Yakima Valley College hopes for more in-person classes this fall

YVC staff say COVID-19 vaccinations, new physical distancing requirements a step forward

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima Valley College officials are hoping the COVID-19 vaccine and lowered physical distancing requirements will allow them to open up more classes for in-person learning during the fall quarter, which starts in mid-September.

“We’re very grateful that because so many of our students and faculty and staff have gotten vaccinated, we’ll be able to carefully phase in a return to some additional onsite classes and some additional student services,” said Dustin Wunderlic, Director of Community Relations at Yakima Valley College.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation July 12 regarding COVID-19 guidelines for higher education institutions based on whether they plan to have a fully vaccinated campus.

Colleges whose students and staff are all fully vaccinated are exempt from the proclamation, but are still encouraged to follow the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 recommendations.

“For the fall quarter, we are strongly encouraging YVC students and faculty and staff to get vaccinated, but we are not requiring vaccination to learn and work on campus,” Wunderlich said.

Wunderlich said everyone on campus will be required to wear face masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

“We are continuing to follow extensive safety protocols as we have been throughout the pandemic,” Wunderlich said.

Most classes at YVC have been held virtually during the pandemic, with the exception of in-person labs for workforce programs like dental hygeine, medical assisting and phlebotomy. Wunderlich said they’re hoping to add more in-person classes this fall.

“One of the main differences that will be happening for the fall quarter is that in the governor’s recent proclamation to institutions of higher education, we’re able to go from six foot physical distancing down to three foot physical distancing,” Wunderlich said.

Wunderlich said the reduced physical distancing requirements will make it easier to space students out during classes and have more people learning on campus at one time. He said they’re working to determine which classes will be offered on-site, while remote learning continues.

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