Holiday Gatherings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Colleague,  

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Washington, Governor Inslee recently issued a new four-week restriction on group gatherings and certain businesses.  

Status of Campus Operations 

This guidance does not change the current operations or protocols at the College, as we follow the state’s Campus Reopening Guide for higher education. While our campus continues to operate remotely, we currently have 10 programs that offer some practical in-person coursework on campus, with appropriate safety protocols in place. We will continue to monitor the change in COVID-19 cases and alert the campus community of any potential changes to these on-campus programs. 

Holiday Gatherings 

Governor Inslee’s latest guidance does provide some important recommendations about how to stay safe during the fall and winter holidays. Please remember, gathering in groups — even with people you know— may spread COVID-19. You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others.  

This holiday season, public health experts are urging all of us to “stay put” — to celebrate only with the people we already live with, whether that means staying at home or in a residence hall. This is especially important if, over the past two weeks, you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or you have had symptoms such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.The Department of Health’s Safe Gatherings webpage offers helpful ideas on ways to celebrate safely and how to have conversations with friends and family about social events. 

If you decide to host or attend a Thanksgiving celebration, public health experts ask that you: 

  • Celebrate outdoors 
  • Limit the guest list to no more than five people outside your household 
  • Keep social interactions as short as possible 
  • Consider quarantining from now to the celebration date, leaving your residence only for essential activities such as buying groceries or brief periods of outdoor exercise 
  • Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands regularly, and consider taking your temperature before socializing with others 
  • If you have been around groups of people who may not have worn masks, health experts recommend getting a COVID-19 test 
  • For your safety and others, the College strongly encourages employees to consider avoiding travel during the holidays, especially if they are faculty or staff members who frequently work on campus 

Free Drive-Through Flu Shots 

It’s also not too late to get a flu vaccination this season! Flu vaccination is more important than ever to keep you from getting sick during the pandemic, and to help save important medical resources for COVID-19 patients. Find out how to make an appointment or check out these next drive-through dates: 

  • Thursday, Nov. 19 – Midway Elementary School, 22447 24th Ave S, Des Moines, WA 98198 
  • Saturday, Nov. 21 – Beverly Park Elementary School, 1201 S 104th St., Seattle, WA 98168 
  • Or find another vaccine clinic site 

I know these are stressful times for so many reasons, which can become even more pronounced during the holidays. If you are feeling sad, lonely, stressed, or anxious, please know you can find support through Washington EAP services (877-313-4455). 
Students can access support at the Counseling Center (206-546-4594). 

Thank you for being so resilient and caring during these disruptive times. I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy start to the holiday season. 

With care, 

Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.
Office of the President

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