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.  

Everett-based students 

Chett Hill, WWU Everett’s Mental Health Counselor, will be available for virtual appointments. Please contact him directly at chett.hill@comcast.net  to schedule an appointment. All WWU Everett students receive three free sessions with Chett. Please let him know you are a WWU Everett student when you schedule your appointment.

Bremerton/Poulsbo-based students

Students in Bremerton and Poulsbo can access up to three counseling sessions through Olympic College each academic year. Students may reach out to Trish Christean with Olympic College: 360-475-7233 or tchristean@olympic.edu. Please let her know you are a WWU student when you make your appointment.

Port Angeles-based students

Peninsula Behavioral Health (PBH) Counselors will be available to assist students.  Students should call 360-457-0431 and ask to speak to the Access Department. Students should identify themselves as WWU students so they can bypass the normal lengthy intake process. All WWU Port Angeles students receive three free sessions with PBH.

Face Masks

The only time a face covering is not needed is when you’re working or spending time alone in an office or vehicle. 

* Please note that a higher level of respiratory protection than a cloth face covering may be needed due to one’s job hazard assessment.  This includes N95’s or other respirators.  Contact your supervisor if you have questions. 

A cloth face covering is not needed while working or spending time outdoors (e.g., walking, exercising) when a 6-foot distance from other people can be maintained.

Yes! In accordance with state policy, Western will be providing every employee with two cloth face coverings to be used when on campus. They can be ordered through the Western Marketplace and the cost of the face coverings will be borne by the requesting department.

Please feel free to use your own cloth face coverings if you wish. Please see “How should cloth face coverings be worn?” in this FAQ section for specifics on what your cloth mask should be like.

No. 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.

  • Yes. Wearing a cloth face covering can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.
  • Cloth face coverings can help protect others by containing respiratory droplets when the wearer coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
  • Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for existing guidance to maintain 6-feet of physical distance and to practice good hygiene.
  • Please note that N-95-type masks that have valves, while protective to the wearer, are not protective to those around them, and are not recommended.

Medical/procedure (N95 or non-N95) masks are made from non-cloth material and are to be disposed of after one use, and may be used by employees doing work to support critical operations.  These employees must perform a risk assessment and identify medical/procedure masks as part of their required personal protective equipment (PPE). Please note that N-95 masks that have valves, while protective to the wearer, are not protective to those around them, and are not recommended. A cloth face covering is not considered PPE, but it may protect persons nearby from the wearer’s respiratory droplets. These coverings are made from a variety of cloth materials and are reusable. Homemade cloth face coverings, especially if well-made and fit snugly, can help prevent the spread of infection to others. 

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. If staff or students are working in an area where work with hazardous materials is taking place (e.g., hazardous chemical use, work with biohazards), a surgical mask and/or other appropriate PPE should be worn.

  • In order to be effective, cloth face coverings must:
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
    • Include multiple layers of fabric.
    • Allow for breathing without restriction.
    • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without loss of fit.

  • Cloth face coverings should be changed when moist and washed and dried after each use where possible.  Remember – any cloth face covering that has been worn may be contaminated.
  • Cloth face coverings must also be changed and laundered whenever potentially contaminated.  This is to prevent exposure for the individual wearing it.

  1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer prior to putting on the cloth face covering.
  2. Identify the “inside” of the cloth face covering. This side faces your mouth.  The noseband should be on the top.
  3. With the inside of the cloth face covering facing in and the noseband on the top, place the loops around the ears or tie the straps at the neck and at the crown of your head.
  4. Adjust the top and bottom of the cloth face covering.  The cloth face covering should extend above your nose, and the bottom should extend below your chin.
  5. Pinch or press the noseband so that it conforms to your nose bridge.
  6. Do not touch the cloth face covering if possible while wearing it. If you do touch it, wash your hands immediately.
  7. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while wearing the cloth face covering.
  8. Remove the cloth face covering from the face carefully, touching only the bands and not the outside surface. The outside surface should not come in contact with your face.  Avoid pulling the cloth face covering up over your forehead or down over your chin.
  9. Launder the cloth face covering when soiled or wet.
  10. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after taking the cloth face covering off.

If you would like to make your own face covering, please follow CDC guidance on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html

Fall 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 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.

Campus Virus Testing

What will 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 will be required to be tested? 

WWU will be regularly testing any student who has an on-campus presence anytime during the Fall Quarter 2020.  This includes students living in on-campus housing, participating in in-person classes 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.  

Will testing be required before coming to campus? 

