How SPU makes COVID-19 regulations

The people regulating campus-wide COVID-19 restrictions and how to contact them

Mary Bruggeman, Staff Writer

Second-year accounting student Gabe Rojas picks up litter around campus for SPU facilities. (Gabrialla Cockerell)

The COVID-19 Decision Group was created last spring to ensure the school is following local and state guidelines and to create new rules for how on-campus activities must be carried out.

There have been a total of thirty on-campus COVID-19 cases this academic year according to the SPU website. Seattle Pacific hopes the restrictions created by Governor Inslee and carried out by the COVID-19 Decision Group will continue to keep these numbers low.

The COVID-19 Decision Group consists of five people: Vice Provost for Student Formation and Community Engagement Jeff Jordan, President Dan Martin, Provost Laura Hartley, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Craig Kispert, and Assistant Vice President for Risk Management and University Counsel Nick Glancy.

The group decides if an event will be able to happen by looking at Governor Inslee’s guidelines and communicating with other departments of the school. 

“This would be, for example, the group making decisions about dining configurations in Gwinn. We would take the recommendation from the governor’s office, we would take information from Sodexo who oversees our dining, our auxiliaries people out of university services, and work with our facilities people,” explained Jeff Jordan.

In addition to organizing dining configurations, the group receives written requests through email from students and different departments of the University.

The Drive-in Movie Event a few weeks ago is an example of an event that was requested and approved by their department. They received a written proposal for it and followed the steps to ensure Governor Inslee’s guidelines were being met.

Jordan explained how these types of events are approved.

Junior Computer Science major Ethan Meyer works for SPU facilities, collecting compost trash daily. (Gabrialla Cockerell)

“We will ask the Student Union Board and the Student Involvement and Leadership folks to make sure they go through all the processes for keeping things within health and safety protocols. We’ll review what they propose and make sure that they’re all in line and then we will make the approval,” Jordan said.

SPU reopened the Royal Brougham Pavilion weight room as a response to requests from several students. Before reopening, the COVID-19 Decision Group had to consider how they would monitor the amount of people who were in the room at a time and how to ensure the equipment was getting cleaned frequently. Students can now make appointments to use the weight room.

In an email sent to the student body Monday of last week, the COVID-19 Decision Group attached Governor Inslee’s higher education rules and Healthy Washington-Roadmap to Recovery.

Jordan said the University tends to follow these guidelines, but Seattle Pacific must be even more restrictive at times.

“We just opened up our residence hall main lounges to have more than five people in there. That sounds really great right? I mean the Governor just said that’s okay, you can do that. But we have to look at our air exchange systems in those buildings because we have to be really conscious of that,” Jordan explained.

“We have to take in additional consideration, not just the initial comment from the Governor about what is okay and what is not okay,” Jordan said.

  The Senior Leadership Team, a group of leaders across campus that existed long before the pandemic, started meeting to discuss changing opportunities as a result of the restrictions imposed upon the University’s operations. 

One example is that students have needed more opportunities for virtual counseling which the school now provides, according to Jordan.

Another example of a change Jordan believes the University will keep after there are less restrictions on gatherings is Penji, an online tutoring resource SPU recently joined. He says the site is getting a lot of positive feedback.

“There’s a lot of things that have changed in this last year in regard to what we think we know and what we expect to be able to do next. So, we just have to pay really close attention,” Jordan acknowledged. 

Students can keep track of these changes through the SPU website and the emails the COVID-19 Decision Group sends out. Jordan says the best way to make requests regarding campus activities is to send an email to [email protected].