CWU lifts mask mandate

Evan Couch, News Editor

CWU lifted all mask mandates on campus on Friday, April 8. President Jim Wohlpart announced the much anticipated move to go maskless for the spring quarter in March. Other than gatherings indoors over 500, masks are no longer required on campus. 

Wohlpart said that coming to this decision was a process that involved thinking of every aspect of the CWU community.

“I feel really good about the process we used to confer and consult with everybody to arrive at a decision that isn’t going to make everybody happy, but at least I think it was a very transparent, collaborative and inclusive decision making process,” Wohlpart said. 

According to Wohlpart, they collaborated with all of the shared governance groups, leadership teams, department staff, faculty senate, student senate, multiple unions and the exempt staff to come to the final decision. 

A major factor that played into the decision of lifting the mask mandate was when Gov. Jay Inslee lifted Washington’s indoor mask mandate on March 11. So, why did CWU wait until April 8? 

Wohlpart explained that the decision to push the new mandate back to April 8 was very much a precautionary measure. With spring break falling just one week after Washington’s new mandate, Wohlpart and the school decided it would be safest to give a two week cushion to watch for any spikes in cases.   

“[We thought] that it would be wise for us to have our testing clinics and see how the first two weeks went to see if there were any kind of spikes, that was the suggestion from our campus constituents,” Wohlpart said.

According to Wohlpart, of all the people who went to the testing clinic after spring break only one came back with a positive COVID-19 test result.   

Looking ahead, Wohlpart believes that the community of CWU will continue to allow students and staff to feel safe with their decisions on whether or not they want to wear a mask.

“What I believe about this community – I believe very deeply that we are a caring community,” Wohlpart said. 

Wohlpart said he would hope that people will respond with care when others choose to wear a mask because they are immunocompromised.

“I hope that we are always thinking about each other as a community and the needs that we all have,” Wohlpart said.

With in person classes continuing and no required masks indoors, watching for cases still remains a priority for CWU. Although the new mask mandate is here for now, the longevity of the mask mandate is unknown. Wohlpart said if anything were to happen with a rise in cases, it would be another collaborative decision to bring masks back.

“My approach is always not to knee jerk decisions, but to be collaborative and inclusive,” Wohlpart said. “We will watch the numbers and see where the cases go.”