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COVID-19 FAQ: Masking

When will students, faculty and staff be able to remove their masks indoors?

Per Governor Inslee’s update to the mandatory statewide mask mandate, masks will become optional in MOST indoor locations beginning March 12.

Should I get rid of my mask?

Please do not discard your masks at this point. As we’ve been cautioned by Spokane Regional Health District officials, the COVID-19 situation can change quickly. We ask that you hang on to your mask and cleaning supplies and sanitizers for a while longer as we monitor campus and county cases and adjust requirements as necessary.

Are there places on campus where masks will still need to be worn?

Yes. These areas will be clearly marked so everyone can mask up before entering. These places include:

  • Whitworth Health & Counseling Centers
  • Athletic Training Room
  • Graves Gym (COVID-19) testing area

We also ask that you wear a mask if:

  • You have COVID-19 symptoms
  • You have had potential exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • You are past your self-isolation, but within 10 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis

Can students still wear a mask indoors if they feel comfortable doing so or are health-compromised?

Yes. Anyone can continue to wear a mask if they prefer to do so or if they need to for personal or medical reasons. Whitworth will continue to stress that the right to wear a mask shall be respected by all individuals within the Whitworth community.

What resources are available if I want to continue to mask and have others mask around me?

Staff and faculty members who wish to ask others to mask before entering their workspace or meeting space may download a sign here to that effect and print it for display.

What about employee attendance at in-person meetings on campus?  

In-person meetings are preferred, but during this time of transition, provisions can be made for employees to attend remotely.

How long will the masking-optional plan be in effect?

We will utilize this plan through the end of spring semester or until circumstances dictate a return to a masking requirement because of increasing COVID-19 cases. We will continue to rely on regional, state and national health agencies to provide direction.

Does the lifting of the masking requirement only apply to vaccinated individuals? 

No. The change by the governor's office does not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated. We encourage anyone who chooses to continue to wear masks to do so as they deem appropriate.

Since the masking requirement is optional, will I have the choice to move to remote learning?

No. WhitworthFlex (which allowed for the transition from classroom to remote learning) is no longer an option. If you are concerned, we recommend you continue to mask and to use KN95 or N95 masks, which offer greater protection.

If my class is currently online, will it stay online?

Yes. Any class that started the semester online will continue to be online through the end of the semester.

The March 7 masking announcement stated that “In classrooms or labs, in cases of identified medical concern, faculty members have the option to require masks.” What does “identified medical concern” mean?

Situations in which a person who has vulnerabilities (high risk because of immune compromised even while vaccinated or boosted) or is caring for someone with vulnerabilities may need to continue to require masking in the classroom. Instructors will need to contact their students regarding this requirement prior to their next meeting.

Does someone have to approve an instructor’s request to require masks?

No. The expectation is that instructors will only utilize this option if there is a genuine health concern.

What happens if a student is not compliant with the request to wear masks in the classroom?

This will follow the same procedure we have had for the last two years. The faculty member should talk to the student, and if the student continues to be noncompliant, the faculty member should use the Early Alert form to follow up. Course grades should not be affected by this.