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WSU leadership host second COVID-19 virtual town hall

WSU President Kirk Schulz said during the university’s second COVID-19 virtual town hall that students, faculty and staff should prepare for the return of face-to-face instruction with the onset of the 2020 fall semester.

“We certainly won’t do anything contrary to the recommendations of public health experts or Gov. Jay Inslee, but at this point we’re planning to be back to in-person sessions in the fall,” Schulz said.

Updates on the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic were provided during the town hall by Schulz, Interim Provost Bryan Slinker, Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Theresa Elliot‑Cheslek and Vice President for Finance and Administration Stacy Pearson.

The university plans to have virtual town halls every two weeks based on community interest.

While it is too early to know the full economic impact of COVID-19, WSU officials are closely examining the available data and discussing possible scenarios. Those among the more than 1,500 viewers who tuned in Friday morning with questions about how their jobs may be impacted, or want to know what resources are available to them, were encouraged to visit the Human Resource Services website.

While classes will be hosted remotely for the summer semester, staff are still able to seek tuition waivers for classes that would normally have taken place on a physical campus. HRS is able to verify tuition waiver eligibility, Elliot-Cheslek said.

Parking refunds are also available to faculty, staff and students on a prorated basis by visiting the Transportation Services website. The university will announce its plans for Service and Activity (S&A) and other mandatory fees by April 30.

Slinker noted that undergraduate students have until June 1 to decide whether to take a pass/fail grade for their classes. Even though the due date for final grades will likely be extended a week, students will still know what their letter grade would be prior to the June 1 deadline. Students are advised to reach out to their academic advisors to determine what potential impacts exists and to ask any other questions.

April 10 is the deadline for students who live in university-owned apartments or residence halls to request refunds, Gonzales reminded viewers. Visit the housing website to learn more.

Campuses across the WSU system are also in the midst of planning graduation ceremonies for the fall, Schulz said. A 45-minute virtual celebration is happening on May 9, and more details will be available soon.

Finally, members of the WSU community are invited to watch live presentations by finalists in the search for a new provost beginning next week. More information can be found on the provost search website.