WSU launches incident command system in response to COVID-19

PULLMAN, Wash. — It was another day of class for students at Washington State University. At the Compton Union Building, a staff member was seen cleaning door handles.

While that’s a normal practice already, some may think they’re doing it more often because of the coronavirus going around across the nation and world.

“It’s kind of scary but I honestly feel like a lot of people are misinformed on the situation. I think the first step for everybody is to get informed and get your facts straight, and handle it in the correct way,” said student Brayden Harris.

Harris and staff at WSU are thinking the same thing.

That’s why the school created a website for its students and staff to get updated information about COVID-19.

The school has been following the situation for months now, but since more cases have come up in Washington state and across the nation, the university launched its incident command system – basically a team to talk about the ongoing situation.

“We did that because we wanted to make sure that we interact with our city, county, state and federal governments to make sure we’re prepared to address this issue,” said Phil Weiler, the vice president of marketing and communications for WSU.

Weiler said an incident command system is common nationally and internationally to deal with emergency situations.On the website, the university will be giving advice about large gatherings and other issues that could come up from the virus.

If anything were to happen locally, students still getting their education is priority.

“There’s a lot of steps between where we are today and the idea that we’d actually have to cancel a class,” Weiler said.

So even if students can’t walk around campus and go to class, they could learn and get their lectures online.

As for students who were studying abroad, Weiler said they’re following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel warnings.

The school had its students from China and Italy come back.

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As for cleaning and disinfecting common areas in the school, Weiler said there is a “safety officer” within the incident command system who trained university staff in how to properly disinfect campuses, protect themselves while disinfecting and what products should be used that might be effective.

Though no cases are confirmed yet in eastern Washington, as health officials are instructing, students and are taking the precautions they need to be careful.