WSU Pullman moves classes online for rest of semester, cancels Mom’s Weekend

EMMA LEDBETTER and JAYCE CARRAL

WSU Pullman students received an email Friday morning saying classes will be held online for the rest of the semester and Mom’s Weekend is canceled. 

This decision only applies to WSU Pullman at this time, said Phil Weiler, vice president for university marketing and communications.

Weiler said the decision was made Thursday, following a press conference by Gov. Jay Inslee where he said universities should strongly consider moving completely to online.

Weiler said the reason the Pullman campus is not shutting down is because WSU is a Research 1 university. This means there is very high research activity on campus that cannot be stopped. 

WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the residence halls also cannot be shut down, he said.

“It’s not as simple for us as it is for perhaps other universities that don’t have the research component, don’t have a veterinary hospital and don’t have students who may not have options if the residence halls close,” Weiler said.

Residence halls, dining facilities and Cougar Health Services on the Pullman campus will remain open, Weiler said. 

Graduation has not yet been canceled, Weiler said. University officials are waiting to see if the situation improves before issuing that announcement.

Weiler said finishing the semester online means final exams will also need to be conducted online, which is not a new concept. 

“Many of our students, in fact almost all of them, graduate with at least one online course that they’ve taken,” he said. “People have familiarity with the idea of online finals.”

The transition to online will not affect students’ progress toward graduation, Weiler said. 

“[Graduation] is a really really important part of students’ lives,” he said. “We want to be able to maximize our flexibility and maximize the chance that we can hold it if it’s prudent to do so.”

Mom’s Weekend is cancelled, according to a letter by WSU President Kirk Schulz which was sent to all WSU students. The event was scheduled for early April. 

Weiler said the Macklemore concert has not yet been canceled because it was scheduled through an outside promoter. The university is waiting to hear from that promoter if the concert will be canceled or postponed. 

According to a press release issued by the Whitman County Department of Public Health, Whitman County has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

“The risk of COVID-19 in Washington is increasing,” according to the press release. 

The department is currently testing cases and they expect to soon find positive cases in the county, according to the press release. 

People who had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 and who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 like cough, fever and shortness of breath are most at risk. These people should contact a healthcare provider, urgent care or an emergency department, according to the press release. 

“We [want] to give students as much information as we can and let them make their own choices and to give them options instead of mandating what they do,” Weiler said.

The CDC guidelines for taking preventative measures include hand-washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and staying at least six feet away from other people. The CDC also recommends people disinfect frequently visited areas and avoid going to populated areas.