Dear Whitman community,

Following President Murray’s email last week announcing the upcoming modifications to some of our campus COVID-19 protocols, I wanted to provide you all with further details on masking and testing. As campus COVID-19 cases remain low, averaging just one per week for the past several weeks, and Walla Walla moved into the CDC’s low risk category last week, we are also making one additional change in order to further reopen campus to the public following Spring Break.

MASK DISTRIBUTION

As we transition to a mask-optional campus beginning March 12, we know that masks are still an important tool in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly for those in our community who are at high risk of serious illness or live with people who are at high risk, masking remains an essential protection. Therefore we will be giving members of the Whitman community access to new masks after Spring Break. Masks will be available to pick up at the COVID-19 testing center in Cordiner Hall at the following times:

  • Monday, March 21 through Friday, March 25 from 8 a.m.–1 p.m.

  • Monday, March 28 through Friday, April 1 from 8–9 a.m. and 12–1 p.m.

There will be N95 masks available, including a limited number of small and large sizes. We will also have the Whitman cloth masks available for people who would prefer those, although we continue to recommend N95 or equivalent for people incorporating masking into their ongoing protective measures due to the fact that they are more effective against the omicron variant than cloth masks.

While campus is generally a mask-optional environment, there will be specific spaces or occasions where masking continues to be required (including Welty Student Health Center and in classrooms at the discretion of the faculty), so please continue to make sure you have  a mask on hand at all times so that you are prepared to respect these requests. We also encourage you to continue masking in the fitness center, given the higher risk of transmission during exercise.

SPRING BREAK COVID-19 TESTING

Testing also remains an important strategy in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, all students should take a test immediately upon returning to campus prior to the first day of classes. We will be placing one at-home COVID-19 test kit in campus mailboxes for this purpose during the second week of Spring Break. Any student who tests positive should contact Welty Student Health Center at 509-527-5295.

If it is possible, students should also take a test close to the end of Spring Break, prior to returning to campus. Students may be able to get at-home test kits for free from many sources (home test kits may be ordered online through the Washington State Department of Health or the federal government program, or you may be tested through pharmacies and local health departments). Any student who tests positive during Spring Break should email covidtesting@whitman.edu for further information.

We also encourage all employees to take a COVID-19 test as well. Faculty and staff may pick up a test kit at the COVID-19 testing center in Cordiner Hall during the following times:

  • Monday, March 21–Friday, March 25 from 8 a.m.–1 p.m.

  • Monday, March 28–Friday, April 1 from  8–9 a.m. and 12–1 p.m.

Any employees who test positive should report their result to Human Resources (hr@whitman.edu).

OPENING CAMPUS BUILDINGS

On Monday, March 28 we will begin reopening campus buildings to people from the extended Whitman community who have Whitman IDs (such as local alumni, retirees and employee family members) as well as the general population. The general building schedules will remain unchanged from what they are currently, but we will begin unlocking many buildings at the cardswipe entrances for specific hours. Whitman students, faculty and staff will continue to have cardswipe access during the regular hours of operation outside of when buildings are unlocked. The times buildings will be unlocked is as follows (with the schedules subject to future modification if needed):

  • Campus academic buildings will be unlocked at the cardswipe entrances Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays.

  • Campus administrative buildings will be unlocked at the cardswipe entrances Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Reid Campus Center will be unlocked at the cardswipe entrances from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

  • Welty Student Health Center will be unlocked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Penrose Library will be unlocked at the front cardswipe door from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. 

  • Sherwood will be unlocked at the cardswipe entrance from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • BFFC and Bratton Tennis Center will continue requiring cardswipe access (as was the case prior to the COVID pandemic), but cardswipe access will be activated for members of the extended Whitman community who have WIDs.

Opening only the cardswipe entrances is an important campus security measure, as it gives us the ability to close down campus quickly and efficiently if needed. Other building doors will remain locked.

VISITOR VACCINATION REQUIREMENT

We are not changing our COVID-19 vaccination policy, and continue to require that all visitors entering any campus buildings be up-to-date on all vaccine doses and boosters for which they are eligible. This information will be posted at building entrances, and anyone hosting visitors or indoor public events is expected to continue verifying vaccination for attendees.

As we head into this new season of fewer COVID-19 restrictions on campus and in the community around us, remember to take care of yourself and others by staying home if you feel sick, getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and by making the choices that promote public and personal health. And have a great Spring Break!

Best,
Peter

Peter Harvey
Chair, Coronavirus Task Force