Novel coronavirus information

August 6, 2020

How the pandemic will affect autumn quarter learning (Message to international students)

This message was sent to current and incoming international students attending the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Similar messages were sent to students from the United States, as well as students at UW Bothell and UW Tacoma.

Dear International Students,

In July, we committed to communicating, with as much certainty as possible, what to expect at the start of the academic year as our University and world continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that international students face additional challenges when it comes to being enrolled in a university in the United States, and we are committed to doing everything possible to help you pursue your University of Washington degree. Today we are sharing what we believe will be our final plans for autumn quarter classes.

In light of current and expected coronavirus case counts in Washington, more than 90% of class sections on the Seattle campus will be held online. Only classes that cannot be taught remotely will be held in person, with appropriate safety measures and physical distancing in place.

The updated time schedule generally indicates whether classes will be taught remotely or in person, although some minor changes may occur as schools and colleges further refine their plans. Your academic advisors and course instructors can address any questions you may have.

All undergraduate, and most graduate, students have the option to continue their academic progress through fully remote instruction. However, within UW Medicine and other graduate health sciences programs, a large portion of instruction continues in person due to teaching and learning that must take place in hospitals and clinics.

While we have every expectation that classes which begin in person will remain so throughout autumn quarter, we’ve all seen that the trajectory of the pandemic can change rapidly. Further revisions to our plans could occur if, for example, state or local governments re-introduce more restrictive health measures. But, we remain fully committed to ensuring your academic progress regardless of the mode of instruction or any changes that may occur. International Student Services will follow up with F and J visa holders with additional information and you can also find updates from CIRCLE.

Residence halls and other campus housing will be open for students who need or believe it best to live on campus, and food service operations in our housing facilities will continue, following physical distancing and other safety protocols. Most student services such as advising and technology support will be offered remotely, with limited exceptions. Hall Health will remain open for in-person and remote services. Finally, research will continue as it has been conducted since the spring, with appropriate health and safety protocols for laboratory and field work.

While we are all disappointed that the continued spread of the virus has limited our ability to safely provide more in-person teaching, we continue to be excited about the learning and discovery in store for our academic community. Our faculty, teaching assistants and academic support staff have been engaged in developing innovative and creative approaches to online learning. We look forward to a meaningful and academically-rich autumn, in which we all do our part to protect our community’s health and safety.

Students who reside on or come to campus for in-person coursework must wear a face covering, and can expect all gathering and learning spaces to be routinely sanitized. A broad-based community testing program, in partnership with the Seattle Flu Study (the program that first detected community spread of the coronavirus in the United States), will help identify and mitigate the spread of the virus. Students will also have ready access to tests if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or believe that they may have been exposed. Face coverings will be provided to all students and will be required in all indoor public spaces, or when physical distancing outside is not possible. We also urge you to bring your own face coverings in order to rotate them as needed.

As we continue to wrestle with extraordinarily demanding times, the path forward remains uncertain. But we are on this journey together, and our commitment to each other’s health will be our North Star as we carry out our missions of teaching and learning, discovery and service. The UW community has been a leader in the fight against COVID-19, not only locally, but in the nation and world. We are also committed to leading in the fight to overcome the racial and economic inequities this pandemic has highlighted and revealed. With great challenges, come great opportunities. Indeed, because of those challenges, your achievements will be all the more meaningful. We look forward to continuing to support you in your journey. The world needs your talent and dedication, now more than ever.

We can’t wait to see you this fall, whether virtually or in person. The diverse experiences and perspectives of our international students are a treasured and vital part of our Husky community and no matter where you are this fall, you are a valued part of our University. We remain optimistic that soon we can all be together in person, creating a better and brighter future


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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