Updated: May 26, 2020 at 12:04 p.m.

What to do if you feel sick | Remote work and time off | Information for students | Information for faculty | Status of UW operations, events and services


Staying safe as we plan for the future

We can save lives and stop COVID-19 if each of us does our part. The University of Washington is following physical distancing directives from state and local governments as part of the collective effort to combat this disease.

Two task forces are developing plans for how we can safely return to in-person learning and more in-person work once public health guidelines allow it. At this time, only employees designated as critical can be working in-person and only at the direction of their supervisor. EH&S maintains health and safety guidance for UW employees supporting critical operations.

If you are sick, you must stay home and if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if your health provider confirms or suspects COVID-19, please notify the UW Environmental Health & Safety Employee Health Center. This will enable them to uphold their public health responsibility to follow up with people who may be at risk. EH&S can also help facilitate COVID-19 testing for UW employees. UW Medicine employees should contact their Employee Health Services office. Additional details and contact information are in the Q&A below.


Frequently asked questions about novel coronavirus

Table of contents


COVID-19 information

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to increase locally, in our region and in the United States. Please follow the guidance later in these FAQs on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Washington State Department of Health has created a Coronavirus call center: 1-800-525-0127. And UW Medicine has created a Coronavirus Information Line where you can hear additional information: 206-520-2285.

How does it spread?

Although we have a lot to learn about this virus, it is currently believed that it spreads like other respiratory viruses- by people with the infection coughing and sneezing. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These can be symptoms of other respiratory illnesses as well as COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 infection include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, runny nose, sneezing)
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell

If you have these symptoms, stay home and contact your health-care provider or nurse advice line for medical guidance. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care, emergency room or other health facility without contacting them first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic. Telemedicine may also be available, enabling you to consult a provider from home.

Refer to the FAQWhat do I do if I feel sick?” for additional information.

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

We understand that some community members are concerned. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to students through campus mental health services:

You can help prevent the spread of colds and other viral ailments by doing the following:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

Additionally, physical distancing is vital to slowing the COVID-19 outbreak – don’t gather in groups and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people when you have to be in public.

Where can I get more information about the novel coronavirus?

For current information about this evolving public health situation, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus page.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, or what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

For local information, visit the following online resources:

UW Medicine has also created a Coronavirus Information Line where you can hear additional information: 206-520-2285.

Are there resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia related to the coronavirus?

Many of us are concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality.

As President Ana Mari Cauce wrote, “Our common humanity calls on us now to offer support, empathy and understanding to those most affected by this virus. … All of us, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for treating each other with kindness and empathy. We are best equipped to deal with any threat to health when we work together.”

Stigma doesn’t fight the illness and will hurt innocent people, but sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumor and misinformation from spreading. Public Health — Seattle & King County has compiled resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia that can be used to prevent and respond to incidents of discrimination. If you know of incidents of bias related to the novel coronavirus, please use the appropriate bias reporting tool to notify the UW:

 

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Prevention and personal health

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you are sick, you must stay home. Stay home even if you have mild symptoms of illness. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Symptoms of COVID-19 infection include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, runny nose, sneezing)
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Other symptoms

In addition to staying home, if you experience symptoms of COVID-19 infection, follow the steps below.

FIRST: Contact your health-care provider. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without contacting it first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic. Telemedicine may also be available, enabling you to consult a provider from home. If you are at higher risk for serious illness, your healthcare provider may arrange a test for COVID-19.

SECOND: If your health-care provider has confirmed or suspects that you have COVID-19, notify an Employee Health Center. UW Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma students, staff, faculty and other academic personnel should contact the EH&S Employee Health Center at emphlth@uw.edu or 206.685.1026.

UW Medicine personnel should contact Employee Health Services: UWMC – Montlake at 206.598.4848, UWMC – Northwest at 206.668.1625, or Harborview Medical Center at 206.744.3081.

THIRD: Take the following precautions to avoid getting others sick.

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school or other public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Wear a face mask around other people (e.g., when sharing a room or vehicle) or pets, and before you enter a health-care provider’s office. Be especially careful around persons who may be at higher risk for severe illness.
  • Practice excellent hygiene. Cover coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and running water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items (e.g., dishes, cups, utensils, towels and bedding).
  • Clean all high-touch surfaces every day (e.g., counters, tables, doorknobs, phones and keyboards).
  • Monitor your symptoms, take your temperature daily and call your health-care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with other people for 72 hours after the time when your symptoms improve and your fever goes down without the use of fever-reducing medication. If your health-care provider has confirmed or suspects you have COVID-19, stay isolated until you meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for discontinuing home isolation.

Additional guidance is available from Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health.

I want to be tested for COVID-19. Where can I go? (Updated 05/22/20)

UW Medicine offers COVID-19 testing for UW employees and UW Medicine patients. UW Employees can contact the Employee Health Center to facilitate testing through UW Medicine. Hall Health Center also offers COVID-19 testing for students, staff and alumni.

Anyone who has symptoms or questions about whether their condition puts them at higher risk of severe illness from a COVID-19 infection should talk with their health-care provider. Your health-care provider can also help you assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and members of your household.

COVID-19 testing is recommended for individuals who:

  • Are experiencing even mild symptoms of COVID-19 infection— such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, chills, loss of taste or smell
  • Had close contact with a person who has COVID-19

COVID-19 testing is available at a health care provider’s discretion, based on state and federal guidelines. There are two types of COVID-19 tests.

  1. PCR test (nasal swab): This test checks for a current COVID-19 infection.
  2. Antibody test (blood draw). This test checks for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, which your immune system produces in response to infection. The test is administered at least two weeks after recovery from fever or other symptoms. Read the FAQ “What is an antibody test?” for more information.

Information about COVID-19 testing is available in various languages on the Washington State Department of Health Testing for COVID-19 page or contact the Washington COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-800-525-0127 or texting 211-211.

Is Hall Health Center open for services? (Updated 05/22/20)

Hall Health Center remains open. Hall Health Center provides medical and mental health care to current UW students, as well as medical care to UW faculty, staff and alumni.

Medical care

Please call 206.685.1011 to schedule an appointment for medical care, including video visits. Please do not drop in without calling first.

COVID-19 testing at Hall Health Center

COVID-19 related care, including testing, is available at Hall Health Center by appointment only. Please do not drop in without an appointment.

