Novel coronavirus information

March 1, 2021

Updates on spring break and COVID-19 vaccines (Message to 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,

On behalf of the UW’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, I hope you’re having a successful winter quarter and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I’m writing today with advice on how to stay safe during spring break, as well as an update on COVID-19 vaccines.

As we all look forward to the week off, we also must make sure spring break doesn’t become a break from taking precautions against the coronavirus. While case counts in Washington and the nation have thankfully declined from their winter peak, the number of infected individuals is still high — with hundreds of new cases in our region each day — and the risk from new, more contagious variants is very real. In addition to the “UK” B.1.1.7 variant detected in a Seattle campus student, the B.1.351 variant, first detected in South Africa, has also now been detected in King County. These new “variants of concern” are predicted to be the predominant strains in our region in the coming month due to their increased transmission potential and will require us all to redouble our prevention efforts.

This is why nonessential travel is still strongly discouraged, and why it remains vital to keep taking the basic safety measures you’re already familiar with: Wearing a well-fitting, multilayered mask when around others. Watching your distance and avoiding gatherings. And washing your hands regularly.

In the coming weeks, students living in campus housing or the Greek community, or who come to campus regularly, will receive an invitation from Husky Coronavirus Testing for post–spring break testing. You must be enrolled in Husky Coronavirus Testing to receive an invitation. If you are not yet enrolled, please do so. If you are enrolled, please sign up when you receive the invitation.

As always, if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19, please indicate this on the daily Husky Coronavirus Testing check-in so that you can be scheduled for a test.

Even as we see concerning variants emerge, there continues to be good news about vaccines. Supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are increasing each week, and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved this past weekend. I join UW colleagues such as Dr. Vin Gupta in saying that as soon as you’re eligible to get vaccinated, please do so.

As was announced last month, most spring quarter courses will be held online, and we will offer more in-person student services and activities as health conditions permit, including opening the Research Commons at Allen Library for individual study. Student Life maintains a list of open spaces and facilities. The Burke Museum has also recently reopened while the Henry Art Gallery will do so on March 6.

The UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases also looks forward to supporting the UW’s desire to safely return to largely in-person instruction in the fall.

We can see the end of the pandemic on the horizon, and that end will come more quickly if we each continue to do our part. Thank you for the sacrifices you’re making in support of our collective efforts to fight the coronavirus, and best wishes for a successful conclusion to the quarter.


Geoffrey S. Gottlieb, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, University Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD)
Medical Director, Environmental Health & Safety Department
Professor, School of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases