Novel coronavirus information

January 24, 2022

The UW is returning to largely in-person classes Jan. 31 (Message to students)

This message is being sent to students across the University of Washington.

Dear UW students,

The emergence of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus has made the first three weeks of the winter quarter challenging and stressful for the UW community. As expected, we saw a surge of cases as many people returned from travel and/or holiday gatherings. However, we are writing today with positive news: As predicted, coronavirus case counts in our region and at the University are now declining and are expected to continue to decline.

The improving public health situation and the resulting reduction in coronavirus-related disruptions allow us to follow through with our plans to return to largely in-person classes and learning experiences on Monday, Jan. 31. You should expect your classes to be in the original format listed in the time schedule unless your instructors inform you otherwise.

We look forward to welcoming more of you back to our campuses and into our classrooms and labs. As was the case in the fall, accommodations can be requested by those with health-related conditions or needs that put them at heightened risk. We’re also asking instructors to be flexible when it comes to student absences due to illness or other coronavirus-related disruptions, including the need to quarantine or because of day care or school closures that may affect our students who are parents. Please note that while instructors will work to find ways for you to make up missed coursework, they are not required to provide a synchronous remote option for classes that are being taught in person.

Autumn quarter was successful in large part due to your consistent actions in care of one another. Those actions have continued into winter quarter, and so far we have no evidence of in-classroom transmission in winter quarter classes that have met in person over the past three weeks. To ensure the prevalence of the coronavirus in our community continues to decline, we must all continue to take the well-known steps to protect ourselves and others, including staying home when sick, getting a booster shot when eligible, avoiding unmasked gatherings, and wearing well-fitting, high-quality masks. Please level up your protection with a KN95, KF94, N95 or surgical mask as you are able. We have also purchased a large number of surgical and KN95 masks that will be made available to students, instructors and staff at various locations on each campus — details will be posted to this week. Finally, testing options in our region continue to expand and now include rapid tests that are mailed to you.

Being together in community, whether in person or online, is a defining part of the Husky Experience. Learning from each other through our different and shared experiences is critical to our intellectual and personal growth and career and life journeys. The past several years have affected each of us in profound ways. We all need to give support where we are able, and to ask for support when we need it. Mental and emotional health resources are always available for students in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma.

We also ask that you provide flexibility to the many instructors and staff members who have been going above and beyond to support your education and who are balancing many of the same pandemic-related challenges you are. And please be mindful that while we have all experienced difficulties, anxiety and frustration, some individuals and communities have experienced heightened stress and losses. You can never know the extra burdens some are carrying — a little kindness can go a long way toward easing them.

We cannot promise this will be the last time the coronavirus will cause disruptions to our University. We understand how hard dealing with uncertainty is and the anxiety it causes. But what we can promise is that we are committed to in-person learning when the public health situation allows for it and that we will continue to be guided by the best science and our health experts, as we have been throughout the pandemic. UW students’ collective willingness to get vaccinated and boosted and to be so diligent in masking up, among other things, is helping us get to a future where COVID-19 is treated more like a virus to guard against, but not one that upends society.

Thank you for the dedication that you’ve shown in your classes, the patience you’ve demonstrated in your interactions on and off campus, and the care you’ve taken in protecting yourselves and those around you. We could not be more proud of how UW students have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 these past two years!


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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