Washington college students are being given the green light to return to the classroom this fall

VIDEO: Washington college students are given the green light to return to the classroom this fall

WASHINGTON — College students in Washington may be returning to their campuses this fall, even though there’s no end in sight for the pandemic.

“We want you back there, but we want you in a place and manner that will keep you safe and the people around you safe,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

The governor has issued his guidance for higher education, which includes public and private four-year schools, two-year community and technical colleges, apprenticeships and private career schools.

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“This plan includes flexibility for a variety of conditions as they change regarding the pandemic and provides measures to protect with underlying health conditions,” said Inslee.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan. But there are things that will be similar: limited class sizes, masks, limit shared equipment, and protocols to track and trace the virus on campus. Schools may possibly stagger schedules for shared facilities like bathrooms and limiting how the number of people on campus. One of the biggest issues facing all schools is reducing density across the entire campus, including in dorms.

“Just as an example, we are maximizing singles and doubles on campus, and I think most of the university presidents I’ve spoken to are setting aside rooms for isolation and quarantine,” said Allan Belton, president of Pacific Lutheran University.

When asked how universities plan to keep kids from gathering and from parties that, for some, is a part of the college experience, – University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said that will be part of a bigger discussion.

“I think that one thing that is going to be really important is from day one how to create a culture where we all recognize that our lives are all intertwined and that we’re responsible for our own and for other people’s safety,” Cauce said.

Schools, like UW, are working on plans that will include in-person and remote learning. UW has said some larger classes could be held online with smaller sections held in-person as long as everyone in the room practices social distancing.