Novel coronavirus information

March 4, 2020

Your well-being is our paramount concern

Sent to all Seattle campus undergraduates from the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Dear Students,

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus) has been challenging for us all. There is an understandable level of concern on our campus, in our country and indeed across the world. I want to assure you that anxiety and feelings of unease are normal when inundated with stories of new infections and death tolls.

We are working closely with the Washington Department of Public Health and local public health agencies, as well as following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our own experts at UW Medicine and the health sciences schools, to align our plans with the most current recommendations from experts. This includes encouraging everyone to monitor their own health, practice good hygiene and stay home if feeling sick.

It is important to note that our region has increased its capacity to test for COVID-19. This is a very good thing that will help focus treatment and prevention efforts, but it almost undoubtedly means that the number of cases confirmed will increase in the coming days as we have an increased ability to test and identify existing cases.

Staying up to date — UW Novel Coronavirus FAQs
This is an evolving situation, both in Washington and globally, so circumstances could change rapidly — I encourage you to monitor the University’s Novel Coronavirus Information page, which is being updated regularly.

Staying healthy
The best strategies for prevention are some commonsense measures from the CDC and Department of Health, including:

  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, eating healthy foods and managing your stress can help you prevent getting COVID-19 and recover from it if you do.

If you are sick
First, it’s important to emphasize that so far the vast majority of people who have become ill with COVID-19 have experienced relatively mild symptoms, such as fever and cough.

If you are sick, you should take steps you normally would when sick, including focusing on caring for your health, not attending class and contacting a health-care provider, if you feel you need to. Students on the UW’s Seattle campus may contact Hall Health Center, as one option. Please call ahead before visiting your health-care provider so that they can provide you with guidance specific to your symptoms.

University leadership and faculty are working together to ensure that if you miss class due to illness or choosing to self-isolate, accommodations will be made just as they would if you were experiencing any other health issue. No doctor’s note is needed. For more information, see the University’s FAQs on health, wellness and prevention.

Classes, University operations and contingency planning
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, UW leadership is working on plans to support instructors in offering their courses online.

For more general information, see the University’s FAQs on classes and academics.

Additionally, the Office of the University Registrar has created its own FAQs with guidance on issues around grading, finals and graduation.

Navigating stress and anxiety
These developments are an understandable source of concern for many in our community, and may present an added layer of worry for members of our UW community who have personal connections to affected communities and countries. This is a critically important time for all of us to reinforce a community of care on our campus and support one another.

If you would like to talk with someone, emotional support is available to Seattle campus students through a variety of services, including Let’s Talk, the Counseling Center and Hall Health Mental Health.

Next steps
Your well-being is our paramount concern, and the University will continue working with public health officials to be as prepared as possible to protect the health of the UW community. We are extremely fortunate to live in a region with outstanding medical services and public health infrastructure. We will continue doing everything we can to keep you apprised, and again, please check back regularly on the University’s Novel Coronavirus Information page for updates and information.


Ed Taylor
Vice Provost and Dean
Undergraduate Academic Affairs