The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Highline officials prepare for safe fall return; some classes to be in-person

Samuel Watson Staff Reporter May 12, 2021

Highline is ready to welcome some students back on campus this fall, but things will look much different than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A recent announcement from the office of Highline’s President Dr. John Mosby said, “When fall quarter begins, we can expect approximately 25 percent of classes to have some form of on-campus component. Currently, 67 courses will be offered in-person across a wide variety of subject areas.”

The message also said that this number will go up with time, with officials anticipating the return of 50 percent of classes to in-person learning for Winter Quarter 2022 and even more in Spring Quarter.

When Highline staff, faculty and students return to campus after over a year of mostly virtual learning, stringent safety measures will be in place in accordance with guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Gov. Jay Inslee, said Nicki Bly, who is the public health director at Highline.

“We are following the governor’s guidance for higher education,” said Bly, who is also a respiratory therapist. “[For] fall 2021 we will be requiring masks and social distancing along with the other measures we currently are doing, such as COVID health self-attestation and encouraging hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer.”

Bly said depending on the type of class, different requirements will be enforced.

“Lecture classrooms will require social distancing,” she said. “[But] most labs will be normal seating with the addition of a barrier, such as a face shield.”

Outside of the classroom, social distancing may look somewhat different than it has thus far, Bly said.

“We do expect to see our six-foot social distancing reduce to three feet distance based on increased vaccination rates and lowered incidence of COVID in our community,” she said.

Vaccination rates have mostly been on the rise in King County since doses first began being administered last December, but in the last two weeks there has been a decline.

As of Wednesday, about 70 percent of King County residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Bly said Highline is not planning to require students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at this time, but this could change.

“As the public health director, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated, but it is not required so far,” she said.

Highline hosted a pop-up vaccination event on campus last month in partnership with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and the Equity in Education Coalition. The event was a success, said Bly.

“The event went well with appointments filled quickly,” she said. “Next event, don’t hesitate to make your appointment. We will continue to work with King County Public Health to coordinate more events, and as soon as we know dates we will announce [them] to campus.”

Bly said that to make a safe return to campus this fall, everyone will need to do their part.

“Safely coming back on campus is going to depend upon continuing to make progress against COVID-19,” she said. “This is only going to happen with all of us continuing to follow guidance on mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing and making the decision to get vaccinated.”

If you or someone you know wants to make an appointment to get vaccinated, click here. Vaccines are currently available to everyone who is 16 and older.