David May, Eastern Washington University’s interim president, sent the following message to the campus community on Jan. 19:

Dear Campus Community,

I know that the past year has been difficult and that all of us have been disrupted in our daily lives and in our educational mission and goals. I am mindful too that the pandemic has had differential impacts on some communities and has brought pre-existing inequalities into sharper focus. We must continue to work together to hold ourselves accountable as we work toward a more diverse and equitable community.

I’m excited to announce the university is planning for the possibility of returning to mostly in-person instruction this fall. Using our Max-Flex approach, we are developing a comprehensive plan to prepare us for the goal of normal or near-normal operations. This plan will include checkpoints along the way and ongoing assessments of state guidelines and public health measures. 

To be clear: While that is our goal right now, getting to that goal will depend on how things progress with the pandemic and the rollout of vaccines in the coming months. I pledge to everyone we are not going to be fully back on campus until it is safe to do so. The health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty will continue to be the primary driver for all of the decisions that we have to make. Last year has taught us there are no absolutes, and we know that we have to continue to navigate the challenges of living, working, and learning during a pandemic.

It will take the collective actions of all of us to achieve our goal. This includes being vaccinated if and when you are able to do so, and continuing to wear masks, wash hands, clean and sanitize regularly, practice social distancing, limit non-essential travel, and follow other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are currently working with the Spokane Regional Health District to develop vaccine eligibility criteria and distribution plans for EWU employees and students. 

Remote instruction will continue through winter and spring terms. We expect most summer courses to remain online and are currently evaluating the possibility of offering summer camps.

As we continue the planning and exploration of returning to mostly in person classes in the fall, the university will provide monthly progress updates outlining where we are in the process and what obstacles lie ahead. 

I thank you for your time, commitment, and your incredible patience as we work our way through this together and I know that we will remain Eagle Strong!

David May