Health & Safety

Healthcare

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not visit a healthcare provider without calling first. Health officials will guide students on next steps.

Counseling Services

The Counseling Center is offering tele-mental health services for the foreseeable future. Contact the Counseling Center to learn more.  

Face Masks

Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” requirements for workplaces indicate cloth face coverings should be worn by all WWU staff, students, and faculty when:

  • Working in areas where other people are present, and
  • There is no potential exposure to hazardous materials.

The only time a face covering is not needed is when you’re working or spending time alone in an office or vehicle. When outside, you do not need a face mask when a 6-foot distance from other people can be maintained.
 
Some individuals may not be able to wear a cloth face covering, including those with physical disabilities that prevent wearing a mask safely, or those who are deaf and use facial movements to help communicate.
 

Health & Safety FAQs

Daily Symptom Checks

What are daily symptom checks and why are they required?

To prevent the possible spread of coronavirus in the Western community, Western is requiring that any student, staff, faculty or visitor complete a daily health screening questionnaire.  This symptom screen provides you the opportunity to review your health status prior to coming on campus.  If you report any positive symptoms or encounters with anyone with COVID-19, it is a reminder to stay home and seek medical attention.

Who needs to complete daily symptom checks?

All students who will have a presence on campus, whether they live in university housing, are taking classes in person, working as a student employee or performing research, are required to complete the health screening every day including weekends and holidays.

How do I access the daily symptom checker?

Each evening, you will receive a text and email alerting you to complete your health screen for the following day.  The health screen is located in the student patient portal called MyWesternHealth (link is https://studenthealth.wwu.edu/mywesternhealth).  Simply log in, go to “Pending Surveys” and complete the health screen.  You will receive a “Cleared” badge in your patient portal if you do not have any symptoms or report any contacts with someone with COVID-19.

What happens if I don’t complete the daily symptom check, even though I’m required to?

If you forget to complete your health screen before your day starts, you will receive an “Overdue” badge.  The Student Health Center will see that you are overdue and attempt to contact you to remind you to complete your screen.  If the Student Health is unable to contact you, and you have not completed your survey in a timely fashion, you will not be allowed to have an on-campus presence.  The issue will be routed to the Office of Student Life or University Residences, as appropriate.

The daily health screen asked if I have a fever, but I don’t own a thermometer. What should I do?

It is strongly recommended that you obtain a thermometer before arriving at Western.  Checking your temperature is a critical measure of your health.  If you don’t have a thermometer, check the following:

  • Is your forehead warm to touch?
  • Are your cheeks flushed?
  • Do you have chills?
  • Did you have night sweats?
  • Are you dehydrated (is your urine dark in color)?

If you note any of these symptoms, contact the Student Health Center

What happens if I indicate that I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID?

Make sure to contact the Student Health Center.  Anyone experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 will be required to isolate in a designated isolation space to ensure the health and safety of all.  If you are experiencing symptoms or test positive for the virus, we encourage you to return to your permanent home for recovery if it is safe to do so. 

Students will be required to remain under isolation precautions until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since the date of their first positive diagnostic test and;
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and;
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved. 
  • NOTE: A negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test does not supersede the above expectations.

During this time, our Student Health Center in partnership with our local county health department will provide outreach and virtual medical services to ensure you have the medical attention needed to support your recovery. If you live on campus, Residence Life staff will deliver meals twice a day and keep you connected through virtual community programs, events, and engagement opportunities. 

What should visitors to campus do for symptom attestation?

As part of Washington State’s Safe Start Plan for Higher Education, Western is expected to screen all persons who enter our physical locations for COVID-19 symptoms and to follow health and safety requirements to prevent disease spread. Accordingly, we are requiring all visitors to a Western location to complete this attestation form EVERY DAY you enter a Western location. Visitors include anyone who is on campus who is not a Western employee or student. This includes contractors working at a Western location, students from another university, guests, visiting researchers, volunteers, and anyone else who is not an employee or a student.

Western faculty, staff and students are also required to complete an attestation daily prior to visiting a physical Western location. Self-attestation is just one component of the larger effort to minimize COVID-19 disease spread. Individuals must also wear a facial covering, wash hands frequently and practice physical distancing.

Visitors, students and employees can find the attestation form online. Visitors should contact their Western liaison directly if they have questions regarding the attestation process.

Graduate Students

As a graduate student I don’t currently have health insurance. What are my options?

If you are a teaching assistant, please refer to the FAQ for TAs. For all other graduate students, please see the Student Health Center insurance plan website. Several coverage options are available for both the academic year and summer. In addition to the policy offered by Western’s private insurance partner, you may also qualify for one or more options under Washington Apple coverage.

Safety Rules

What if an employee is not following Western’s guidance on mask-wearing, social distancing, or other public health directives?

Western recognizes the importance of following public health directives and orders; we take the safety of the Western community seriously and need to do our part to support the health and safety of all.  Information about an employee who is not following public health directives and orders can be shared with Human Resources by email at HR@wwu.edu or by phone at (360) 650-3774.  HR staff will review these reports and respond by contacting the appropriate supervisor. In addressing complaints, Western’s approach first seeks to educate and inform.  However an employee’s refusal to meet health and safety directives will be treated as a performance issue.

