Even unvaccinated OC students could return soon

The fall term is officially underway at Olympic College, and students who remain unvaccinated and want to attend in person may be able to do so starting in November.

The headcount of those enrolled at the community college as of Sept. 19 sits at 5,288 students, a 0.2% increase from 2021. Shawn DeVine, director of Communications and Web Services, said that multiple programs were held this summer and the weeks before the fall quarter, including a series of Enroll Now events that took students through the entire enrollment process in one visit.

“Folks have been working very hard to make sure people in the community and prospective students were aware that we have robust offerings for both online and in-person classes and services,” DeVine said.

While COVID-19 influenced how the college functioned over the past two years, it also gave insight into what students wanted for their education.

“I think, at this stage of the pandemic, people on the higher ed space want access to high-quality online programming, and they also want that in-person experience as well, and we’re excited that we’re able to provide that,” Devine said.

Unvaccinated students could be returning to in-person classes as an end to the state of emergency declared by Gov. Jay Inslee would end that requirement, DeVine said. The state of emergency is set to expire Oct. 31.

It would also end the requirement for colleges to identify themselves as either fully vaccinated or not vaccinated. Olympic College declared fully vaccinated status Aug. 12 of last year, requiring all students attending in-person to be vaccinated or apply for a religious or medical exemption.

“Our understanding is that we would no longer be required to maintain the vaccination requirements and exemption process for students,” DeVine said. “If the state of emergency is rescinded, and if we choose to remove that requirement, then students would no longer have to go through that process.”

The Olympic College clock tower.

The Olympic College clock tower.