Significant Operational Changes
March 16, 2020
Dear Whitworth Community:
Thank you for your continued patience as the university has responded to the dynamic and evolving public health crisis surrounding the spread of COVID-19. We are grateful to share that we are currently unaware of any confirmed cases of the virus within the Whitworth community, and earlier today, we released a statement clearing the four tests that were conducted late last week. We are thankful to God for this news, and we continue to pray for our community members.
Unfortunately, I must communicate some unwelcome news to you today because of the ever-changing circumstances we face, and these new policies that I will outline below substantially change some of the news I shared with you as late as last Thursday.
Specifically, Governor Inslee issued emergency orders on Sunday requiring all bars, restaurants, entertainment facilities and recreational centers throughout Washington state to close, and he reduced the number of attendees to no more than 50 at social events and gatherings. These latest orders, while appropriate from a public health standpoint, directly impact the way the university operates and provides housing and meals to our students.
Due to these orders, residence halls will now close for the semester on Saturday, March 21, and online instruction for classes, which will begin on March 30, will be extended through the end of the semester. These and other important changes are outlined below. Employees, please note special information for you at the bottom of this message.
Residence Halls (Questions, contact: Alan Jacob, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- All residence halls will close for the semester on Saturday, March 21, at 5 p.m., and will not reopen for Spring Term 2020. Theme houses will remain open until May 16.
- Students currently in campus housing should completely check out of their rooms before 5 p.m. Saturday, March 21. In order to check out without additional charges, students will need to complete and return the Express Checkout form (delivered to their rooms beginning this evening or available for advance printing here), complete all cleaning tasks listed on the form, and return their room key to either their RD or Alan Jacob (address provided on Express Checkout form). Students must return their room key at the time of their checkout. Failure to check out or return the correct room key may result in additional charges being added to the student's account. (Mailbox keys should be returned to the campus post office.)
- Students who have already left campus will have until May 16 to officially check out of their rooms. Students should email their RD with anticipated checkout dates.
- We are exploring options for how to handle potential adjustments to room and meal plan charges and will communicate those plans as soon as they have been finalized.
- International students or housing-insecure students who are not able to leave campus may apply to remain in the residence halls after Saturday, March 21, and will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Their travel will be restricted to the Spokane area and they may be relocated to another room on campus. Email Leslie Watkins (email@example.com) to set up an appointment to discuss this option.
- Families and friends can assist students with moving out of the residence halls this week.
- Students living off campus in apartments/houses are free to make decisions as they determine.
- Dining services will continue to provide takeout meals, but only for those students who remain in the residence halls.
- Online instruction, which begins on March 30, will be extended through the end of the semester. There will be no return to in-person classes for Spring Term. Whitworth is committed to delivering all credits and courses, so no tuition refunds are anticipated.
- Academic advising is taking place this week as scheduled. Please make an appointment to speak with your advisor if you haven't done so already. We anticipate opening registration for upcoming terms as scheduled.
- All in-person gatherings for students are discouraged.
- Travel is restricted to the Spokane area for those students who remain on campus. Privileges to live in the residence halls may be revoked if a student travels outside the Spokane area for the remainder of the semester.
- The Department of Homeland Security and ICE agency have released the following policy change: International students are now permitted to continue their studies via online classes outside of the United States. This means that international students may complete the spring semester either here in the U.S. or choose to return to their home country without any conflict to their immigration status.
- If you are an international student who chooses to depart the U.S., you must ensure that you have a signed I-20 with a valid travel signature. If you have questions about this requirement or any concern related to international student services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Whitworth Housing Office will assist international students who are unable to return home and need to remain in on-campus housing throughout the spring semester and summer term.
- All university events are canceled immediately through the end of the semester.
- All large admissions events, including Why Whitworth Days, are canceled. Small admissions tours will remain available. Admitted and prospective students will receive additional communication from the Whitworth Office of Admissions & Financial Aid.
- All athletic practices are canceled immediately through the end of the semester.
- No spring practices are allowed for nontraditional sports seasons.
- The Whitworth Health and Counseling Centers will remain open to eligible students by appointment only Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for urgent medical and mental health needs, and closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
- If you are sick, please first call ahead to 509.777.3259 and ask to speak with a nurse before arriving at Schumacher Hall.
- For medical/health questions pertaining to COVID-19 that are not addressed on the university website or related resources (www.whitworth.edu/coronavirus), email email@example.com and provide your name and contact information requesting a call back.
- If you have counseling or specific mental health questions, you can either call 509.777.3259 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a call back. Please remember that email is not a secure means of conveying personal health information.
- If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the 24/7 regional crisis line at 877.266.1818.
- During evenings and weekends when Schumacher Hall is closed, please first call ahead to the nearest urgent care or emergency room if you are needing medical attention. The closest urgent care is Providence Urgent Care on Hawthorne:
- Address: 551 E. Hawthorne Road, Spokane, WA 99218
- Phone: 509.489.2369
- The nearest emergency room connected to a hospital is Holy Family Hospital:
- Address: 5633 N. Lidgerwood St., Spokane, WA 99208
- Phone: 509.482.0111
- Eligible students may continue to access City Cab by calling 509.455.3333 for medical transportation needs through the remainder of the academic year. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the health center via phone or email provided above.
Buildings: (Questions: Facilities services, 509.777.3254)
- Access to all buildings except the HUB and library will be restricted to only employees or student employees whose offices or labs are in those buildings, or to employees providing support to those buildings, unless an exception is granted by the area vice president.
- The HUB will remain open on weekdays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and will require a Whitworth I.D. to enter. Limited postal and dining services will be available. Limited library hours will be announced.
- The print shop and bulk mailing services will be open in Hawthorne Hall, although copy services will not be available.
- No decision has been made yet on commencement, but we are determining a date by which a decision will be announced.
- The university will remain open for employees, but we will move to an "essential employee" model. Essential is defined as those employees who need to continue to provide on-campus essential services. Employees in this essential category may be able to do some of their work from off campus; however, unless ill or caring for an ill loved one, they need to be available to come to campus as needed at the determination of their supervisor. Note that use of the term "essential" in this technical sense is not a reflection of the value of an employee's role or work; Whitworth values all of its employees. The provost and vice presidents will communicate details for their reporting departments. Employees identified as nonessential will not need to report to campus and are encouraged to work remotely.
- Regular employees regardless of essential status or pay grade will be paid through the end of the semester (May 15) at which point we will reassess the university's financial condition and employment needs based upon the circumstances at that time. Of course, we are hopeful that the current crisis will have moderated by that time and we can return to normal operations.
- Supervisors will assist in identifying which tasks can be performed off campus. The transition to an "essential employee" model will be completed by close of business this Friday, March 20.
- All professional travel outside the Spokane area is prohibited unless an exception is granted by the area vice president.
- Personal travel for employees is strongly discouraged.
As we move forward with our goal of keeping our students, employees and community safe, we remain committed to providing our students with the best education possible during these unusual times. Thank you for your adaptability in these circumstances, and please know we are praying for each of you.
I'm grateful to all of you, and I'm confident that our communities, including Whitworth, will get through this crisis if we all stick together. And as a Christian community, I encourage all of us to place our trust in the Lord.
May God continue to bless you and your family,
Beck A. Taylor, Ph.D.