Novel coronavirus information

Autumn quarter health and safety

The UW is changing COVID-19 policies after the end of spring quarter. Learn more.
Masks remain recommended in facilities where they aren't otherwise required.

Last updated: Oct. 19, 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the University’s top prority remains the health and well-being of our community. We remain very encouraged by the numbers of UW community members who report being fully vaccinated, with vaccination rates well above 90% for students and personnel who have completed their UW vaccination attestation.

This page documents the details of the UW’s current health and safety measures, which are based on state requirements, recommendations from UW health experts, guidance from the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases and consultations with many faculty experts and Faculty Senate leadership.

Vaccinations required for all students and personnel

All students and personnel are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to confirm that they are fully vaccinated before returning to in-person courses or work.  The only exemptions are for documented medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs — “philosophical” exemptions are no longer accepted.

The most important information and updates are summarized below, with additional details and follow-up instructions to come. Please read these requirements carefully, even if you have already turned in an attestation. In keeping with new vaccination requirements from the state, our policies for students and all personnel have been updated.


If you are vaccinated

All vaccinated UW students must now upload vaccination documentation, such as a vaccination card or other vaccination record. If you previously completed your attestation, simply upload the documentation. If you have not yet completed your attestation, you can do so when you upload your proof of vaccination. The deadline to upload your vaccination documentation is Oct. 29, 2021.

All vaccination documentation will be reviewed by Hall Health Center staff. You will only be contacted if there are issues or questions about your documentation. Students who submit false or inaccurate information on an attestation or as part of the vaccine verification process are subject to disciplinary procedures that can include dismissal from the University.

If you are requesting an exemption

Students with a medical condition or deeply held religious belief that prevents them from receiving an authorized COVID-19 vaccine now need to complete an updated COVID-19 Medical or Religious Exemption Request. This information is collected separately from the student attestation form to allow for appropriate review by Hall Health Center staff. The deadline to provide this documentation is Oct. 29, 2021.

Philosophical exemptions are now prohibited by the state. If you previously submitted a philosophical exemption, please get vaccinated and verify your vaccination status, or submit a medical or religious exemption request.

All documentation will be reviewed and approved by Hall Health Center staff. If you are requesting an exemption, Hall Health will follow up with you directly within several weeks of your request being uploaded. You should attend classes as normal during the review period, except if you are feeling sick or experiencing symptoms. Students who submit false or inaccurate information on an attestation or on an exemption request are subject to disciplinary procedures that can include dismissal from the University.

Importantly, all students receiving an exemption
  • Will be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and upload proof to Hall Health. Instructions on weekly testing will be provided after review and approval of your exemption.
  • May be subject to additional public health and safety measures
  • Will be referred to their campus’ student conduct office for potential disciplinary action if out of compliance with the requirements above

Personnel, including student employees

For UW personnel, vaccination is a condition of employment as of Oct. 18, 2021 under Gov. Inslee’s proclamation. A “condition of employment” means you cannot be employed by the University after that date if you are not vaccinated and do not have an approved exemption.

Masks required inside all UW buildings and facilities

On Aug. 14, the University reinstated an indoor mask mandate for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, which was followed by a state mandate on Aug. 23. The UW’s indoor mask mandate will be in place until health experts advise it is safe to roll back and only after the state removes its indoor mask mandate.

A mask or other suitable face covering is required indoors when other people are present and in all public and common areas, such as lobbies, hallways, stairways, restrooms, elevators and shared vehicles. They are also strongly recommended in crowded outdoor settings.

Masks are also required outdoors at events of 500 people or more, and are strongly encouraged outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Students who do not comply are subject to discipline under the Student Conduct Code through each campus’ disciplinary processes, while personnel are subject to the disciplinary processes governing their specific position. EH&S has guidance and resources for effective enforcement on the Face Covering Requirements page.

Testing options + testing requirement for unvaccinated students

Husky Coronavirus Testing will continue to operate an in-person testing site at the UW Club and make self-test kits available to individuals at all campuses. This service is free to all students and personnel. HCT is a research study and participation is voluntary.

When they received the Back-to-School Checklist, all students were instructed to get tested upon arrival to their on- or near-campus residences. Each on-campus housing resident received a self-test kit at move-in, and self-test kits were also be distributed to Greek housing residents during the return to campus.

Additionally, students who receive a medical or religious exemption from the UW’s vaccination mandate are required to obtain a COVID-19 test weekly and submit their results to the University. These tests can be obtained via Husky Coronavirus Testing or obtained from other providers that use FDA-authorized tests. Details will be shared with these students in the near future regarding how to submit their test results. This policy will be in effect until further notice, and students who do not comply will be subject to disciplinary action under the Student Conduct Code.

Ventilation enhancements in buildings and classrooms

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Facilities has worked closely with EH&S to adjust building ventilation systems as public health guidelines have evolved.

Extra checks of ventilation systems and equipment were initiated, operating hours for mechanical ventilation systems extended, and outside air ventilation rates were increased to the extent possible. Facilities staff also began conducting special out-of-cycle checks on central supply air fan filters and mechanical components such as fans, dampers and cooling/heating coils.

