Novel coronavirus information

September 18, 2020

Preparing for autumn quarter (Message to instructors and staff)

This message was sent to all instructors and staff on the University of Washington’s three campuses.

Dear Colleagues:

With autumn quarter fast approaching, we want to thank each of you for working over the summer to prepare, from developing courses for remote instruction to readying residence halls and instructional spaces. Your contributions to each student’s Husky Experience are invaluable whether our students are learning online or in person. Your expertise, knowledge, experience and caring are what make a UW education exceptional.

Despite the extraordinary challenges our students and our society face, our fall enrollment appears to be steady. We hope you will join us in welcoming our new students during virtual convocations Sunday, Sept. 27, for Seattle and Bothell. Welcome video messages to Tacoma students will be posted Wednesday, Sept. 23.

To reduce the spread of coronavirus, we must wear masks and keep our distance; reduce density on our campuses; administer consistent, accessible testing; conduct rigorous contact tracing; and isolate those who test positive. We have a number of plans to do this, which are outlined below. As always, the most up-to-date information is on the main coronavirus page, which includes autumn quarter FAQs and resources for staff, faculty and academic personnel. UW Bothell and UW Tacoma also have pages with information specific to their campuses.

We have been communicating with students throughout the summer on what to expect in autumn. Most recently, we sent a checklist to Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma students, urging them to self-isolate for 14 days if they intend to move back to the Seattle area.

Health and Safety
First and foremost, our health and safety depend on all of us following the three Ws: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. This week, we sent messages about our plans for testing to students, instructors and staff. The Husky Coronavirus Testing program begins Sept. 24 and includes a daily symptom attestation for participants, including students. And prior to coming to a campus or UW facility each day, all instructors and staff must attest through Workday.

To welcome students — whether they will be living on our campuses, in the community or at home with their families — we sent each of them two reusable UW face masks, along with the Husky PACK Pledge. Developed with undergraduate and graduate student leaders on all three campuses, the pledge promotes a culture of safety by outlining the responsibilities that students, instructors and staff have to each other.

As you know, masks are required for all instructors, staff and students within buildings and outdoors when maintaining six feet of distance is not possible. Faculty Senate has posted sample syllabi statements on masking that instructors may adapt.

Reducing Density, In-Person Courses
While we had hoped to offer about 20% of our courses in person, by July we realized that wouldn’t be possible. Instead, we reduced our in-person offerings to less than 10% on the Seattle campus, limiting those to courses with a clinical or studio focus, or requirements for licensing or accreditation. Similar adjustments were made at Bothell and Tacoma.

We have reduced capacity in the Seattle residence halls to 40%, implementing a number of safety plans, including setting aside spaces for residents who test positive to be supported as they isolate. We realize, too, that many students are returning to housing in nearby neighborhoods, even as they take all their courses remotely. For those students, we have offered a sample roommates agreement. Additionally, Student Life continues to work closely with the Greek community to promote health and safety.

We continue to encourage all employees who can work remotely to do so in order to further reduce density.

Access to Buildings
Each campus has identified which buildings will be open, which will have limited access and which will be closed. Information is available for Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma.

Supporting Working Families
We recognize the ongoing challenges working families face as they balance working remotely with helping children learn remotely and caring for loved ones. UWHR has posted a number of resources to assist.

Instructional Resources
Last spring, we pivoted to remote instruction in just two weeks — leading the nation in our efforts as many of our instructors embraced remote teaching. Autumn quarter presents another opportunity for us to lead as we take remote teaching and learning to a new level. To support instructors, the Center for Teaching and Learning, in collaboration with Learning Technologies and UW Information Technology, has further enhanced its Teaching Remotely site. In addition, UW Bothell and UW Tacoma Instructional Continuity provide campus-specific resources, recommendations and support.

We encourage you to utilize these and to collaborate with and learn from your colleagues as we continue to grow in this virtual environment.

This year will be challenging, and it’s certainly not what any of us, our students or their families expected or wanted. Please remember that our first-year students may or may not have finished their senior years of high school, and they are coming to us with varying degrees of preparedness.

We ask you to continue to be patient and flexible with your students and colleagues and yourselves. Do the best that you can to accept that sometimes good is exactly enough, and let kindness and compassion guide our thoughts, words and actions.


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

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