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Central Washington University

CWU Announces Plans for Reopening Campus in Fall 2020

Friday, July 24, 2020

In response to continuing concern regarding the COVID-19 virus, Central Washington University will restrict the number of students permitted to live on campus in Fall 2020 to 1,800. Typically, more than 4,000 students live in campus residence halls and apartments.

“This restriction allows single occupancy in residence hall rooms and no sharing of common restroom facilities,” CWU President James L. Gaudino told the CWU Board of Trustees. “The decision should lessen the risk of major COVID-19 outbreaks but carries with it negative financial implications.”

Gaudino told Trustees that when discussions began several months ago regarding reopening the campus for the fall quarter, COVID-19 infection rates were declining and the university hoped to reopen all campus residence halls and apartments in the fall. The State of Washington is now seeing, he said, increases in rates that, while not as steep as they were earlier, are definitely on an upward arc.

The president also presented a comprehensive plan for re-opening the campus during the Fall 2020 quarter. He said the plan was developed with input from all sectors of the university community.

“This plan calls for face coverings for all individuals on university property and requires physical distancing of all individuals on campus,” Gaudino said. “It also incorporates enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of university facilities and includes protocols for identifying and managing COVID-19 when and if it occurs.”

He said the plan also impresses upon employees, students, and visitors the importance of accepting personal responsibility for their health and the health of others. This will include employee training, daily self-health checks, and a declaration signed by students, faculty, and staff stating they understand their role in ensuring the health and safety of everyone with the CWU and broader community.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on every aspect of the university and the community in which we live,” stated Board of Trustees chair Ron Erickson. “I believe this plan offers a fairly complete, flexible, and well-conceived blueprint for how we can start the process of reopening the campus.”

The Board of Trustees endorsed the plan and unanimously approved a resolution to allow faculty to choose teaching modalities, restrict residence-hall occupancy to 1,800, and adhere to the COVID-19 prevention guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Kittitas County Department of Public Health.

Under the plan, the university is installing appropriate signage regarding the wearing of face coverings and physical distancing as well as room occupancy, elevator occupancy, dining facility operations, and campus housing.

Additionally, there will be campus circulation pathways that minimize crowding as students, faculty, and staff move from building to building. The university is also installing plastic barriers in appropriate public places and is rearranging furniture in buildings in order to better support physical distancing.

“The successful implementation of the plan will involve every employee and every student,” Gaudino said. “The challenge is unprecedented and cannot succeed without the support of the entire university community.”

Media contact: Linda Schactler, chief of staff and secretary to the board, 509-963-1384, schactler@cwu.edu.

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