Novel coronavirus information

June 26, 2020

Update on planning for autumn quarter (Message to instructors)

This message was sent to instructors across the University of Washington.

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to update you on plans for autumn quarter, which will begin as scheduled on Sept. 30. Because our classes start roughly a month later than many schools on the semester system, we have a bit more time to build on what we learned in spring quarter and refine our new practices.

Based on the course cataloging and prioritizing that we outlined roughly a month ago, we are implementing a hybrid model of instruction for autumn quarter, involving a combination of remote and in-person classes. Below, we will describe this approach, health and safety requirements, and resources you can use in planning your courses. All of what we outline is based upon the county a campus is located in progressing to Phase 3 in the state’s Safe Start process.

Protecting the health of our community is a responsibility we all share, and we will all need to be flexible. No one can predict with absolute certainty the course the pandemic will take, and it is possible that we may have to pivot to all-remote learning, as we did in spring quarter, if the virus spreads. All of our decisions, policies and procedures are based on guidance from public health experts and are examined through an equity lens.

Autumn quarter time schedule
The new time schedule for most courses on the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses will be posted Monday, June 29.  Some courses in Health Sciences and other areas will be updated by Friday, July 10. The schedule will continue to be updated over the course of the summer as units and instructors finalize their plans.

We are sending a welcome message to all incoming and returning students on Monday, with a link to the time schedule and information on resources, such as housing and academic support. Faculty and staff will also receive a similar update on autumn quarter.

Prioritization process
Over the past few months, deans, chancellors, faculty leaders and administrators have been exploring models for teaching in autumn quarter that prioritize safety, health and academic success of our students. This hybrid model for autumn is the result of that collaboration.

The first step was for deans and department chairs to identify which classes must be taught in person, such as those with a studio, lab or clinical focus. Then, they determined which courses could be taught either in person or remotely. At the same time, we identified which classrooms had enough space for six feet of physical distance among students and instructors. This meant assigning small classes to big rooms and requiring that large classes — all courses of 50 students or more on the Seattle campus, for example — be taught remotely. In general, units prioritized hands-on classes and courses for first-year undergraduate and graduate students for in-person instruction.

All courses will have set meeting times, as listed in the time schedule. Those offered remotely will be clearly identified and will not have an assigned room, while in-person courses will be identified by their assigned rooms. Information about general assignment classrooms, including technology options, is available for the majority of the Seattle campus, as well as Health Sciences. In-person courses should be designed so they can pivot quickly to remote instruction, should virus-related events require it, and to accommodate students who might not be able to attend for a time, such as due to illness.

To allow for appropriately distanced passing between classes, we will not schedule courses back-to-back where physical distancing is impossible because of narrow hallways and limited queuing spaces. Classrooms will be cleaned daily with an emphasis on high-touch surfaces, but it will require all of us — students and instructors alike — to be attentive to the cleanliness of our instructional spaces.

Staying healthy
Protecting the health of the UW community will take a commitment from each and every one of us. To help us all stay safe, the University has established policies, including requiring students, employees and visitors to wear masks when they are indoors near other people and outdoors if people are unable to stay six feet apart. Contact tracing and voluntary expanded testing to spot any potential outbreaks early will also be part of our protocols. Our testing protocol is in development with faculty and clinical expertise from across the UW and will be finalized soon.

Instructors and staff may request clear masks so students with hearing impairments may read lips. Instructors are also encouraged to use microphones when lecturing, particularly if they feel the mask is muffling their voices.

We will also expect all employees, students and visitors to practice the good and now familiar hygiene recommendations of public health officials: washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, and monitoring your temperature and other changes to your health.

Instructors with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for contracting COVID-19, or instructors who become ill with it, may request accommodations by following same process for other accommodations through Human Resources Disability Services.

Resources and support
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Academic Technologies offer a range of tools to assist instructors on all three campuses, in addition to the support available from UW Bothell Digital Learning and UW Tacoma Digital Learning.

There will be three online town halls where you can learn more. President Cauce will host an online Back-to-School Town Hall with UW leaders at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 10. This town hall will cover general information about autumn quarter with incoming and returning students in mind, and a recording will be available afterward, if you’re not able to watch it live. Chancellor Yeigh will host an online town hall (on Zoom) at the same time for UW Bothell, and Chancellor Pagano will hold an online town hall for UW Tacoma at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, July 13.

Later this summer, CTL and Faculty Senate will host a town hall for faculty, focused on pedagogy, policies and best practices for teaching in autumn quarter. We will send details once they are set.

As always, we urge you to work with your chairs and other unit leaders if you have issues or concerns associated with your courses. We would like to thank you for working closely with your department, college and school leadership. Your ongoing flexibility and adaptability are essential — and greatly appreciated.

The last few months have shown us all the many layers of details that lie beneath the surface of our instructional mission, from the care and maintenance of our facilities, to the information systems that manage time schedules and student records, to the policies that shape our classes and work. Nearly every area of the University has been impacted, and re-thinking and re-working our plans and systems has been an enormous undertaking involving every aspect of the University — and untold hours of work on the part of staff and faculty.

As we move into the new academic year, welcoming thousands of new members to our community and welcoming back tens of thousands more, we know that our institutional values and an ongoing commitment to equity will guide our work to provide the best possible experience for our students.

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

Joseph Janes
Chair, Faculty Senate
Associate Professor, Information School

Philip J. Reid
Vice Provost, Academic & Student Affairs
Professor, Chemistry