Inslee releases plan to restart higher education in the fall

The guidance and requirements go into effect August 1, before the start of the 2020–2021 school year.

Gov. Jay Inslee was joined today by presidents of Washington colleges and universities to unveil the guidance for reopening in-person instruction at higher education institutions in the fall.

Today’s announcement comes with a proclamation providing specific health guidance for four-year public and private institutions, as well as two-year community and technical colleges, apprenticeships and private career schools.

“Each campus is different — varying in size, location, mission, and academic programs. But everywhere, students and educators are clearly ready to get back to campus both to learn and to enjoy this unique period in their lives,” Inslee said during a press conference Wednesday. “However, we must acknowledge the need for equitable student outcomes under these circumstances and that student health must be paramount.”

Included in the health guidance are requirements already in place across much of the state. Masks, limits on class size, symptom monitoring, personal protective equipment availability and approval from local health districts. These requirements are in addition, not a substitute for, health requirements already in place.

Understanding that not every campus is the same, each institution will develop and implement its own Safe Back-to-School Plan. Higher education institutions have been working with their local health jurisdictions throughout this pandemic, and that is expected to continue.

These plans must include several key considerations, such as limiting shared equipment, and tracking and tracing the spread of the virus. There are also protocols for key functions, including:

  • Capacity limits on foods services and restricting cash payments;
  • Floor markings on transportation for social distancing;
  • Staggered schedules for shared areas in campus residences such as bathrooms;
  • Limiting the number of visitors on campus;
  • And health measures to protect employees.

“We know how important returning to campus is for the hundreds of thousands of students pursuing higher education in Washington — and how important colleges and universities are to our state’s future. We feel confident that our collaborative and deliberative planning process will enable students, faculty and staff at institutions across our state to have a safe and productive return to campuses this fall,” said Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington.

Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington joined Gov. Jay Inslee for his announcement on June 24, 2020 about re-opening colleges and universities.

“The reopening of institutions of higher learning will play a crucial role in our state’s economic recovery — in terms of our institutions being key economic driver in the state, providing Washington employers with the highly-trained talent they need (particularly in fields that are critical to our state’s recovery) and by being an engine for equity and economic mobility for ALL of our citizens. And while we’re all eager to return to our campuses and classrooms — I’m sure I can speak for my fellow college presidents across the state when I assure you that the well-being and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will absolutely not be compromised,” said Allan Belton, president of Pacific Lutheran University.

“We might be serving our students in new ways, but one thing that remains unchanged is the value of a college credential. Now is the time to get a credential that will help lead to a brighter future — whether it’s a certificate, degree, training in the skilled trades or an apprenticeship. With the guidance issued today, students can move forward with their studies with strong safeguards in place. We thank Governor Inslee for his leadership on behalf of the 34 community and technical colleges across the state,” said Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, president of Whatcom Community College.

The guidance and requirements go into effect August 1, before the start of the 2020–2021 school year.

“No matter what happens with the spread of this virus, students, faculty and staff should know a return to campus in the fall won’t be like business as usual,” Inslee said.

Additional resource for students:

Washington State Governor's Office

News and updates from Washington state Gov.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store