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Gov. Inslee issues new requirements for colleges amid rash of campus outbreaks

Students at the University of Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a series of new rules and requirements for colleges and universities, amid a rash of outbreaks on campuses across the state.

Gov. Inslee: Outbreak at the UW ‘too deadly to ignore’

As of Monday, a total of 291 students across 10 sororities and seven fraternities at the University of Washington in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that began more than a month ago. The outbreak on Greek Row accounts for about a third of the total cases at the UW.

That came after an outbreak among Washington State University, that briefly had Pullman among the nation’s leaders in new cases per every 100,000 residents.

Inslee cited 35 separate outbreaks at colleges and universities since the start of the pandemic, along with 800 cases associated with campuses.

The governor’s newest proclamation requires masks to be worn at all times in campus living areas, except when outside or when sleeping. Congregate sleeping porches will no longer be allowed, and common areas cannot have more than five people at any given time. Visitations are also limited to five people at a time.

WSU among colleges confronting student parties during pandemic

Additionally, colleges will be required to provide isolation and quarantine facilities to students who live in shared housing close to campus, those in fraternities and sororities, and students living in dormitories.

“We just got to get these outbreaks under control,” Inslee said. “We care about our students, and we care about their family members and their neighbors — we just need to act here.”

The governor also addressed a coming fall surge in cases statewide, continuing to stress the importance of wearing a mask in public, maintain social distancing, and limiting contact with people outside of households.

“This needs to be a matter of all of us being involved in this effort to help our entire community — this is not easy work,” Inslee said. “… But it’s totally in our control. It means we have to do what we know works.”

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