As we approach a holiday season unlike any we have experienced, Western Washington University asks all members of our campus community to follow state guidance aimed at protecting public health.
In response to the rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in Washington state, Gov. Inslee announced statewide restrictions through Dec. 14 to slow the spread of COVID-19, including new restrictions on indoor social gatherings. With the holiday season around the corner, it is critical to rethink how we celebrate and opt for staying home and celebrating virtually with our loved ones instead.
If you are planning to gather with family or friends, follow the new restrictions in order to protect yourself, your community, and your loved ones. Specifically, indoor social gatherings with people outside of your household are prohibited unless attendees quarantine for 14 days prior to gathering, or attendees quarantine for seven days prior to gathering and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48 hours prior to gathering.
If you are a Western student, there are still slots available for COVID-19 testing through the Student Health Center on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Make your online appointment now at studenthealth.wwu.edu/mywesternhealth. Space is limited, and appointments are first-come, first-served. No walk-ins. Western employees who have an on-campus presence can get tested for free through Western’s employee testing program.
Classes have moved to all-online a week earlier than anticipated following a spike in cases on campus, but students who live on-campus and in the community will still be able to return to Bellingham to complete their classes online where they live, either in off-campus residences or in on-campus residence areas, which will remain open to residents throughout the holiday and winter breaks. To ensure that you’re staying healthy during the break and not bringing COVID-19 back to our community, please follow the state’s guidance for safe gatherings and make sure you avoid the three Cs: crowded places, closed spaces and close contact.
This year, it’s more important than ever to have conversations with family and friends about how you’re feeling about coming together. State health experts advise people to be clear and honest about their plans and expectations if they’re invited to a gathering, and not to feel pressured if the host expresses disappointment or frustration if you say no to getting together. Hosts should be understanding with friends and family who decline invitations. It’s not that they don’t want to see you; they just don’t want to risk the unintended spread of COVID-19.
While this holiday season will be another milestone in a year marked by the pandemic, we hope that we will all find new ways to connect with one another without increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. It could be sharing a holiday dinner over Zoom, Facetiming with a relative as they cook a favorite recipe that you’ve always wanted to learn, sending cookie care packages and letters in the mail to share the holiday spirit, or watching holiday movies while you quarantine so that you can see your loved ones safely.