Dear Whitman community,

As weary as I am of thinking about COVID-19, it is always nice to come to the end of each week and write an email sharing that once again, we have no new cases of the illness on our campus and will remain in Threshold Action Level 1: Low. I hope each of the next five weeks from now until Commencement will continue this streak, demonstrating that the Whitman campus community continues to take the COVID pandemic seriously. 

As of yesterday, it is now possible for everyone age 16 and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We strongly encourage all our students, staff and faculty to begin the vaccination process tomorrow if you have not already received your first dose.  The Walla Walla County Department of Health has a first-dose clinic scheduled tomorrow (April 17) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Pfizer vaccine; make an appointment online). 

We especially recommend that all students make an appointment for tomorrow’s clinic to ensure you are vaccinated before returning home or traveling at the end of the semester. There are currently no other first-dose clinics announced and if you do not receive your first dose of the vaccine in the next week or so, you may not be able to receive the second dose prior to the end of the semester. In Walla Walla, most people are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses three weeks apart, or the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses four weeks apart.

Don’t delay in making an appointment; getting vaccinated is an individual step that benefits the entire community as we hope for a more normal fall semester. Once you have received all your vaccine doses, please remember to complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting Form to help us determine how much of our campus population is vaccinated as we begin to develop our future plans and policies. 

It is important that we also remain diligent in our social distancing procedures as a recent uptick in COVID-19 in Walla Walla County is cause for concern. This increase in cases is attributed to highly contagious variants becoming more prevalent in the area while at the same time people grow complacent in following social distancing guidelines during both organized and recreational sporting events and at household gatherings. We cannot let down our guard. The virus is still circulating and we must continue following the practices that we know protect our individual and public health.

As a reminder, Whitman continues operations for all members of our community, vaccinated or not, under the following guidelines:

  • Masks are required in all public indoor and outdoor spaces unless alone in a residence hall room or office space.

  • People should maintain at least 6 ft. of distance between themselves and others, even in outdoor spaces.

  • Inter-campus visitors are allowed in residence halls (one visitor per room; visitors may not be in public spaces; visitors from off-campus are not allowed).

  • Students may gather outdoors on campus in groups of up to 15 people and indoors in groups of up to five people. 

  • Student clubs and organizations may submit proposals to hold outdoor activities and gatherings of up to 15 people and indoors in groups of up to five people. 

  • Off-campus residents may gather for indoor visits of up to a total of five people from two households and outdoor visits of up to 15 people from two households.

  • Anyone approved to be on campus must continue to take COVID-19 surveillance tests when assigned, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Socially-distanced in-person dining is available for students at Cleveland Commons and Jewett Cafe. 

  • Faculty and staff may place grab-and-go orders from Cleveland Commons and Jewett Cafe. 

  • BFFC, the Climbing Wall, Harvey Pool and the outdoor tennis courts are open for recreational student use.

  • BFFC, Harvey Pool and the outdoor tennis courts are open for recreational employee use.

As you go out to enjoy the warm spring weather this weekend, please be responsible and considerate in the choices you make: mask up, spread out and keep your gatherings small.

Peter Harvey
Coronavirus Task Force Chair