What if a student is not following Western’s guidance on mask-wearing, social distancing, or other public health directives?

In situations in which students do not properly show symptom attestation, or fail to wear a mask or properly social distance, students and faculty may make a complaint through the student conduct process here https://wp.wwu.edu/officeofstudentlife/reporting-a-concern-or-complaint/. Staff in the Office of Student Life are available to assist you in responding in these sorts of situations. Contact information is available here: https://wp.wwu.edu/officeofstudentlife/.

Campus Virus Testing

What does Western’s Testing Program look like? 

The relatively low prevalence of COVID infections in Whatcom County of approximately 1% supports a surveillance testing model using pooled samples to identify possible pockets of infected individuals.   

Surveillance testing would involve pooling test samples of 10-12 students into a single batch that is submitted to the lab for analysis.  If the pooled result is negative, no further action is needed.  If the pooled result is positive, then each student in the pool would be retested individually to determine precisely who was positive.   

Who is required to be tested? 

WWU will be regularly testing any student who has an on-campus presence anytime beginning Fall Quarter 2020.  This includes students living in on-campus housing, participating in face to face classes, athletes, student employees, teaching assistants or research groups. 

Is testing voluntary or mandatory? 

Participation in the testing program is mandatory. 

If I am not required to be tested, can I still get a COVID test at the Student Health Center? 

Yes. Western students who do not live on campus or have in person classes can contact the Student Health Center to be tested. The cost of the test will be billed to your insurance. If you do not have health insurance, Western will cover the cost of your test.  

How will people be tested? How often? 

Students with an on-campus presence (see “Who Will be Required to get Tested”) can do this easily. Simply make an online appointment for COVID testing at the Fraser Hall Testing Facility. This can be done by logging into WWU’s student patient portal called MyWesternHealth. Surveillance testing using pooled samples will continue, every two weeks, for the entire quarter.  It is important to note that the frequency or targeting of testing may change according to updates in community spread.  

How much does testing cost? 

Nothing! WWU will incur the costs of all testing related to the surveillance program. If a student is part of presumptively positive pool, they will be retested and the costs to retest will be submitted to the student’s health insurance carrier.  If the student does not have insurance, of if the insurance company denies the charges, Western will pay these costs as well. 

How long does it take to get the test results? 

Western is fortunate to be working in partnership with a local lab that is current taking 24-48 hours to process test results. 

How will people learn their test results? 

Students will be notified of their results in the Student Health Center’s patient portal, MyWesternHealth

If I test positive, who will know about that result? 

If your pooled test result is presumptively positive, you will be contacted by the Student Health Center and advised to get retested. If your individual COVID-19 test is positive, your private health information is protected and will not be shared outside of the Student Health Center. Western is required to share the positive result with the Whatcom County Health Department so they can receive accurate case data and reach out to you to help identify people you may have come in contact with.  

What happens if I test positive? 

If you test positive, you will be instructed to move to an isolation space. Residence hall staff will assist you, bring you meals and check-in regularly with you while in isolation. In addition, you will receive regular check-ins from the Student Health Center. The Whatcom County Health Department will also be informed to conduct contact tracing.

What if someone needs to be tested but refuses? 

If any student refuses to comply with Western’s COVID Testing Program, they will not be allowed to have an on-campus presence. They will not be able to continue to live in on-campus housing nor will they be able to take in-person classes. 

Will Western take care of contact tracing (identifying and contacting people who have been in close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID)? 

Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) will be performing any necessary contact tracing, after Western has alerted them to a positive case. Those who have tested positive can anticipate being contacted by the health department. 

To learn about what the contact tracing process entails, please visit the Whatcom County Health Department website.  

Is there a testing program for on-site employees?

Yes. Western employees working onsite at least once a week can participate in the free voluntary COVID-19 testing for employees program; testing will take place at the drive-through testing site at Northwest Labs on Meridian Street, just fill out the enrollment e-sign form. Visit Western's voluntary employee COVID-19 testing website for more information.

Quarantine, Isolation, and Student Housing

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? 

  • Quarantine is for anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

  • Isolation is for any person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or who has symptoms concerning for COVID-19 

How would I end up in quarantine? 

Anyone who has come in close contact with others who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine in a designated quarantine space to ensure the health and safety of all residents as their health is monitored.  

What counts as close contact? 

  • The student was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total time of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

  • The student provided care to someone who is sick with COVID-19 

  • The student had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them) 

  • The student shared eating or drinking utensils 

  • The student sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on them 

What happens if I test positive?

If you live in on-campus housing, you will be instructed that you need to isolate. You may leave campus and isolate at home if you choose, your housing and dining account will be suspended for up to 14 days to support your isolation. If you are not able to return home to isolate, you will need to move into on-campus isolation. Staff from Residence Life and Facilities Management will support your transition into isolation. Residence Life will talk you through the process and Facilities will contact you to transport you to the isolation space. In addition, both Residence Hall and Student Health Center staff will be reaching out to you regularly to check-in and see if you have everything you need. You will also have all of your meals delivered to your door by university staff. The Whatcom County Health Department isolation and quarantine team will be monitoring your health status on a daily basis and conducting contact tracing.

