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Central Washington University

Message from the President: Changes to CWU's COVID Safety Strategies

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dear Wildcat Community,

Over the last eighteen months, we have worked together to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus. That collaboration has allowed us to maintain the health and safety of the communities in which we live and work. Throughout this challenging time, we have been responsive to the latest science and pandemic indicators, and we have altered our policies and practices accordingly.

Responding to the continued spread of the virus, the governor has issued a new proclamation that, once again, will require us to change our response to the spread of COVID. The governor’s mandate requires vaccines for all state employees, including those in higher education, only allowing exemptions for documented medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs. He also mandated face coverings when indoors for everyone, whether individuals are vaccinated or not.

In response to current conditions, the Food & Drug Administration’s formal approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the governor’s evolving mandate, the COVID-19 Fall 2021 Planning Committee and Task Force have recommended, and the Executive Leadership Team has approved, the following changes to our COVID safety strategies:

  • Vaccines will be required of all members of the Central Washington University community, employees and students, including those who learn and work at our University Centers and Instructional Sites and those who learn in virtual environments, even if totally online. Only international students living outside the United States and high school students enrolled in CWU’s College in the High School program are exempt.
  • All students and employees must verify their vaccination status by October 18. According to the governor’s proclamation, receiving the vaccine will be a condition of employment by the state.
  • The personal/philosophical exemption to the vaccine requirement will be eliminated. Only documented medical conditions and sincerely held religious beliefs will be allowed for exemptions. Students who had previously submitted a request for a philosophical exemption will be contacted by a representative from the Office of the Dean of Student Success to advise them of their options now that philosophical exemptions are no longer available.
  • The indoor mask mandate for all employees and students, whether fully vaccinated or not vaccinated, is extended to October 18. At that time, we will be able to discern the rate of vaccination status across the campus and the COVID-19 incident rate in the county in order to decide if we want to extend or drop the face-covering mandate.

These changes parallel what will occur at the state’s other public universities and are in line with the governor’s recent announcement of vaccine requirements for state employees. We will provide additional information by September 3 about how employees can verify their vaccination status.

I appreciate the efforts of our shared governance groups in discussing the various perspectives that exist on campus, along with our evolving requirements and the way in which the groups have moved toward consensus in determining how to keep our university community safe. Please reach out to your representative if you have questions.

While working together in this way is not always easy, we must remember that we are one Wildcat community focused on elevating student engagement and student success while doing all we can to maintain everyone’s health and safety.

Sincerely,

Jim Wohlpart

President

 

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