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WCC's PHYSICAL CAMPUS CLOSED, ONLINE SERVICES CONTINUE

At this time, Whatcom Community College has ONE confirmed case of COVID-19. Please see the "Emails to Our Campus Community" section on our COVID-19 Information & Resources page for more details. 


Whatcom Community College’s physical campus is closed beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020 for a minimum of two weeks to ensure alignment with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Online instruction and working remotely will continue. Students and employees should not come to campus during this time. Spring quarter instruction will still begin online on Wednesday, April 15.


It is important to emphasize that Whatcom Community College remains operational and dedicated to ensuring the academic mission continues through this challenging time. We have moved services and instruction online to the greatest extent possible to keep our community healthy. Remote services will differ for various service areas, departments, and resources. Visit this remote services directory to learn how you can easily access the WCC services you need without visiting campus. 


Please continue to check your email and www.whatcom.edu/COVID19 for regular updates. 

COVID-19 Information and Resources

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates, information and resources

 

For immediate COVID-19 (coronavirus) questions or concerns, please contact the Washington Department of Health Call Center: 1.800.525.0127 and press #

At Whatcom Community College, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and entire campus community is our utmost priority. All levels of College leadership are monitoring the expanding outbreak of COVID-19 (previously referred to as novel coronavirus) to mitigate risks to campus. WCC is doing what we can to prepare and working directly with the Whatcom Health Department and other local agencies to disseminate accurate information to our campus. If you haven’t already, please sign up for Whatcom Alert messages.

As this is an emerging situation, we will follow advice and direction from the Whatcom County Health Department, Washington State Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Please visit the Whatcom County Health Department website for the latest information on COVID-19. 

At this time, Whatcom Community College has ONE confirmed case of COVID-19. Please see the "Emails to Our Campus Community" section below for more details. 

 

WCC reports first case of COVID-19

Dear Campus,

I am saddened to inform you that a Whatcom Community College employee has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first known case related to WCC’s campus community. The employee is in isolation at home and is recovering.

The College was informed of the positive test result this afternoon, March 27, 2020 and is actively following guidance from the Whatcom County Health Department.  The employee works in the Health Professions Education Center (HPEC). Individuals who are known to have direct close contact with the employee will be contacted by the health department. In accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines, WCC will not be releasing the employee’s name.

Remote classes have been in place at WCC since March 12 and all campus operations shifted online as of March 25. The employee has not been on campus since Friday, March 20, but out of an abundance of caution, WCC’s custodial staff will deep clean all areas where the employee worked or visited. Staff are following the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention disinfecting protocols by using anti-viral chemicals that are EPA-approved for COVID-19.

I recognize this is very difficult news to hear and may generate anxiety and fear. I want to assure you that our top priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our campus community.  It is critical that we be supportive and understanding of each other. Be kind and patient with your peers and yourselves and know that we are working together to keep each other safe. 

Please remember that diseases do not discriminate. Health risks associated with COVID-19 and other illnesses are not a direct correlation of race, ethnicity, living circumstances, or nationality.  I encourage you to rely on evidence, official communications, and the guidance of experts as we continue to navigate this unfamiliar terrain together.  

WCC students or employees who think they may have had exposure to the COVID-19 virus or are feeling any symptoms are encouraged to self-isolate, contact your health care provider for further guidance, and inform your supervisor or division chair, as well as WCC’s Director for Safety & Security Raquel Vernola at rvernola@whatcom.edu.  For counseling services, employees can utilize the state's Employee Assistance Program by calling 877.313.4455.

Again, we are taking all necessary precautions and are working with public health officials. We do not believe there is any reason for anyone to overreact.  Please continue to keep those affected by this pandemic in your hearts and minds.

Sincerely,

Kathi Hiyane-Brown, Ed.D.

President

WCC's physical campus closed, Online services continue

Whatcom Community College’s physical campus is closed beginning 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020 for a minimum of two weeks to ensure alignment with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Online instruction and working remotely will continue as outlined in my previous message to you last Friday.

In an effort to limit the impact of COVID-19, the governor announced today that all Washington residents should stay at their homes as much as possible to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 beginning March 25, 2020. Grocery stores, pharmacies, childcare facilities, gas stations, food supply chains and other things that offer people basic, crucial needs will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules. See this link for the full announcement.

What does this mean for students? Students should not come to campus during this time. WCC’s services are still accessible online. Visit the online remote services directory to learn how you can easily access the WCC services you need without visiting campus. Friendly staff and student leaders are ready to help you navigate WCC’s transition to online learning. Spring quarter is still scheduled to begin online on April 15, 2020.

What does this mean for employees? Employees should not come to campus during this time, unless your supervisor has advised you to report to campus. Employees should continue to work remotely if they can, and communicate directly with their supervisors or division chairs with questions. The main goal is to keep people home and healthy and limit exposure. Rest assured, college leadership will be sending out additional communication as information becomes available in the coming days, including leave options, updated college procedures related to the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, a list of approved personnel granted on-site access for critical functions, and additional opportunities for those working from home.

We recognize each day is presenting new challenges for you, your families, and our entire community. This statewide directive is meant to keep us all safe. Remember, we’re all in this together. Please continue to check your email and www.whatcom.edu/COVID19 for regular updates.

Please stay home and stay healthy.

