Aug. 12, 2021
Message from the President: Face Covering Policy Update
In order to maintain the health and safety of the entire university community, the Fall 2021 Planning Committee and Task Force have recommended, and the Executive Leadership Team has approved, new requirements for face coverings on campus due to the increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19 in our county and in the state.
The new requirements are as follows:
- All members of the Central Washington University community who are in areas of high or substantial transmission rates must wear face coverings inside all buildings on campus; this includes individuals in Ellensburg as well as at the University Centers and Instructional Sites.
- Individuals who work alone in an enclosed office may remove their face covering while in that work space, but must wear a face covering when they leave that space or when someone joins them.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and are outside on university grounds in crowded settings, or in close contact with others, must wear a face covering. Because of the current transmission rates, we encourage all individuals to wear a face covering when in such settings.
- Based on guidance from the NCAA for Fall 2021 Training and Competition and from local health officials, student athletes—all of whom are required to be vaccinated to participate in athletics at CWU—are not required to wear a face covering while training or competing but must do so in all other situations, as this requirement and the NCAA stipulate.
This requirement goes into effect Monday, August 16, and is planned to last through the end of the day Friday, September 10; before this date, the Committee and Task Force will review the transmission rates to determine if this policy needs to be extended. The requirement is based on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Kittitas County Public Health Department. KCPHD has issued guidance calling for all individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public places in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Additionally, Governor Inslee recently announced that most state employees will be required to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. While this mandate does not include institutions of higher education, it does strongly encourage institutions to require vaccinations, which we have done. The requirement is no longer based on the vaccines receiving final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If you have not been vaccinated, please visit www.doh.wa.gov and use the vaccine locator to find a vaccine site near you. Also be aware of transmission levels (via the CDC’s link for COVID-19 data) and consider how you can best protect yourself.
The university previously announced proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required of all CWU employees and students prior to the start of fall quarter. CWU will allow exemptions for medical or religious/philosophical reasons, but the CDC, DOH, and KCPHD all maintain that the best way for our communities to return to normalcy is to increase the number of individuals who are vaccinated. Currently, most of COVID-19 hospitalizations around the country are for individuals who have not been vaccinated.
All policies are subject to change and dependent on the recommendations of federal, state, and local public health officials. Ellensburg employees and students may collect free masks available at the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC). We recently communicated information about verifications and exemptions for students; information for employees is forthcoming by September 3.
As we get closer to the start of our in-person fall quarter, I want to thank each of you for your continued dedication to the health and safety of our students and co-workers. Your help and support have been, and will continue to be, instrumental in our efforts to return to regular operations.