Students at South Puget Sound Community College will need to be vaccinated if they want to return to in-person classes this fall.
Employees working on campus also will need to prove they are vaccinated.
The college will become a “fully vaccinated COVID-19 campus” at the start of the fall quarter this year, according to a Tuesday news release. SPSCC president Timothy Stokes said this move will help protect the campus community.
“Our abrupt shift to remote work and virtual learning in early 2020 allowed us to continue operating through the worst of the pandemic,” Stokes said. “And while some students have thrived in an online environment, many have not. We know that in-person learning and support services are vital to students’ long-term success, and this move will serve our community well.”
This decision follows a June 30 proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee that allows higher education institutions to require vaccinations for in-person instruction. The proclamation took effect July 1.
By enacting this policy, the college says it can eliminate face coverings and social distancing requirements. All employees and students will need to verify their vaccination status unless they claim a medical, religious or philosophical exemption, according to the release.
Employees must verify their status by Aug. 30 and students must do so by Sept. 20, per the release. However, students who intend to take online classes only are not required to verify their vaccination or exemption.
It’s not clear how the college will verify vaccination status or exemptions. The release says the college is still developing a system and will provide more details in the coming weeks.
Under the new policy, visitors who have not verified their status with the college will still need to wear face coverings, according to an information webpage.
In-person classes will be added to the class schedule rather than converting classes that are already online, according to the webpage.
Anyone who has COVID-19-like symptoms should not come to campus, regardless of their vaccination status, according to the webpage. The college says it will continue to track confirmed COVID-19 cases.