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From the President: Masks Strongly Encouraged this Week


Dear Colleagues,

As you may remember, in my November 14 email, I notified the university community that the vaccination requirement would end with the lifting of the Governor’s higher education directive. I also stated that we would monitor local and state data to determine if we need to take action on a temporary or long-term basis to protect the health and safety of our university and surrounding communities.

While COVID-19 is not currently surging, we are seeing a significant increase in influenza and in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV—a respiratory illness that primarily affects children), and our local health care system is stretched. I contacted Dr. Mark Larson, and he suggested that encouraging masks for this final week of classes would be beneficial.

The continuously evolving nature of public health work requires us to regularly assess data as they are made available. Based on the most recent data for Kittitas County, I have emailed our shared governance leaders this weekend to let them know about the status of influenza and RSV and to inform them of our need to strongly encourage masks during this final week.

As a result, we are taking the following precautions:

  • We strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask when possible; masks will be available in the Student Union and Recreation Center.
  • If you did not get the original COVID-19 vaccination, get the most up-to-date vaccination.
  • Get your COVID-19 booster shot when you are eligible. Boosters are strongly recommended by both the CDC and the American College Health Association.
  • Get a flu shot; influenza is spiking now and the current flu shot is a good match for this strain of influenza.
  • 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.

Please let me or your shared governance leader know if you have thoughts or feedback. Students—good luck on your final exams and projects. Faculty and staff—thank you for caring so deeply for our community as the quarter wraps up and we head into break. 

Sincerely,

Jim Wohlpart
President