WSU classes to remain in-person

Students upset over decision; worried about traveling conditions, COVID-19 cases

WSU+administration+announced+at+Wednesdays+town+hall+meeting+that+in-person+classes+and+university+functions+will+continue+for+spring+semester.

MEETING SCREENSHOT

WSU administration announced at Wednesday’s town hall meeting that in-person classes and university functions will continue for spring semester.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Life editor

WSU officials announced classes will remain in-person this semester at a Wednesday town hall meeting

Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications, said the high vaccination rates are allowing students to have an in-person experience this semester. 

Weiler said faculty plans to continue to follow public health guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington State Department of Health have set in place. 

WSU President Kirk Schulz said faculty and staff have been working hard to have all WSU campuses ready for classes on Monday. 

“Early this morning we had staff members out clearing snow, trying to clear parking lots,” he said. “So when I was fast asleep, we had a whole set of folks across all our campuses really working hard.”

Schulz said he is excited about holding classes in person again, and despite people’s worries about not going back to online classes, faculty are working on keeping everyone safe. 

“No matter what decision we make … there’s always someone that goes, ‘that’s not going to work for me,’” he said. 

Schulz reminded students to stay home if they feel sick, and staff to be understanding if someone does not come in. 

“We really want to help you make sure that you feel safe, that you’re supported and that you have everything you need for a successful semester,” he said. 

Students, faculty and staff should take any chance they can find to get their booster shot before coming back to campus, Schulz said. 

Sunday Henry, Cougar Health Services executive director and director of medical services, said that faculty are working on making a system that works for everybody. 

While WSU is not requiring a booster shot, it is still recommended and it is the best thing for the community to get the booster, she said. It is important to get a COVID-19 test if someone is showing symptoms to ensure they are isolating and stopping the spread.

“Take good care of yourself,” Henry said. “It’s going to be messy for a little bit, but we’re absolutely going to be okay.”

Weiler said if someone has not received their booster shot or their first two doses of the vaccine, they can go to vaccines.gov, which will help find an appointment to get a vaccine in their area. 

Elizabeth Chilton, WSU provost and executive vice president, said faculty and staff did the best they could to support students while doing remote learning, but she is excited to continue holding classes in person this semester. 

“There’s an in-person element that’s really critical,” Chilton said. “We have done everything we can this past fall to have a robust and personal experience … each one of our campuses has been successful.”

During the fall semester, everyone took proper precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19 within the classroom, which was successful, she said. Faculty and staff will continue to take the proper precautions to continue to stop the spread.

“In our COVID town halls, there is no playbook,” Chilton said. “We are working together to keep our faculty, staff and students safe.” 

Chancellors will send written announcements tailored to each campus, Schulz said. Each campus is different and has different challenges, so there will be different guidelines set throughout each campus. 

Town halls will continue to happen throughout the semester and Schulz said he would rather over-communicate than under-communicate. 

Students expressed their concerns and frustration about the decision to remain in person in the comments section for the meeting. 

There were multiple comments about traveling through the pass, as well as high concern about COVID-19 cases rising after everyone returns to Pullman.

Multiple students expressed their concern with COVID-19 and the mountain passes in the comments.

Chilton said safety comes first for students, staff and faculty in regards to the weather. People coming back to Pullman should pay attention to road conditions.

If a student cannot make it back to Pullman, they should communicate with their professors to work on how to make up the missed work, she said.

“If you are not able to get back safely, we are asking faculty be lenient,” Chilton said.