COVID-19 testing is available at a health care provider’s discretion, based on state and federal guidelines. Testing is limited, and not everyone needs to be tested.

There are two types of tests available through Hall Health Center:

  • A swab of the nasal cavity, known as a PCR. This test checks to see if you have a current COVID-19 infection. In most cases, Hall Health Center providers order this test for people who have symptoms. If you are currently having symptoms, please call Hall Health Center at 206.685.1011 to schedule a video or phone visit. If your provider thinks it is needed, they will arrange for testing at Hall Health Center clinic or a convenient drive-through testing site, depending on your needs.
  • Antibody test, a blood draw. This test looks for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 illness, which your immune system produces in response to infection. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for your body to produce these antibodies after you get sick. The test is not administered until at least two weeks after you have recovered from fever or other symptoms. If you believe you may have had a COVID-19 infection from which you have recovered, please call 206.685.1011 to schedule a video or phone visit. If your provider thinks it is needed, they will order an antibody test and then you visit a UW Medicine lab for the blood draw. Hall Health Center has an on-site lab.

Insurance companies are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 related care, including both PCR and antibody tests when you visit a provider who is contracted with your insurance plan.

To schedule an appointment for a video or in-person visit at Hall Health Center, please call 206.685.1011.

Learn more about Hall Health Center services.

Medical advice for students

Students can access nurse advice by phone by calling 206.616.2517.

Pharmacy

The pharmacy at Hall Health Center remains open. You may arrange for curbside pick-up for prescription medication if desired by calling the pharmacy at 206.685.1011.

Lab

The lab at Hall Health Center also remains open. You need a lab order from a health-care provider prior to coming in for testing. Call Hall Health Center at 206.685.1011 to arrange for an appointment to get a lab order.

Mental health

Mental health services, including crisis support, individual counseling and group therapy, are available to current UW students.

For mental health appointments, contact 206.543.5030 to schedule. Mental health services are available by video or phone, including for students who are self-isolating.

Let’s Talk offers drop-in counseling support for students via video during certain hours. This service is offered jointly by the UW Counseling Center and Hall Health Center.

What is a COVID-19 antibody test? (Added 05/22/20)

An antibody test, also known as a serological test, looks for antibodies in the blood that indicate whether a person has been exposed to an infection. Antibodies are generated by a person’s immune system when fighting off infections.

Antibody tests may be useful in understanding if someone was infected in the past, because a positive test can indicate that a person’s immune system has reacted to the virus that causes COVID-19 illness.

Because it may take two weeks or more for antibodies to develop after a person is ill, it is important to remember that antibody tests are not used to diagnose a person who is currently having COVID-19 symptoms.

What are the possible results I may receive from antibody testing?

You may receive a positive or negative result from this test.

  • Positive result: If your test result comes back positive, it means you likely had a previous COVID-19 infection. There are some false-positive test results, meaning the test result is positive in someone who did not have COVID-19.
  • Negative result: If your test result comes back negative, it means you likely have not had a COVID-19 infection. There are some false-negative test results, which may happen when the test was performed too soon after infection to show antibodies. Also, sometimes immunocompromised individuals don’t have an antibody response.

Does a positive antibody test result mean I am immune to COVID-19?

Scientists don’t currently know how much immunity or protection from reinfection (if any) a person may have after having a COVID-19 infection, or how long that protection might last. Thus, at this time, antibody tests should not be used to make clinical decisions about your risk of COVID-19.

A positive test does not mean you are safe to continue daily activities without taking the recommended and required precautions to prevent transmission of the virus.

How can I get an antibody test?

Contact your health-care provider about getting an antibody test. Students, staff, faculty and alumni may contact Hall Health Center or a UW Medicine facility.

More information is available from Public Health — Seattle & King County.

What do I do if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

If your health-care provider has confirmed or suspects that you have COVID-19, notify an Employee Health Center. UW Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma students, staff, faculty and other academic personnel should contact the EH&S Employee Health Center at emphlth@uw.edu or 206.685.1026.

UW Medicine personnel should contact Employee Health Services: UWMC – Montlake at 206.598.4848, UWMC – Northwest at 206.668.1625, or Harborview Medical Center at 206.744.3081.

The Washington State Department of Health advises you to:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas.
  • Avoid using public transportation, taxis or ride-share.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms worsen, call before visiting your health-care provider. Be sure you tell them you have or may have COVID-19.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. Notify dispatch that you have or may have COVID-19.
  • Wear a face mask around other people (such as when you are sharing a room or vehicle), around pets and before entering a health-care provider’s office. If you can’t wear a mask because it’s hard for you to breathe while wearing one, then keep people who live with you out of your room, or have them wear a face mask if they come in your room.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away in a lined trashcan. Wash hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes and glasses, utensils and bedding.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Rub hands together until dry.
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones and keyboards. Clean with a household cleaning product following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if you have COVID-19, stay isolated until the following conditions are met:

  1. If you did not have a test to determine whether you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
    • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (i.e., three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • Other symptoms have improved (e.g., your cough has improved)
      AND
    • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
  2. If you had a test to determine whether you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
    • You no longer have a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND,
    • Other symptoms have improved (e.g., when your cough has improved)
      AND,
    • You received two tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart, and the results of both tests were negative. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.

In all cases, follow the guidance of your doctor and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments.

I have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. What should I do? (Updated 05/22/20)

Close contact includes being within approximately 6 feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for more than a few minutes, living with a person who has COVID-19 or having direct contact with infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils).

If you had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 whether or not you experience symptoms:

  1. Stay at home for 14 days after your last contact with the ill person. Do not go to school or work. Avoid public places.
  2. Get tested for COVID-19. Notify your health-care provider and notify the appropriate Employee Health Center. The Environmental Health & Safety Department Employee Health Center can arrange for testing through UW Medicine.

During the 14 days, monitor your health for fever, cough, shortness of breath, respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, sneezing, runny nose), chills, loss of taste or smell and other symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection — such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, sneezing, runny nose), chills, loss of taste or smell — follow the instructions listed in the FAQ “What do I do if I feel sick?” and contact the appropriate Employee Health Center.

More information about potential exposure to COVID-19 can be found on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s blog and on the Washington State Department of Health website.

When should I wear a face covering? (Updated 05/22/20)

Keeping a distance (at least six feet) from other people is our best protection against COVID-19; however, wearing a face covering can add another layer of protection for yourself and others.

The University strongly urges the use of face coverings when on a UW campus and around other people.

Additionally, Washington state job-specific COVID-19 protection requirements strongly recommend or require the use of face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace. University personnel should refer to the COVID-19 Risk Level PPE Selection Guide and the EH&S Guidance on Facemask Use.

A face covering is not needed when you are outdoors (e.g., walking, exercising or gardening) as long as you are able to stay 6 feet away from people who do not live with you. Additionally, some people may not be able to wear a face covering for health or other reasons.

If you see someone without a face covering in public, it is not appropriate to take action or notify law enforcement.

If you see University personnel not wearing job-required facemasks or other PPE, notify their supervisor or the Environmental Health & Safety Department. As a reminder, only employees determined to be critical and approved to work on-site are allowed to be working at a UW location at this time.

If you are ill or experiencing symptoms and you must be on campus for a medical appointment, wear a face covering. If you arrive at a medical facility, such as Hall Health or UW Medical Center without a face covering, you will be asked to put one on before entering.

For more information, review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 and the Public Health – Seattle & King County Directive that strongly urges the use of face coverings in public spaces.

What should I do if I am at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19?

In general, people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are advised to stay home and away from public places except for essential activities (such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy) per public health guidance.

If you fall into any of the categories listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or Public Health-Seattle King County, you are considered at increased risk of severe outcome from COVID-19 infection.

Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk of severe illness from a COVID-19 infection should talk with their health-care provider. Your health-care provider can also help you assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and members of your household.

Consistent with Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights, UW Human Resources has developed guidance, which describes accommodation and leave options available for high-risk employees and explains how the University will respond to requests.

If you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick:

  • Stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible. If you must go out, keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Stock up on food and supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched services.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.

In addition, review the Washington State Department of Health guidance to help you during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

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About the UW's response

Can you tell us more about any UW community members who are being screened for coronavirus?

To protect their privacy, the UW legally is not able to release personal information about any students or University community members who are being monitored or tested for novel coronavirus, including their location.

When a UW community member is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and the UW initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk. UW Environmental Health & Safety maintains a UW count of confirmed COVID-19 cases by campus.

How does the UW respond when a member of the UW community has confirmed COVID-19?

When notified of a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, the University takes the following steps to maintain the health and safety of the campus community:

  1. Obtain details about the person’s symptoms, locations on campus and close contacts.
  2. Conduct a risk assessment to determine an action plan. The plan may include:
    • Provide a recommendation for and/or assistance with self-isolation (as appropriate for students in residence halls).
    • Notify the school, department and/or work unit.
    • Notify individuals or groups who were in close contact (within 6 feet for more than a few minutes) with the ill person within 48 hours prior to the development of symptoms. Close contacts will be provided with public health recommendations that may include staying home and monitoring their health for 14 days. For more information, read the FAQ “How is the UW following up with people who were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?”
    • Evaluate the specific locations where the person spent time on campus for enhanced cleaning and disinfection in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Enhanced cleaning and disinfection is conducted in spaces where an ill person spent time 48 hours prior to symptoms developing through seven days after the person last spent time in a University space.

UW is in ongoing coordination with local health departments on COVID-19 response efforts.

Questions about the UW’s response to COVID-19 can be directed to the Environmental Health & Safety Department at ehsdept@uw.edu or (206) 543-7262.

How does the UW follow up with close contacts of a person who tested positive for COVID-19?

Once the University is aware of a positive test result, we initiate efforts to reduce the risk of transmission, which includes identifying UW community members who had close contact (see definition below) with the person who tested positive and mapping their locations on campus.

Close contact includes being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils).

  • EH&S will notify UW community members who are reported to have had close contact with the ill person up to 48 hours prior to the development of symptoms.
  • Close contacts will be provided with public health recommendations that may include staying home and monitoring their health for 14 days.
  • Close contacts may include roommates, coworkers, instructional faculty, classmates, building occupants, and/or maintenance and custodial workers.

If you were not notified as being in close contact with a person who has COVID-19, you do not need to take any action beyond those recommended for all members of our community to protect themselves against COVID-19, including practicing good hygiene and physical distancing, monitoring your health, and staying home if you’re sick.

If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19, but you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 infection, follow the guidance in the FAQI have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. What should I do?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection — such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, sneezing, runny nose), chills, loss of taste or smell — follow the instructions listed in the FAQ “What do I do if I feel sick?” and contact your Employee Health Center. The Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) Employee Health Center can facilitate testing of symptomatic employees through UW Medicine.

Additional guidance is available from Public Health – Seattle & King County and Washington State Department of Health.

The University works closely with UW Medicine, local public health departments and UW units to identify UW community members who test positive for COVID-19. Cases are reported to the EH&S; however, not all cases are reported to EH&S. The case counts may not include all cases of COVID-19 among UW community members.

Questions about the UW’s response to COVID-19 can be directed to the Environmental Health & Safety Department at ehsdept@uw.edu or 206.543.7262.

Where can I find information about current research and clinical trials at the UW?

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences maintains a list of Current UW COVID-19 Clinical Research for interested researchers and study participants.

 

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Information for students

New and prospective Huskies: Visit the Office of Admissions for detailed FAQs on COVID-19 and admissions.

Classes and instruction will be offered remotely throughout spring quarter and for full- and A-term summer courses, with no in-person classes. A special page with spring quarter information relevant for students has been set up to supplement the information below.

The UW plans to be back this fall for in-person instruction and expects to provide specific details in mid-June to early July. More information is available in the University operations section of this FAQ.

What options are there for students who do not have access to technology at home?

Currently enrolled students at the Seattle campus can access the Student Technology Loan Program, which allows students to borrow laptops, tablets and other equipment for free. Visit their site to see real-time equipment inventory and learn more.

Students at UW Bothell may borrow laptops and other technology via the UW Bothell Laptop and Wifi Hotspot Lending Program.

Students at UW Tacoma may borrow laptops and other technology by contacting the UW Tacoma IT Helpdesk.

Why isn’t the UW holding in-person commencement exercises for the graduating class this year?

In order to continue protecting the health of students, families and the broader community during this unprecedented situation, we plan to honor all of our graduating seniors, graduate and professional students in two ways. The first will be this spring when we will conduct a live, worldwide, interactive webcast on June 13, 2020. Please visit the Bothell, Seattle or Tacoma commencement sites for information specific to your campus.

Graduates of the class of 2020 are also invited and encouraged to fully participate in an in-person commencement ceremony for them on their respective campuses in 2021, where we look forward to recognizing them and the sacrifices they have made. The ceremony will be a well-earned opportunity for members of the Class of 2020 to walk across the stage with their classmates in front of their loved ones. We are still determining whether the Class of 2020 in-person commencement will be included as part of the Class of 2021’s commencement ceremony, or grow into its own separate ceremony if enough 2020 graduates decide to return for the event, as we hope they will. The postponement to June 2021 gives us ample time to work with our graduates on how they would like this event to take shape.

The determination that we could not safely have in-person ceremonies this year was one of the hardest decisions we have made in response to the pandemic. We share the disappointment felt by so many families that COVID-19 has forced us to find new ways to honor our graduates, just as it is forcing so many changes in our society. We are committed to creating experiences that honor and celebrate our graduates’ achievements. We made this decision, in consultation with student leaders, our academic leadership and Regents, and the Office of Ceremonies, based on our commitment to health and safety as well as equity and fairness. We cannot predict when it will be safe or feasible to hold an in-person ceremony for thousands of graduates and guests. Many students and families are managing personal and financial stress and/or have future plans that makes selecting a reasonable date outside of the traditional commencement calendar challenging. Commencement is an event that unites our community and it must continue to reflect our values of inclusivity, diversity and equity.

Additionally, the lead time needed to organize and plan for such large ceremonies is significant and does not provide flexibility for fluid scheduling, given the magnitude of people and resources required.

What restrictions are there on fieldwork?

Any fieldwork that violates University of Washington restrictions, such as on travel or gatherings, or mandates by the governor of Washington state or local health officials, should be canceled. If fieldwork does not violate those mandates, you should be in close contact with your faculty advisor/sponsor as you determine how and whether to proceed. This conversation, with a clear agreement between the parties, should take place regardless of whether the work is funded by a grant/contract or other UW funding procured by the faculty member or the student/postdoc to conduct the work.

Please also carefully review the Office of Research’s guidance on mitigating impacts to research activities.

What happens if I am defending my dissertation?

If you are a doctoral student who will defend your dissertation in winter or spring quarter, the Graduate School has waived the requirement that the Graduate School Representative (GSR) must be physically present during general exams and dissertation defenses. Also, the student no longer needs to be “proctored,” which means that they do not need to be on campus and in a room with a faculty member.

Do public defenses need to be postponed?

For as long as Washington state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” directive is active, public defenses will need to be converted to a livestream format. Even after the order expires, public defenses should take place only if all the health guidelines are in place and that all waivers regarding GSR and proctoring are utilized so that neither students nor committee members need be present.

What can students in residence halls and other communal living situations do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The community transmission of COVID-19 is continuing locally, in the region, and in the United States. Do your part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It’s critical to minimize the number of people who get seriously ill at the same time in order to reduce burden on our health care system. If that happens, people at higher risk for severe illness may not be able to get the care they need.

Students who live in residence halls and communal housing should take these steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay calm – Remember that when young adults get sick with COVID-19, they usually have mild symptoms.
  • Clean your room and bathroom daily – Use a disinfectant to clean high-touch surfaces regularly, such as door handles, light switches, remotes and phones.
  • Practice physical distancing – Maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Avoid parties and get-togethers.
  • Wash your hands – Good handwashing hygiene is even more important for people living in close proximity. Use soap and water, scrub for 20 seconds and dry your hands. Repeat often.
  • Don’t touch your face. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.

The University is following guidance from local health departments and has taken the following steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces twice each day, with more frequency in the dining facilities.
  • Dining facilities are operating consistent with state and local public health orders.
  • Fitness centers and maker spaces are closed until further notice.
  • All events and programs are cancelled until further notice.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection — such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, sneezing, runny nose), chills, loss of taste or smell — follow the instructions listed in the FAQ “What do I do if I feel sick?” and contact the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) Employee Health Center.

When should students consider missing class?

Spring quarter began with remote instruction on March 30, with fully remote instruction continuing through the end of the quarter, eliminating the need to physically stay home from class, however illness may cause you to miss a remote class session.

You should take steps you normally would when sick, including focusing on caring for your health, contacting your healthcare provider if you feel you need to, and in the event you miss a class session due to illness, working with your instructor on any necessary arrangements for making up coursework.

In general, if you are sick, stay home.

Please see the “What do I do if I feel sick?” question for more information.

 

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Information for faculty and other academic personnel

The UW Center for Teaching and Learning offers updated teaching and grading information and resources for remote learning environments. UW Bothell faculty may also review additional information about instructional continuity from the Office of Digital Learning & Innovation. UW Tacoma faculty can find information on the UW Tacoma Instructional Continuity webpage.

Should faculty and other academic personnel ask students who miss remote classes or course work following an illness to provide documentation or physician’s note?

Even in a situation involving remote instruction, “Instructors are strongly discouraged from requiring medical or legal documentation from a student for any absences. Requiring such documentation places burdens on all parties involved,” according to the Faculty Council on Academic Standards Syllabus Guidelines. The syllabus guidelines recommend that instructors offer students accommodations, such as makeup exams, alternate assignments, or alternate weighting of missed work. The UW Center for Teaching and Learning offers updated information and resources for technology and pedagogical best practices that can help you and your students in the event of any missed class time.

Will COVID-19 impact promotion/tenure-review schedules?

Using President Cauce’s declaration of “extraordinary circumstances” under Executive Order 27, the Office of Academic Personnel is implementing a provision for automatic eligibility to waive the 2019-20 academic year from the mandatory promotion clock. This is similar to the automatic eligibility to have a year waived from the promotion/tenure clock in the case of the birth or adoption of a child. Automatic eligibility means that the faculty members must request a clock waiver, but upon request it will be automatically approved.

The details for seeking an extension to the promotion/tenure clock through this clock waiver provision are available on the Office of Academic Personnel website.

I am a faculty member who has been instructed by my physician or Employee Health (UW Medicine) to self-isolate due to unprotected and direct COVID-19 exposure. Should I apply for faculty sick leave?

At the University of Washington, faculty do not formally track paid time off for reasons other than sick time off under the Faculty Sick Leave Policy. Faculty sick leave (i.e., paid sick time) covers: a) your own serious health condition as certified by your healthcare provider; b) temporary disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or recovery therefrom; or c) care for a family member with a serious health condition.

If you have been directed to self-isolate for up to 14 days, you should continue to follow your unit’s procedure for short-term absences. For example, this might involve informing your supervisor (chair/director/campus dean/dean), who can help you arrange for remote work or with reassignment of responsibilities. And for specific suggestions related to research activities, see the updates from the Office of Research.

If your absence occurs during a time in which you are otherwise entitled to receive a salary from the University, you will continue to receive your salary. If your condition changes and you have a serious health concern, you may be entitled to use up to 90 days of faculty sick leave, using the process outlined by Academic HR. Your Academic HR Business Partners are available to offer guidance by contacting: apleaves@uw.edu.

Where can I find information about child care resources?

Additional child care options are also available, and UWHR maintains a page with details. The University is actively working to add additional resources, which will be prioritized for employees essential for campus and medical center operations and who don’t have other child care options.

 

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Information for staff and student workers

Should supervisors allow employees to work remotely?

Under Governor Inslee’s new “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, teleworking is mandatory for employees who can do so without hampering critical operations. Supervisors should also work with their employees to maintain employment and pay to the greatest extent possible. Helpful guidance can be found on the HR website. If you have questions about how to assist employees in need, please reach out to your HR consultant.

UWHR has published Working through COVID-19, an online resource dedicated to housing UWHR communications and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak. You can find new support resources and guidance for setting up temporary remote work arrangements with clarity and confidence.

What resources exist for employees and supervisors on topics like telework and time off?

UWHR has published Working through COVID-19, an online resource dedicated to housing UWHR communications and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak. You can find new support resources and guidance for setting up temporary remote work arrangements with clarity and confidence.

What technology can I use to work remotely?

Staff and student workers can prepare for the possibility of disruptions by becoming familiar with the technology tools that make it possible to work even when you can’t get to campus. UW Information Technology offers free tools for videoconferencing, chat, collaboration, online storage, and more. Find out what tools you can use in this helpful tech guide for working remotely.

Where can I find information about child care resources?

UWHR has organized additional child care options. Please note that some are prioritized for UW Medicine and other employees who are critical to the response to COVID-19.

Eligible staff can take a family care emergency absence when regularly scheduled care plans are interrupted due to a school, camp, facility closure and/or the unexpected absence of a care provider. Family care emergencies apply to both child and elder care situations.

When can I use accrued sick time off?

If you are sick, stay home. Staff and student workers should continue to follow their unit’s procedure for requesting sick time off and can find more information on the following webpages about sick time for regular contract covered, classified, and professional staff and for temporary and student hourly employees.

Additionally, President Cauce has authorized expanded use of sick time off to cover situations that may be unique to the risks posed by COVID-19. For example, if your duties cannot be performed remotely and you have a significant health concern that makes you feel unsafe in the workplace. Sick time off can also be used if you have had direct exposure to COVID-19 and you have been directed to complete a 14-day self-isolation. Your HR consultant is available to offer guidance.

 

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University operations

How is the UW affected by Governor Inslee’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order?

The University remains open and critical functions continue. Governor Jay Inslee’s order, subsequently extended to May 31, strengthens mandates already in place to encourage physical distancing, a crucial measure for slowing the spread of COVID-19 by flattening the curve of new diagnosed cases. The UW already has many of the most important elements of the order in place and will now transition to restricted operations and operate as allowable under the governor’s order. This includes proceeding with remote instruction during spring quarter as planned. Our first priority is to keep our community health and safe, which means:

      • Staff who are sick must stay home.
      • All employees who can telework or work from home without impacting critical operations must be allowed to do so. Supervisors should be documenting telework plans and agreements.
      • Employees who must come to work to maintain critical operations need to adhere to appropriate physical distancing and safety standards.

Because each employee’s circumstances are different, please talk to your supervisor for additional guidance. Your HR representative is also available to discuss concerns.

Is there a timeline for decisions about autumn quarter? What considerations will factor into those decisions?

We are planning to be back this fall for in-person instruction and expect to provide specific details in mid-June to early July. We are working on many scenarios, and each week provides more public health information to inform our decisions. At this time, we anticipate an autumn quarter that includes both in-person and remote elements. For example, some larger classes could be held online with smaller sections held in-person as long as everyone in the room practices physical distancing.

We will also take measures to protect the health and safety of our community across all campus spaces, including increasing testing and contact tracing to spot any potential outbreaks early in development.

No one can safely say our campuses, state or region will be “back to normal” by the fall. Our public health colleagues describe the approach to physical distancing as a dial that can be turned up and down based on whether the virus flares up again. We will continue to ground our decisions in the best available public health guidance and encourage maximum flexibility to ensure peoples’ health and well-being.

If this outbreak continues, will the University close? What happens if I live on campus?

In response to Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the UW is moving from modified operations to restricted operations. Our University campuses never close, and our hospitals, clinics, critical research and limited residential operations continue. Spring quarter began with remote instruction on March 30, with fully remote instruction continuing through the end of the quarter. All preparations for remote learning during spring quarter are authorized to continue, including for faculty and teaching assistants who periodically need to access on campus technologies to prepare lectures and coursework.Online student support services for advising, financial aid, libraries and career services will be available, and staffing adjustments are underway to expand our service capabilities. Our campuses will remain open to serve all those who rely on our services, although with some limited operations.

Please visit the spring quarter FAQ for more information relevant to students.

The University has extensive and thorough emergency procedures and is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the health and safety of our community. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities, but since the UW includes health care facilities and other critical operations, it never fully closes. Our residence halls will remain available to students who need to reside on campus. All students who remain on campus will be required to stay in residence halls or apartments with private bathrooms to limit shared hygienic spaces and encourage physical distancing.

For those who do live on or near a campus and wish to access campus services, modified operations will be in place. Most UW employees who can work from home are already doing so. With the governor’s new order, all employees who can telework without hampering critical operations must do so; teleworking is no longer strongly encouraged or strongly suggested; it is mandatory for employees who can do so without hampering critical operations. Facilities such as libraries, dining services, and many offices will have very limited operations that minimize in-person interaction and/or will be operated remotely.

In the event that a quarantine involving students becomes necessary, we are preparing for a multi-faceted response that would include providing food service and/or moving students off-campus or to sequestered areas of the residence halls. In the event many cases are diagnosed, those who could safely leave the campus would be encouraged to do so, thereby increasing our capacity to assist others who are unable to travel.

As a reminder, the University is coordinating closely with county public health agencies and the Washington State Department of Health on its response, including contingency planning, and will continue to do so.

What do we know about the outlook for the UW’s finances? How is the UW planning for potential budget cuts?

While much uncertainty remains, each day we learn more about how the economic crisis caused by the pandemic is affecting our state and our University. UW Medicine projects a loss of more than $500 million by the end of summer 2020 due to the steep decline in non-coronavirus procedures and care, and the first wave of lost revenue also impacted UW’s auxiliary units, such as Housing and Food Services, Intercollegiate Athletics and Facilities.

We expect to have more information about the potential for additional federal stimulus funds, fall enrollment and state revenues in the coming weeks. The next state revenue forecast in mid-June will be of particular importance, given the core operating funds that the UW receives from the state of Washington.

UW leadership has already taken preventive action by prohibiting all but essential hiring and reducing spending. We are assessing numerous budget scenarios that include a range of mitigations and reductions. We will do everything possible to avoid layoffs, including actively looking for reassignment options where peoples’ current roles cannot be performed remotely or are reduced due to physical distancing restrictions. If other options are exhausted, we will explore furloughs wherever possible, which are intended to be temporary and allow people to receive unemployment and keep work-related benefits including health insurance. As we face the difficult road ahead, we will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of students, staff, faculty and patients, and the core of our mission: teaching and research.

What are current restrictions on campus events?

Effective March 23, 2020, all public and private gatherings are prohibited by order of Governor Jay Inslee. The restriction is in effect until May 31, 2020, and may be extended pending public health guidance. All official UW events should be canceled, postponed or converted to remote participation.

Are UW Libraries open?

At this time, all physical branches of the UW Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma libraries are closed to the public until further notice, pending the guidance of public health officials and the University. While Libraries buildings are closed, Libraries staff are available to provide a range of remote learning services for students and faculty such as 24/7 chat services, interlibrary loan (for electronic articles and materials only), and research consultations offered through Zoom. Faculty and other academic personnel may also consult the Libraries’ top 5 resources for faculty. For full details and updates on all locations and available services visit the UW Libraries coronavirus page and see also: A Message from the Dean: Libraries FAQ and Response

Should supervisors allow employees to work remotely?

In accordance with Governor Inslee’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, all employees who can perform their work remotely without hampering critical operations must telework. Supervisors should also work with their employees to maintain employment and pay to the greatest extent possible. If you have questions about how to assist employees in need, please reach out to your HR consultant.

UWHR has published Working through COVID-19, an online resource dedicated to housing UWHR communications and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak. You can find new support resources and guidance for setting up temporary remote work arrangements with clarity and confidence.

Are campus visits, tours and information sessions being offered?

Campus tours and admission information sessions will not be held March 6 – July 22, however, we invite you to take a virtual self-guided tour and/or register for a virtual information session. The Office of Admissions will keep the admissions visit website up to date with the latest scheduling information. Major impacts to campus operations are also posted on the Admissions website or the UW home page. Visit Seattle also has resources about COVID-19 for anyone interested in the city.

What guidelines are in place to protect employees who are working or who will come back to work as public health restrictions start to ease?

We are reviewing and updating our protocols to ensure our employees can return to work safely. Updated guidelines include having employees monitoring their health for COVID-19 symptoms and completing daily attestations confirming they don’t have symptoms before they come to work on one of our campuses; masking policies, which UW Medicine has already implemented; and enhanced cleaning protocols especially in communal spaces and high-touch areas.

The UW’s workplace guidelines are developed with public health experts, including those who are advising the state and local government about workplace best-practices. Our Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, Environmental Health & Safety, and UW Medicine experts are key participants in this guidance.

How does the UW clean and disinfect?

The UW Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) has cleaning and disinfection protocols for campus partners that comply with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The University’s custodial cleaning program follows the cleaning and disinfection protocols to daily clean high touch points such as door handles, banisters, and elevator buttons, public and common area restrooms, and break rooms. In addition, cleaning and custodial staff have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection activities across campus as an additional preventive measure.

Hand sanitizer dispensers and containers with at least 60% alcohol concentration have been placed throughout each campus in high traffic areas and locations where soap and hot water are not readily available. More dispensers and containers will be added as inventory becomes available.

When a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is known to have been on campus, the specific locations where the person spent time are evaluated for enhanced cleaning and disinfection, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additional information is available from UW Facilities and Housing & Food Services on how we are responding to the novel coronavirus.

Are support and reporting options still available if someone experiences sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or relationship violence?

Yes, SafeCampus, confidential advocates, the Office of the Title IX Coordinator, and the offices that investigate reports of misconduct are all still available by email, phone, or Zoom. For immediate support and consultation, or to be connected with a confidential advocate, contact Safe Campus at 206-685-7233. You can also reach a confidential advocate directly by phone or e-mail.

To make an inquiry or report to an investigation office, there are several ways to make a report.

For consultation or any other concerns related to sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or compliance with Title IX, contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator.

 

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Research and laboratory operations

The Office of Research has created a page with details on how to mitigate the impacts to research, which includes guidance on research operations during the period of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

What planning should research groups and researchers undertake to mitigate the effects of any disruptions due to COVID-19?

The Office of Research has issued specific guidance for researchers on all three campuses, which is updated regularly and includes a checklist for researchers. This checklist includes:

      1. Identify emergency personnel and ensure they know what to do in the event of suspended operations
      2. Remind lab personnel of your communication plan or create one if not in place
      3. Identify priorities in case of restricted access
      4. Ensure remote access to files, data, servers, etc.
      5. Prioritize experiments
      6. Plan for remote proposal submission
      7. Check travel restrictions before making travel plans.

Please refer to the Office of Research’s COVID-19 page for more information. The HHRB and IRB are fully operational; if you need to reach them, you can find more information at the bottom of that page.

Do the same policies regarding classroom instruction apply to lab research?

No, however, under Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, employees who can telework without hampering critical operations must do so. Every researcher who can work remotely must stay home for the duration of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. PIs/faculty sponsors must provide maximum flexibility to their RAs/postdocs in terms of completing lab work. There must be no expectation that personnel come to campus or to their usual workplace to conduct any research activities that can be adapted to telework.

How can laboratories and research spaces prevent the spread of COVID-19?

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your labs and other work spaces, please read and implement the following EH&S guidance documents and resources:

Much like the rest of the University, EH&S is operating with fewer staff members on campus and more working remotely. EH&S is collecting waste, reviewing and responding to research applications, and providing ongoing health and safety support for campus. The Institutional Safety Committees, Institutional Biosafety Committee and Radiation Safety Committee are operational and meeting remotely.

University Facilities staff members are implementing enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, tables, computer keyboards, handrails and exercise rooms).

EH&S asks research laboratories and facilities to also implement enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces. This includes switches, benchtops, commonly used hand tools and shared PPE:

  • Disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces with an EPA-registered disinfectant, an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol or a 10% bleach/water solution.
  • It is also recommended that all departments purchase single-use disinfectant wipes for touch points within their work spaces.
  • Avoid putting disinfectant gels or liquids on electronics and other equipment, including elevator buttons, unless they have been indicated as safe to use on those devices.
  • Additional guidance is available in the EH&S enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.

If you have any questions about cleaning and disinfecting work spaces or about resources for addressing health and safety issues, please contact EH&S Research & Occupational Safety at labcheck@uw.edu or 206.685.3993.

EH&S has moved some instructor-led classroom courses to an online format and delayed others to occur in July 2020 in accordance with physical distancing guidelines. (For this same reason, Labor and Industries will not cite renewal expirations.) Please check the EH&S Training page for updates on instructor-led courses.

Additional information can be found on the Office of Research’s Mitigating Impacts to Research Activities Due to COVID-19 webpage.

 

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UW Medicine hospitals and clinics

For more about care and services during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit UW Medicine’s central coronavirus page.

What is UW Medicine doing about coronavirus?

All of the UW Medicine hospitals have protocols in place to assess the risk for someone presenting to an emergency department or clinic with this infection. People with cold- or flu-like symptoms are being asked to wear a mask and also about travel history in the prior 14 days. People who we feel might have the virus are moved out of public spaces and into rooms where they can be taken care of safely. UW School of Medicine faculty and researchers are working on learning more about the virus, creating new tests, and developing possible treatments and even vaccines.

As a patient, should I be worried about getting infected with novel coronavirus at a UW hospital or clinic?

All hospitals and clinics have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and healthcare workers safe and so you should not avoid seeking care out of concerns over the coronavirus. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please contact the clinic or hospital first so they can advise you.

Are there any restrictions on visitors at UW Medicine facilities?

As of March 10, all routine visiting is suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our patients, staff and community. UW Medicine will allow visitors in crucial times based on the exceptions listed in their guidelines. In all cases a visitor will only be allowed if they do not have symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath).

 

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Travel and study abroad

Are there restrictions on travel by UW employees?

International travel

  • All travel outside the U.S. by University of Washington employees and students is restricted until further notice, effective March 20, 2020. Read more about this policy at the UW Office of Global Affairs.
  • This restriction is informed by the global “Level 4: Do Not Travel” health advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State.
  • Faculty and staff researchers may apply for an exceptional waiver to the current official travel restrictions only if their travel is endorsed as essential by their Dean and by the UW Office of Research. The Provost and the UW International Travel Risk Assessment and Safety Committee (ITRASC) will review applications on a case-by-case basis. Please follow steps outlined here to request a waiver.
  • These restrictions do not apply to personal travel. However, we strongly encourage you to avoid travel and review applicable travel warnings.

Domestic travel

  • All employees are strongly encouraged to cancel or postpone domestic university travel that is not essential to business, academic or research continuity. Supervisors approving travel for employees should use their best judgement.
  • The University’s clinical care, education and research activities are essential to the health of local communities and to the region’s, nation’s and world’s response to COVID-19. To protect and preserve our health sciences workforce’s capability to identify and care for patients, as well as track and analyze the spread of disease, all work-related travel for UW Medicine, School of Dentistry and School of Public Health employees, as well as School of Pharmacy staff working in hospitals and clinics, is restricted through May 31, 2020. Guidance has also been issued to employees in these areas regarding personal travel and limiting visits and meetings. That guidance and more information is available from UW Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the School of Pharmacy (pdf) and the School of Public Health.

I am currently outside the U.S. on official travel for the UW. What should I do?

If you are currently outside the United States, please take these steps:

  • Connect with the embassy of your nationality (U.S. Embassy – American Citizen Services for U.S. citizens abroad). If you haven’t done so already, sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates directly from the Embassy (you can sign up for STEP even if you are not a U.S. citizen). The U.S. Embassy website may also provide a list of recommended medical providers or hospitals.
  • Monitor local news and reputable international outlets for updates.
  • Be prepared to “shelter in place.” If you must shelter in place, by acquiring safe food and water supplies to last you several days (ideally two weeks) in case of acute shortages.
  • Travelers should expect very long wait times. Bring your own food and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.) if possible to avoid being left without.
  • If you have a medical condition that prevents you from sheltering in place, send an email to travelemergency@uw.edu. For urgent matters, call the UW Global Emergency Line at 206-632-0153.
  • Download UW emergency contacts directly to your phone. Click this link while on your mobile device: https://www.keynect.us/user/UWGLOBAL
  • Monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of State.

Additional information for UW students currently abroad:

  • You are still covered by the UW Student Abroad Insurance for the coverage period purchased.
  • As a reminder, the UW Student Abroad Insurance through CISI does not cover travel cancellations or delays. Only evacuations that are medically necessary are covered by the insurance. Government (U.S. or foreign government) travel restrictions or border closings do not qualify for an insured evacuation.
  • UW Study Abroad students please visit the COVID-19 page for more information and closely monitor your email for updates.

Additional information for UW employees currently abroad:

What should I do after returning from international travel?

Due to the widespread, ongoing transmission of the novel coronavirus worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructs travelers to stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from all international travel.

During this 14-day period, take these steps to monitor your health and practice physical distancing:

  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times each day and monitor for fever. Use this temperature logto record your temperature. Also watch for symptoms, such as cough or trouble breathing, and note them on the log.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares.
  • Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

Any UW faculty, staff, student or visiting scholar who is having symptoms of COVID-19 infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should stay home and not go to work.

First: Contact your health provider in advance. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without contacting it first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic. Telemedicine may also be available, enabling you to consult a provider from home.

Second: Check in with one of the following UW contacts for symptom monitoring.

  • UW Medicine personnel should contact Employee Health Services (UWMC – Montlake at 206-598-4848, UWMC – Northwest at 206-668-1625, or Harborview Medical Center at 206-744-3081).
  • All other UW Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma students, staff, faculty and other academic personnel should contact UW Environmental Health & Safety’s (EH&S’s) Employee Health Center at emphlth@uw.edu or 206-685-1026.

 

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Student visas

International Student Services: Coronavirus information for F1 & J1 students

The UW is transitioning to remote learning for spring quarter. Can I return home for classes? Will my F-1 SEVIS record and I-20 remain valid?

On March 18, President Cauce announced spring quarter courses will be held remotely More information and answers to many questions are available at Facts and Information Regarding Spring Quarter 2020.

As an international student, additional factors to consider when making your decision about spring quarter:

      • Technology challenges with online study from home
      • Time differences in case of synchronous classes

The U.S. government confirmed that international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as additional information concerning the scope and length of this situation becomes clearer. More information can be found on the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement document, “COVID-19: Guide for Student and Exchange Visitor Programs Stakeholders (PDF).”

This will allow ISS to keep F-1 and J-1 SEVIS records active for students studying online full-time, either in the U.S. or at home.

The best way to receive updated information is to check the ISS coronavirus information website, which will post updates as soon as more information becomes available.

I am considering returning home for spring quarter and possibly summer quarter as well? What should I do?

Every student’s situation is different and we understand your concern about the current situation. We want to reassure you that the University is taking all necessary precautions to protect students, staff, and the broader UW community.

On March 18, President Cauce announced spring quarter courses will be held remotely More information and answers to many questions are available at Facts and Information Regarding Spring Quarter 2020. We encourage you to review the information about spring quarter classes being offered remotely as you may still decide to take spring quarter off, but you may want to consider taking courses remotely, whether you remain in the U.S. or return home.

It is important to understand the impact taking time off from your studies may have on your immigration status. If you decide to take spring quarter (and possibly summer quarter) off, please review the following information.

Also, consider these factors before making your decision:

      • Are you completing winter quarter or withdrawing from winter quarter?
      • How many quarters do you plan to be away from UW?
      • Are you close to graduation? Do you plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

If you still have questions after reviewing the above web pages, sign up for one of our U.S. Government Updates for International Students between March 16-23. Each session can host 300 students so please register in advance. Webinars will be offered on different days and times to accommodate all schedules.

I am nearing the end of my F-1 status and my plan was to return to my home country. I would prefer to stay in the U.S. for now. What are my options?

Every student’s situation is different. UW’s International Student Services (ISS) office encourages you to review the Final Quarter Checklist to understand your options. If you have additional questions or wish to meet with an ISS adviser, complete the ISS Have a Question form so an ISS adviser can reply to your specific questions.

I am currently in my home country but was planning to return to the UW for spring quarter classes. If I am unable to return to the U.S. due to coronavirus restrictions in my country, what should I do?

Every student’s situation is different.

On March 18, President Cauce announced spring quarter courses will be held remotely More information and answers to many questions are available at Facts and Information Regarding Spring Quarter 2020. We encourage you to review the information about spring quarter classes being offered remotely as you may want to consider enrolling in spring quarter remotely from home. The ISS office is receiving a very high volume of emails, however, so it may take 2-4 business days for a reply. Continue to monitor this page for updates and new information.

Options to consider:

      • Continue to monitor the situation until we are closer to spring quarter. The UW is waiting for updates from the U.S. government to see if there will be exceptions or accommodations for students needing to return for studies.
      • Leave of Absence
      • Vacation Quarter (if eligible)
      • Medical Reduced Course Load (if applicable)
      • Study Abroad credits/Independent Study/online courses

If you have further questions after reviewing the above web pages, complete the ISS Have a Question form and an ISS adviser will reply to you directly about your options. The ISS office is receiving a very high volume of emails, however, so it may take 2-4 business days for a reply. Continue to monitor this page for updates and new information.

 

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Scholar visas

I already have a visa sponsored through UW ISO, but I am unable to travel to the U.S. due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. What can I do?

Contact your host department and ISO. Additionally, we recommend monitoring the news, U.S. travel guidance, and this UW web page for updates.

What should I do if I am on a visa sponsored by ISO and recently arrived or returned to the U.S. from a country subject to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice due to COVID-19?

The University requests that any person who traveled in a country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice due to COVID-19 take the following steps before arriving on campus:

1) Stay home for 14 days.
2) Monitor your health.
Please see the Travel and Study Abroad section above for more guidance on this. Specifically refer to the question “What should I do if I traveled to a country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice due to COVID-19…?”

If you are an arriving J-1 exchange visitor, please also contact the following:

1) Your host department.
2) International Scholars Operations (ISO).

While J-1 exchange visitors must attend a J-1 Check-in Session at ISO within 30 days of the start date on the DS-2019 form, those who are unable or are uncomfortable attending in person may contact acadvisa@uw.edu to request a remote check-in.

My J-1 visa sponsored through UW International Scholars Operations (ISO) expires soon, but I can’t book a flight home. What can I do?

Contact your host department and ISO. The host department may be able to request a J-1 visa extension. If you are not eligible for an extension, but want to learn about other options for remaining in the U.S. legally, please consider consulting a private immigration attorney. Resources, including low-cost and pro bono attorney options, are available.

I have a J-1 visa sponsored through UW ISO that will start soon, but I can’t get a visa appointment or a flight to the U.S. What can I do?

Contact your host department and ISO about revising your program dates. We also recommend monitoring the news, airline travel information and this page for updates. Please note that due to the evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak and associated travel limitations, there is no certainty as to when travel restrictions will be lifted.

I have an H-1B visa sponsored through UW ISO that will start soon, but I can’t get a visa appointment or am unable to travel to the U.S. What can I do?

Contact your host department and ISO.

I am an international scholar on a UW-sponsored visa. Will I be impacted by President Trump’s April 22nd proclamation suspending the entry into the U.S. of certain foreign nationals on immigrant visas?

This proclamation only affects people who are currently outside the United States and who are trying to enter the U.S. using an immigrant visa. Immigrant visas are in a separate class from the nonimmigrant visas that UW sponsors. Anyone attempting to enter the U.S. using a UW-sponsored nonimmigrant visa, or already in the U.S. on a UW-sponsored visa, should not be affected by this proclamation.

 

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