Washington State University will discontinue its personal and philosophical exemption under the student vaccination requirement for COVID‑19 once the FDA grants full approval to any of the three vaccines currently under emergency use authorization.

The change is among two implemented by the university today in preparation for the start of the new academic year and with the increasing threat of the delta variant for those who are unvaccinated. The other involves accelerating the deadline for students to comply with the vaccination requirement to Sept. 10.

The university advised all students of the changes in an email today. Discussions also are underway about changes to the faculty and staff vaccination policy.

WSU is strongly urging all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated. The deadline for complying with the vaccine requirement for faculty and staff was updated Friday and is now Aug. 23.

Once the personal exemption is formally removed from the university’s vaccination policy, students will have up to 45 days to initiate the vaccination process by getting at least one dose of an approved vaccine or request a new religious or medical exemption. Upon FDA approval, the updated process for filing a new medical or religious exemption will be provided.

Ahead of the start of the fall semester, WSU is encouraging its faculty, staff, students, and visitors to re‑familiarize themselves with existing COVID‑19 policies.

Vaccination policy

Chief among them is the vaccination requirement, wherein all students and employees who visit a campus or worksite in‑person must be fully vaccinated for COVID‑19. Exemptions are allowed for medical and non‑medical reasons.

Employees are required to declare their vaccination status via Workday by Aug. 23. More information is available on Human Resource Services’ website.

Students can learn more about the requirement and process by visiting Cougar Health Services’ website.

Students, faculty, and staff who work in healthcare or clinical settings in Washington state are subject to Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21‑14. These individuals are not permitted to have a personal/philosophical exemption.

Face coverings

Individuals inside a WSU facility must wear a face mask if they are not fully vaccinated or if they decline to provide proof of vaccination. Fully vaccinated Cougs are also encouraged to wear a face mask while indoors when the status of those around them is unknown. Social distancing is not currently required at WSU because it is considered a “fully vaccinated” institute of higher education.

Community health restrictions

Faculty, staff, students and visitors should check their local health department’s website to see whether additional restrictions are in effect for a given municipality.

WSU resources

Departments across the university have set up websites dedicated to educating the WSU community on specific topics such as workplace and classroom expectations.

Stay home if sick

Individuals who are feeling ill or experiencing COVID‑19 symptoms are asked to contact their healthcare provider and not return to a WSU campus or worksite until cleared to do so. Contact tracing for COVID‑19 will continue across the state, with individuals in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be informed by public health officials.

Course delivery

While some courses across the WSU system will have remote or online components, most classes will take place in‑person. Faculty have been asked to be flexible and to work with individuals who are unable to attend class because they are quarantining.

Vaccine availability

Cougar Health Services (CHS) will continue to take vaccination appointments for WSU Pullman students throughout the fall in addition to hosting two vaccination clinics at the Student Recreation Center Aug. 19 and 20. Appointments can be made online. CHS will also offer diagnostic testing for WSU Pullman students during the fall semester. Students, faculty and staff at other campuses are encouraged to visit their county’s health department websites for information on vaccine clinics and testing options.

All others should visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccine near them.

Common FAQs

Additional frequently asked questions regarding WSU’s COVID‑19 policies can be found below.

  • What steps is WSU taking specifically in response to the Delta variant?

    The safest way for individuals to protect themselves and others is to get vaccinated against COVID‑19. WSU has instituted a vaccination requirement for students and employees. Additionally, WSU encourages facial coverings indoors when interacting with others whose vaccination status is unknown. WSU Pullman continues to provide diagnostic testing for students, and all WSU locations adhere to CDC cleaning and disinfectant guidelines.
  • How will WSU communicate regarding the prominence of COVID‑19 within its communities across the state?

    WSU public health experts will work continuously with health and safety officials at each campus as well as county and state health officials to ensure the safety and wellbeing of each of our locations. Current COVID‑19 case data for Washington state is available on the Department of Health’s website.
  • How often will WSU students who are not vaccinated have to participate in COVID‑19 testing?

    There are no plans to require screening testing for unvaccinated students. Somebody who has symptoms of COVID‑19 or has a known exposure to a person with COVID‑19 should still schedule a diagnostic test through their healthcare provider, or for Pullman students, Cougar Health Services, according to current CDC guidelines.
  • Will social distancing take place in classrooms and will professors and TAs have the ability to enforce mask mandates?

    WSU does not currently have a mask mandate for faculty, staff and students who are fully vaccinated, but encourages mask use indoors when interacting with individuals whose vaccination status is unknown.

    Unvaccinated individuals, or those who are not fully vaccinated, are required to wear a mask in any indoor space, including a classroom. TAs and professors may not ask to see proof of vaccination in the classroom.

    If an unmasked student self discloses an unvaccinated status, faculty can ask the student to leave the classroom and report the violation to the Center for Community Standards. Per existing policies, students demonstrating symptoms of COVID‑19 can also be asked to leave the classroom.

  • Will students / employees / visitors have to attest to their health prior to visiting a campus?

    Anyone at a WSU location should self-screen for any signs of illness, and not enter any WSU facility if they are feeling ill.
  • Will there be any limitations on large-scale events such as home football games?

    Washington State University will follow guidelines from local, state, PAC‑12, and NCAA officials regarding large-scale events such as football games.
  • Will unvaccinated students / employees be restricted from participating in certain events / activities?

    Not at this time. However, in the event of an outbreak or other public health emergency, unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty may be restricted from participating in events and activities to protect themselves and others. There may be certain events where a designated individual may ask to verify vaccination status. All unvaccinated individuals are required to wear facial coverings indoors.
  • Who will have access to the vaccination information of students and staff?

    A student’s vaccination status is considered protected information and will kept private to the maximum extent possible under the relevant privacy laws that apply to student records. Complying with the WSU requirement to either upload vaccine information or request an exemption will allow us to communicate only the minimum necessary information, when needed.

    Supervisors and appointing authorities will have access to lists of employees who have either filed an exemption or not declared their vaccination status.

  • Is WSU planning to move to entirely remote / online after Thanksgiving?

    At this time, there is no plan to move to remote/online course delivery following the Thanksgiving holiday.