COVID-19 News & Updates
Last Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 10 a.m.
This past weekend we learned that an SPSCC staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 and had visited the Olympia Campus 3 days prior to experiencing symptoms. Based on what we know about this situation, we believe there is low risk that others on campus were exposed.
This is our current understanding of the timeline associated with this case:
- July 25/26 (Saturday/Sunday) – The staff member was on campus and visited parts of buildings 25, 34, and 35. While on campus, they encountered few other people and spent most of their shift outside of buildings.
- July 29 – The staff member began experiencing mild symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- July 31 – The staff member received positive test results.
Any staff or students who were in close contact with this staff member have already been notified by SPSCC. If you did not receive direct notice, you are considered to be at low risk for exposure.
Over the weekend, our Custodial team thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the areas this person had visited.
This employee has been in regular contact with their supervisor and we will stay connected to them throughout their recovery process to ensure that they get the care they need. We wish them the best for a quick and full recovery.
We recognize that moments like this—especially right on the heels of last week’s student case—can be especially stressful and hard to deal with. If you are finding it difficult to cope with this ongoing pandemic, please remember that Counseling services are available for all students and the Washington State Employee Assistance Program offers counseling and many online resources for staff and faculty.
Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 9:40 a.m.
At the end of June, Gov. Inslee’s office shared a guide for colleges and universities as they reopen. The guide asked every college to have a plan in place by August 1. SPSCC has updated our Fall 2020 Campus Reopening Plan and it is now published on our COVID-19 webpage. This plan does not change class types or schedules for fall, or how college services are being offered.
One important change is that all students, visitors, and staff need to “Check Out” of campus after each visit using the Activity Tracking Form.
The form asks for the date, which buildings you visited, and asks you to state that you are feeling healthy. You can find the link to the form at the top of our COVID-19 webpage.
Note: If you’re taking on-campus classes this summer, continue to use the form provided by your instructor each day.
We will have information about hours, virtual and on-campus services, and more as we get closer to Fall Quarter in September.
This morning we learned that an SPSCC student has tested positive for COVID-19 and had visited the Olympia Campus 6 days prior to experiencing symptoms. We realize this news is concerning. Based on what we know about this situation, however, we believe there is low risk that others on campus were exposed.
This is our current understanding of the timeline associated with this case:
- July 13 – The student was on campus and visited their class areas in building 34. While on campus, they were wearing a mask and following all health and safety protocols as required by their program.
- July 19 – The student began experiencing mild symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- July 24 – The student received positive test results.
Any staff or students who were in close contact with this student will be notified directly by SPSCC or a public health agency. If you do not receive direct notice, you are considered to be at low risk for exposure.
We continue to follow CDC and public health guidelines and take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since July 13, the affected areas have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and today, out of an abundance of caution, our Custodial team will deep clean and sanitize all of building 34.
SPSCC staff have been in regular contact with this student and we will stay connected to them throughout the recovery process to ensure that they get the care they need. We wish them the best for a quick and full recovery.
We recognize that moments like this may add stress and anxiety to a situation that is already high stress. If you are finding it difficult to cope with this ongoing pandemic, please remember that Counseling services are available for all students and the Washington State Employee Assistance Program offers counseling and many online resources for staff and faculty.
We are now more than two weeks into Thurston County's move to phase 3 and it has been wonderful to see activity on campus slowly returning. Students and staff who have been on campus have shown a tremendous willingness to follow distancing guidelines, wear masks, and interact with each other safely and kindly. Thank you for these efforts.
On June 24, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a Campus Reopening Guide that was developed in collaboration with higher education leaders. Our COVID-19 Response Team is working through this and will release updated campus guidelines by August 1.
Locally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to increase each week, hitting a weekly high of 54 new cases during the week of 6/29-7/5, and bringing our cumulative county total to 317 confirmed cases and 5 deaths since March 9. These numbers are a stark reminder of why we must all continue to take precautions as we resume many of our "normal" activities.
Thurston County also has a new County Health Officer. Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek shared her first letter to the community this week, reminding us that the "COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint" and she shares some details about our area's contact tracing process.
