WSU Vancouver will continue with online-only instruction during Fall semester


Chancellor said attempts were made to plan for at least some face-to-face instruction, but those plans were thwarted by a recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state

When the fall semester opens at Washington State University this fall, both undergraduate and graduate course delivery will be at a distance. The announcement came yesterday, first by WSU President Kirk Schulz and later confirmed by WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer.

The Washington State University Vancouver campus will largely be void of students or faculty this Fall semester as Chancellor Mel Netzhammer confirmed Thursday they will continue with online learning only. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Washington State University Vancouver campus will largely be void of students or faculty this Fall semester as Chancellor Mel Netzhammer confirmed Thursday they will continue with online learning only. Photo by Mike Schultz
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“By now you have likely seen the email from WSU President Kirk Schulz announcing that WSU Pullman is going with an online Cougar experience for fall,’’ Netzhammer said in an open letter to the WSU Vancouver community. “WSU Vancouver will do the same. Undergraduate and graduate course delivery will be at a distance for fall semester. That means we will not hold face-to-face classes or labs on campus. Courses will be online with very few exceptions.’’

Netzhammer said attempts were made to plan for at least some face-to-face instruction this fall. But, he said those plans were thwarted by a recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state.

“We used the early part of summer to plan for at least some face-to-face instruction this fall,’’ Netzhammer said. “In fact, we laid out our plan last week at a student forum. Soon after the forum, we started getting signals from the WSU system and the state of Washington that things might change. Unfortunately, the pandemic just doesn’t allow for face-to-face instruction right now. COVID-19 cases are increasing in Clark County, the state of Washington and nationally. Continuing distance learning helps keep us healthy and safe, and that is our number one priority.’’

Netzhammer asked for faculty and staff who can work effectively from home, to continue to do so. He said students would soon be receiving an email that will answer questions about registration, tuition and how to access resources. Members of the faculty will receive an email that will answer questions about research, training and workshops, and graduate education.

“I recognize the decision to go to distance delivery for fall stirs up a range of emotions that are different for each of us,’’ Netzhammer said. “I know some of you will be relieved, and others will be anxious or disappointed.’’

Netzhammer offered campus resources such as the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff, or Counseling Services for students if they felt like they “could use some help in dealing with our ever-changing environment.’’

“I also want to remind us all that distance delivery is in our DNA,’’ the chancellor said. “WSU Vancouver was a pioneer in distance learning and was among the first to use video conferencing to deliver courses. When we had to change to distance delivery in March, we were well prepared, and we will be even better prepared for fall. I am confident we will deliver a high-quality education experience with personal contact between faculty and students this fall like every fall.’’

Netzhammer said he will host a Campus Conversation from 10-11 a.m. on Monday (July 27). Participants can ask questions in advance when they register online or they may use the Q&A feature during the event.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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