Last revised April 29, 2022

Whitman’s COVID protocols are subject to change in response to the evolving pandemic circumstances. 

Masking Guidance

Effective April 15, 2022 N95 or equivalent masks (KN94, KF94) are required in all Whitman campus indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Masks are optional for all individuals in outdoor spaces, although anyone who is not up-to-date on their vaccines must maintain at least 3 ft. of distance from other individuals.

Temporary Social Gathering Restrictions

Contact tracing makes it clear that the vast majority of Whitman's current cases are related to viral transmission happening in households and through social gatherings. Effective April 15, 2022, the students should limit their social gatherings to their immediate residence hall or household to help reduce the chance of spreading the virus.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

Students, Faculty, Staff and Volunteers

Whitman College is a fully vaccinated campus. All Whitman students, faculty, staff and volunteers must provide proof of having completed COVID-19 vaccination and booster by January 15, 2022. Exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine will be offered for medical and religious reasons as well as for those who wish to delay getting the booster until it is no longer under emergency use authorization. Details about each of these exemptions and how to apply for an exemption are included in our COVID-19 vaccination policy

Visitors

Visitors to campus must be fully vaccinated with a booster dose to enter buildings and should be prepared to provide proof of vaccination status if asked. Individuals are not fully vaccinated with any eligible boosters, including family members of students or children of employees too young to be vaccinated, are not currently allowed in campus buildings. We do not have any exemption process for visitors who are unable to get vaccinated due to age, medical, religious or other reasons.

Visitors are permitted in outdoor areas of campus without providing proof of vaccination and should follow general state guidelines on masking and physical distancing in outdoor public spaces. Unvaccinated visitors outdoors should mask when in crowded settings where it is not possible to maintain at least 3 ft. of distance from others.

What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have any symptoms of COVID that are not explained by another current illness or condition, please stay home. Students should contact Welty Student Health Center and employees should notify their supervisor and Human Resources. 

Symptoms of COVID are:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As the omicron variant becomes dominant, research suggests that the infectious period typically begins following the development of symptoms, which is a change from earlier variants. To ensure a more accurate testing protocol, our consulting epidemiologist recommends that anyone with symptoms quarantine in their residence (unless fully masked and picking up meals from a dining hall) and be tested 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. If the first test is negative, students will be asked to continue to self-isolate and retest 24 hours later.

We realize that it can be difficult to wait to test if you have symptoms, but evidence is that premature testing in the early hours of symptom onset can lead to a negative test result. If you have symptoms and the resulting 24 hour quarantine while waiting to test means you will miss class, please contact your professors and follow the process for requesting an excused absence.

If your test is positive, you must isolate (see below for further detail). If your test is negative, please stay home until you recover from your symptoms or have confirmation that the symptoms are caused by a non-transmissible condition.

On-Campus COVID-19 Testing

Whitman offers the following COVID-19 testing services for students and employees on a regular basis:

  • STUDENTS: Symptomatic and exposure testing for students at Welty Student Health Center takes place from 9:30–11:30 a.m. and 2:30–4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the back door of the health center. No appointment is necessary. Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 and need to be tested on a weekend may call Campus Security (509-527-5777), who will deliver an at-home test kit and instructions.
  • EMPLOYEES: Symptomatic testing and exposure testing for employees is offered on weekdays during regular business hours. Contact Human Resources (hr@whitman.edu) to schedule an appointment. Employees who need to be tested on the weekends should utilize local community testing options; if none is available, please contact Human Resources to schedule an appointment for first thing Monday morning.
  • STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES WITH VACCINATION AND/OR BOOSTER EXEMPTIONS: Anyone who has campus access due to an approved vaccine and/or booster exemption must take part in weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing. Compliance with this testing strategy is a condition for access to campus and any missed test will be dealt with as a disciplinary matter by the appropriate office. Required weekly testing for anyone with an exemption takes place at Cordier Hall every Tuesday from 8:30–10 a.m.

If an individual tests positive for COVID outside of the Whitman testing process (for example, through an at-home test or at a county health facility), that individual is expected to report their results to Whitman College. Students should report to the Welty Student Health Center, faculty should report to Provost and Dean Tipton, and staff should report to their supervisors and Human Resources.

Symptomatic Testing Guidance

If you have COVID-19 symptoms that are not explained by another current illness or condition, you should quarantine in your residence hall room or off-campus housing and do not attend classes or come to work until you get a negative COVID test. Employees should notify their supervisors and Human Resources and students should contact Welty Student Health Center.

Exposure Testing Guidance

We offer exposure testing for all students and employees who are identified as close contacts to someone confirmed to have COVID-19. In accordance with current CDC guidance, this testing should take place 5–7 days following exposure. 

Baseline Testing

At the start of the fall semester, spring semester, and following the return to campus from extended breaks, Whitman performs mandatory testing for all our employees and students to develop an understanding of the baseline presence of COVID-19 in our community. The results of these tests are published on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

Surveillance Testing

We are not currently conducting ongoing surveillance testing, in which a random selection of the campus population is tested each week.

Quarantine Due to Exposure

Whitman will follow the CDC guidance on quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who are close contacts to a person who has COVID-19. “Close contact” is defined as being within 6 ft. of another person for 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours; whether or not either individual is masked has no bearing on the definition of “close contact.”

