CWU implements socialization model for safe behavior

Bailey Tomlinson, News Editor

In preparation for opening for fall quarter, CWU has implemented several models to normalize behavior that corresponds with new health and safety measures through socialization. These models were built on the foundation of attending a university being an inherently social experience.

The socialization of these behaviors are critical to CWU’s plan, both James Jankowski, director of the project management office, and Staci Sleigh-Layman, executive director of human resources said. 

College is a social experience, Jankowski said, and if everyone works together CWU has a greater chance of being able to remain open for fall quarter.

A Sept. 1 email sent to employees by Vice President of Public Affairs Kremier Jackson outlines a new program, called the CWU Influencer’s Initiative, the goal of which is to normalize behavioral change in the community through socially prominent students and employees.

“This two-tiered program seeks to educate and empower student, faculty, and staff leaders by sharing up-to-date public health information, best health practices, and medical and counseling resources, as well as model acceptable behaviors,” the email reads. “It also provides guidance on how to talk to peers about what they have learned.”

According to Jackson’s email, tier one of the program is a marketing component featuring prominent student leaders who are already the faces of CWU. Tier two encourages students, faculty and staff to become influencers by attending a training program hosted by the Wellness Center.

“[The influencer program is] essentially identifying students who want to help influence positive behaviors and change,” Jankowski said. “To be clear, this is not the mask police. This is people who will model those kinds of behavior, and if they see individuals who maybe aren’t, try to find a way to engage with them to just, number one make sure they understand, and again in a non-confrontational, supportive way.”

Student influencers in the program would also share events and new information via social media. Employees are also able to be influencers in the program. Training is required before becoming an influencer. 

“The success of the fall on-campus experience for all students depends importantly upon willing and eager student participation and peer-to-peer communication. Our student government leadership has helped us to design and produce videos and other messaging with high student appeal,” Jackson’s email reads. “As we build out and provide training for our students who will serve as ‘safe-campus’ ambassadors, we will continue to explore opportunities for student engagement.”

An employee FAQ on the CWU website said that CWU is creating signs, floor decals, a toolkit, videos and other materials that aim to distribute information, guide behavior, promote compliance and build community in accordance with this program. Influencers are being identified and will undergo training before fall quarter begins.

“We’re trying to socialize these behaviors, so that if you’re not wearing a mask you’re the odd person out,” Sleigh-Layman said.

The focus on wellbeing does not begin and end with the student and employee body. The wellbeing of the institution as a whole is also being taken into consideration. 

“What I’ve been telling people all summer, especially employees, is that us not having a [COVID-19] outbreak at CWU is important to our health as an institution,” Sleigh-Layman said. “And so I think everybody buys that and gets into that and understands it. I just think we have a great institution and we’ve got wonderful people that work for it and so I’m confident we’re not going to have any issues with people not following the safety measures.”

Other newly implemented changes, such as the attestation form and daily self health check, also exist to try and shape community behavior around the pandemic. 

The attestation form for students and employees was put in place to help ensure everyone understands the health risks of COVID-19 and their roles and responsibilities of mitigating those risks, Jankowski said.

“Neither the attestation nor the health check forms are legal documents or waivers. They are both tools to help remind employees and students about the behaviors we all need to follow in order to keep CWU as safe as possible.” the employee FAQ reads.

Any individual coming to campus will be required to log into their MyCWU account that day to complete the self-health check. The health check is a questionnaire that asks if the individual is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, is under quarantine or is waiting to receive COVID-19 test results. Once the health check is complete, they will be instructed on what course of action to take based on their responses. 

“It’s really about behavior change, I mean a lot of this is about behavior change, of just being more in touch with our health,” Jankowski said. “There’s been a tendency in the culture, really across the country, to come to work even when you’re sick or go to class when you’re sick, cause that’s what you need to do. And, we’re, our health professionals are trying to get that to shift, to say that if you’re not feeling well, you need to maybe stay home.” 

Jankowski said that accommodations will be made for working remotely for both students and staff when needed to ensure health and safety. Staff who do not need to be on campus to do their jobs, including him, will be working remotely. 

“We do have policies where, all employees, if you can work remotely you should,” Jankowski said. “That’s just to limit the density on the campus.” 

Since the information from the health check is not being used to diagnose, treat or otherwise provide care to an employee, it does not fall under HIPAA protection, according to the employee FAQ. As a result, CWU will not save any employee information from the health check. Supervisors will only be able to see whether or not an employee has completed the health check. Student info will be stored and protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the release of student records to third parties.

The FAQ also specifies that compliance reports will be created and distributed to supervisors so they can keep track of which employees have completed the attestation and daily health checks. Student compliance will be monitored through reports made to Student Success. 

“A pandemic is a unique situation where, very clearly, my behaviors impact you, and vice versa. And so that’s when we talk about be kind, be thinking of others, because while you may or may not agree to wear a mask, doing so does help protect others,” Jankowski said. “If we can kind of follow that mentality, then as I said, it benefits everybody. If we don’t, then we know the path that it will probably lead us down.”