In preparation for greater numbers of students and personnel returning to in-person learning and working this September, and with the state having lifted applicable distancing restrictions, additional classroom airflow tests are being conducted and the University is purchasing over two thousand air purifiers to install as needed in classrooms on the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses.

EH&S has published details on ventilation standards, and clinical and laboratory spaces operate under the ventilation standards specific to the needs of those environments. UW Facilities has produced an overview of the measures undertaken to improve ventilation in campus buildings.

Returning to in-person learning and working, and accommodations for students and personnel

The return to in-person learning in autumn quarter also means the return to in-person work for most employees who were not already working on site. The guidance for staff returning to in-person work after Sept. 10 gives unit leaders and supervisors the flexibility to work with their employees on working arrangements that enable us to prepare for autumn quarter, while also accounting for individual circumstances.

We recognize that some students and personnel have documented medical conditions that place them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Requests for accommodations related to COVID-19 will be handled in the same manner as for other medical conditions. Students should request accommodations from Disability Resources for Students at the Bothell, Seattle, or Tacoma campus. Faculty, academic personnel and staff should request accommodations through the Disability Services Office.

Instructors with other extenuating circumstances not involving a disability accommodation that require special arrangements for altered teaching schedules, or to teach a course remotely, must have their request first approved by a dean or chancellor. These requests will all be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In general, faculty granted such accommodations are expected to be staying at home and not engaging in other outside activities unrelated to their own healthcare or that of dependents.

Staff working arrangements are approved by supervisors under the guidance for returning to in-person work. As was the case in the winter and spring 2021 quarters, the Provost’s Office has created a fund that can be used to support approved disability accommodations or arrangements due to extenuating circumstances at the request of deans or chancellors.

Instructors are not expected to create two versions (in-person and remote) of a course or to handle requests for accommodations that typically go through Disability Resources for Students. Of course, as in years past, students will at times need to miss class due to illness or other special situations, and we would ask that instructors work with students in those circumstances, as they did pre-pandemic. The same pre-pandemic practices for when instructors must miss class also apply.

Proof of vaccination for events

The UW has updated its events guidance to allow units to require proof of vaccination status or a negative test result for attendees at most events.

Because events and event spaces vary so widely on campuses such as ours, the decision to require proof of vaccination is best made at the local level. But we highly encourage all units to take advantage of this provision so that our community can more safely engage in the types of activities that create additional learning experiences and build community.

If you are interested in requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for your event, you are required to follow University guidelines to ensure compliance with applicable non-discrimination and privacy laws and policies. Please review them carefully.

As of Sept. 25, UW Athletics requires proof of vaccination or a negative test result to attend Huskies sporting events.

How we respond to COVID-19 cases

Over the past year and a half, EH&S created and refined its COVID-19 response, including its case notification and contact tracing operations in coordination with state and local public health officials and the School of Public Health.

When there is a positive case, contact tracers work to identify and notify those who may have been exposed, including by working with the manager(s) and/or instructor(s) in any spaces that the person may have been in while infectious. Guidance and a sample notification are provided, and the EH&S team works diligently to respond to the unique circumstances of each case. You can read more about how contact tracing works at the UW.

Please activate and use the WA Notify app, which notifies you of potential exposures and allows you to anonymously do the same for others should you test positive and also supports EH&S contact tracing efforts.

What would cause us to change course

In March 2020, the UW was the first university in the country to move to remote courses. In autumn 2021, we were one of the last to return to largely in-person instruction. Those decisions, along with the many others made along the way, were guided by some of the world’s top health experts and made with health and well-being as our priorities.

We have also considered what would prompt a major change in course, such as a return to largely remote working and/or learning. No single metric can accurately capture a complex public health situation. We will continue to engage in science- and evidence-based decision making, relying on the expertise of our UW, local and state experts to guide us. Several scenarios could lead to a return to largely remote operations, including a major uptick in on-campus transmissions or positivity rates; greatly diminished capacity in our area hospitals; major disruptions in our K-12 schools or transportation systems; or the imposition of state or local restrictions, such as distancing requirements or “stay at home” orders. At this time, none of those scenarios are occurring. We will continue to monitor public health conditions and respond accordingly.

Caring for community

Throughout the academic year, we should all remember to extend grace and kindness to each other. We are only now beginning to fully understand the mental toll of isolation, also a serious health risk of this pandemic that is too often unacknowledged. All of us have experienced some level of loss, stress and strain, and those impacts have been more significant for some than for others. You will often not know the level of stress or anxiety that your classmate or colleagues may be experiencing.

Keep in mind that we all have different comfort levels with risk, and while some may look forward to a handshake or embrace after a long time apart, others will prefer an elbow bump or simple nod of the head or wave. Err on the side of caution. Take advantage of opportunities and commit to habits that keep each other well – physically and mentally. We must each act in ways that recognize how our individual actions, health and well-being are inextricably connected to the health and well-being of our entire community. It is our collective commitment to health protocols and to building and sustaining a diverse and equitable community that will go a long way toward making this academic year a success.