Thurston County received approval today to immediately move into Phase 3 of Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan. Beginning Monday, June 29, SPSCC will be operating under new Phase 3 Guidelines. Here is a brief overview:
- Limited public hours are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday – Thursday. Virtual services will still be available;
- In-person services will focus on enrollment and registration, and the Food Pantry will open with limited hours, offering pre-boxed visits. Most buildings will remain locked;
- Those on campus are expected to wear a face covering and practice good social distancing and proper hygiene to protect themselves and others;
- Faculty and staff will complete a ‘Return to Worksite Coronavirus Education’ course before returning;
- Summer and Fall Quarter classes will be held as published in the Class Schedule (online, hybrid, or face-to-face).
We are looking forward to welcoming people back to campus and believe we can do so safely when everyone follows these guidelines and works together to mitigate the risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Earlier today, Thurston County received approval from the State Department of Health to move to phase 2 of the state's Safe Start Recovery Plan.
This move does not have significant impacts on our current state of campus operations. Spring and Summer Quarter instructional plans will continue as previously scheduled, and student support services will continue to be provided virtually. Please note that tomorrow, May 28, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. is the last day of extremely limited on-campus services (see updated below from May 14) until our next update.
If COVID-19 infection rates in the county remain low in the coming weeks, Thurston County could apply to move to phase 3 as soon as late June. Phase 3 allows for larger gatherings, so we will begin working to draft plans for safely re-opening many college services and operations at that time. Regardless of the timing of Thurston County's move into phase 3, Summer Quarter instruction will continue as currently indicated in the class schedule.
Between May 18 and May 28, SPSCC will be offering extremely limited on-campus services for new and current students who cannot get the help they need virtually. We strongly recommend everyone to use Zoom, phone, or email to contact us before coming to campus as a last resort. Hours and virtual contact info >
Safety and Building Entry
- Single entry through north doors of Bldg. 22, close to Bldg. 25. Campus map >
- Sign in at entry; pick up and put on a mask (or bring your own)
- Limited number of people will be allowed in the building at one time
- Do not congregate in groups inside or outside buildings on campus
Schedule and Services, May 18 – 28
Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Closed Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day)
- One Stop, Financial Aid, Start Here
- Advising, Veterans Services, and Technical / Online Support
SPSCC has decided to continue to offer online and hybrid classes for Summer and Fall Quarter 2020.
As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community, we want you to clearly understand the types of classes and instruction we’re offering so you can make the best class choices for yourself. When reviewing the Class Schedule, use the “Location” tag and refer to these definitions:
Online – There is no change to Online classes. Online classes do not have a set meeting time (sometimes called asynchronous).
Hybrid – Hybrid are a mix of Online and Face-to-Face learning (with social distancing, if allowed), or a mix of Online and Virtual learning.
Face-to-Face – the only two programs that are scheduled to be fully Face-to-Face (Location tag “Oly”) this Fall Quarter are Culinary Arts and Welding.
We hope you’ll take advantage of Virtual Advising Week and meet with your Educational Planner or Faculty Mentor; be sure that you register for the types of classes you want and need. We look forward to continuing to support you and your educational goals, safely from your home.
Governor Jay Inslee today announced an extension of Washington's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order through May 31, 2020, and shared details of Washington's phased approach to reopening. For most of us, this means that we will continue our current virtual and online classes while staff and faculty continue remote work through at least the end of May.
While today's announcement was a "blanket" order, we are hopeful that some exceptions could be made in the coming days for specific educational activities, especially Professional Technical training programs. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has submitted a plan for the Governor's consideration which shows the direct alignment of many of our programs with the state's essential industries.
While approval of these plans is not guaranteed, it is possible that some Professional Technical programs may be allowed to return to limited in-person instruction—with strict safety protocols in place—prior to the full order being lifted. If any programs are approved for a return to campus, deans will work closely with faculty on the parameters of return. Those faculty will then communicate directly with students in those programs about timelines and protocols.
Until we know more, we will continue with the current online and virtual instruction.
We are now more than one month into Washington's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order and just a few days away from its tentative end date. We understand that you may be eager to return to "normal" campus operations, but there are still many unknowns about if and how the order will be lifted.
Governor Inslee has said that it is likely that he will not lift the order all at once, but that he will lift it in phases, with certain activities or industries allowed to resume in each phase. And, even as particular activities are allowed to resume, we know we can expect restrictions on how those activities can be conducted. With all of that in mind, SPSCC has been preparing more specific re-opening plans that will be shared once we know the fate of the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.
