This is an archived message. Please check the most recent updates to ensure you have the most current information. 

Released: March 18, 2020 at 1:31 p.m. PDT

Dear members of the Whitman Community,

We’re watching as coronavirus-related restrictions change across the country and we’re following the trajectory of other states for an idea of what we should be planning for here in Washington. We are becoming increasingly concerned for our students who plan to stay here in Walla Walla.

Yesterday, Governor Inslee said that Washington residents are still in a day-to-day situation and that anything is possible in terms of measures the state may take for coronavirus prevention, including an order to ‘shelter in place’. This has already happened in some parts of California. New York is considering similar measures.

While there is no exact set of rules for a shelter-in-place order, it generally means that you would only be able to leave your residence for things that are absolutely necessary such as getting food, seeking medical care, getting a prescription refilled, or getting some outdoor exercise with safe social distancing. The basic message – stay home.

We need each student and their family to fully understand what your life could look like if you choose to stay here.

If you live off campus you should consider if you are prepared to stay in your rental for several weeks with very limited opportunity to get supplies and have outside interaction. The CDC encourages shopping as normal to avoid shortages caused by hoarding, however, you should still have enough supplies on hand for you to be comfortable should movement be restricted. It is important to understand that the college will not be able to provide supplies to you if you are not prepared. North Hall will not be available for off-campus students who need to self-isolate.

If you live on campus and are staying, please take into account that we may see additional restrictions in town and the college is strongly advising that you return home. 

Again, we strongly encourage all students to return home unless travel restrictions or unsafe conditions prevent you from doing so. The situation is changing daily and we can’t guarantee what things will look like moving forward. Our Health Center and local hospital are likely to become overwhelmed as we see coronavirus cases increase.

If you are unable to leave, we are committed to continuing to support you to the best of our ability. However, this ability could be quite limited. Please fill out the post-spring break planning form as soon as possible if you have not already or if your plans change. We need your response by Friday at the latest.

I know this is hard. I know many of you are mourning the loss of the semester and you want to be here. I feel the same. We wish the circumstances were different, but right now we all have to do what is best for the health of our community. For the overwhelming majority of students what’s best is going home. Thank you for taking this situation seriously and for taking care of each other in the best way we can at this time.

Kathy Murray