Give a life-saving gift this holiday season

Dear Cougar Community:

There’s a potentially life-saving gift we can give each other this upcoming holiday season: doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID‑19.

Extra vigilance is required by all of us as virus cases surge and many prepare to spend time with loved ones during the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

It is tempting to relax safety measures around the family and friends we typically spend time with during breaks and holidays. But COVID‑19 is overwhelming many of our communities. You can be contagious and pass along the virus before you show symptoms or feel sick. We recognize how challenging it can be not to “make an exception” when visiting with those closest to you. Please don’t let your guard down. The decisions we make now have the potential for long-lasting impact to our health and the health of our loved ones.

The recent spike in cases has been caused primarily by people in group settings not wearing masks or physically distancing. Practicing the three W’s remains the most effective prevention: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.

Given the current situation, we encourage our entire WSU community to limit travel this holiday season. If you do have to travel, please check your destination’s local public health website to see if there are specific requirements in that area. Pullman students, if you are traveling home, please get tested for the virus before you go. Once you leave campus for Thanksgiving break, please don’t return until spring semester begins in January.

We offer a few other reminders to guide your actions during the coming weeks:

  • Similar to the fall semester, most of the spring semester classes will be offered at a distance.
  • All WSU employees should continue to work remotely whenever possible.
  • Employees who cannot work remotely must attest online daily that they are free of COVID‑19 symptoms.
  • Employees should not enter the workplace if they feel ill. Unfortunately, contract tracers are aware of some employees in the Pullman/Moscow area who had what they thought was a common cold come to work and spread COVID‑19 to coworkers.
  • If you test positive for COVID‑19, provide contact tracers with a complete list of your close contacts. That information is critical to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • While we all look forward to holiday celebrations with coworkers, please do so virtually this year. Again, avoiding group gatherings is a key step in slowing the virus.
  • Refer to the University’s COVID‑19 website to stay up‑to‑date with the latest developments.

The data from our own state demonstrate the challenges we face. In Washington, the daily virus case counts are increasing consistently, with more than 2,000 cases a day over the past weekend and average cases statewide doubling during the past two weeks. In response, Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Sunday announced a new four‑week statewide set of restrictions. Though K–12 and higher education institutions are generally exempt from the restrictions, which include limitations on indoor social gatherings and occupancy limits in retail establishments, we urge you to practice these preventative measures.

We’re all familiar with the saying that Cougs take care of Cougs. Now—more than ever—is the time to demonstrate that principle in action. Do so for each other and for the communities for which we live and work.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of the extended Cougar family.

Best regards,

Kirk Schulz

Elizabeth Chilton
Provost and Executive Vice President