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Whitworth to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations

June 16, 2021
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​Dear members of the Whitworth community,

Since the onset of the pandemic 16 months ago, many of our conversations have been about the longing for an end to the pandemic, for health and safety, for a return to normal, for the opportunity to socialize, to travel, to compete, to rehearse. You, our students, faculty and staff, made noble efforts to create the very best academic, residential and co-curricular Whitworth experience possible. We've heard repeatedly from parents and students who are grateful for the experience provided, especially under such challenging circumstances.

For the 2021-22 academic year, we want to offer our students nothing short of the exceptional in-person, educational and residential experience for which Whitworth is known. We want our faculty and staff to teach and mentor in classrooms, labs, rehearsal rooms and office spaces that provide the best in terms of teaching and learning while ensuring the health and safety of our community. And we wish to minimize, and even eliminate, as best we can the disruptions and inconveniences you have all endured.

In order to achieve these aims, Whitworth University will require all students (undergraduate, continuing studies and graduate) to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 7. Vaccinations will be required for all employees (faculty and staff) by Aug. 7. This requirement will be added to the existing vaccine requirements for students, which include measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis. The university will accommodate medical and religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccination. For students in fully online programs or courses, no vaccinations are required. For students wishing to participate in Whitworth-sponsored study abroad programs (travel outside the United States), please note those programs will require vaccinated status without exception. 

This decision has been made in light of CDC, state and county health regulations and guidelines, and in consultation with medical experts and university health center staff. Ensuring the health and safety of our community remains an essential priority. Further, it is our obligation to deliver the best Whitworth experience possible – something we will best do by reducing, as much as safely possible, the safety protocols we employed this past academic year.

We cannot predict what masking and distancing protocols may be required or advised this fall. Spokane County health officials have advised us that our vaccination percentages will inform our ability to reduce restrictions across campus. We understand that forthcoming guidance from the Washington State Department of Health will likely state that only campuses with a vaccine requirement for students, staff and faculty may eliminate physical distancing and other COVID-associated protocols. 

Students who receive a medical or religious exemption from this requirement may undergo regular testing; employees who receive an exemption may be required to seek third-party testing if the Spokane Regional Health District deems it necessary for campus safety during an outbreak. Anyone with an exemption will be required to follow Washington State Department of Health and Spokane Regional Health District guidelines regarding face coverings, physical distancing, testing, quarantine and isolation. As is also the case for measles, mumps and rubella, unvaccinated students who contract COVID-19 will be required to enter isolation until they are medically cleared to return.

For students (Please provide proof of vaccination or submit exemption forms by Aug. 7.):
  • Please report your vaccination status here.
  • For students seeking an exemption based on medical or religious grounds, please access those forms on the health center webpage.
For employees (Please provide proof of vaccination or submit exemption forms by Aug. 7.):
More details about the vaccine policy may be found in our frequently asked questions:
We look forward to the end of this global health crisis and the suffering and challenges it has wrought. Whitworth is at its very best when we are in person, in community, and providing our full academic and residential campus experience. Together, may we endeavor to make that possible again this coming September.

Sincerely,

Scott McQuilkin
Interim President