Last revised May 27, 2022

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

Masking Guidance

Whitman College is a masking optional campus. In research labs/classrooms, faculty will have the choice to continue requiring masks or making them optional.

Each person should consider their own risk factors to decide if masking remains part of their individual COVID-19 protective practices. For members of our community who are themselves vulnerable or live with people vulnerable to severe illness, proper masking is an essential way to minimize the risk of transmission. 

We encourage anyone who wants or needs to maintain a high level of protection to continue masking with N95 or equivalent mask.

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 who 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 and consult your primary care physician. Symptoms of COVID include:

  • 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 subvariants have become 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 and be tested 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. If the first test is negative, individuals should 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 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

Testing remains a very important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and we strongly encourage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested. We will continue to offer rapid antigen test kits for symptomatic and exposure testing for faculty, staff and students this summer. Test kits can be picked up from the Human Resources office in Memorial Building; HR’s summer hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1–4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.–12 p.m. and we do recommend that you call ahead in order to ensure that HR staff will be available when you arrive.

Note: Welty Student Health Center is closed for the summer. Additionally, Campus Security is not delivering home test kits during the summer.

As a reminder, at-home test kits are available for free through programs from the Washington State Department of Health and the federal government, and can also be purchased at many local grocery stores and pharmacies. 

Reporting Positive Cases

Faculty, staff and all students in Walla Walla who test positive through a home test or at a local health facility should report their test results immediately to HR (hr@whitman.edu) to ensure that on-campus contact tracing is carried out and to help the college stay compliant with state business regulations. 

If You Are Exposed to COVID-19

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. At Whitman, if both parties in the exposure event are wearing N95 masks OR it is an outdoor event with limited close physical contact, those situations are not considered close contact exposures for people who are up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.

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 3–5 days following exposure. 

If You Have Been Vaccinated and Had a Booster OR Had a Confirmed COVID-19 Infection in the Past 90 Days

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 3–5 days after exposure. Even if you remain asymptomatic and your test is negative, you must continue to mask and distance for 10 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 10 days following the exposure.

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 isolate. Employees should contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss remote work and/or sick leave options. Students living in Walla Walla for the summer should contact Human Resources, who will provide information and access to on-campus isolation space if requested.

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. 

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 Space

We will continue to offer Marcus House as isolation space for any student in Walla Walla, including those who are not living on campus during the summer. However, during the summer, any students isolating in Marcus will be responsible for obtaining their own food. This could be done through grocery delivery service, DoorDash or possibly through a friend dropping off items outside of Marcus House. 

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.

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.