Winter quarter class information

Beginning Thursday, March 12, classes and exams will move online for the remainder of winter quarter, which concludes on March 27. In some cases, when the nature of a class is not suited for online instruction, alternative options for concluding the course may be implemented, following guidance shared with faculty. Faculty will communicate individual course plans for completing winter quarter with students, and students should monitor Canvas and communicate with their instructors regarding winter quarter classes and coursework. Students are encouraged to access MyWCC and Canvas regularly.

Yes, you can register for spring quarter!

WCC has also decided to move all classes and instruction online for the duration of spring quarter, with a delayed start to provide time for faculty, staff, and students to prepare for this change. Spring quarter will begin Wednesday, April 15 and conclude Friday, June 19. Students who have already registered for spring quarter classes can expect regular updates from the college and should not expect delays in their financial aid disbursements. We feel strongly that this decision promotes campus and community safety, while reflecting our institutional values of success, community, equity and effectiveness.

Be sure to visit WCC’s Registration Calendar for quarterly priority deadlines and other important dates. Students can use Class Schedule Search for the most up-to-date class information and register for spring quarter classes online. Tuition and fees are due prior to the start of classes. Be sure to pay your tuition by the corresponding deadlines to avoid being dropped from your classes for non-payment.

Community & Continuing Education students will be contacted regarding the status of their class. For more information about Community & Continuing Education classes, please visit whatcomcommunityed.com.

Preparedness

There are proactive steps we can all take to protect ourselves, our families and our campus community. We understand that individuals should make decisions to protect their own health and safety based on their individual situations. Employees should contact their supervisor to discuss options, if they feel they cannot report to work. Students may decide their personal situation warrants staying home. Faculty and supervisors are encouraged to be flexible and accommodating. 

Social distancing and prevention

It is essential that we all practice appropriate social distancing methods and stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible. You should always take steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). This includes typical flu-prevention methods such as:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Seek medical attention from your primary care provider as needed
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others
    • The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)

Help reduce stigma and bias

Please remember diseases do not discriminate. Health risks associated with COVID-19 and other illness are not a direct correlation of race, ethnicity, living circumstances, or nationality. It is especially important now, more than ever, that we share accurate information and refrain from stereotypes. We are stronger as a community when we work to confront bias and fear-based assumptions and encourage a safe and healthy campus environment. Here's how you can help reduce stigma and bias:

  • Rely on and share trusted sources of information about the causes of outbreaks from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington State Department of Health, and Whatcom County
  • Speak up if you hear, see, or read stigmatizing or harassing comments or misinformation
  • Show compassion and support for individuals and communities most closely impacted and anyone who might be sick
  • View this coronavirus stigma fact sheet from the Seattle & King County Public Health Department
  • If you encounter, witness or suspect incidents of bias related to COVID-19, you are encouraged to file a report at whatcom.edu/incident.

Background

The world is experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold and may cause pneumonia. The virus can spread from person-to-person, and cases have been detected in a number of countries, including in the United States and here in Washington State. The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China and has never been seen in humans before December 2019. Learn more in this Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet, which is available online in multiple languages, from the Whatcom County Health Department.

What is the risk? 

The Whatcom County Health Department is reporting that there is currently risk to all community members of being exposed to COVID-19. Some people have an increased risk of infection, such as: Close contacts of a novel coronavirus patient, healthcare workers caring for a novel coronavirus patient, people who have traveled in the past 14 days to a country where there is widespread community spread of COVID-19. Please visit the Whatcom County Health Department website for the latest information on COVID-19 cases.

WCC is here to support you

We recognize that many of you have friends and families in regions both locally and globally affected by the coronavirus. We want you to know that in this stressful time, Whatcom Community College stands with you and we are committed to supporting your well-being. For counseling services, WCC students can call 360.383.3080 or the Crisis Care Line at 1.800.584.3578. Faculty and staff can utilize the state's Employee Assistance Program by calling 877.313.4455.

Where can I learn more or ask questions?

If you have questions or concerns, please communicate with your supervisor, department or division chair, or WCC’s Director for Safety & Security Raquel Vernola at rvernola@whatcom.edu. For student matters related to your individual classes, please direct questions to your instructors.

Frequently Asked Questions
Is WCC open?
What does online or remote instruction mean?
What options do faculty have to continue instruction now that in-person instruction is suspended for winter quarter?
What if I don’t have access to technology at home?
What assistance is available for accessibility of course content?
What is WCC doing to keep classrooms, computer labs, and facilities clean and safe?
What can building occupants do to support cleaning and disinfection efforts?
Is my event, meeting or gathering at WCC canceled?
What is happening with Community & Continuing Education classes?
What’s happening for spring quarter?
What are the travel recommendations?
Can students get unemployment and go to school?
How can students qualify for food benefits during this time?

Emails to our Campus Community

March 27, 2020: WCC reports first case of COVID-19
March 23, 2020: WCC’s physical campus closed; Online services continue to Campus
March 20, 2020: WCC moving to remote operations beginning Monday, March 23 to Students
March 20, 2020: WCC moving to remote operations beginning Monday, March 23 to Faculty and Staff
March 18, 2020: Several changes to campus services beginning today, March 18
March 16, 2020: Update to Campus
March 13, 2020: Spring classes moved online, Campus open
March 11, 2020: WCC moving to online classes through remainder of winter quarter
March 9, 2020: Classes Canceled for Faculty Preparation 3/11, Campus Open
March 9, 2020: COVID-19 Preparation: Canvas training available today and tomorrow to Faculty
March 5, 2020: Coronavirus Update to Students
March 4, 2020: COVID-19 Update to Faculty and Staff
February 28, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention
February 4, 2020: Coronavirus FAQs