Novel coronavirus information

October 6, 2020

Time to step up, Greek Huskies (Message to IFC and Panhellenic members)

This message was sent to members of organizations affiliated with the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.

Dear Greek Community Member,

The UW Greek community remains in the middle of a significant COVID-19 outbreak. As of October 6, 177 students in 14 fraternities and sororities have tested positive.

This morning, the UW and Public Health – Seattle & King County sent a letter to IFC and Panhellenic chapter presidents, chapter advisors and house corporation presidents emphasizing that we need help from every individual chapter member to stop this outbreak. It also detailed what new actions the UW and county health officials may be forced to take if this outbreak is not brought under control.

I have included this letter below and strongly encourage you to review it now in order to understand what actions you need to take moving forward this quarter. This includes limiting your gatherings to a maximum of FIVE masked, socially distanced people per week, even if you live in the same house or residence. You must also continue to follow the 3 W’s whenever you are in shared areas of your residence, including hallways, kitchens, common rooms, friends’ rooms and outdoor spaces: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.

If you have not enrolled in Husky Coronavirus Testing, please do so immediately. If you have any symptoms or have been exposed, please self-isolate and seek testing. As a reminder, the UW will not use information from this program to discipline individuals. Thank you in advance for reading and committing to the personal, chapter- and organization-wide actions requested in the letter below.


Denzil J. Suite
Vice President for Student Life

Letter sent October 6, 2020, to Chapter Presidents of Residential-based Fraternities and Sororities, Chapter Advisors, House Corporation Presidents, Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association

RE: Necessary Action — COVID-19 outbreaks among UW sorority and fraternity organizations

Dear Partners:

For the University of Washington, minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is critical to the overall health of our community and to maintaining an in-person education experience. Already more than 90 percent of fall quarter courses are online. A few weeks ago the University sent all students the Husky PACK Pledge. In August we communicated with houses about an earlier COVID-19 outbreak and guidance for the school year. These steps are all in service of protecting the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and the greater community.

We are bringing this to your attention because our UW community COVID-19 prevention effort needs your help. We are in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected more than 177 fraternity and sorority members across 14 chapters to date. To prevent ongoing spread, infected residents should isolate and exposed residents should quarantine according to public health guidelines, as should others outside the Greek community who have been infected or exposed.

The effectiveness of COVID-19 prevention efforts — limiting the number and duration of gatherings (including outdoors, but especially indoors), following physical distancing when around others, avoiding crowded indoor settings, using face coverings when around others (especially indoors and in shared spaces), and handwashing — requires everyone to do their part and observe these precautions.

The current Washington state health order from the Secretary of Health and directive from Governor Jay Inslee require:

  • All people living in congregate living settings (this includes fraternities, sororities and live-out houses) to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing in all common indoor and outdoor spaces (including common areas outside your room).
  • No gatherings with more than 5 people outside your household unit per week. In the case of fraternities, sororities and live-out houses, your household unit is the group in your shared sleeping space. This is your “bubble,” not the entire house.
  • After a possible exposure — safely self-quarantining for a full 14 days after a possible exposure to the coronavirus. Self-quarantine is typically best done in your residence, but your circumstances may mean safe self-quarantine happens elsewhere. Isolate and seek testing promptly if symptoms develop.
  • After a positive COVID-19 test result — safely self-isolating. If you have symptoms, this means at least 10 days AND fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. If you don’t have symptoms, it means 10 days from the initial positive test. Self-isolation is typically best done in your residence, but your circumstances may mean safe self-isolation happens elsewhere.
    Guidance from UW and Public Health – Seattle & King County (Public Health) specifies that anyone known or suspected to have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 self-quarantine away from others for the entire 14 days after their last possible exposure, regardless of a negative COVID-19 test. This is because a negative test cannot rule out an infection developing later in the 14-day incubation period. For this reason — to avoid inadvertently infecting others — it is critical that people don’t end their quarantine period early.

Not following these COVID-19 prevention efforts represents a threat not just to others sharing your living space, but to your friends, family and the campus and greater community.

The University and Public Health are committed to helping students and student living communities (Greek, Greek-associated live-out houses and other group houses) stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources for students are available through the UW’s novel coronavirus webpages. The University offers and strongly encourages testing for all students through the Husky Coronavirus Testing program. Reporting of positive results to the University’s Environmental Health & Safety Department ( is critical to stemming the spread of COVID-19. Public Health, in coordination with the University, follows up on positive test results to ensure people have the support and guidance they need to safely manage their illness, and conduct contact tracing necessary to prevent others from becoming infected. The UW will not use information from contact tracing or the Husky Coronavirus Testing program to discipline individuals.

The UW and Public Health strive for collaboration and cooperation in limiting the spread of COVID-19. However, if a student or group of students continues to fail to comply with UW guidance and Public Health guidance for needed disease control measures, additional steps may be taken. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigation through the UW Student Code of Conduct. Repeated reports of activity counter to University guidance (gatherings, parties, flagrant disregard for COVID-19 prevention measures) can trigger a disciplinary investigation. Outcomes of the process may result in disciplinary sanctions which range from reprimand to suspension or dismissal from the University. To be clear — neither a COVID-19 diagnosis nor quarantining due to possible exposure are reasons for discipline.
  • Notice to landlords. The University and Public Health can reach out to landlords of houses with repeated reports of activity counter to University guidance and Public Health guidance and orders. Examples of such activity include gatherings, parties and flagrant disregard for COVID-19 prevention measures. Threats to public safety can be grounds for legal action involving a landlord. For Greek houses, this would include formal communication with house corporations and/or advisory boards.
  • Health Officer and King County Superior Court Order. The Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer can issue Orders (legal mandates) for compliance with COVID-19 prevention and control measures. These can be specific to a fraternity or sorority, another group or an individual. Failure to comply with a Health Order can result in a King County Superior Court Order for compliance issued by a judge.

Any of these actions, and others, can happen simultaneously. The University’s Community Standards and Student Conduct team is a resource for understanding how and when the University gets involved with student behavior issues.

This isn’t the college environment anyone was expecting, but COVID-19 is a reality we need to adapt to by changing our behaviors and activities for the foreseeable future. We know UW students are up to the challenge. In this coronavirus pandemic individuals, families, communities and institutions are called upon to step up for each other. Driving down infection rates in order to minimize loss of life and livelihood requires sustained action and mutual support across all sectors of our community, and we ask that you honor and abide by the Husky Pledge. Thank you for your cooperation.


Dr. Denzil Suite
Vice President, Student Life
University of Washington

Patty Hayes
Public Health – Seattle & King County