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WSU will drop vaccine requirements for staff at the end of October

Oct. 21, 2022 Updated Fri., Oct. 21, 2022 at 8:34 p.m.

Bryan Clock Tower glows at dawn on WSU’s Campus in Pullman.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
Bryan Clock Tower glows at dawn on WSU’s Campus in Pullman. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
By Saydee Phothivongsa For The Spokesman-Review

Washington State University announced Friday that it will no longer be requiring employees, contractors and volunteers of the university to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

The school famously fired then-football coach Nick Rolovich last year for refusing to get the shot, but the requirement lift comes in coordination with Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent announcement that all remaining COVID-19 state of emergency orders will end by Oct. 31.

“Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered,” Inslee said in his announcement.

The WSU announcement states that the requirements will be lifted for staff in “most settings.”

There are still health care facilities across WSU campuses that require masks and in some cases proof of vaccination, said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president of marketing and communications.

Students still will be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine through the 2022-23 school year.

WSU nursing major Alex Collins wonders how not requiring staff to be vaccinated will affect students, especially those who are immunocompromised or more vulnerable to COVID because of the many shared spaces on campus.

As a nursing student in Spokane, Collins still has to wear masks in the hospital and full PPE with patients with COVID, so it doesn’t “feel like we’re out of the woods,” she said.

Since all students who are physically in class have a vaccination or exemption, the university will re-evaluate the need for a vaccine requirement for students at the end of this academic year, Weiler said.

“Given the transient nature of volunteers, contractors and employees, it just makes sense for us to make the change now, but because students are already in the classroom, it didn’t make sense to make a change in the middle of the year,” he said.

WSU still encourages the community to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington State Department of Health guidelines such as getting vaccinated and staying updated with boosters.

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