Sep. 27, 2021
Message from the President: Fall Quarter Safety Measures
Dear Wildcat Community:
A new academic year officially got underway last week at Central, and it’s been exhilarating to see all of our students and employees back on campus, at our centers, and online.
The Wildcat community will spend a lot more time together than we have over the past 18 months, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to working alongside all of you this fall. But now that we have returned to more frequent in-person interactions, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone how important it will be for us to follow proper safety precautions so we can protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19.
Despite our best efforts to limit the spread of the virus this summer, the pandemic has not abated in Kittitas County or across the state. Our institution still faces significant risks, and we all must do our part to ensure we can remain in-person for the full academic year. That means getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and staying home if you are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.
The Fall 2021 COVID-19 Planning Committee and Task Force have been hard at work in recent months, drafting safety guidelines and policies designed to maximize our opportunities for in-person learning and social engagement. Again, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the work that these 22 individuals have done representing their various university governance groups to reach consensus on plans to provide a safe learning and working environment for the entire campus community.
Earlier this month, the Task Force developed, and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) approved, the policy and guidelines for the university’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement. In accordance with Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21.14.1, all CWU employees, students, and contractors must show proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 18, 2021, or be subject to termination or withdrawal.
- Employees can submit their documents in-person or online through Human Resources, while students are asked to upload their documents through Med+Proctor. A step-by-step guide for students to submit documents can be found at cwu.edu/navigating-medproctor.
- Exemption requests, based on medical or religious reasons, may be submitted for review. Employees can request an exemption from Human Resources; students may do so through Student Health Services and Student Success.
- Please note that just because you have submitted an exemption request does not mean it will be approved. Our staff is currently working through the requests we have received, but due to the high number and the date of submission, a decision may not be available until close to the October 18 deadline for compliance.
Another important initiative developed by the Task Force this month was an update to CWU’s face-covering policy. The ELT has approved the latest version of the policy, which will be in effect until further notice.
We have also added a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard to our website in order to provide transparency on the rate of vaccination at our university. Due to the processing time for COVID-19 vaccination exemption requests, those who have turned in an exemption form will not be included in the “Total # in Compliance” tally until their request has been fully processed. Thus, the percentage of those in compliance with the vaccination policy who are vaccinated will initially be elevated. The university expects these numbers to represent the true percentages as we approach the October 18, 2021, deadline for compliance. Our student numbers will be added as soon as they are available.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, the university is following scientific guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington State Department of Health, and the Kittitas County Public Health Department, which all recommend face coverings as a primary mitigation strategy to minimize and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and variants.
- Most notably, the updated policy requires everyone on campus to wear specific type of face covering that features a minimum of two fabric layers as recommended by the CDC. The face covering should cover the nose and mouth, and be secured on all sides.
- Single-layer coverings, such as gaiters and bandannas, are not approved face-covering options because they do not effectively halt the transmission of particles into the air.
- The updated policy aims to protect all members of the university community, and the Task Force and ELT have determined that there is no discernable downside to requiring face coverings for everyone in indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings.
- Those who cannot wear a face covering due to medical reasons are encouraged to work with HR and their supervisor, or Disability Services and the dean of Student Success to find alternative ways to protect themselves and others.
The updated face-covering policy and the vaccination requirement are currently the best tools we have to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our campus and community as safe as possible. The Task Force will continue to evaluate the situation in the coming months and make changes as needed. But in the meantime, it is incumbent upon all of us to follow these science-based guidelines so we can have a memorable in-person experience this fall.
If you have additional questions about CWU’s updated policies, or anything else related to Fall 2021 safety measures, please email Fall_2021_Opening@cwu.edu. I look forward to seeing all of you soon. It’s going to be a great year at Central!