For now, here are some general things to know about how SPSCC is developing plans:
- For the remainder of Spring Quarter, we want to keep the number of people on campus to a minimum.
- Most, if not all, student services and supports will continue to be offered virtually and most employees will continue to work remotely.
- We will limit the hours of campus activity and the number of spaces open on each campus.
- We will make physical alterations throughout campus to support social distancing.
- Instructional programs will have additional protocols and guidance for faculty and students participating in in-person instruction.
- We will ask everyone who comes to campus to follow general protocols to keep themselves and others healthy.
- We will align our activities with activities permitted by state and local governments.
As always, the health and safety of our campus community are our top priority as we look to establish our way forward.
SPSCC's 55th commencement ceremony will celebrated virtually on Satruday, June 20 at 10 a.m. Nearly 1,500 graduates will be honored at the virtual event, as well as on a special new graduation website. Read more >
As you know by now, SPSCC campuses will remain closed as we start Spring Quarter on Monday, April 13. Please do not come to campus. We’re so excited to see you virtually and are here to help you succeed through the unique challenges this quarter will bring. This weekend, we encourage you to take a few minutes to review how you can prepare for Spring Quarter.
Starting Monday, log into Canvas to access your classes. Instructors for each class will have more information about the plan for their class for the entire quarter. Please note that there will not be any in-person interactions, even with social distancing, until the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is lifted. Get a sneak peak at navigating Canvas in this video.
The first few weeks of the quarter will be all about navigating your virtual classes and finding resources to help you—without going to campus. Check the schedule for Spring Quarter Welcome Week, where we’ll be hosting virtual open houses for many services so you can connect, ask some questions, and build the community we are all missing by being off campus.
To quickly address the larger community picture, Thurston County continues to fare comparatively well in terms of the spread of COVID-19. As of April 9, the county has seen 77 confirmed cases with 1 death, 12 people hospitalized, and 52 people recovered. In order to maintain these low rates of infection, it is critical that we all do our part to support the continued health of all those around us by honoring the directives of the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.
Have a restful weekend and we’ll see you online Monday!
Yesterday, April 2, Governor Inslee extended his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order until May 4. This extension will not affect the start of Spring Quarter, which still begins Monday, April 13.
As a reminder, Spring Quarter classes will be held through online, virtual, or alternate formats for hands-on and lab classes. Wondering what this means? This video gives a simple explanation of the three types of classes you may be enrolled in.
Prepare for Spring Quarter: What to do next week (April 6 – 10)
- Get Books. Just like any other quarter, you need to get your books and supplies. The bookstore is open online only and is shipping books and purchased laptops and Chromebooks for free via UPS every day.
- Take the Technology Survey. If you haven’t yet, fill out the short technology survey in Compass so we can understand your technology needs.
- Ask Questions. Have questions about technology, tuition, books, housing, or other financial barriers? Use Compass to schedule an online meeting with your Financial Aid Advisor or Educational Planner as soon as possible.
- Practice Using Zoom. We’re hosting SPSCC Student Test sessions in Zoom so you can practice logging in before virtual classes begin. Check the schedule and how to join a practice session.
- Enjoy the Sunshine! Next week’s weather is looking pretty nice. Get outside, enjoy the sun and fresh air, and find ways to relax before Spring Quarter starts.
First day of class: What to expect (April 13)
- Log into Canvas to Access Classes on Monday, April 13. Instructors for each class will have more information about the plan for their class for the entire quarter in Canvas. Please note that there will not be any in-person interactions, even with social distancing, until the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is lifted.
After an order on March 23 by Governor Inslee to “stay home” for at least two weeks, SPSCC immediately moved all student services to remote operations and has stopped all in-person activities for the duration of the order.
We’ve also decided to hold classes through online, virtual, or alternative delivery for all of Spring Quarter. Here’s what that means:
- Online - There is no change to Online classes. Online classes do not have a set meeting time. Online class fee still applies.
- Virtual - Face-to-Face classes will meet virtually. Virtual classes meet at the same day and time as the schedule says. Online class fee will not be charged for this kind of class.
