CWU maintains health and safety guidelines following vaccine release

Levi Shields, Staff Reporter

Currently, vaccination against COVID-19 won’t be a requirement for students planning to return to campus. But, because of the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus, precautions could change at any time, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Cepeda. 

Cepeda recommended that students visit the CDC website, which provides guidelines for universities regarding COVID-19. The guidelines recommend that students wash their hands frequently, social distance, stay at home as much as possible, wear masks when leaving their room or apartment, stay at home if they are sick, gather online rather than in-person when possible, limit non-essential visitors and travel and abide by any guidelines posted by CWU.

Cepeda also suggested students reference the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) website, which recommends students avoid touching their face with unwashed hands and routinely clean frequently-touched surfaces. 

Students can also find out using the DOH Phase Finder Tool if they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and make an appointment to be vaccinated, as well as read the Kittitas County guidelines. Students who have underlying conditions or work with people who are more at-risk may be a higher priority when it comes to vaccination.

“We partner with the Kittitas County Public Health District under the direction of Tristen Lamb and Dr. Larson,” Cepeda said. “They are the lead agency in this matter and so depending upon whether they continue to expand the distribution sites, the vaccination sites, that’s entirely up to them. But in partnering with them, we are in daily, weekly communication with them as to how that would impact our community.”

Special Programs Coordinator for the Kittitas County Public Health Department Kasey Knutson said that there are no requirements for citizens to vaccinate. However, over 6,000 people have been vaccinated in Kittitas County as of 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 2, according to the DOH website. 

“When we’re talking about having herd immunity, it would be like any other situation as far as vaccine-preventable diseases,” Knutson said. “Our community has been fantastic in helping folks, especially in the B phase, that maybe are not savvy with internet access.”

According to the DOH website, Phase B is the period of time in which the COVID-19 vaccine is being given to people who meet a certain set of criteria, including all people age 65 or over and all people age 50 or over who are in multi-generational households or work in congregate settings.

Cepeda said that the university is working with doctors and epidemiologists and continually looking at the data to advise their safety protocols and try to make the campus environment as safe as possible.