COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

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Re-opening Frequently Asked Questions: Fall 2021

After much consideration on the safety of our campus community and based on the governor’s July 8 proclamation for higher education, Grays Harbor College will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or an eligible vaccine exemption will be required for both employees and students this fall quarter.

Vaccine Requirement

Who is required to have a COVID-19 vaccine?
All students, faculty, and staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or file an exemption to it. Visitors to campus should wear a mask on campus at all times. Please complete an attestation form which can be found on GHC’s 2021 Updates, Resources, and Information web page.

Is there a deadline to submit the attestation form?
Yes. Employees and students must submit the self-attestation form no later than Monday, October 4 which can be found on GHC’s 2021 Updates, Resources, and Information web page.

Employees

What documentation are employees required to submit along with the attestation?
Employees at institutions of higher ed are required to provide one of the following documents:

  • CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or photo of the card;
  • Documentation of vaccination from a health care provider or electronic health record;
  • State immunization information system record; or
  • A reasonable equivalent of any of the above for an individual who was vaccinated outside the United States.

If I already submitted an attestation form, do I need to submit again?
Yes. Due to the recent changes in requirements mandated by the State, we have created a new employee attestation form.

Is there an alternative way to submit required proof of vaccination?
If employees would prefer not to utilize the upload function in the employee attestation form, there are three alternative ways to submit documentation. You can either securely email it to Stephanie Noland, Human Resource Consultant at stephanie.noland@ghc.edu, fax it to 360-538-4136, or make an appointment with Stephanie to meet in person.

Students

What documentation are students required to submit along with the attestation?
Students are required to provide the following information when submitting an attestation:

  • First/last name
  • Student ID
  • Email address
  • Phone Number
  • Vaccine manufacturer
  • Date of first and second shot
  • Medical or religious exemption request
  • Online classes only, not coming to campus
  • Declaration of submitting correct information

If I already submitted an attestation form, do I need to submit again?
Yes. Due to necessary changes to the form, we have created a new student attestation form.

Are students required to submit proof of vaccination?
No. At this time, students are not required to submit proof of vaccination.

Exemptions

Will students be allowed on campus if they have a vaccine exemption?
Students must still go through the exemption accommodation process.  Approvals will be granted on a case by case situation that will be addressed by The Office of the Vice President for Student Services

Are students required to be vaccinated without a need for a valid exemption if they are completely online?
Students that are taking classes 100% on-line and not coming to campus for any reason should select this option on the student attestation form. Should guidance from the State change around this requirement we will communicate accordingly.  

What are my options if I don’t want to get the vaccine?
Additional information on the exemption process for employees and students requesting medical or deeply held religious exemptions will be forthcoming.

Are on-line only students required to vaccinate and submit an attestation form?
No. Students who are taking classes 100% on-line and are not coming to campus for any reason do not need to be vaccinated or fill out the attestation form.

Are there exemptions to the vaccine requirement?
Following the governor’s August 18 announcement, employee exemptions will be allowed for health and religious reasons. . Based on the Governor’s August 27 updates to the higher education proclamation for vaccinated institutions of higher education, the philosophical exemption option for students has been removed. Student exemptions will only be allowed for health or religious reasons.

How do I claim an exemption to the vaccine?
Students and employees who are requesting a health or religious accommodation to the COVID-19 vaccine should reference the following websites for more information about process, timeline and to get started on required paperwork:

Regardless of vaccination status, masks are required in public indoor setting in accordance with college and the statewide mandate.

I have had and recovered from COVID-19. Do I still need to be vaccinated?
Yes. Students must either be vaccinated, or have medical or religious exemptions. There are no other allowable exemptions.

Employees

What is the process for requesting a religious or medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Additional paperwork will be provided, as well as an interactive process with Human Resources to determine whether we can meet your accommodation needs.

Students

What is the process for requesting a religious or medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Additional paperwork will be required, as well as an interactive process with the Vice President for Student Services to determine whether we can meet your accommodation needs. To get started with the necessary paperwork, please visit the Student Vaccine Verificaiton website.

What is the deadline for students seeking an exemption?
There are two important deadlines that students seeking an exemption need to be aware of.

