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Here's where Spokane, North Idaho colleges stand on requiring COVID-19 vaccines

Whitworth University is requiring COVID-19 vaccines. Other local colleges are still weighing the decision while others have decided against a requirement.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

Whitworth University

Whitworth University's interim president announced on June 16th that they would be requiring all their students and employees to be vaccinated by August 7, 2021.  

"This decision has been made in light of CDC, state and county health regulations and guidelines, and in consultation with medical experts and university health center staff," Scott McQuilkin, Whitworth Interim President said.

Students and employees must submit proof of their vaccinations or exemption forms by August 7.  

Washington State University

Washington State University has joined a handful of higher education institutions that are requiring COVID-19 vaccines in the fall of 2021, including others in the state. 

WSU students and staff will have to provide proof of the COVID-19 vaccination to engage in activities at a campus or location. All students living in university-owned housing will need to provide proof of vaccination, or approved exemption, by Aug. 6, 2021. Seattle University and Pacific Lutheran University, both in Washington state, will also require that students are fully vaccinated before arriving on campus in the fall.

Some universities and colleges around the Inland Northwest are still weighing whether to require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, while some have already decided that they will not require proof of the shot. 

Here's where local higher education institutions stand on requiring vaccination for students' return to campus.

University of Idaho 

University of Idaho will not require COVID-19 vaccination for students or employees but the university will "strongly encourage it," UI spokesperson Jodi Walker wrote in a statement. 

"Our Vandal community has responded incredibly well this last year, engaging in our surveillance testing and other protocols to keep our campus as heathy as possible. We are confident they will continue to show their commitment to our university by being vaccinated," her statement continues. "While had a successful year and remained open, we look forward to a return to a much more normal university experience in the fall."

Community Colleges of Spokane

Carolyn Casey, a spokesperson for the Community Colleges of Spokane, said in a statement that leaders "have no plans to make vaccinations mandatory for our students in the fall." 

"We will continue to emphasize the importance of everyone getting vaccinations and of following all state and federal health safety guidelines, including mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing," Casey's statement continues. "We are pleased to have the CHAS vaccination and drive-through testing site on our SCC campus and we plan to provide additional vaccine educational opportunities for our students and employees."

Eastern Washington University

Interim President of Eastern Washington University David May said they will not require students to be vaccinated in the fall. 

May provided this statement to students and staff:

"Throughout this pandemic, Eastern Washington University has prioritized health and safety, and has often been a leader among universities in adopting public health guidelines and recommendations. In the spirit of transparency, we know that the decision to get vaccinated is not one that we can make for you. There are good reasons, religious, medical, and philosophical, why someone may choose not to be vaccinated. And we have been clear that public health and safety is a responsibility that we all share and choosing to be vaccinated is how Eagles take care of one another and our broader community."

Gonzaga University

The Zags join the list of universities in the Inland Northwest to require COVID-19 vaccines for students on campus during the fall 2021 semester, according to a press release from the university Thursday. 

"It is our conclusion that reducing opportunities for infection and transmission is the single most significant prerequisite to lifting COVID-related restrictions and returning to a more normal campus life in the fall," President Thayne McCulloh said in a press release. "We are planning now for our fall 2021 campus COVID-19 health protocols and knowing that our campus community is vaccinated is a critical element in that process.”

The new regulation will also be required for people who are partly on campus. The university said there will be exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Students in graduate programs that are exclusively online are exempt from the requirement. 

North Idaho College

KREM 2 reached out to North Idaho College for an update on their decision regarding a vaccine requirement but we have not yet heard back.