Students seeing problems in over-full classrooms

Star Diavolikis, News Editor

Now that fall quarter has started, students may have noticed slight changes in the COVID-19 procedures set in place by the university. One of these guidelines being while masks are required, no social distancing is required.

Students who have attended Welcome Week events or in-person classes may have noticed there are no social distancing guidelines. At the Welcome Week Drag Show hosted on Sept. 19 in the SURC Ballroom, chairs were placed right next to each other with no distance between them besides space to create four main aisles. In classrooms, chairs are not spaced a specific way, and students can sit anywhere. In Brooks library, all social distancing markers are removed.

Ryan Mead, a junior majoring in Elementary Education, said her classes were not socially distanced, but rather very full. Mead said she dislikes the choice CWU took by removing social distancing guidelines.

“It’s not the best, a lot of my classes are very full,” Mead said. “I felt a bit uncomfortable.”

On the FAQ page of CWU’s website, it is said that, “Six feet of physical distancing will apply inside classrooms that have been reconfigured.”

Mead, however, said one class in particular was so full, students had to get chairs from a nearby classroom and pack together to fit in the assigned space. In another class, it was very full, however the administration allowed the class to be moved to another classroom. According to Mead, there was hesitation to allow the change, as though “[social distancing and safety] isn’t a priority.”

CWU has a few ongoing COVID-19 precautions set in place. Students must have proof of COVID-19 vaccination submitted by Oct. 18. This vaccination requirement does also apply to students only taking online classes.

“Vaccines will be required of all members of the Central Washington University community, employees and students, including those who learn and work at our University Centers and Instructional Sites and those who learn in virtual environments, even if totally online,” CWU President Jim Wohlpart said in an online press release Aug. 24. “Only international students living outside the United States and high school students enrolled in CWU’s College in the High School program are exempt.”

Students who have documented medical conditions or “sincerely held religious beliefs” are the only exceptions from the vaccination requirement – philosophical exemptions are no longer valid. Any student looking for an exemption due to religious beliefs needs to have their decision approved.

There is an ongoing indoor mask mandate for all faculty and students which will be reevaluated on Oct. 18. “At that time, we will be able to discern the rate of vaccination status across the campus and the COVID-19 incident rate in the county in order to decide if we want to extend or drop the face-covering mandate,” Wohlpart said.

Students can contact Disability Services if they cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions.