Coronavirus Update for March 24: Stay Home, Stay Healthy

Dear Western Community,

Yesterday’s “stay-at-home” order from Governor Inslee created questions for many employees. We’ve reviewed the order and associated documents, and consulted with our Assistant Attorney Generals and others to ensure that we clearly understand the impact of the order.

In some important respects, there will be few changes to our current status from now to April 8. Western is not entering suspended operations as a result of the order. Those employees critical to the ongoing operations of the university should continue to report to work. All other employees should be working from home, to the extent possible, as we determined last week. It’s vital that you keep communicating with your supervisor for direction and clarity about your work. Human Resources will also provide more detailed guidance very soon, including very important instructions for screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms each day when they report to work.

We are still in the very early stages of this modified form of operations. We continue to think about the fine-grained details of student employment, of ongoing impacts to auxiliary operations, and of the ways in which we’ll need to change our operations to meet our new environment. Western has never done this before; we’re learning every day.

Many requests for assistance in serving and supporting our local communities and the state in this crisis are flowing into offices and departments. The ICS team has developed some preliminary procedures for resource sharing with external entities, which I am happy to share with you. The goal is to create an efficient and streamlined process for responding to requests through the Incident Command structure.

The basic premises which will guide our resource sharing are:

  • Western Washington University will collaborate with local agencies and organizations where possible to support critical services and functions in the community.
  • WWU must abide by all applicable laws, code, and policy when collaborating with local agencies and organizations.
  • WWU must prioritize critical needs within our own organization to ensure life safety and continuity of operations.
  • Requests for resource sharing, including transfer of WWU-owned material, temporary assignment of WWU employees, or temporary use of WWU equipment or facilities will be considered through the Whatcom Unified Command. Unified Command will have the highest priority.

 

Western employees receiving inquiries or requests from outside entities should direct those requests to COVID19Planning@wwu.edu. WWU departments which have materials that could be considered for transfer to Whatcom Unified Command should email the type, quantity, and manufacturer of the materials to Purchasing.department@wwu.edu.

As we receive waves of new information and expectations from so many directions, it can feel overwhelming. Our mission as an institution has not changed, although so much about how we fulfill that mission is being re-defined for the moment. We are still, and we will continue to be, a public comprehensive institution of higher education dedicated to serving the people of the state of Washington. Together our students, staff, and faculty are committed to making a positive impact in the state and the world with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement. As we make decisions and choices now, we continue to advance that mission of education and service together.

With appreciation for your partnership,

Melynda Huskey

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services

 

The Incident Command System team at Western has established three goals for all of our preparation and response to COVID-19:  to protect life safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus illness, to maintain – as much as possible – the continuity of Western’s operations, and to communicate with our communities as fully as possible.

Western's coronavirus information website features Frequently Asked Questions; has links to campus, regional and national resources; an archive of campus messaging and media stories about coronavirus; a new toll-free campus coronavirus information line, and more. The site is a living document, and will get frequent updates as the coronavirus situation evolves.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 4:09pm

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