Novel coronavirus information

January 19, 2021

The UW’s plans for spring quarter and for returning to campus this fall (Message to Seattle students)

This message was sent to all students at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Similar messages were sent to students at UW Bothell and UW Tacoma.

Dear Students,

We hope you’ve had a successful start to the winter quarter, despite the challenges posed by the strife in our country and the continued suffering caused by the pandemic. We are writing to share with you the University of Washington’s spring quarter plans for the Seattle campus, as well as our intent to return to in-person instruction this fall.

The coronavirus continues to infect more than 200,000 people in the United States each day, and January is poised to be the most tragic month of the pandemic to date. While vaccines are being administered here in Washington and beyond, the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases and other health experts report that vaccination efforts are not expected to contain the virus enough to allow for significant relaxation of health restrictions by the start of spring quarter on March 29.

Therefore, for spring quarter we plan to continue most courses online, similar to winter quarter, while at the same time offering more in-person student services and activities as the quarter progresses. Our deans, vice presidents and other leaders are committed to expanding units’ in-person services over the course of spring quarter, as state and local health guidelines allow. Instructors will also have the flexibility to offer optional, in-person, class-related activities, such as physically distanced advising, so long as students taking those courses remotely are not disadvantaged.

Those courses held in person will once again largely be clinical instruction, certain labs, and arts- and performance-based courses. These will continue to have appropriate safety measures and physical distancing in place. The spring quarter time schedule will be posted Friday, Jan. 22, and generally indicate whether classes will be taught remotely or in person, though some changes may occur as schools and colleges refine their plans. Your academic advisors and course instructors can address questions you may have.

All undergraduate and most graduate students will still 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.

While the prospects for spring are not what any of us would have hoped, based on projections from health experts we are looking forward to welcoming you back to campus for an autumn quarter with largely in-person classes. This, of course, depends on the effective distribution of vaccines and on each of us continuing to follow health guidance, such as wearing masks and avoiding gatherings.

Summer session courses will likely be a mix of remote and in-person courses, as the course of the pandemic allows. And we are in active discussions about ways in which we can safely and appropriately recognize those who will graduate this year, because we know how meaningful these events are to graduates and their families.

Throughout this pandemic, the UW’s faculty, teaching assistants and academic support staff have been committed to finding innovative ways to support your learning, well-being and success. We will continue that commitment as we begin the transition to more in-person services this spring and more in-person courses in the summer and fall. We can each help hasten the end of the pandemic through our own actions, and we are so appreciative of all the ways you’re doing your part by following the Husky PACK Pledge and the 3 W’s — Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. — and also by taking part in Husky Coronavirus Testing. We both pledge to take a coronavirus vaccine as soon as we are eligible and encourage you to do the same.

We’ll continue to post updates and resources on, which includes a summary of resources for students. UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and UW Medicine also have additional resources for their communities.

Thank you for the grace and compassion you have shown each other — and yourselves — during these challenging times. There is light on the horizon and working together we will get to a time when we can all be together, in person, as a community once more.


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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