If you live off campus, you will be instructed to self-isolate at home. If you are unable to do this, there is a paid option to utilize the on-campus isolation spaces and services. You can contact Holly Diaz at 360-650-6589 or holly.diaz@wwu.edu. On the weekends/afterhours you can contact the on-campus COVID support line at (360) 303-3702.

What steps should I take during quarantine precautions? 

  • Stay in your quarantine space for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19 or until cleared by the Student Health Center or the Whatcom County Health Department

  • Monitor your health - watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19 

  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 

How long will I be in quarantine? What do I need to pack? 

You will be instructed to stay in the quarantine space for 14 days. It is expected that you only leave the space if you require an appointment at the Student Health Center or have a service animal that needs care. Additionally, guests will not be allowed. 

Since you will be in the room for two weeks, please bring anything you need to be comfortable during that time, as well as plenty of clothing. You will not be able to do laundry during the time you are in quarantine. Please view our packing list for suggestions on what to bring. 

How would I end up in isolation? 

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will isolate in a designated isolation space to ensure the health and safety of all residents.  If you are experiencing symptoms or test positive for the virus, we encourage you to return to your permanent home for recovery if it is safe to do so.  However, nobody will be asked to leave campus to isolate.  Students will be required to remain under isolation precautions until: 

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since the date of their first positive diagnostic test and; 

  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and; 

  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have resolved.   

  • NOTE: A negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test does not supersede the above expectations. 

During this time, our Student Health Center in partnership with our local county health department will provide outreach and virtual medical services to ensure you have the medical attention needed to support your recovery.  Residence Life staff will keep you connected through virtual community programs, events, and engagement opportunities.   

How will meals work for people in quarantine/isolation?

Students in isolation or quarantine will have meals delivered every day to their exterior door by university staff. Meal delivery times are between Noon and 1 p.m. for lunch and 5-6 p.m. for dinner and non-perishable breakfast items/snacks for the next day. Once you have moved into the space, you will complete a short survey that will let Aramark know your food preferences. Two out of the three meals will be covered by the university. The third will come from your account. Isolation and quarantine spaces do not offer any kitchen facilities. During intersession - the time between quarter when there are no classes - you will be provided vouchers to have meals delivered by Uber Eats.

Does Western have quarantine and isolation rooms? 

Yes.  Western has dedicated spaces identified for quarantine and isolation for any student.  Western has 169 isolation and quarantine spaces on campus, all of which are in residence halls that will be unoccupied other than by those in quarantine or isolation. 

What if someone needs to be quarantined/isolated, but refuses? 

In keeping COVID-19 from adversely impacting our community, it is expected all Western students do their part to keep themselves and others healthy. If a student refuses to follow Student Health Center guidance, the student will receive a referral to a conduct officer in University Residences. Failure to comply by the guidance of the Student Health Center can result in sanctions up to and including removal from residence halls. 

If I am moved to a quarantine or isolation room, what will the room have in it? 

All quarantine/isolation rooms will be single-occupancy and you will not need to share the space. For students in isolation, spaces will include at a minimum: 

• Bed, mattress, dresser 

• Internet access provided 

• Basic bed linens and towels provided 

• Toilet paper, paper towel roll, cleaning spray can, and toiletries will be provided 

• Tea Kettle, care package with a thermometer, cup-of-noodle soups, tea

What kinds of health check-ins will I need to do? 

If you are in quarantine or isolation, the Student Health Center will be contacting you for telehealth check-ins. In addition, the isolation/quarantine team at the Whatcom County Health Department will be contacting you to conduct contact tracing.

While it is not a physical health check-in, WWU Staff will be reaching out to you daily to answer questions, address concerns, and provide any support or resources they can.

What should I do if I am experiencing a mental health emergency? 

If you are in distress, we encourage you to first speak with your RA or RD, as they may be able to help you manage your distress. Students may also opt to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For situations where a professional mental healthcare provider is needed, you may connect with a counselor by calling the Counseling Center at 360-650-3164 from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. At all other times, you may reach the Counseling Center’s after-hours service by calling 360-650-3164 and pressing “1.”  

What kind of mental health support will be available? 

At Western, emotional support is not limited to the Counseling Center. Prevention & Wellness Services, LGBTQ+ Western, Disability Access Center, and the Veteran Services Office, among others, will continue to offer support virtually. The Counseling Center will be offering multiple online workshops, groups, and consultations. Telementalhealth sessions may be pursued for in-state students. Check each office’s websites for the most up-to-date information. 

What can I do to take care of my mental health? 

Finding ways to stay connected, hopeful, and engaged are essential!  Virtual care packages offer lots of ways to keep taking care of yourself. The Counseling Center lists some ideas for achieving mental health and other resources.

What if I have more general questions about housing? 

Please visit the Housing and Dining FAQs for answers to more questions such as move-in procedures and dining procedures.