Novel coronavirus information

March 2, 2020

Mitigating impacts to student instruction due to COVID-19

From the Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Washington is closely monitoring the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and associated COVID-19 disease. Recent news of infected persons in Washington state demonstrates that the circumstances regarding the virus are changing. UW leadership is working closely with public health officials to keep up to date on recent events regarding the virus and potential impacts to the UW, and we are developing plans to mitigate those impacts. Further information about the virus and the UW’s response is available at

Faculty and students have asked about anticipated impacts to instruction and what steps they should take. At present, the number of people in Washington with confirmed infections is low. Correspondingly, impacts to the current instructional program are modest, and instructors are encouraged to continue the normal course of instruction. This is an evolving situation, both in Washington and globally, so circumstances could change rapidly.

Public health officials have recommended that people potentially exposed to the virus, or those demonstrating symptoms consistent with COVID-19, self-isolate and stay home from school and work. If a student in your class chooses to self-isolate, please accommodate them while they are away. Treat the student as if they were experiencing a health issue that keeps them from attending class. No doctor’s note is needed. Provide course materials and offer the opportunity for make-up work as you normally would. Making course materials and assignments available through Canvas is strongly encouraged, and this also makes it easy to manage the distribution of materials and assignments to all students in your course.

You also have the opportunity to contribute to reducing anxiety by helping your students get their general questions answered. We have created the aforementioned website — — which is being continually updated, sometimes several times a day. It outlines the University’s response thus far and provides answers to many of the questions students have, as well as informing them of available resources. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with this information and direct your students to both that page and Saturday’s message from President Cauce.

As we continue to monitor the events associated with COVID-19, we are developing a broader plan to account for a variety of scenarios. For example, in the event of suspended campus operations, we are planning to support instructors in offering their courses online. This will include the use of existing teaching and learning technologies: Canvas, Panopto and Zoom. You can find information on best practices for using these technologies at the Center for Teaching and Learning. We are currently consulting with academic leadership before finalizing this broader plan, and it will be available shortly. In the meantime, if you are unfamiliar with these technologies, now might be a very good time to ask your colleagues who do use online methods and learning management systems for their advice and wisdom.

Thank you for your support of our students and their learning as we work through this time.

Mark A. Richards
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor, Earth and Space Sciences

Philip J. Reid
Vice Provost of Academic and Student Affairs
Professor of Chemistry