Novel coronavirus information

April 15, 2021

Autumn quarter planning and vaccine eligibility updates (Message to Seattle instructors)

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

Dear Colleagues,

We look forward to welcoming you and our students back to campus this autumn for largely in-person instruction, research and co-curricular activities. Based on current public health guidance and vaccination trends, we are very optimistic about our University experience this fall, particularly given that vaccinations are outpacing infections. Of course, we must all continue to do our part, such as by masking up and avoiding gatherings with not-yet-vaccinated people. We are writing today to share information on the autumn quarter course schedule, teaching resources and vaccinations to help you plan ahead for the return to campus.

We recognize your hard work — and exhaustion — over the past year as you took your expertise, experience and knowledge from the actual to the virtual classroom. Now, it’s time for us to prepare to shift back to something more familiar.

While the prospect of returning to the classroom now may feel daunting, we hope you will imagine what the UW — and life — will be like in five months when millions more vaccine doses have been administered. We will continue to follow the best available science and public health guidelines to protect the safety of our community in any future scenario.

Autumn quarter course schedule

Today, we notified students that the autumn quarter course schedule will post on Friday, April 16. The schedule assumes that most courses will be offered in person with room capacities and assignments indicated. As with the course schedule in previous years, only those courses offered fully online will be listed as such. Hybrid courses with a mixture of online and in-person elements will be listed as being in person so students understand that the course includes time in a physical classroom, lab or other learning space.

We will continue updating the course schedule this summer as the public health picture becomes clearer and as colleges and schools refine their plans. We also expect that health and safety measures will remain in place, such as requiring masks, and will provide more updates as state and local governments finalize those guidelines. As more students and community members become fully vaccinated, we’re hopeful that Washington state will be able to adopt revised higher education guidelines related to distancing, such as the ones adopted in K-12 schools based on Centers for Disease Control guidance.

We also anticipate our academic and extracurricular services will be fully operational to help students make the most of their experience at the UW, including the IMA, the HUB, University Libraries, residence halls and food services. We have created an autumn quarter planning page to share with students the most up-to-date information on the UW’s plans.

Resources for course planning

We have all learned a lot in the past year, and we are leveraging those lessons into new best practices in teaching and technology. Guidance for a largely in-person autumn quarter is being developed by groups of instructors, instructional designers, and teaching and learning experts from across all three campuses and will be available soon. This guidance will also cover preparations for instructional continuity in case circumstances change. In addition, the Center for Teaching & Learning is developing resources, which will be posted in the coming weeks.

We respect your right to make decisions about how to teach courses in a manner that is most pedagogically effective, equitable and appropriate. As always, we urge you to consult with your deans, chairs and faculty colleagues for ideas and support.

Vaccines now available to Washington residents 16 and over

We expect everyone in the UW community who is able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so.

Washington residents ages 16 and over can get vaccinated starting today through UW Medicine or any number of other locations. If you haven’t yet made an appointment to get vaccinated, please do so. By Monday, all states and territories will have taken this step, and links to vaccination opportunities in the United States. If you live outside the United States, contact your local health department for information.

The UW plans to offer pop-up vaccination sites on campus as vaccine supplies become available, and we will provide more information as soon as possible. Any decisions on requiring vaccinations will be made by June 1; if a requirement is established, it will have exemptions similar to those in our current immunization requirement for students.

We will continue to rely on the advice and expertise of our public health experts when we make decisions. Because we are on the quarter system and our autumn classes begin Sept. 29, we have more time to plan and prepare for your return.

We are looking forward to seeing you in person soon!


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