Fall 2021 Reopening Plans
Last month, I shared with you my anticipation of bringing our Western community back together for fall quarter as the introduction of vaccines and a continued focus on prevention measures in our state and across the country gave us reason to believe that conditions will improve as we approach fall quarter.
Faculty Spring 2021 Instruction Modifications
Spring Quarter 2021 at Western starts on Tuesday, March 30, and because of the ongoing pandemic and short interval between winter and spring quarters, WWU is advising faculty that they have the following options for the start of online and face-to-face instruction...
Fall 2021 Vaccine Requirements for Students and Employees
Dear WWU Community,
After careful consideration and assessing the direction taken by several public and private universities both within Washington state and nationally, Western will require COVID vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff before returning to campus for the fall 2021 quarter. This decision was endorsed by the WWU Board of Trustees at a special meeting on Wednesday, May 5, in the belief that it will protect the health and safety of the community on- and off- campus and speed our return to more normal in-person operations.
This mandate is based on the advice of local, state, and national health department officials and guidance from the Governor’s office. It is also based on the expectation that the coronavirus vaccines currently approved for emergency use will receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by summer, which has been one of the primary factors in our consideration of a vaccine mandate. These vaccines have been in use since mid-December under emergency use authorizations. Since that time, data have shown the vaccines to be effective against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
We have made vaccination an urgent priority because we believe a fully vaccinated community is the best way to protect our individual and collective health and safety. In addition, through widespread vaccination, WWU can more confidently loosen or remove restrictions that have impacted social and mental well-being and increase access to a more enriched in-person campus living and learning experience for more students. We are making this announcement now in the hope that community members will feel safer and more comfortable as we make a vibrant, on-campus return this fall, and have as much time as possible to make informed planning decisions.
This decision has been taken after considerable thought. I understand that not everyone may be in a position to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at this time. Please consult with your healthcare provider for guidance. Western will consider requests for applicable exemptions for medical, religious and personal reasons; these exemptions will be consistent with the policy currently in place for our measles vaccination requirement. More information will be provided before the end of spring quarter on how to file for an exemption.
I encourage students to get vaccinated wherever they live and as soon as possible. The Washington state Department of Health vaccine locator website may be helpful, and please remember that COVID vaccines are always free of charge.
In addition, Western, in partnership with the Department of Health and the Washington National Guard, is sponsoring a COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Friday, May 7th from 9am to 4pm at the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room. The single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available for Western students, employees, eligible family members (18+ years old), and the public. Register here for an appointment: Viking Vax Day Registration.
Students will need to verify that they have been vaccinated unless they are claiming an exemption. If students are unable to get vaccinated because of where they currently reside, the University will provide access to vaccination upon arrival to campus.
We recognize that a vaccination requirement for some employee groups is subject to bargaining. We will immediately initiate the bargaining process with faculty and staff unions prior to implementing the vaccine requirement for all employees.
Requiring COVID vaccinations this fall raises new questions. While we do not yet have all the answers, please know that we are working diligently across units to answer key operational questions that will facilitate our safe return to campus. We will be sharing more information campus-wide as plans are finalized. In particular, we’ll communicate about any relief from distancing requirements, relief that would significantly increase the amount of face-to-face classes and co-curricular activities.
In the meantime, you may find answers to your questions about vaccinations at the Vax Facts FAQ. The CDC’s webpages on the benefits of getting vaccinated, key things to know, and frequently asked questions about the vaccine also provide helpful information.
We will continue to follow local, state and national health directives, and reserve the right to change this directive if circumstances change. Thank you for your participation in this important effort and for your commitment to our community’s health and safety.
Fall 2021 Survey results now posted online
This past winter, Western's COVID Incident Management Team commissioned a pair of surveys from the university's Office of Institutional Effectiveness to better understand the preferences of the Western community in regards to a broader reopening of campus in Fall 2021. More than 1,500 employees and 3,300 students responded to the surveys.
Western Washington University is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 in coordination with state and local health departments. The number of individuals in Washington state diagnosed with COVID-19 remains high. There is currently risk to all community members of being exposed to COVID-19, and the risk is increased in a public setting or gathering.
Western remains open following Gov. Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. Those employees critical to the ongoing operations of the university should continue to report to work. All other employees should be working from home, to the extent possible,
This is an evolving situation, and updates are available from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including updated Travel Notices for countries with community transmission.
On-Campus Student COVID Testing
Cancellations and Closures
The Viking Union and Wade King Recreation Center is open in limited capacity, please review the following sites for exact details:
Most public buildings on campus are closed to the public, including:
- Carver Academic Facility, including the gyms and fitness center
- Lakewood Watersports Facility
- Western Libraries (Remote learning and teaching resources)
- The Performing Arts Center
- The Western Gallery
Whatcom County is in Phase 3 of Washington's phased reopening plan.
Keep track of the latest developments
Western is sending out regular updates through its Western Alert system. Families may opt in to Western Alerts.
Regular updates are also posted here and on Western Today's news page.
If you aren't already signed up for Family Connection, click here to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter for WWU families.
Campus Tours and In-Person Admissions Visits Suspended
While the Undergraduate Office of Admissions is currently closed to visitors, Admissions staff is available via phone, email, and video appointments, and you are encouraged to explore campus virtually.
If You Feel Sick
The Student Health Center is still here for you. We are open but have adapted our services for everyone’s safety. Consistent with public health measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, and to protect students and providers, all walk-in services are no longer available. Most services are now offered virtually (through phone or Zoom). If needed, we can also make special arrangements for an in-person visit with one of our providers or nurses. Please call us at 360-650-3400 to make a virtual appointment, or to speak to a nurse.
For employees with specific health concerns, please contact your primary care provider. Additional information is also available on the Whatcom County Health Department website.
It is vital that we support each other and act as a community, avoiding acts of discrimination and bias, and showing compassion for those affected by this disease.Sabah RandhawaPresident
In the Media
This page is intended to provide information about COVID-19, precautions that are being taken and prevention measures you can take, as well as being one source for information on the effects of measures various governments are taking to stem the outbreak, and to answer the most common questions about how coronavirus might impact campus operations.
This page is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical or legal advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.