU's website says more information to come for students housed on campus, and WUSA 9 couldn't find that information readily available on UMD's website.

For students who catch the virus, universities require isolation of some kind as long as symptoms persist, covering any lesions with clothing and wearing a mask when leaving their room, and contacting the university health center for more information on the next steps.

The University of the District of Columbia says they are carefully monitoring reported cases of monkeypox and transmission rates.

Northern Virginia Community College shared the following statement: 

"As one of 23 Virginia Community College System (VCCS) schools, NOVA is monitoring the situation. Public health policies and requirements (including those related to vaccinations) are set by the Governor and the VCCS.

NOVA’s Contagious Disease Policy and Procedures are in place to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty. Should someone at NOVA develop monkeypox (or any other contagious disease covered by the policy), we would act in conjunction with the VCCS, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Centers for Disease Control."

Monkeypox symptoms include the telltale rash or lesions, fever, chills, aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes and is spread through prolonged direct contact with someone who has it.

Most colleges also said they are not offering vaccines themselves; students instead have to go through the local health department.

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