Gaudino announces fall quarter plans

Bailey Tomlinson, News Editor

President James L. Gaudino announced tentative plans for students to return to campus in fall in a series of emails to the student body. These plans are designed to remain flexible to accommodate changes in public policy and new information over time.

“The plan seeks to balance two critical goals: safeguarding the health and safety of our community and offering the high-quality learning, living, and working environments for which Central is so well known,” Gaudino wrote. “The result is a plan to invite students back in the fall, with practices that will apply in Ellensburg as well as University Centers and teaching sites.”

Fall quarter will be accelerated, beginning Sept. 9 and ending Nov. 24. Classes will not be held on Veteran’s Day.

“The goal of the schedule is to complete the quarter ahead of a forecasted increase in flu and Covid-19 cases and to avoid the logistics of students leaving campus and returning following the Thanksgiving holiday,” Gaudino wrote.

Students will have an opportunity to choose between classes offered in person, online or a combination. Professors will be responsible for determining the modality that will best accommodate the content of their courses, though they are encouraged to work remotely, Gaudino wrote.

“Deans and chairs have been working with faculty to record these choices so they can be presented to students when they register for classes,” Gaudino wrote. “Our new and returning students will be encouraged to develop a schedule that conforms to their learning style and personal needs.”

The plan also proposes a series of distancing measures that can be adopted to fit various spaces around campus.

“Until a vaccine is available, physical distancing is a crucial factor in reducing the spread COVID–19. Central will follow the practice of requiring all employees and students to remain six feet or more from one another,” Gaudino wrote. “When that is not possible, the use of masks will be required. These rules will apply inside and outside of buildings.”

Class schedules will be designed with social distancing in mind, being scheduled for more days and times than they are traditionally offered. They’ll also be held in spaces that are not traditionally classrooms. Furniture will be rearranged in recreational and academic spaces when necessary to promote social distancing. Spaces that provide face-to-face services such as stores and counseling will be reorganized or moved online.

Planned social distancing measures also address movement around campus.

“An analysis is underway to map significant pedestrian pathways and to mark them with appropriate signage to help promote physical distancing. Special attention will be given to portals to popular locations,” Gaudino wrote.

Masks will be required for all students and faculty in any situation where social distancing is not possible. Health-related exceptions to this rule are permitted. 

“CWU will provide cloth face masks to all students and employees. Students who enter classrooms or gathering places without masks, or remove them after entering the classroom, will be asked to mask immediately or leave,” Gaudino wrote.

Additional sanitation efforts will also be employed. Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer will be made available around the university.

“All of us must join together to keep one another safe … Most of us view our freedom to act and speak freely as a positive attribute of academic life,” Gaudino wrote. “I believe that should remain so, but with an important caveat: we must now act in ways that protect others from this dangerous virus.”