Dear Western Community,
After consultation with the WWU COVID Support Team and local and regional public health experts, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our community’s safety and wellbeing to extend remote learning starting tomorrow for the next two weeks, with a return to in-person classes expected on Monday, Jan. 24. This timeframe assumes that the current Omicron spike shows the same pattern as it has in other communities, with a rapid increase in cases followed by a rapid decline.
Western is committed to a return to face-to-face learning as soon as possible, but we know that Omicron has a significantly higher transmission rate, and so we are taking this precaution to help reduce transmission and the stresses on our hospitals and other health resources. We also know that among those who have tested positive so far this quarter, the vast majority have been either asymptomatic or exhibited mild symptoms. As always, we will continue to rely on objective data and guidance from our health experts.
We are sensitive to the concern that this change may impact students’ planning for the term. Unfortunately, state law defines the deadlines for refunds for all state institutions, and we cannot change that deadline from midnight tonight, Monday, January 10. If students wish to make any changes to winter registration, please go to Web4U. If there is any difficulty making changes, please email Registrars.Office@wwu.edu.
During the next two weeks, campus student services are expected to remain open in the same fashion as they were during the first week of remote instruction, and issues around individual offices or areas needing to close or reduce hours because of positive cases or illness will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors should continue to support remote work arrangements with employees as needed.
More detailed messaging will soon follow as we also make adjusts to quarantine and isolation protocols for students living on campus to conform with CDC and Washington Department of Health guidance that now calls for a five-day isolation period for individuals who test positive, and a five-day quarantine period for those who have been directly exposed and are eligible for a booster shot but have not yet been boosted.
Thank you for your continued efforts and feedback, and for your flexibility and patience as we continue to navigate COVID together.