MASON MARON | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU Pullman expects to return to some degree of normalcy in the fall with over half of students back on campus and participating in in-person learning.
University Registrar Matthew Zimmerman said WSU is finalizing the plans for in-person classes next semester. At least 63 percent of classes will be held completely in-person. The biggest obstacle WSU faces is social distancing.
Zimmerman said COVID-19 related guidelines recently changed, rolling back social distancing from six to three feet. The decrease in distancing allows for larger class sizes and potentially more in-person options.
“If social distancing goes away, we are back to good old times, 100 percent face to face,” he said.
Despite recent announcements which rolled back masking requirements, WSU still plans to require everyone to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not, said Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications.
“We have an obligation to do everything we can to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and healthy,” he said. “So that means if one of them has an exemption for the vaccination, you are still going to have to wear a mask.”
Weiler hopes students take vaccine requirements seriously so that WSU can allow for larger class sizes and more in-person events. Anyone accessing campus facilities will still have to complete an attestation.
“Anybody coming to campus is still required to attest that they haven’t been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and people still have to wear masks,” Weiler said.
Suellen Rice, sophomore business major, said vaccination requirements are one of her main concerns for the upcoming school year.
COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for the upcoming school year with exemptions for certain medical, religious or personal reasons, according to WSU’s vaccination guidelines.
While many students are eager to get vaccinated, a lot of people are looking for ways to avoid the shot, Rice said.
“I think that people lying about their personal reasons so they don’t have to get the vaccine could be a problem,” she said.
Final decisions regarding next semester are made by the WSU President’s Office in accordance with Gov. Jay. Inslee’s announcements, Zimmerman said. The pandemic’s nature is constantly changing, making it impossible to declare any final decisions until the start of the fall semester.
“The institution has to go by the policy set by Gov. Inslee,” he said. “To see how the institution responds to [Gov. Inslee’s mandates] we have to wait for a message from the President’s Office.”