Gonzaga updates vaccination rate and COVID guidelines

SPOKANE, Wash. — Summer is coming to an end and college students are getting closer to going back to campus. Gonzaga University has updated some COVID guidelines and said a majority of its students and staff are vaccinated.

The university required all students and staff to get vaccinated for COVID earlier this year, and their data says 75.5 percent of all campus-based students are fully vaccinated. Over 85 percent of campus-based faculty and staff are fully vaccinated.

“We know that there are significant numbers of both students and employees who are ‘in process,’ however we are aiming for 100% compliance with our reporting requirement [either evidence of vaccination, or request for medical or religious exemption],” said Gonzaga’s president Thayne McCulloh said in the announcement.

Because of the Delta variant, McCulloh said the university will recommend employees and students wear masks indoors, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated. However, fully vaccinated people can take off their masks in private offices or small meetings.

“Along with many of you, I have been listening with concern over these past weeks to the constantly-changing information relating to SARS-CoV-2,” said McCulloh. “The excitement and optimism with which COVID-19 vaccines were initially greeted by many has been somewhat tempered with the news that ‘the Delta variant’ appears to be much more powerful and contagious than the original, or the ‘Alpha variant’ – and that though relatively rare, fully vaccinated people can have breakthrough infections, and in turn infect others.”

He also said they will need to shift their perspective on the virus, and understand that it will be with them for the foreseeable future.

“One way or another, we all hoped for an end to COVID-19; instead, it is becoming clear that this new virus will likely be a permanent, continuously evolving challenge to public health and disease management,” he said.

In light of this, McCulloh said he has consistently seen community members step up and care for those who are suffering, and is grateful for the commitment they have to one another.

“More than anything, I hope that we – as individuals and as a community – continue to care for and support one another, listen to and be patient with one another, and remain open to new, creative ways of managing the chaos that COVID-19 has inflicted upon us,” he said. “As a learning community, we must constantly be considering what it is that the coping and thriving in the face of this pandemic is teaching us.”

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