Leadership Winter Forum

Question and Answers from the Forum

COVID Testing

New students moving into residential housing on campus will be required to test at the beginning of winter quarter. We are encouraging all other students to test prior to returning to Bellingham, but it will not be required.

Remote Work

The evaluation of the availability of remote work options is based on the duties and responsibilities of the position, along with the department/college organizational mission, goals and direct support/service needs.  Resources to evaluate remote work options for each position are available on the Remote Work websiteIf employees would like support in discussing remote work options within their department/college, please contact your HR consultant. In regard to faculty, the MOU with the UFWW provided multiple opportunities for faculty to request remote teaching directly with either HR or the Provost’s Office, depending on the rationale.

Yes, their applications will be considered using the same criteria as for faculty.

The traditional definitions of “remote work” and “telework” have been used to clarify the different types of work arrangements. However, in keeping with the language Western has used throughout COVID, we will use the following terminology:

  • Remote Work: This is a broad umbrella term used to define a flexible work arrangement in which an employee works from a remote location.  The different types of remote work arrangements include:
  • Fully Remote: These are positions that work remotely full-time.  Certain positions may require occasional onsite reporting; additional approval is required for employees to work outside of the worksite’s geographical area.
  • Hybrid: These are positions that have a mix of ongoing, regular remote work and onsite work
  • Ad hoc: These are positions that are predominantly onsite, but occasionally will work remotely on an as-needed basis

Many positions will be able to continue their work remotely during inclement weather or suspended operations; “snow days” will look very different for many than they did pre-COVID.  As a reminder, Western modified the Suspended Operations Policy in 2020 to allow for remote work during suspended operations.

Unfortunately, there is no emergency housing on-campus for employees. We encourage employees to develop emergency preparedness plans.

COVID Compliance

Currently the policy requires all Western students (regardless of location of study or course modality) submit either proof of vaccination or apply for an allowable medical or religious waiver.

Online only students who have an approved waiver can submit an exemption request from the weekly required testing if you will have no on campus presence for the quarter. Online only COVID testing waivers need to be renewed each quarter.

All current instructions can be found here: https://studenthealth.wwu.edu/covid-vaccines. Students who upload proof of vaccination will be cleared in the system as well, with no weekly testing exemption application needed.

The only waivers that are available are medical or religious exemptions. Even if a student is completely online, they still must be in compliance with the vaccine mandate.

We have not been routinely tracking/publishing number of approved waivers by College and location.  Because of the sensitive nature of sharing individual vaccine or waiver status (protected HIPPA or FERPA information), we continue to share aggregated percentages of all active Western Students who are fully vaccinated from all locations by percentage on our Coronavirus Dashboard: https://www.wwu.edu/coronavirus

Anyone interested in more specific data for a particular program site can work with Department/College leadership to send a request to our COVID Support team, we will coordinate with the Registrar’s office and Student Health Center to be able to share information appropriate to the request.

Q. I have heard maybe 30 students who are currently enrolled in online courses and who are non-compliant are otherwise ready to graduate.  It has been suggested that faculty make decisions about whether to offer them grades. 

Further guidance regarding the assignment of a grade to non-compliant students will be given to instructors of those courses in which non-compliant students are still enrolled.

COVID Vaccinations and Boosters

The Governor’s office mandated COVID vaccinations for state employees. At this time, the state has not indicated if booster shots will be required. If this changes, employees will be notified by Human Resources.

Western is researching options to bring booster shot clinics on campus, however the availability of vendors to provide this service is limited.  Employees are encouraged to use the WA State Department of Health Vaccine Locator website.

Employees are not required to submit booster documentation to Human Resources at this time since booster shots are not required to be considered “fully vaccinated”.

Employee Retention and Support

Western is approaching this through both short and long-term strategies.  We are reviewing compensation programs, communicating with our partners at the state level, and identifying needed resources to fill immediate gaps.  Western also participated in the state-wide engagement survey and we will be reviewing the responses to potentially identify future priorities.

Course Modality

Concerns regarding hybrid courses, as with any courses, should be directed to the department chair and dean.