This is a reminder that BC’s mask wearing policy has not changed. All students, faculty, staff and visitors must continue to wear a mask while on campus. The only exceptions are while eating, drinking, or working alone.
Greetings Bellevue Community,
Over the last 14 days, there has been a lot of new information and guidance from federal, state and local authorities about wearing masks. Governor Inslee announced last week that Washington state would adopt the updated CDC mask guidelines, but he also emphasized that schools will still be required to wear masks. We are currently awaiting clarification from the state about higher ed mask wearing policies. Additionally, on Thursday, May 20, Public Health – Seattle & King County issued a Directive that a mask mandate is in effect for indoor spaces, regardless of whether a person is vaccinated or not. Following are some key points from the directive.
Key points from the Public Health – Seattle & King County Directive
· Continued use of face masks for everyone five years of age and older within indoor public spaces is reasonable and necessary in King County to reduce the risk for COVID-19 transmission until more of the population is protected through vaccination and COVID-19 disease rates decline.
· In addition to the local Directive (for King County), the Washington State Department of Health Order continues to require everyone to wear face masks while on public transportation, and in schools, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and health care settings, which includes doctor’s offices, long-term care, and hospitals.
· The Directive will remain in effect until Public Health – Seattle & King County confirms that 70% or more of residents age 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot (or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, their first shot). Public Health currently projects the county will reach the threshold in late June.
The Flu Team urges everyone to take advantage of free vaccination sites to help King County get to that 70%. Many vaccines are available across King County at high-volume vaccination sites, pharmacies and clinics (and many don’t require appointments).
The College will review its mask policy when Governor Inslee provides more guidance about higher ed and/or when King County revises its guidelines. We will send an email update if Bellevue College changes masking guidelines.
Thank you for your patience, continued flexibility, and for keeping others safe and healthy.
Dennis D. Curran
Vice President of Administrative Services
Campus COVID-19 Supervisor
Bellevue College, K100G
Greetings Bellevue Community,
As a follow up to recent news about vaccinations and the need to wear masks, the Flu Team wanted to provide a few updates and reminders to the campus. Hopefully, this will answer some questions about our current procedures.
Wearing a Mask
At this time, Bellevue College is not changing our mask-wearing policy. President Biden recently announced some new guidelines for wearing masks in relation to vaccinations. The CDC also developed a handy chart to provide guidance on mask wearing. While this new guidance is promising, we are not changing our mask wearing policy. All students, faculty, staff and visitors must continue to wear a mask while on campus. The only exceptions are while eating, drinking, or working alone. Requiring proof of vaccinations is not feasible for a number of reasons (e.g. confidentiality, timeliness, paperwork, availability of vaccines), so wearing a mask ensures the safety of everyone on campus.
Vaccinations are becoming more readily available in Washington state. All students, staff and faculty coming to campus or planning on coming to campus are strongly encouraged to vaccinate. Here are several good articles on the benefits of vaccination:
Modified Procedure for Completing Daily Check-ins
Everyone coming to campus needs to complete an on-line daily check-in. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID or feel sick, do not come to campus. We recently changed the on-line form to allow people to input the day they are coming to campus (prior practice was to have the date auto-populate). Allowing people to input the date provides more flexibility when filling out the form.
Fill out the form. Click submit. You will get one of two notifications:
1. If you checked “no” to all the questions on the form, you will receive a notification that includes guidance on the safe wearing of a mask.
2. If you checked “yes” to at least one of the questions on the form, you will receive a notification that tells you NOT to come to campus. If you get the notification, please do the following:
a. Students: DO NOT come to campus. Contact your instructor and tell them you are not able to come to campus. Wait for a call from a college official and further instructions.
b. Employees: DO NOT come to campus. Contact your supervisor and tell them you are not coming to campus. Await a call from HR for further instructions.
Thanks again and stay safe out there!
This COVID-19 update contains information and resources so you can be informed and stay safe. We’re all in this together — 6 feet apart!
