WOU continues campus-wide mask mandate for fall term

Kat Ledford, junior dance major, practices safe studying at Hamersly Library.

All the details about what is required to maintain the health and safety of all Western students

Mikayla Coleman | News Editor

Going into fall term during the seemingly endless years of the COVID-19 pandemic leaves many Western students and faculty feeling uneasy. According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of Sept. 2021, Oregon alone has reached 318,914 cases and accumulated 3,661 deaths due to the spread of COVID-19. Trying to navigate the rules and regulations for in person learning proves to be daunting and confusing — so here is an in-depth guide for Western students returning to campus this fall.

Sophomore social science major Lindie Larson and sophomore forensic chemistry major Amity Deters follow mask mandates while studying at Hamersly Library.

Where are masks required? Briefly over the 2021 summer break, fully vaccinated students were able to enjoy Western facilities maskless. However, since the development of the delta variant took the world by storm in July, masks have made a valiant return for the safety of everyone on campus. 

All vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, guests, vendors and students must wear a mask on campus when indoors. Masks are required outside when social distance cannot be maintained. 

If students have a disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering, reach out to the Office of Disability Services. 

Something new from the 2020-21 school year is that the campus is open to visitors. Said visitors must adhere to the same rules as students and staff members by wearing a mask when inside and outside. In person tours for prospective students are available by appointment only. 

Are vaccines required? Proof of COVID vaccination is required for all students and employees on campus unless they are able to receive an exemption through the university. The exemption is not limited to just medical reasons — religious or philosophical reasons for being unvaccinated are also being taken into consideration. 

Social distancing guidelines are posted outside the Werner University Center.

What do living situations look like? Living on campus and using high contact shared spaces have caused concern among students. Isolation that has been so heavily recommended throughout the pandemic is nearly impossible to achieve in a dormitory setting. Despite this, first-year students are still required to live on campus as they have been in past years. 

Working through the challenges that come with it, Western has put its best foot forward while preparing for students’ return. Student housing has made an effort to create more single dorm options. Students in residence halls are required to wear masks when not directly inside their assigned room. The university will also provide separate housing for COVID quarantine as needed. 

For students that have a meal plan, the Valsetz Dining Hall will be open with seating arranged for social distancing. Other retail dining options, such as Caffè Allegro, will be open with regular business hours. 

Caffé Allegro encourages social distancing protocols via venti cups.

What do the classroom situations look like? Western offers a wide range of flexible classroom environments to fit different students’ needs including in person, hybrid, online synchronous and online asynchronous courses. 

Western will be implementing contact tracing protocols for those that choose to attend in person classes. If a student participating in an in person class tests positive, all students also taking that course will be notified. 

What do extracurricular activities look like? In person activities such as sports events will be offered in order to provide the Western experience as long as it is deemed safe to do so. 

Creative arts programs expect to be back with concerts, plays, dance productions and art exhibits. Student Engagement plans to have a variety of in person activities to participate in, including clubs, activities and organizations. 

Contact the author at newseditor@thewesternhowl.com

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