- Labs and Hands-On - Alternative delivery of these classes may include in-person interactions, practicing social distancing. As we get closer to the start of the quarter, students will be updated by their instructors via Canvas for these programs and classes:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Architecture, Engineering & Construction Technology
- Baking & Pastry Arts
- Craft Brewing & Distilling
- Culinary Arts
- Dental Assisting
- Medical Assisting
- Nursing Assisting
- Science Labs
At this time, SPSCC still plans to begin Spring Quarter on Monday, April 13. If the Governor’s order to “stay home” extends beyond the start of Spring Quarter, we may make adjustments to some classes and programs.
Governor Inslee issued a statewide order for Washington residents to “stay home” for at least two weeks. The goal of this order is to have as many Washingtonians as possible stay home and avoid going out for any reason, other than meeting essential needs such as purchasing food or seeking medical care.
Effective immediately, SPSCC will continue all remote operations, services, and online instruction, but stop in-person activities for the duration of the order. At this time, SPSCC still plans to begin Spring Quarter on Monday, April 13, as previously planned.
We will follow up with further impacts to Spring Quarter classes and programs this Wednesday, March 25.
Today, we launched a temporary spscc.edu homepage focused on providing information and updates at SPSCC due to COVID-19. There are special sections to help current students, new students, and Running Start students. This page will be updated regularly as we learn new information.
To increase our practice of social distancing, SPSCC will transition to alternative operations from Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3. These alternative operations will allow us to serve students with minimum in-person interactions.
Here is what to expect from March 23 – April 3:
- Campus hours for public services will be 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.;
- Remote or virtual access to advising, Financial Aid, enrollment steps, and more (more information coming soon);
- This change does not change our plan for class delivery; Winter Quarter still ends March 20 and Spring Quarter begins April 13.
If for any reason you need to come to campus, take steps to protect yourself and others while you’re here:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick; and
- Put distance between yourself and other people.
This is unfamiliar territory for all of us and we appreciate everyone’s compassion, patience, and understanding as we work together to maintain the safest, most effective learning environment possible given these unprecedented conditions.
This afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee announced an executive order that included several actions to limit the spread of COVID-19. One of those actions is that all colleges and universities in our state must restrict in-person activities while continuing their core functions. Our announcement yesterday to move classes to virtual or alternate formats aligns well with the Governor’s order.
Today, March 12, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners declared the COVID-19 outbreak a local emergency. To prioritize your health and safety, SPSCC is taking quick action to move classes to virtual or alternative delivery starting Monday, March 16, through at least May 1.
Here are the highlights from the longer update below:
- Classes move to virtual or alternative delivery March 16
- Winter Quarter will end early on March 20
- Instructors will prepare for online instruction March 23 – 27 and April 6 – 10
- Spring Quarter will start late on April 13 and classes will resume with virtual or alternative delivery, except April 13 and 14
Classes move to virtual or alternative delivery March 16
Classes will move to virtual instruction beginning Monday, March 16. Classes with labs or hands-on components will plan for in-person classes with social distancing practices in mind. Students will be updated by their instructors.
Winter Quarter will end early on March 20
Winter Quarter classes will end early on Friday, March 20, and there will be no finals week. Students will be directed by their instructors how to complete final assignments.
Instructors will prepare for online instruction March 23 – 27 and April 6 – 10
Adjustments to quarter schedules allows instructors to prepare face-to-face classes for virtual instruction. Faculty will get more information about these plans, training, and technical resources being made available, from the VP for Instruction.
Spring Quarter will start late on April 13 and classes will resume with virtual or alternative delivery, except April 13 and 14
- Spring Quarter classes will begin on April 13 (previously April 6).
- On April 13 and 14 only, instructors will hold face-to-face classes in person to learn from students who does not have access to a computer or internet.
- Beginning April 15, most classes will resume with virtual or alternative delivery. Classes with labs or hands-on components will plan for in-person classes with social distancing practices in mind. Students will be updated by their instructors.
- There are no planned changes to the end of quarter; finals will be held June 17 – 23.
Other campus services and operations
SPSCC will stay open unless we learn of a confirmed case of COVID-19 connected with our campus and close for disinfecting. Staff and faculty in good health should report to work as usual with social distancing in mind.
- Student Services and personal supports are here and available to you. Please reach out when you need support – we are here for you.
- Food services will remain open.
- Students are encouraged to use online scheduling for appointments such as financial aid and advising.
- Extra student supports to prepare for online learning, such as help using Canvas, Compass, or other computer and online skills, will be available from April 6 – 10. More information will come soon.
