April 30, 2021 - COVID-19 and Plans for the Summer
Dear Members of the Whitman Community,
Last week we shared with you what we anticipate the fall will look like on campus, assuming that COVID cases continue a steady decline in our area and across the country. While we wait for further guidance from the State of Washington, I wanted to share with you what this summer will look like for those of you who plan to stay in Walla Walla and wish to have access to campus.
Just as with plans for the fall, vaccines are essential as we begin the return to normal campus life. Any student who plans to work or do research on campus, live on campus, live in a fraternity house, or would like to have access to campus buildings like the library, fitness center or music practice rooms during the summer will need to be vaccinated by commencement. Students who would like to have access to campus this summer will need a Whitman faculty or staff member to submit a request for access on their behalf. Proof of vaccination and reason for being on campus will be required. More information will be shared with faculty and staff about this process shortly.
If there are any students with documented medical or religious exemptions allowed on campus, they will be required to undergo weekly COVID tests throughout the summer.
As President Murray mentioned last week, we expect that employees will also be vaccinated. Weekly COVID tests will be required for those who are not. Employees who are currently working from home and are fully vaccinated can start the process of returning to work after commencement. Please work with your supervisor to plan any return to work. The return to work process may also involve assistance from WCTS and it may take some time to schedule. Human resources will provide more information on the transition back to in-person work in the coming days.
Starting this summer we will also update some of our campus protocol to align with updated CDC and state guidelines including:
- Increasing our gathering limits to allow for a maximum of ten people indoors and 50 people outdoors. This update will begin after commencement.
- Allowing vaccinated individuals to participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask as long as physical distancing of 6 feet can be maintained. This update will begin after commencement.
- Allowing those who are vaccinated to travel within the U.S. without quarantining upon return to campus. This new travel policy will begin following the last day of classes.
Again, while we are excited to increase gathering sizes and update our travel protocol for the summer, we acknowledge that much of what we do is dictated by state guidance. So if we see a spike in cases in our area, there is a chance that we would have to further tighten restrictions. However, we hope the opposite happens. If we receive new guidance that allows us to loosen restrictions, we will update our campus protocol to reflect those changes.
If you have not begun the vaccination process, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. If you are on campus, you can find information on vaccine availability on the state’s vaccine locator website.
With the end of the academic year just around the corner, it is impossible not to look back at where we were a year ago and be proud of how far we’ve come because of the work we have done as a community to keep each other safe. Thank you again for all your care in this regard.
Coronavirus Task Force Chair