COVID-19 Updates from Interim President May

January 5, 2022


Dear members of the campus community,

I hope that everyone has had a peaceful and joyful holiday season. I know that we have been looking forward to being together with family and friends during the holidays for a year, or even two, and that has made this season feel even more special.

With those holiday events and the appearance of the Omicron variant, every institution has been evaluating how best to return to campus in as safe a manner as possible. Across the state, institutions are beginning classes on different dates and working through plans to return that look somewhat different based on the timing of classes. Because we are starting classes on Jan.10 rather than on Jan. 3 as many institutions are, we have some advantages in planning ahead.

Because we have an additional week between the New Year holiday and the start of classes, we have the opportunity to begin the term in person and face-to-face in Cheney, WSU Spokane Campus, and Catalyst. For programs that are located on the WSU campus in Spokane, we will again be following any additional protocols that are adopted by WSU but we plan to be in person at that campus as well. To do this, we must make sure that we are following the best science that we currently have available while continuing to be vigilant in our efforts against Covid-19.

Vaccinations

  • If you can get vaccinated, please do. If you are eligible for a booster, please get one. If you get a booster shot, please remember to upload that information into Med+Proctor.
  • You are eligible for a booster 6 months after an mRNA vaccine or 2 months after the J&J vaccine. Appointments for vaccinations or boosters can be found at www.vaccines.gov.
  • And don’t forget, it’s also flu season! If you have not received a flu vaccination, please consider doing so before returning to campus.

Testing

  • Please take a home antigen test no more than 24 hours before returning to campus. If the test is positive, please isolate at home.
  • Most healthcare providers have free testing available. You may also be able to order free at-home testing kits, such as these kits available free of charge at Spokane County libraries. Once you return to campus, you are strongly encouraged to take an antigen test within 5-7 days. Campus testing times and locations can be found here.
  • All employees, including student employees, who are not vaccinated will need to begin weekly mandatory testing the week of January 10.

Masking, Sanitizing & Social Distancing

  • Please continue to wear your mask at all appropriate times, practice social distancing whenever possible, and continue good hygiene practices – including hand washing.
  • The university will continue increased cleaning and sanitizing of public and shared spaces, as it did in the fall.

Quarantine, Isolation & Case Reporting

  • If you have any symptoms, including a runny nose or scratchy throat, you should not come to campus and you should get tested. That is the only way to know if it is Covid.
  • If you are exposed to Covid, please consider self-quarantining until you receive a negative Covid test on the fifth day after your exposure.
  • If you test positive for Covid, please isolate immediately. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider for treatment options.
  • Submit a report if you are exposed to Covid, get tested for Covid due to symptoms, or test positive for Covid.
  • The university will continue to provide quarantine and isolation housing accommodations for students.

During the fall term, we had a strong record of responding in these positive ways and it showed in our very low case rates. We are a highly vaccinated community and that will continue to help slow and contain the spread as we move into the winter terms. The primary goal right now is to have everyone test and, if necessary, isolate before returning to campus to keep our campus as safe as possible.

We are continuing to closely monitor all directions and information from the CDC, State Department of Health, and Spokane Regional Health District. It is possible that the situation and the relevant guidance may cause us to change how we approach the coming term. Even knowing that, I am sending this now so that everyone has as much time as possible to get vaccinated, find a booster shot, and locate necessary testing before classes start. If we all do our part and continue to take the necessary steps, I am very optimistic that we will continue to be together and engage in the robust campus life and classroom experience that makes this place so special.

As always, I am looking forward to a new year of promise and possibility and I hope to see your smiling eyes on campus very soon.

David May