Novel coronavirus information

January 7, 2022

Providing increased flexibility for classes through Jan. 28 (Message to UW students and personnel)

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

Dear UW community,

Over the course of the week, we have continued to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant in our region and the challenges it is causing, which include significant stress on our health-care system and increased cases and positivity rates in our University community.

In light of these increased disruptions, instructors will have additional flexibility to choose the modality of their classes through Jan. 28. Instructors may hold in-person classes if they also can provide an option that allows students to participate remotely, or they may keep their classes online through Jan. 28. This flexibility will help manage various Omicron-related disruptions, including increased numbers of student absences.

Practicums, lab-based and experiential courses, and clinical instruction should continue to be prioritized for in-person instruction. All instructors need to be in contact with their students to confirm the modality of their classes during this time. If in doubt about modality, instructors are encouraged to consult with their chairs or academic leadership for support.

Of course, the disruptions caused by the Omicron variant also impact University staff. Unit leaders and managers continue to have flexibility in approving remote work, while ensuring that essential operations — including instructional and student support services, clinical operations, research and related support, and other public-facing services — are prioritized. The UW’s campuses will remain operational and buildings will be accessible.

As we said last week, we each have a role to play in preventing coronavirus transmission, including staying home when sick or symptomatic, wearing well-fitted, high-quality masks, and getting booster shots when we’re eligible. We should also get tested when we have symptoms, recognizing that some testing locations in our region are prioritizing those with symptoms or a known exposure. Flexibility and grace should be extended to anyone who is ill, has a confirmed COVID-19 exposure, or is impacted by closures of schools and other caregiving support services. And because the pandemic is also imposing a mental and emotional toll, please make use of mental health resources for students in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma, as well as those for benefits-eligible employees.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the safety and well-being of yourself and those around you as we navigate the Omicron wave — and continued best wishes for a successful start to the new year.


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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