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News >  Higher education

Whitworth University announces COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students, staff

UPDATED: Wed., June 16, 2021

Members of Whitworth University's class of 2020 are congratulated by faculty members during a graduation ceremony to honor all undergraduates and graduates from last year. The private college in Spokane will require its students to be vaccinated next fall. There will be religious and medical exemptions allowed.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Members of Whitworth University's class of 2020 are congratulated by faculty members during a graduation ceremony to honor all undergraduates and graduates from last year. The private college in Spokane will require its students to be vaccinated next fall. There will be religious and medical exemptions allowed. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Whitworth University has announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the coming fall semester.

Students, faculty and staff must provide proof of vaccination, or exemption forms, by Aug. 7, Interim President Scott McQuilkin announced Wednesday on the university’s COVID-19 webpage. McQuilkin said the university will accommodate medical and religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Ensuring the health and safety of our community remains an essential priority,” McQuilkin said in his statement. “Further, it is our obligation to deliver the best Whitworth experience possible – something we will best do by reducing, as much as safely possible, the safety protocols we employed this past academic year.”

With Wednesday’s announcement, Whitworth – a private Christian university in Spokane – joins a number of other colleges and universities across the state with requirements for the coming fall, including Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University and the University of Washington.

The decision was informed by federal, state and county health regulations, as well as consultations with medical experts and university health center staff, McQuilkin said.

Exempt students may undergo regular testing, according to Wednesday’s announcement, while exempt employees may be required to seek third-party testing if deemed necessary by the Spokane Regional Health District for campus safety in the event of an outbreak, according to the announcement.

All exempt parties will have to follow state Department of Health and SRHD guidelines regarding masks, social distancing, testing, quarantine and isolation, McQuilkin wrote.

“We cannot predict what masking and distancing protocols may be required or advised this fall,” McQuilkin said in the statement. “Spokane County health officials have advised us that our vaccination percentages will inform our ability to reduce restrictions across campus.”

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