September 18, 2020
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
The WSU community, like many university families nationwide, has been under the
nation’s microscope lately. This has been particularly true on our Pullman campus.
Our best efforts to develop strategies to meet the demands of COVID‑19 have, at
times, been met with profound obstacles. There is no established playbook for
managing the ever-changing demands of COVID‑19.
But in keeping with the Cougar Spirit, we will continue to work together and
adapt to the rapidly evolving challenges our university faces.
Our latest efforts to expand COVID‑19 testing capacity in Pullman demonstrate
that flexibility and commitment:
- On Sept. 2, a mobile health unit began testing students experiencing COVID‑19
symptoms. This partnership with Range Health, the nonprofit academic healthcare
network led by executives from WSU’s colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy
and Pharmaceutical Sciences, enabled more than 500 students to get tested prior
to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
- Cougar Health Services officially opened its walk‑up testing site on Sept. 8.
This site allows students to receive free COVID‑19 tests regardless of whether
they are currently experiencing symptoms.
- The Washington Army National Guard deployed its own testing site on Sept. 8
in coordination with WSU. This site is mobile, moving to new locations frequently
in an effort to be accessible to as many current students as possible. Testing is
provided to students at no cost. Additional details are available online.
These efforts are starting to pay off. Since the beginning of the month, more
than 1,500 students have been tested and we are beginning to see several of the
key COVID‑19 indicators moving in the right direction.
That said, there is still much work to do. We will not be satisfied until each
WSU student living in Pullman gets tested.
We’ve also heard the concerns of faculty and staff with regards to testing
availability. Before the end of the month, we expect to make an announcement
about COVID‑19 screening for faculty and staff.
Our online COVID‑19 town halls have provided a vital pipeline between
university leaders and our community, enabling us to provide the latest updates
while receiving feedback directly from WSU’s stakeholders. These meetings will
continue throughout the coming months. Additionally, we’ve partnered with our
students to promote positive behaviors that keep our communities healthy by
launching the Cougs Cancel COVID campaign.
In a show of support, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee traveled to Pullman last
week to meet with students, university leaders, and local officials to learn
more about our current containment strategies.
Earlier this week, WSU, the University of Idaho, the city of Pullman and
the city of Moscow announced the “Two Cities, Two Universities—One Community”
campaign. This joint effort will reinforce public health measures necessary
to slow the spread of COVID‑19.
WSU remains committed to building strong partnerships at the local, state
and federal levels in helping contain this global pandemic.
The latest information on WSU’s COVID‑19 response is available online.
Kirk Schulz, President
Washington State University