Novel coronavirus information

March 6, 2020

Moving classes online and concluding the winter quarter

This message was sent to faculty and graduate students at all University of Washington campuses.

Dear Colleagues,

Following up on a message from President Cauce this morning, in consultation with public health officials, starting Monday, March 9, classes will no longer meet in person. For the remainder of the quarter, instructors have been asked to conduct classes and/or exams remotely, as possible, until the quarter concludes on March 20. In addition, final exams will not be conducted in person, but may be conducted online when feasible, and at the instructor’s discretion.

These actions are being taken in response to recommendations from public health agencies to avoid bringing large groups of people together in close proximity for events and gatherings. If events and gatherings are held, best practices such as social distancing are encouraged. In-person classes qualify as events, and the sizes of our classrooms do not generally allow for social distancing.

Departments and the instructors of record should determine the most appropriate solutions for finishing courses and determining grades. Departments and faculty are asked to put student health and success first in all decision making, and to consider the following when making their determinations:

  • If the course is already being delivered as a 100% online course, or if it can be administered without in-person class meetings (online/remotely), then the course may continue.
  • Other courses should be concluded, and course grades may be assigned as follows:
  • If grades that reflect student academic achievement can be fairly determined based upon completed work, then numeric grades may be calculated and submitted.
  • If the instructor feels that numeric grades cannot be fairly calculated for all students, then grades of credit/no credit (CR/NC) may be determined and submitted for the entire class. Credit (CR) grades are not included in the GPA, but can satisfy graduation, financial aid eligibility, and other requirements. (A minimum grade of 0.7 is required for a credit in an undergraduate course, and 1.7 for a graduate course.)
  • A grade of I (incomplete) should not be submitted unless the student would have fallen into this category prior to Monday March 2nd (e.g., due to lack of completion of coursework.)
  • A grade of X should not be submitted.

We ask that instructors take actions that consider first and foremost the best interests of their students. In addition, the University is working to mitigate the potential impacts to student success, including progress towards degree, course entry requirements and other effects. The Office of the University Registrar is ready to work with instructors and chairs in determining the most appropriate grading actions to take for their courses, and will offer guidance to that end. We ask that you provide your students with maximum flexibility as you accommodate these changes, and that decisions be based upon fairness and what is most supportive of students. We should seek to minimize anxieties for our students to the extent possible, especially anxieties related to how these actions might impact student progress to degree and future career prospects.

We recognize that these actions may create significant challenges for faculty, staff and students, and we ask for your understanding as we respond to events as they unfold. The Center for Teaching and Learning also has information on best practices for teaching when meeting in person is not possible.

UW leadership is working closely with public health officials to keep up to date on recent events regarding the virus, potential impacts to the UW, and in developing plans to mitigate those impacts. Further information about the virus and the UW’s response is available at

We know these are challenging times, and that we are asking a lot of you in terms of flexibility, creativity and goodwill as we all strive to conclude this quarter successfully. We deeply appreciate everything you are doing to ensure that our educational, research and service missions continue as we lead our students and community through this unprecedented public health challenge.

A great many decisions will need to be made in short order, all with the best of intentions and under stressful circumstances. With patience, compassion, and cooperation on everybody’s part, we’ll get through this together.

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

Joseph Janes
Chair, Faculty Senate
Associate Professor, Information School