CWU will require COVID-19 vaccine in fall

Mitchell Roland, News Editor

CWU will require all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming to campus in the fall.

President James L. Gaudino made the announcement on May 6. In the announcement, Gaudino said the decision is “based on the advice of local, state, and national health department officials.”

Gaudino said in the announcement that FDA approval also played a role in CWU’s vaccine requirement.

“The decision is also based on the expectation that the coronavirus vaccines currently approved for emergency use will receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the summer,” Gaudino said. “FDA approval is a key factor in our consideration of a vaccine mandate.”

The announcement does not say whether or not exemptions for religious, medical or personal reasons will be allowed.

“We are making obtaining a vaccination a priority because we believe a fully vaccinated community is the best way to protect our individual and collective health and safety,” Gaudino said in his announcement. “Additionally, it is only through widespread vaccinations that Central can loosen or remove restrictions that have impacted our social and mental well-being. Vaccinations will facilitate a return to in-person campus living and learning experiences.”

Students who come to campus will be required to prove they have been vaccinated. CWU will provide vaccines to students who have not yet been vaccinated.

Gaudino said in the announcement that “a vaccination requirement for some employee groups may be subject to bargaining.”

“We will immediately initiate the bargaining process with faculty and staff unions prior to implementing the vaccine requirement for employees,” Gaudino said.

This decision comes after several other local universities, including WSU, UW and WWU, announced a similar requirement for students. During a visit to campus last week, Gov. Jay Inslee said the state was mulling a vaccine requirement on all college campuses in the fall.

“I was just talking to the presidents about this,” Inslee said during his visit to campus. “What I can say is it’s extremely important to have a high rate of vaccination.”

During his visit, Inslee stressed the importance of the vaccine, and cited how much of Ellensburg’s population is made up of college students.

“All of a sudden, you have half your population coming back,” Inslee said. “We need to act, effectively, to boost these vaccination rates. It is imperative for their personal safety, and it is imperative for the larger community.”

At that time, Gaudino said he was preparing a reopening plan that would require students to be vaccinated. However, with new president A. James Wohlpart taking over in June, Gaudino said a vaccine requirement would ultimately be the new president’s call.

While CWU will ultimately require documentation proving that a student has been vaccinated, Gaudino said last week that the enforcement of the policy “is the big issue.”

“If 80, 85 percent of us get vaccinated, Central will look the same next year as it did before the pandemic,” Gaudino said last week. “If it’s less than that, we’re going to have to have restrictions, some restrictions.”