Yes.  Any student who will have an on-campus presence at Western (those living in on-campus housing or taking in-person classes) for Fall 2020 will be required to obtain the SARS-CoV-2 PCR test 5-7 days prior to move-in or the start of classes*.  They will need to submit their test results to the Student Health Center at Student.Health@wwu.edu for clearance. Students living in on-campus housing will also be tested when they move in, prior to unloading personal belongings. 

*Many incoming residents are having difficulty obtaining test results prior to arriving on campus. Multiple Washington state counties have temporarily paused their COVID-19 testing due to poor air quality in their respective counties, impacting pre-arrival test plans. We encourage all students to get tested for COVID-19 before arriving to campus, but due to the difficulties students are experiencing obtaining tests, we no longer require a COVID-19 test prior to residence hall move in.

If you have trouble finding a COVID-19 test, please look at the Department of Health and Human Services website for a location near you. Whatcom County advertises getting COVID-19 results back within 24 hours.

For campus community safety, we strongly recommend anyone without a test before arrival avoid shared spaces within the residence halls and choose meals to-go from the Dining Commons until test results from move-in day are received. The Student Health Center typically receives results within 12 hours.

How will people be tested? How often? 

Surveillance testing using pooled samples will continue, every two weeks, through the remainder of the quarter, targeting specific on campus “household” groups or “social bubbles” as defined by class-involvement or housing floor assignments.  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? 

Western’s surveillance testing model is developed to scan Western’s campus to identify pockets of virus.  If the pooled test result is negative, test results will not be provided.  If the pooled test result is presumptively positive, all members of the pool will be contacted by the Student Health Center and advised to get retested. 

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

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

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 live in on-campus housing, you will be instructed to move to an isolation space. Residence hall staff will assist you and will be reaching out to you regularly to check in with you about how you are doing in isolation and if you need anything. If you live off campus, you will be instructed to self-isolate at home. The Whatcom County Health Department isolation and quarantine team will also be monitoring your health status on a daily basis. 

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.  

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 someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more 

  • 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 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 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.  Residence Life staff will keep you connected through virtual community programs, events, and engagement opportunities.   

Does Western have quarantine and isolation rooms? 

Yes.  Western has dedicated spaces identified for quarantine and isolation for any student living in on-campus housing.  Western has approximately 120 quarantine rooms and 40 isolation rooms, all of which are in residence halls that will be unoccupied other than by those in quarantine or isolation.  These rooms will be ready when students begin moving into the residence halls in September. 

What if I live off campus? 

Students who live off campus and need to quarantine or isolate should either shelter in place or return home if it is safe to do so.  If neither is possible, the student can reach out to the Whatcom County Health Department for further assistance in locating quarantine or isolation space. In addition, the Whatcom County Health Department will be checking in with any student in isolation or quarantine on a daily basis to assess the student’s specific needs.  The Student Health Center will also be available to provide medical care as needed.

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 need to move to a quarantine or isolation room, how will my belongings and I get there? 

Quarantined students have the option of transporting themselves to quarantine if they choose. If these students need help moving, University Residences can transport them. 

Students going in isolation spaces will need to be transported by university staff. These individuals will help to carry items, clear the path of other students, transport and move the students into the isolation space. 

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, you will have your own bathroom as well. Students in quarantine may be sharing a bathroom with up to three other students. 

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 

How will meals work for people in quarantine/isolation? 

University Residences meal plan holders may use delivery service through Aramark. Meals can be ordered per day or per week using the dining online system. Meals will be delivered by Residence Life staff at 9am, 12pm and 5pm daily, they will be hung on the exterior door of each resident in quarantine or isolation. Meals not picked up by the following meal will be discarded by staff.  

Students without a meal plan can purchase a meal plan for the length of their time in isolation or quarantine. They may also choose to have food delivered to their exterior door by friends or family.  

Isolation and quarantine spaces do not offer any kitchen facilities. 

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

If you are in quarantine or isolation, a member of the Isolation/Quarantine team at the Whatcom County Health Department will be contacting you daily to monitor your health status.  As needed, the Student Health Center may also perform tele-health check ins. You will be provided a thermometer and pulse oximeter to check your vitals.  Keeping a daily log of these measures will be an important part of tracking your recovery. 

While it is not a physical health check-in, Resident Directors 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 during the Fall 2020 quarter? 

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 during the Fall 2020 quarter? 

Finding ways to stay connected, hopeful, and engaged are essential! The Counseling Center lists some ideas for achieving mental health and other resources.

What if I have more general questions about fall housing? 

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