Updates on the university’s testing plans for the Spring 2021 semester as well as information on a new grading option were among the topics discussed during the final COVID-19 town hall of the year.
All WSU Pullman students will be required to participate in arrival testing prior to the start of the spring semester if they are living on campus, whether in the residence halls or university-owned apartments. Students visiting campus, whether for work, classes, to use campus facilities, or to participate in intercollegiate athletics, will also be required to get an arrival test.
Arrival tests will be offered from Jan. 4 through Jan. 22, excluding Jan. 13 inside Beasley Coliseum. These tests will be conducted by Incyte Diagnostics in partnership with Student Affairs. WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmacological Sciences students will be assisting with arrival testing for off-campus students living in the College Hill area at Adams Mall from Jan. 14 through Jan. 18.
WSU Pullman students experiencing symptoms during the spring semester will be able to receive diagnostic testing at Cougar Health Services. Students must call ahead to make an appointment: 509-335-3575.
More information on the university’s testing plans for the spring is available online.
Students who choose to live on campus will go through a structured and physically distanced process this spring, said Jill Creighton, dean of students and associate vice president for campus life. Those arriving to Pullman will need to sign up for a move-in day and time to help ensure proper distancing.
Information on how to sign up for move-in as well as a checklist of what to do before arriving to campus can be found on the Housing and Residence Life website.
WSU Spokane will also require its asymptomatic students, faculty and staff who plan on being on campus to participate in arrival testing this spring, said Daryll DeWald, vice president and chancellor, WSU Health Sciences. More details will be made public soon. For the latest information, visit the WSU Spokane COVID-19 website.
Periodic asymptomatic screenings will also be available through the semester at both campuses.
WSU’s campuses across the state are also partnering with community health districts to prepare for the storage and distribution of vaccines when they are available, said Colleen Kerr, vice president of external affairs and chief legislative officer for the university. Vaccines can require levels of cold storage typically only available in healthcare and research settings, and WSU is prepared to assist where it can, she added.
New this fall, WSU has introduced a new grading category for students who believe their academics are impacted by the ongoing pandemic, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton explained. The new no record COVID, or NRC grade can be selected by undergraduate and graduate students who receive lower than a C- in a class during the fall and upcoming spring semesters. Students will not receive credit for classes they request an NRC grade for. It will not count toward the withdrawal limit and will allow them to repeat the class.
More information on NRC grading can be found on the Registrar’s website.
Audience members also heard from two WSU researchers: Santanu Bose, a member of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in developing therapeutics for current and future pandemics, and Sara Waters, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development who recently published a paper documenting increased discrimination affecting members of the Asian and Asian American communities since the pandemic began.
Jason Sampson, assistant director of Environmental Services, Public Health and Sustainability, brought good news that the WSU Pullman community has avoided a spike in COVID-19 cases associated with Thanksgiving, netting just 78 cases in the past two weeks. WSU Pullman’s two week total per 100,000 was 683 at the time of the last COVID-19 town hall, but the rate is now down to 451, Sampson said.
WSU President Kirk Schulz thanked members of the WSU community for being safe during the Thanksgiving holiday and encouraged them to do the same heading into 2021. He also encouraged Cougs to support their local businesses in accordance with public health guidelines.
“Our small business community in the state of Washington is really hurting right now, and just a reminder, if you can do something to help out that local restaurant, that local small businesses wherever you are located, in Pullman or elsewhere, please try and do that.”
He continued, “It’s Important for Cougs to help out in our communities like we always do.”
The first COVID-19 town hall of 2021 is taking place on Jan. 28 beginning at 11 a.m. Its focus will be on providing practical advice and guidance to those taking care of loved ones in the midst of the pandemic.
Wednesday’s town hall can be watched in its entirety on YouTube.