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COVID-19 TOWN HALL
No cases in Whitman County, only people with symptoms should be tested for disease
March 11, 2020
WSU administrators held a town hall meeting to address the possibility of transitioning to online classes and ways to address race-based harassment stemming from COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Bonnie de Vries, medical director of Health and Wellness Services, said there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Whitman County.
Access to testing and recommendations on who should be tested are constantly changing, de Vries said. Test kits are now available at Cougar Health Services.
“We don’t have enough to just test everybody who wants it,” she said. “We have enough to test the people we need to test right now … we need to save them for people who are most at risk from COVID-19.”
De Vries said students who might suspect they are sick with COVID-19 or the flu can make an appointment at CHS over the phone or using the online portal. CHS can accommodate between 100-250 appointments per day.
Interim Provost Bryan Slinker said WSU officials are deciding whether to wait until the first case of the disease is reported in Pullman or to decide earlier if classes will be held online.
Most likely there will be a decision about how to proceed before the disease reaches WSU, he said, but that is still being discussed.
Moving to online classes will not affect graduation timelines, said Asif Chaudhry, vice president for International Programs.
“The purpose of moving to online is simply to provide a safe environment,” Chaudhry said, “not to affect the ability to complete the requirements and graduate.”
Holly Ashkannejhad, director of the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation, said students who experience harassment or discrimination because of COVID-19 should report it to her office, whether they think it rises to the level of violating university policy or not.
If students are victims of criminal activity because of discrimination, Ashkannejhad said they should call WSU Police.
“We are not immune to ignorance anywhere,” said Bill Gardner, Chief of WSU Police. “I would love to see a culture where people could feel comfortable reporting something, if only just to talk about those things.”
Dean of Students Jill Creighton said the WSU COVID-19 website is the best source of information regarding housing and dining options for students staying in Pullman during spring break.
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