Centralia College: COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Strongly Encouraged’ But Not Currently Required for Students, Staff


Centralia College says it won’t require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for its students and staff to return to campus, but it will continue to strongly encourage its population to get it.

“We may alter our approach in the future if cases spike or we are mandated to require vaccinations. But, so far, we have been very proactive on our campus and we’ve been successful in enacting safety measures, such as masking and social distancing,” wrote Amanda Haines, director of college relations, in an email.

At least three public and private universities in Washington recently announced they will require students and staff to show proof of vaccination against the viral respiratory infection before returning this fall. Those universities include Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University and, most recently, Washington State University.

Exemptions, such as for religious or medical purposes, will be offered to students and staff at those universities.

A majority of higher education institutions in Washington are still on the fence about requiring the vaccine, though most have been encouraging students and staff to get the poke in order to ensure a safe return in the fall, when student enrollment is generally at its peak.

Centralia College, as a general practice, does not require students to be vaccinated, according to its student policies, except in individually-certified programs where vaccinations are required, such as in its nursing programs.

Last fall, Centralia College implemented a hybrid online and in-person model. Spring quarter classes started at the college on April 5, and many classes still remain online only. Social distancing and a strict masking policy are still in place for people on campus.

On April 26, the college reported that three positive COVID-19 cases were forwarded to its campus safety and security team. Eleven students and instructors were isolated and quarantined in response.

The three exposures reportedly happened in the Transitional Services Building and at an off-campus facility. Everyone associated has been contacted, and the facilities have been cleaned and resumed use.

Haines said the college continues to stay in contact with state and local health departments, as well as with peer colleges across the state, in its effort to keep COVID-19 requirements up to date.

The college is not currently tracking how much of its population has received the vaccine, Haines said, since that is protected personal health information and not something they would regularly track.