WSU leadership provides more information on March 12 masking guidance

Person standing inside a classroom holding a face mask near their waist.

Clarifying information on Washington State University’s updated masking policy is being provided ahead of its March 12 implementation.

In a memo to Faculty Senate, WSU President Kirk Schulz and Elizabeth Chilton, provost and executive vice president and chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus, outlined the policy and provided clarity on masking within classrooms. The pair also encouraged individuals who feel more comfortable wearing a mask to continue to do so after the revised policy goes into effect.

Beginning March 12, masks will no longer be required inside most university buildings and spaces, including classrooms, residence halls, recreation centers, and dining halls. Face coverings will still be required on public transit and inside some healthcare facilities, including Cougar Health Services.

Instructors are not permitted to require or request students wear masks in classrooms. The allowable exemptions were outlined in the memo:

  • Courses that prior to the pandemic required face masks as part of the safety protocols for the course
  • Clinical practicum courses where wearing personal protective equipment will simulate real-world requirements, such as those found within healthcare settings

The updated policy is being implemented systemwide to “promote a successful learning environment and ease confusion for our students, faculty, and staff,” Schulz and Chilton wrote. HRS Disability Services is available to assist instructors needing to discuss accommodation options.

The pair noted that WSU has consulted with public health experts, the Washington State Department of Health and other public institutions of higher education across the state throughout the pandemic on its operational decisions, including the revised masking policy. On Feb. 28, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington would be moving up the date its relaxed masking policies would go into effect to March 12 in concert with California and Oregon.

The university will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic within its campus communities and make policy changes as needed.

Faculty, staff, and students should continue to self-screen for illness before visiting a WSU facility and stay home if they are sick. Instructors and supervisors are asked to continue to be flexible and equitable with students and employees who need to be absent due to illness.

Schulz and Chilton also noted that Jason Sampson, director of WSU Environmental Health and Safety, will be heading up the university’s COVID Operations team effective April 1. He succeeds Hailey Rupp, who led the pandemic response team for more than a year and has recently taken on a new role as deputy chief of staff for WSU Pullman.

Faculty Senate has posted blog post concerning the memo on its website.

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