Indoor Mask Policy for Spring Quarter
I want to start by saying again that I am so grateful to everyone in the Western community for your cooperation and flexibility throughout the pandemic as we have worked to keep everyone safe and create the best learning and work environment for our community.
As you know, Gov. Inslee has announced lifting of the statewide indoor mask mandate effective March 12 and the CDC has also made recent announcements modifying its guidance for masks. Our community’s caseloads have dropped significantly over the past few weeks among all groups and conditions in most areas of the state and nation have drastically improved. The other public 4-year institutions in the state, as well as the Bellingham School District, have made recent announcements making indoor masking requirements consistent with the Governor’s directive.
After giving this matter considerable thought, and in consultation with our COVID Support Team and university health officials, we have decided that we will continue the current indoor mask requirement through the first two weeks of the spring term. Masks will become optional for all individuals inside WWU facilities on the Bellingham campus effective April 11.
Throughout the pandemic our decisions have been based on science and health data and guidance from national, regional, and local health agencies, and based on these considerations it would be safe to make masks optional even as early as next week. However, the decision to continue the mask mandate until April 11 will allow us to monitor health impacts of students and employees returning from Spring Break and give the campus community more time to adjust to the new mask protocol as we transition from a pandemic to an endemic situation.
This is a university-wide decision and units may not establish their own mask mandates. Please defer to policies at other site locations such as Poulsbo or Everett which may still require masking or other COVID safety protocols.
It is also important to make clear that after April 11, individuals may choose to continue wearing a mask for personal or health reasons. Please be understanding, respectful, and considerate of individual choices to mask or not to mask. We will continue to have in place many of the mitigation strategies we have had during the academic year, including ongoing testing, booster clinics, and availability of masks in buildings.
Please also note the following:
- The Student Health Center and other campus healthcare settings will continue to enforce the mask mandate for visitors and staff. It is expected that local health care offices and public transit will also continue to enforce a mask mandate.
- With the approach of spring break, March 21-28, we encourage all students, faculty, and staff to avoid taking unnecessary risks for exposure to COVID-19, and we continue to encourage everyone to become fully vaccinated and boosted, according to CDC guidance. We also strongly encourage all returning students and employees to take a home test before they return to campus.
- Free COVID testing for students will remain available at the College Hall testing facility on campus. The first two weeks of the quarter will inform testing decisions for the remainder of the quarter, and we will communicate any changes.
- If you test positive for COVID on a home test or through an off-campus testing facility not associated with the university, please notify Western. Students can log into your MyWesternHealth patient portal and send a secure message with your positive test result attached. Employees can send an email to HR.COVID.Assistance@wwu.edu.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor conditions and consult with health officials to determine if we should make additional adjustments to our COVID-19 policies and protocols. Thank you for your understanding and for keeping Western a safe place and community.