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CWU Wildcat statue

Central Washington University’s Wildcat statue Friday at the Student Union & Recreation Center.

In a press release Wednesday morning, the Central Washington University Athletic Department announced that it would require all student-athletes to at least start the process of getting a COVID-19 vaccine to be eligible to compete this season.

While most collegiate athletic departments have adopted the same policies as their universities and allowed religious and philosophical exemptions, CWU said there would be no exceptions.

“This was a very difficult decision to arrive at, however, over the past three weeks the national data clearly indicate that the unvaccinated population is where the COVID-19 virus continues to thrive, accounting for 98% of all hospitalizations and deaths in the United States,” Director of Athletics Dennis Francois said in a statement. “In consultation with our university administration, and with support from Kittitas County Public Health, we have come to the conclusion that this policy will provide an environment that is most conducive to ensuring the health and safety of our student-athletes.”

Student-athletes who have started the vaccination process, but haven’t been fully vaccinated, will be required to wear masks both indoors and outdoors and will not be allowed to participate in full contact activity until they are fully vaccinated. Those who are fully vaccinated won’t be required to wear masks and will be able to participate fully.

The university also said that student-athletes who choose to opt out due to the vaccine mandate will have their athletic financial aid honored, but those students will still be bound by the athletic aid agreement.

CWU previously announced that vaccinations will be required of all students and staff in the fall, but the decision is dependent on the vaccine receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, at this point in time, the university will be allowing exemptions for medical and religious/philosophical reasons, which will require documentation.

Central will start fall football camp August 8.

Reach Sports Editor Alec Dietz at Twitter: @AlecDietz

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