  • October 4, 2021 all students seeking an exemption must select the medical or religious exemption option on the student attestation form.
  • By November 5, 2021, in order to grant a reasonable accommodation to a student to remain unvaccinated, Grays Harbor College must receive information or documentation that confirms that the student has a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Campus Visitors & Contracts

What do we do about suppliers? Specifically, I have some dealers that send in technicians to assist in the Lab. What do I do about them?
Vendors, service people, contractors and similar will need to complete a separate attestation form, that is currently being developed.

What about guest speakers / visiting alumni, outsides salespeople, factory reps, delivery folks?
Any person who comes to campus to transact business in any form, and is anticipated to come to campus more than once or twice a year, must attest.  Guest speakers would qualify as visitors, and must wear masks but need not attest to vaccination status.

Are perspective students required to submit a vaccine attestation prior to visiting campus?
No. Perspective students are considered visitors and are required to wear a mask while on campus.

Safety Protocols Will physical distancing be required on campus in indoor spaces?
Effective August 1, 2021, Grays Harbor College is a vaccinated campus. Social distancing is not required but remains a best practice for reducing the spread of any virus. For those who have exemptions to the vaccine, it is recommended that individuals follow health and safety practices that safeguard against illness.

Are masks required for those working in solitary environments?
Individuals who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and are working alone in an office with a closed door are not required to wear a face covering. Please visit the CDC’s FAQs for more information about spread and prevention of the virus.

Campus Operations

Are classrooms or hallways being altered? What else are we doing other than vaccinations and masks?
As a fully vaccinated campus, there are no social distancing requirements, and our classrooms are set up in the same manner as they were pre-COVID.  We are reducing the number of seats available in public areas to reduce the overall number of people congregating outside of instructional spaces.

Where is a good place for students to eat on campus? Will microwaves be available?
Students can eat in the HUB, although we will not have food service available. Yes, we can have microwaves available.  No eating or drinking will be allowed in classrooms.

The Health Department has reached out to us about us hosting vaccinations on campus. Is that something we could consider in the near future?
The college has been in talks with GHPH, and we will see if something can be done.  The timeline would be dependent on GHPH resources.

Do the HVAC systems have filters?
Yes, but the filters in commercial HVAC systems were never designed to stop particles as fine as the COVID-19 virus.  Retrofitting our HVAC systems to use filters of that type is impractical.  Rather than take an approach that we cannot achieve in a reasonable timeframe, we have increase fresh air supply to buildings, and increase the volume of air as well. This will change the air in classroom spaces much more frequently, diluting any viral count.

What’s the official college policy for outside?
Masks are not required outside. There is currently a state masking requirement for outside events with more than 500 participants, it is unlikely to apply to GHC.

Do we need to screen students, staff and visitors coming into the building?
No, there are no screening protocols.

What are the cleaning protocols?
We are following the most recent and updated CDC protocols. Questions about cleaning protocols should be directed to contact Keith Penner, GHC’s COVID-19 Supervisor, at keith.penner@ghc.edu.

Can college groups use campus vehicles for approved college activities?
Yes, subject to future guidance to the contrary. College groups can use campus vehicles for approved trips. All vehicle drivers and passengers must be fully masked for the entire time they are in a college vehicle.

Is eating and drinking allowed in classrooms?
Due to the current pandemic environment, eating and drinking is not allowed in instructional space, including classrooms, labs, shops or equivalent.

Will common spaces be open in buildings?
Yes, common spaces in buildings will be open and accessible to the GHC community during normal business hours. We will be limiting the number of seating in each area to reduce the number of total people in any given space. Masks are required while in all GHC buildings.

If a student refuses to wear a mask, what should I do?
If a student refuses to wear a mask, while participating in on-campus courses, activities or other operations at Grays Harbor College locations, employees should contact Dave Smith at 360-538-4114 who will dispatch someone from campus operations for immediate assistance. Failure to comply with this directive, will result in progressive discipline pursuant with the College’s Student Conduct Code.

