Novel coronavirus information

March 8, 2022

Update on spring quarter classes, operations and mask policies (Message to instructors and personnel)

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

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for all that you have done to adapt your teaching and working to the changing health circumstances of the last few months. As Dr. Geoff Gottlieb wrote to you in February, the Omicron wave peaked in early January, and we are now well positioned for a successful end to the winter quarter and a successful start to the spring quarter at the end of this month. With the improved health situation, spring quarter classes, experiences and services will again be held largely in person and we will also be updating the UW’s mask policies.

Changes to UW mask policies

Following changes to state and local health policies, masks will become optional inside most University facilities starting March 28, the first day of spring quarter. Masks will continue to be required in clinical and other health-care settings and on public transportation, including UW shuttles. The UW Face Covering Policy will be updated to outline these specific settings. Please note that mask and testing policies for unvaccinated students and personnel are still under review and will be communicated prior to March 28. Additionally, UW locations and facilities not specified in state, local or University face covering policies should not set their own mask policies.

Because many people will be returning to campus from travel over spring break and mobility will be increasing in general, we strongly recommend wearing masks indoors during the first two weeks of spring quarter. Please monitor yourself daily for symptoms and stay home if you are sick. It’s also strongly recommended to get tested after travel.

While optional, we continue to welcome and encourage mask wearing during spring quarter. Masks remain an important tool against respiratory illnesses of all kinds and offer greater protection that can help all in our community feel safe. When you mask up, choose a well-fitted, high-quality mask — such as a KF94, KN95, N95 or surgical mask — which when worn correctly protects you as well as those around you. You can pick up free masks at a variety of locations on each UW campus. People need to or choose to wear masks for a wide range of reasons, and we should not make assumptions. It is critical that we respect their needs and choices and that we extend each other grace.

The relaxing of the indoor mask requirement is possible thanks to high vaccination rates in the UW and broader communities, as well as the dramatic decline in the number of hospitalizations and infections. It’s also part of changes to our health measures in alignment with the new CDC framework for public health guidance based on community risk. Of course, COVID-19 is not over and we must all continue to be vigilant against new outbreaks or variants, including by getting boosted and remaining up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations, staying home when sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed. If public health conditions worsen once more, we will reinstate an indoor mask requirement and/or other measures until the health situation improves again. A summary of UW coronavirus mitigation measures is available at

Spring quarter classes

Even with the improvements in the public health situation, the coronavirus continues to circulate so we must plan for unexpected disruptions to individual classes as instructors need to stay home and/or if there are significant numbers of students in a class who are ill at the same time. As during winter quarter, we request that instructors be flexible about student absences due to illness or other coronavirus-related disruptions, including the need to quarantine or because of closures to caregiving services that may affect students who are caregivers. And while instructors should work to find typical and appropriate ways for students to make up missed coursework, please recall that they are not required to provide a remote option for classes that are being taught in person.

Spring quarter operations

Continuing to increase the number of in-person classes, experiences and services also means having more employees working on our campuses. Starting at or before the beginning of spring quarter, supervisors should work with their teams to return to the in-person, hybrid or remote work agreements arranged for employees prior to the Omicron wave and/or update these agreements to meet spring quarter operational needs. This can take place at an appropriate pace for each team’s specific needs and goals. Supervisors should continue to provide flexibility to account for the many individual circumstances and unexpected coronavirus-related disruptions, such as to caregiving supports, that their team members encounter.

Over the course of the pandemic, UW staff, faculty and academic personnel have demonstrated a commitment not just to your own health and well-being but to the health, well-being and success of our students, your coworkers and all those served by our University. On behalf of our students and community, thank you, and best wishes for a successful end to winter quarter and for a happy, healthy spring.


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

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