By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Governor Jay Inslee announced the state’s plan to return higher education students to in-person classes this fall, with a range of pandemic-related restrictions.
During a press conference on June 24, Gov. Inslee provided an update on Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, announcing statewide policies for reopening in-person instruction at colleges and universities in the fall.
“No matter what happens with the spread of this virus, students, faculty, and staff should know a return to campus in the fall won’t be like business as usual,” remarked Inslee.
The planned protocols and procedures apply to all public and private universities and colleges as well as community colleges, and vocational schools.
Preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in higher education institutions include health requirements already enacted in many counties- such as social distancing and physical distancing measures, face-covering requirements, available personal protective equipment, and the monitoring of students for symptoms of COVID-19.
If a student or staff member suspects themselves to be displaying symptoms of COVID-19, they will be required to self-quarantine if a test confirms them to be positive with coronavirus.
Gov. Inslee recognized that since each institution’s campus and needs vary, they will individually develop and implement a back-to-school plan with the guidance of its local health officials.
“Each campus is different — varying in size, location, mission, and academic programs. But everywhere, students and educators are ready to get back to campus both to learn and to enjoy this unique period in their lives,” said Gov. Inslee. “However, we must acknowledge the need for equitable student outcomes under these circumstances and that student health must be paramount.”
Each higher education campus must consider implementing protocols for tracking and tracing the virus, limiting student shared equipment, staggering schedules for shared areas, placing capacity limits on foodservice and restricting cash payments, quantity caps on-campus guests and gatherings, and floor markings on transportation for social distancing
“We want to make sure you’re protected while you get an education,” said Inslee.
The back-to-school plans will take effect on August 1, prior to the start of the 2020–2021 school year.