Nov. 14, 2022
From the President: Update on COVID-19 Vaccination Policy at CWU
Over the last year and a half, Central Washington University has taken steps to protect the health and safety of our university and the local community from COVID-19. We followed federal, state, and local guidance in determining what actions we would take to keep everyone safe. And we worked through shared governance to make these decisions together.
The decisions we made were challenging; not everyone agreed with those decisions, but we adhered to them because we are part of a larger community and we agreed that we would follow the science, along with state and federal public safety requirements. We are at another such inflection point, so I am writing with an update on our vaccination requirement.
As you know, we determined together last year that we would follow Governor Inslee’s Higher Education Directive as a fully vaccinated campus—a directive that was issued as part of his emergency declaration. In September, the Governor determined that his emergency declaration would end October 31, and with it many of the provisions, including the Higher Education Directive.
The Higher Education Directive only included the original two-shot COVID-19 vaccination series and did not require boosters. You may remember my emails in July and August, when I announced the Governor was considering requiring boosters and then rescinded that decision.
Our shared governance leaders met last week, and we determined that we will continue to follow the state’s lead. This would mean ending our own internal vaccination requirements for employees, students, contractors, and others, except in areas of the university that are still covered by other federal and state policies (such as health care centers). Additionally, I have conferred with Dr. Mark Larson at the Kittitas County Public Health Department, and he agrees that moving in this direction is reasonable.
In our conversation with shared governance leaders, we understood that the original two-shot series, which may have been completed well over a year ago, no longer provides immunities to the current variants of COVID-19. Thus, continuing with this requirement does not provide the safety measures it once did.
While the vaccination requirement is ending, we remain a highly vaccinated institution and continue to strongly recommend the following actions on behalf of our community:
- If you did not get the original vaccination, get the most up-to-date vaccination.
- Get your booster shots when you are eligible. Boosters are strongly recommended by both the CDC and the American College Health Association.
- Get a flu shot; influenza kills between 12,000 and 52,000 people in the United States every year.
- If you do not feel well, inform your supervisor and stay home. As much as possible, supervisors should accommodate those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Wear a mask for extra protection if you feel unsafe; support everyone’s decisions about mask wearing.
Although the vaccination requirement is no longer in place, we must still adhere to federal and state policies regarding workplace safety and anti-discrimination. This includes following the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA), which provides protections for certain individuals. If you are immunocompromised or need any type of support, please contact Human Resources at HR@cwu.edu or 509-963-1202.
Finally, we will monitor trends in COVID-19 cases in our local area and, if needed, pivot to ensure that we maintain the health and safety of our community. This may include:
- Reinstituting a mask mandate for a period of time.
- Reinstituting a vaccine mandate with boosters.
- Moving our teaching and work to virtual formats.
If these measures become necessary, we will once again engage our faculty, staff, and student shared governance groups and arrive at a decision collectively.
Please let me or your shared governance leader know if you have thoughts or feedback. Thank you again for the great work you have done as we move beyond the pandemic together.