Update on NWIC’s COVID-19 Safe Re-opening and Maintenance Plan and the COVID-19 Vaccine Policy
The Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) announced Lummi Nation is moving to phase IV beginning June 30 through July 31, 2021. The LIBC Phase IV announcement No. 6.2 can be found here.
For the College, per our safe re-opening plan (found here), which aligns with the Tribe’s plan with guidance from the Lummi Public Health Team (LPHT), this represents the final phase for staff and faculty, with faculty representing Group Four, to return to campus full-time and resume regular on-campus work schedules. Full-time faculty, per faculty contract schedules, are expected to return to campus on Monday, September 13, 2021 (faculty pre-service). Groups One, Two, and Three, who are currently working on campus on limited/flexible and staggered schedules, are expected to return to campus full-time the week of Monday, August 30, with a hard date of Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The intention behind this date is to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with children to secure childcare, prepare for the upcoming K-12 school year, and/or prepare your families for the transition back to the office full-time (40 hours). Staff and faculty are expected to communicate with your supervisor and HR if additional or alternative accommodations are requested or needed.
Second, for the safety and well-being of the College community, the NWIC Board of Trustees approved the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (found here). This means that the College will require, with few exceptions, all faculty, staff, students, contractors, and Board of Trustees to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus before they will be allowed on campus or in a facility or office. The available COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA, with full approval currently pending. During the emergency use authorization period, all individuals noted above will be required to comply with one of the following steps:
- Receive vaccination when eligible.
- Provide proof of vaccination (such as a COVID-19 vaccination record card that verifies full vaccination) from an external healthcare facility or clinic (e.g., at a private health care provider’s office or during a vaccine event). Documentation can be submitted via JICS.
- Personal Declination (also found here): Formally decline the vaccine by submitting a Personal Declination Form in JICS. Individuals submitting a Personal Declination Form may opt to receive the vaccine in the future. All unvaccinated individuals must follow protections recommended by the CDC and other applicable jurisdictions including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
The policy will allow exemptions for religious and medical reasons. Please contact the HR Office for more information. Per the policy, employees who choose not to be vaccinated, or have no approved exemption or accommodation, will be considered out of compliance and will be placed on leave without pay until their work schedule is determined by the HR Office and appropriate supervisor. The deadline to submit the applicable forms is Monday, August 30, 2021.
Please note that the Personal Declination option is only allowed during the time that vaccines are in the emergency authorized use period as defined by the FDA. When the FDA approves at least one of the COVID-19 vaccines, this will nullify any previously submitted Personal Declination Forms. Therefore, all staff, faculty, students, contractors, and Board members will be required to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of exemption. The College will not require or recommend a specific vaccine. The goal is for all NWIC staff, faculty, and students to be fully vaccinated to keep ourselves, each other, and our communities safe.
To ensure the College has taken all the necessary steps when considering the rights of the College and our employees, students, and contractors, the College received legal guidance while drafting the Vaccine Policy and Personal Declination Form as well as guidance from the Lummi Public Health Team.
Additional updates include the following:
- Fall quarter 2021:
- Classes/Instruction: The College, including extended campus sites, is still planning a soft reopening by offering limited, in-person courses to ensure the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. All remaining classes will be offered through various distance learning modalities. Please note that a new classroom modular, purchased by CARES Act funds, is scheduled to arrive for additional space on south campus by fall quarter.
- Residence Life Center/Dorms: The RLC will be opening up at half capacity for fall quarter. Applications are currently being accepted. Please contact Keith Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. All potential RLC students are required to show proof of full vaccination prior to arrival. Masks will be required for indoor gatherings.
- Cafeteria: The Cafeteria will also re-open in late summer/early fall with safety protocols. Stay tuned for an announcement on a specific opening date.
- Athletics (Men’s/Women’s Basketball): Most of the College’s opponents are in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) and the teams are expected to play this season based on a Return-to-Play plan. Please contact Mike Schjang at email@example.com, Athletic Director, or Victoria Retasket, Dean of Student Life, for questions about the basketball season.
- Winter quarter 2022:
- All instructional modalities, including in-person classes, are expected to be offered based on a classroom assessment as recommended by the Academic Leadership per the academic reopening plan.
More information regarding future vaccine events, in coordination with the LPHT, will be announced when scheduled. As a friendly reminder, any events that are held on campus prior to September 1, 2021 that include non-NWIC employees or guests are expected to contact the Emergency Management Team (EmergencyManagementTeam@nwic.edu) for guidance and approval during this safe reopening phase. The purpose of the EMT is to minimize any health risks associated with COVID-19 based on the College’s procedure.
Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation related to this announcement as we continue with our efforts to safely reopen this summer in preparation for the fall quarter.