Mask Requirements

Will we have masks available for students?
Yes.  Masks will be available at every building entrance, and will be stocked in classrooms and copy rooms throughout campus.  If you need additional masks in any location, please fill out a Campus Operations work request, found on the intranet.

If we have an issue with someone refusing to wear a mask – what do we do?
There are a few steps that we recommend when engaging in conversations with students and/or employees about the mask requirement: 

  1. Request in a non-confrontational manner that the student or employee wear a mask
  2. Use “I” statements so that you do not blame the student in any manner. For example, “I know that wearing a mask may be uncomfortable, but it is required”.
  3. 3) If a student refuses to wear a mask, while participating in on-campus courses, activities or other operations at Grays Harbor College locations, employees should contact Dave Smith at 360-538-4114 who will dispatch someone from campus operations for immediate assistance. Failure to comply with this directive, will result in progressive discipline pursuant with the College’s Student Conduct Code.

What types of masking are not acceptable?
The Washington State Department of Health has released this statement about face coverings:

Universal and correct use of cloth face coverings or masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and should be worn by all students, employees, and visitors in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s Order on Face Coverings. See the Washington State Department of Health Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings for more information. All students, employees, and visitors must use at least a cloth face covering when indoors.

What about students who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons?
This must go through the student accommodations process.

Can departments require students and staff to wear masks?
All departments should follow college and state guidelines for masking requirements.

Will masks be required outdoors?
No. When outdoors, masks are optional for those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Are masks required on campus?
Effective Monday, August 23 a statewide mask mandate was expanded to include vaccinated individuals in indoor settings.

Are masks required if I am the only person in a room and the door is closed?
Generally, no. If there is only one person in a room and the door is closed, they will not need to be masked, whether that is an individual study room or private office.

Student Employees

Are student employees required to follow the same guidelines as college faculty and staff?
Yes, the requirements will be the same for all faculty, staff, and students, which includes student employees.

Vaccine Information

Where can students and staff go to receive the vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are free of charge. You can use the following links to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment or COVID-19 Vaccine Information.

If I’m vaccinated, are there other precautions I still need to take?
As the Vaccines do not provide 100% protection against COVID-19, and the efficacy length is still unknown. All individuals should follow health and safety protocols consistent with their level of risk.

Contact Tracing & Positive Case Reporting

How do I report a positive COVID-19 test?
If you have tested positve for COVID-19, please report this to us using the COVID-19 Reporting Portal.  This will allow us to work cooperatively in notifying people of close contact situations.

What will happen if a student test positive?
The student should report this status to the college.  The college, in conjunction with Grays Harbor Public Health will start contract tracing, and notify people who must isolate or quarantine based on current guidelines and practices.

How will we know if a student is out if they have COVID-19 or something else?
For reasons of medical privacy, faculty will not be informed of student’s medical status.  The contact tracing team will notify students individually if they need to quarantine, and the absence can be dealt with by faculty as they would any other illness. 

Does the entire class get notified if there is a positive confirmed case?
The faculty member will be notified that a person in the classroom has had a positive test result for COVID-19, and one or more students will need to isolate or quarantine.  Each student will be notified of the specific response that they must follow.

Does the health department notify those who have been exposed to COVID-19?
Yes, GHPH and GHC will work cooperatively in notifying people of close contact situations.  Yes, there is likely to be a time lag as contact tracing is conducted.

Instruction

Do faculty need to maintain sign-in sheets at the beginning of class?
No, faculty do not need to maintain sign-in sheets.

When should a student and/or faculty stay home?
CDC guidelines are to self-isolate if you have unexplained COVID symptoms.  If you have a headache or stuffy nose, and you have a reasonable explanation for these symptoms, there is no need to isolate.  If you have serious symptoms such as a fever or loss of smell/taste, you should isolate.

Athletics

Are there special guidelines for student athletes? Particularly, indoor sports?
Yes, student athletes have special requirements.  Teams must reach minimum vaccination thresholds, and regular testing protocols. While actively training or playing student athletes are not required to wear masks.  Outside of their athletic activities, student athletes must follow the same rules as everybody else.  The Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) is the agency that develops and updates regulations for collegiate athletics, and this delegation of authority is recognized by the governor’s office.