- If high schools cancel classes, Running Start students should still report to SPSCC classes.
- On-campus childcare will remain open.
To address some of your questions, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions webpage and are compiling list of SPSCC events impacted by social distancing. We will continue to provide updates to these pages and guide you while working to ensure the health and safety of our community.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and be kind to those who may have family or friends affected by the spread of COVID-19.
Thurston County Public Health and Social Services announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Thurston County. The county shared that public health was working to identify and contact everyone who may have come into contact with the confirmed case, and that the investigation is ongoing. SPSCC will share any updates on impacts to students and employees as we learn more.
This afternoon, we have a few announcements and updates from SPSCC as we prepare for the potential impacts of COVID-19. As of today, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at SPSCC or in Thurston County.
SPSCC is limiting college events to 100 people or fewer. Contact your event organizer if you have questions about an event you plan to attend.
Upcoming college events canceled or postponed include, but not limited to: Yelm 2020 Visit; Expanding Your Horizons; Large events in Minnaert Center; All-Washington Academic Team Ceremony; and others.
College-Related Travel and Study Abroad
We have also made some decisions around upcoming travel and travel-related programs.
Study Abroad: All upcoming Study Abroad programs are canceled until further notice.
Employees: We are canceling all staff and faculty travel outside of the U.S. through the end of Fall Quarter 2020. We are also canceling all travel plans to NCORE in New York for SPSCC staff and faculty. Changes to other existing travel plans should be discussed between the employee and their supervisor.
Planning Ahead for Larger Impacts
Campus leadership is preparing for possible scenarios in which SPSCC is directly impacted by COVID-19, including:
- Preparing for possible closures for disinfecting;
- Creating a plan to move classes online if needed, and planning for classes and activities that cannot be moved online;
- Planning for telecommuting; and
- Defining leave and paid status for employees who miss work due to COVID-19.
What To Do Right Now
The health and safety of our college community is our foremost concern. Our custodial staff continue their hard work according to planned cleaning schedules. Additionally, we are working to purchase and provide wipes to clean shared computers in as many areas as possible, as well as provide sanitizer in shared spaces.
Remember that the best thing you can do for yourself is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face, and stay home when you are sick. Students and employees in good health should continue to come to campus. Any campus closures would be communicated by Omnilert, our emergency notification system.
We will continue to share updates as they relate to COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe and healthy.
This evening, we have updates on two events affected by COVID-19 closures and impacts:
- NWAC Basketball Championships: The NWAC, in conjunction with Everett Community College (EvCC), has suspended the NWAC Men's and Women's Championship Tournament due the COVID-19 related closure of EvCC. SPSCC Clippers Men's Basketball was set to play against Shoreline on Saturday at 8 a.m. on March 7. Updates will be available at the NWAC website.
- All-Washington Academic Team Ceremony: SPSCC, with the support of the State Board, has canceled the March 24 All-Washington Academic Team Ceremony out of an abundance of caution. Updates will be communicated to community and technical colleges in the state via email with updates available at the All-Washington webpage.
Earlier this evening, a student informed us that they were exposed to COVID-19 at a social gathering with people who later tested positive for the virus. The student was exposed 9 days ago and neither they nor their spouse have shown any symptoms of coronavirus disease. The student has attended classes at SPSCC's Olympia campus since their exposure.
The student has been in contact with their health care provider and will be tested in the coming days for COVID-19. The student has agreed to notify SPSCC of the test results and has volunteered to stay off of campus until they are notified by their health care provider that it is safe for them to return.
At this time, no campus closures are planned. SPSCC students and employees can attend classes and work normally. We are responding proactively tonight by doing concentrated disinfecting in the areas where the student attended classes (buildings 32 and 35). We will continue to follow best practices to reduce the spread of illness, as recommended by the CDC and Washington State Department of Health.
Many parts across the world are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. This virus can spread from person-to-person and the number of cases detected in the United States and many other countries is growing. Currently, COVID-19 is spreading in several communities in Washington, though risk of exposure is highest for healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 and those who have had close contact with persons with confirmed cases. The situation is evolving rapidly and the Washington State Department of Health regularly updates the current statewide risk assessment.
Thurston County Updates: Thurston County Public Health and Social Services is updating each day at 3 p.m.
We will continue to provide updates from SPSCC as we learn more.