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Back to School Season

Back to School Season

Walla Walla University Announces Plan to Welcome All Students Back on Campus in January 

By Victoria Smith Alvarez  

Walla Walla University President John McVay announced on November 11 that the University plans to open its doors to all undergraduate students starting winter quarter. The College Place and Portland campuses will receive students in a dual learning format. All graduate students will continue to be in an online format during this time.  

Although masks, health checks, and social distancing will still be required, the College Place and Portland campuses will once again teem with student life. Photo by Winston Warner. 

College Place campus students will be received in phases, with classes beginning Tuesday, January 5, to allow for a staggered return. The Portland nursing campus will start Monday, January 4, along with graduate study programs.  

Returning students can expect to arrive to a modified quarantine for the first days of winter quarter, in order to prevent the spread of any disease, as they will be returning from various locations. Those staying in the dorm will be allowed to have roommates. The winter quarter schedule will be modified to fit the changing circumstances.  

However, many of the procedures put in place during fall quarter will remain the same. The University will continue to implement the use of masks, enforce social distancing, and require the SaferMe app for record of personal contact. Daily health screenings will continue to be mandatory. Larger events and programs may still take place online.  

As far as classes go, the WWU COVID-19 Response Taskforce expects to have a 50-50 split between virtual and physical classes for each student. The University also aims to have in-person labs. All class formats are in the process of being modified on the official course schedule, which can be found on the University website.  

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Kari Firestone, WWU COVID-19 Response Director, reminded the WWU community to stay safe by adhering to safety precautions and gave an overview of WWU’s upcoming plans for the holidays in a video titled “Home for the holidays: Keeping safety first as you make plans to leave campus.” Photo from Walla Walla University on

There are some who wonder what this means for the University, as weeks eight and nine of Fall Quarter saw nearly 10% of on-campus students in quarantine. However, President McVay and the administration are confident in the safety measures that will continue to keep students and staff healthy and well. 

In his email to the entire faculty, staff, and student body, President McVay shared his thoughts on the current situation: “As we sort through these details, it is helpful to remember that our shared, challenging experience during this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us important lessons. None is more important than this: we need each other.” [1] 


  1. Email from John McVay, 11/11/2020.  
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