If You Are Fully Vaccinated

If you are fully vaccinated and a close contact to someone with COVID-19, you must wear a face mask at all times when indoors, maintain at least 3 ft. of distance from others and get tested 5–7 days after exposure. Even if you remain asymptomatic and your test is negative, you must continue to mask and distance for 14 days. You do not have to quarantine unless you develop symptoms (see "What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19" above).

If You Are Not Fully Vaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must quarantine at home or (for students living on-campus) in your residence hall room. Your quarantine may end after 7 days if you take a COVID test at least 5 days after your exposure and it is negative or after 10 days if you do not take a COVID test. You should continue to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID and wear a face mask for 14 days following the exposure.

Students in quarantine on campus will have food delivered to them and will receive other support services from Residence Life. Residence halls will have designated bathroom facilities for quarantined individuals to use. 

Students in off-campus quarantine should use grocery delivery or curbside pick-up services to minimize their potential interactions. 

Academic accommodations will be made for any student in quarantine. Students in quarantine should contact their professors to discuss the options available based on classroom structure and pedagogy.

Employees needing to quarantine should contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss remote work and/or sick leave options.

Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must enter isolation. Students should contact Welty Student Health Center as soon as they have a positive test result. Employees should contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss remote work and/or sick leave options.

While we continue to wait for official instruction for higher education institutions from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), we are implementing new isolation protocols that are closer to the CDC guidance for the general public and the DOH guidance for K-12 schools. 

Asymptomatic COVID-19

If you test positive but have no symptoms, you should isolate for five days and then be tested again. If you get a negative test on day five you are released from isolation. If the test is positive, you will remain in isolation for a full 10 days. 

On-campus isolation housing is available to students regardless of whether their regular residence is on-campus or off-campus. Students in isolation on campus will have food delivered to them and will receive other support services from Residence Life.

Students in off-campus isolation should use grocery delivery or curbside pick-up services to minimize their potential interactions. 

Employees needing to isolate should contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss remote work and/or sick leave options. Faculty may teach online if they feel well enough to do so.

Symptomatic COVID-19

If you have a positive test and have symptoms, you will isolate for seven days and then test again. If that test is negative and you symptoms are improving or gone, you can leave isolation; if the test is positive or you symptoms have not improved, then you must stay in isolation for 10 days.

On-campus isolation housing is available to students regardless of whether their regular residence is on-campus or off-campus. Students in isolation on campus will have food delivered to them and will receive other support services from Residence Life.

Students in off-campus isolation should use grocery delivery or curbside pick-up services to minimize their potential interactions. 

Employees needing to isolate should contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss remote work and/or sick leave options. Faculty in isolation may teach online if they feel well enough to do so.

Student Academic Accommodations and Notifications Following a Positive COVID Test

Following a confirmed case of COVID-19, students will receive excused absences for classes missed during the isolation period. When a student is issued an excused absence, the Dean of Students Office encourages the student to reach out to their professors to discuss how they can make up for missed work. Students may report to their professors that they have tested positive or that they are COVID-positive, though they are not required to do so. A student released from isolation will receive paperwork confirming that status. If a student has previously chosen to share with their professors that they have tested positive or that they are COVID-positive, then and only then may that professor ask to see that student’s paperwork before letting them attend class in-person.

Employment Accommodations and Notifications Following a Positive COVID Test

Following a confirmed case of COVID-19, staff should notify their supervisor and Human Resources. Based on the needs of their position as well as the severity of their symptoms, they may explore remote work options or COVID leave. Human Resources will notify the employee and their supervisor of the date the employee is eligible to return to on-campus work. If the employee shares that they tested positive with other members of the Whitman community, those community members may request to see the HR notification on the return-to-work date.

Following a confirmed case of COVID-19, faculty should notify the Provost and Human Resources. Based on the needs of their position as well as the severity of their symptoms, they may explore teaching classes online or other accommodations. Human Resources will notify the faculty member and the Provost of the date the faculty member is eligible to return to on-campus teaching. If the faculty member shares that they tested positive with other members of the Whitman community, those community members may request to see the HR notification on the return-to-work date.

Close Contacts and Contact Tracing

Walla Walla County Department of Health and Whitman College will work together on contact tracing and making sure that any exposed individuals are notified and able to quarantine appropriately. In times of unusually high case counts, contact tracing resources may be focused on individuals deemed to be at the highest risk of exposures, such as people within the infected person's household.

According to the CDC, a close contact is defined as being within 6 ft. of another person for 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours. Whether or not either individual is masked has no bearing on the definition of “close contact.”

One free, anonymous tool that we encourage you to use to in identifying possible COVID-19 exposures is WA Notify, a bluetooth tool that works on smartphones to alert users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 without sharing any personal information. It is completely private and doesn’t know who you are or track where you go; neither the state of Washington nor Whitman College receive any information from it. For instructions and more information, visit the WA Notify website.

Travel and Quarantine

Those who are fully vaccinated may travel without quarantining upon return to campus. Anyone who has campus access through a vaccination exemption must quarantine for ten days before returning to campus. Anyone traveling should follow the CDC guidance on domestic and international travel.