Top 4 ‘Need to Know’
- King County (including Bellevue College) is still in Phase 3, but we can’t relax our safety measures yet. Currently, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s are experiencing more severe disease and hospitalizations than earlier in the pandemic. This age group only became eligible for the vaccine in the past three weeks. Already, more than half have received a first dose. If even more young and middle-aged adults get vaccinated in coming weeks, that could bring a substantial drop in COVID-19 infections. >> More info
- Everyone ages 16 and older is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and there are plenty of options to find out where, when and how you can get one.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County vaccine website (info in multiple languages)
- Washington State’s vaccine locator by ZIP code
- City of Seattle vaccination sites at Lumen Field Event Center, at North Seattle College, in Rainier Beach, and in West Seattle
- Phone options with interpretation:
- WA State COVID-19 Assistance hotline: 1-800-525-0127 or 1-888-856-5816 (then press#), 6 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday, 6 a.m.–6 p.m. (Tuesday – Sunday)
- King County COVID-19 Call Center: 206-477-3977, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
- Bellevue College’s Commencement Ceremonies will be held virtually on June 25. Graduates planning to participate need to register by May 30. Visit our website to find out how you can submit a photo or short video for the ceremony! >> More info
- The College recently completed an online survey of students and employees to understand the impact of COVID and the desire to return to campus. We had great engagement from the campus community in this survey. These results are being considered as BC determines how many and which classes will return to campus in the Fall and how that will impact the work location of our staff and faculty. >> View the survey results
- Coming to campus? Make sure to get permission from your instructor/supervisor in advance, and fill out our campus check-in form. You can also find our on-campus activity proposal form on our COVID-19 website page. >> More info
- Don’t forget! Everyone on campus is required to wear a mask from the moment they step on campus until they leave. The only exception is when working alone or through an approved reasonable accommodation with HR. This remains true even for those who are fully vaccinated.>> More info
- Students and employees who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms, or tested positive, please:
- Complete the COVID-19 Report Form. This helps the College conduct contact tracing and provide support for both students and employees. >> More info
- Do not come to campus. Students should notify their instructor, while employees should notify their supervisor and wait for HR to contact them.
What’s Open at BC
- The Early Learning Center
- Student Housing (for residents)
- Pizza Kitchen in the Housing Cafe (hours online)
- Computer Lab in Building N, Room 250 (for students, every day through Spring Quarter, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.)
- It’s extremely important to get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Testing allows you to take care of your own health and to prevent spreading the infection to others. Free COVID-19 testing is available at Bellevue College Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and it’s open to everyone regardless of immigration or insurance status. Register for an appointment online for fastest service. Other free COVID-19 testing locations are listed on the Public Health – Seattle & King County website.
- Since declaring Racism is a Public Health Crisis (RPHC), King County Government and Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) have committed to developing stronger and better resourced partnerships with community organizations and leaders to disrupt and dismantle racism and protect the health and well-being of all our residents, regardless of race or location. Learn more about what the county is doing to apply a racially equitable response that intentionally centers the voices, lived experiences, and expressed needs of communities and residents impacted by racism to develop and implement sustainable solutions that work.
- Bellevue College nursing students have officially joined the volunteer workforce (COVID-19 response team) with Public Health – Seattle & King County! Beginning this May and June, many students will be volunteering to give COVID-19 vaccinations at a community vaccination clinic in Kent, Washington.
- There are many free food resources available in King County, with some offering delivery options. Learn more on the King County emergency food access website, or call 211.
- The UWKC Benefits Hub at Bellevue College can help eligible students:
- Access funds, navigate emergency housing and receive other supports like rent assistance for back rent and funds for move-in costs.
- Sign up for the utility assistance, apply for healthcare or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Get free tax preparation services (through May 17).
- Immigrants (including undocumented immigrants) experiencing hard times because of COVID-19, and who aren’t eligible for federal financial relief or unemployment insurance, may qualify for the second round of assistance under the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund. Eligible applicants may receive a $1,000 one-time direct payment. Applications will be accepted now through May 21. Visit ImmigrantReliefWA.org or call 844-724-3737 to learn more. Assistance is available in dozens of languages via community partners listed on the homepage.
- The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, and resources are available to help.
- Students can contact the Counseling Center online or call 425-564-5747 to schedule an appointment.
- Employees can access free and confidential counseling and resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 877-313-4455.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County also has an extensive list of resources on their website if you need to talk to someone right away, get help finding a counselor, or connect to the Community Health Access Program (CHAP).
- Seattle Times: Inslee pauses COVID reopening plan; no Washington counties to roll back for 2 weeks
- Public Health Insider Blog: Getting Vaccinated Just Got Easier (At Last!)
- USA Today: As US nears vaccine tipping point, dramatic decrease in COVID-19 cases could come without herd immunity, some experts say
- NPR: Pfizer Says FDA Will Soon Authorize COVID-19 Vaccine For 12-15 Age Group
Official State Info
New information and follow-up guidance about COVID-19 is continually evolving. Here are some additional websites to help you stay informed:
- Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus
- Public Health Seattle and King County Coronavirus Disease
- Public Health Seattle and King County Health Blog
The Flu Team
King County has confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more cases have been identified in the U.S. Currently, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are tracking and monitoring COVID-19 in our area to provide updated guidance for the epidemic. We at Bellevue College are focused on communicating clearly and accurately as we prepare for the potential of more infections.
The situation in King County continues to evolve quickly, so please check their website often for updates.
You can also stay informed by visiting the Washington State Department of Health website, and by subscribing to the Public Health Insider blog. The Washington State Dept. of Health also established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, or what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.