Novel coronavirus information

October 14, 2020

The UW’s plans for winter quarter (Message to faculty and staff)

This message was sent to faculty, academic personnel and staff at the University of Washington.

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for all the work that has gone into creating safe environments for living, learning and working across our campuses, as well as to ensuring our students receive an outstanding educational experience both online and in person. Even though we have only just started this quarter, we are writing to give you an update on plans for winter quarter in advance of the time schedule for winter being posted this Friday.

As mentioned at the Annual President’s Address on Monday, while we had hoped to offer more in-person courses this winter, we unfortunately do not expect significant improvement in the progression of the pandemic by that time.

Because of this — and following consultations with Faculty Senate leadership and the Board of Deans and Chancellors, among others — we expect winter quarter to be similar to autumn quarter on all three campuses. This applies to the number of courses taught remotely and, as a result, the number of employees who are working remotely.

Our decisions continue to be based on guidance from public health experts and are examined through an equity lens. We each have different circumstances, including when it comes to our personal risk from COVID-19. Those instructors at higher risk should consult with their chairs, directors or deans about modes of instruction and scheduling, and staff should consult with their supervisors if they have questions about their individual working arrangements. Accommodations for all employees can also be requested through the Disability Services Office in the same manner as other accommodations. And as we asked last month, please provide flexibility and grace to all members of our University community, particularly those who have caregiving responsibilities.

Each unit also has a COVID-19 Prevention Plan and Safe Start Checklist that provides guidance on what activities are allowed during each phase of our response. If King and/or Pierce counties change Safe Start phases, we will adjust accordingly. At the moment they are in Phase 2, as are the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses.

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

We remain dedicated to providing our students with an excellent education and to delivering the research and service that our state, nation and world rely on. Progress in stopping the spread of the coronavirus will depend in part on our individual actions — even once effective vaccines are available. We should all be following the 3 W’s — Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. — and participating in Husky Coronavirus Testing if we are at a UW campus or facility on a regular basis.

As always, the most up-to-date information is on, which includes a summary of resources for employees. UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and UW Medicine also have additional resources specific to their communities.

Together, through our individual actions and a concerted national and international effort, we can end this pandemic and return to a more normal way of living, learning and working. Thank you for all that you are doing to serve our students, patients and all those who depend on the University of Washington.


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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