Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 4:48 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

Frequently asked questions about novel coronavirus

Table of contents

In addition to the FAQ below, information and resources for students and for staff, faculty and other academic personnel are available, and UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and UW Medicine also offer additional resources specific to their communities.


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). The virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread in our region and in the United States. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and stay home if you’re sick.

You can contact the Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 800-525-0127 or text “Coronavirus” to 211211. UW Medicine also has a COVID-19 info line at 206-520-2285.

How does COVID-19 spread?

You can spread COVID-19 without having any symptoms, which is why mask-wearing and physical distance are critically important.

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings while in close contact with another person.

Close contact means being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes during a 24 hour period (even if you both wear face coverings), living with or caring for someone with has COVID-19, or having direct contact with infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils).

COVID-19 can also spread is though small droplets and particles that can linger in the air and infect people who are more than 6 feet away. This seems more likely to happen in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, particularly when the infected person is exercising, singing or doing other activity that caused them to breathe heavily.

While less common, COVID-19 can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

We can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by following the three W’s — wearing masks, washing our hands and watching our physical distances — and avoiding crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

COVID-19 symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of these symptoms, stay home. Contact your health-care provider for medical guidance and to discuss getting tested. You can also contact UW Environmental Health & Safety, which can help facilitate testing through UW Medicine:

Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care, emergency room or other health-care facility without contacting them first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic or may suggest a telemedicine appointment instead.

Refer to the FAQ “What do I do if I feel sick?” for additional information.

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

This is an extremely stressful, difficult time for everyone. You don’t have to go through it alone. Support is available to students through campus mental health services:

Additionally, you CAN help stop the spread of COVID-19. This fall and winter, keep social gatherings outdoors, limited to just a couple of people who all wear masks and stay 6 feet apart from each other.

Where can I get more information about the novel coronavirus?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus page has updates on the evolving pubic health situation.

In Washington, you can contact the Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 800-525-0127 or text “Coronavirus” to 211211 for information and updates. UW Medicine also has a COVID-19 info line at 206-520-2285.

For local information, visit the following online resources:

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

There is no connection between race, ethnicity or nationality and the novel coronavirus.

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 hurts innocent people. Sharing accurate information is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading. Public Health — Seattle & King County has compiled resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia. If you know of bias or discrimination in our University community related to the novel coronavirus, please report them using the appropriate UW bias reporting tool:

 

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Prevention and personal health

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you are sick with any potential illness, you must stay home.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection are fever, cough and shortness of breath, and the CDC maintains a more complete list of possible COVID-19 symptoms. If you’re symptomatic, you need to take the following steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  1. If you are enrolled in the Husky Coronavirus Testing program, report your symptoms in your daily symptom survey, and you will receive testing instructions from the Husky Coronavirus Testing program. Stay home while you feel sick and until you receive your test result. Do NOT go to school or work until you receive  your test result, even if you feel better.
    • If your test result is positive, the UW COVID-19 Response Team will contact you. If you receive your test result before hearing from them, please reach out to covidehc@uw.edu or 206-616-3344.
  2. If you are not enrolled in the Husky Coronavirus Testing program, contact your doctor and ask if you should be tested for COVID-19. UW employees can also contact the UW COVID-19 Response Team, which can help you get tested through UW Medicine, at covidehc@uw.edu or 206-616-3344.
  3. To protect the health of others, do NOT visit a doctor’s office, urgent care clinic or other health facility unless you’ve told them in advance that you may have COVID-19.
  4. In any instance, notify the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department as soon as possible if a health care provider says that you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  5. Follow public health guidelines to help you recover and protect loved ones from getting sick. These actions include staying home and physically away from people and pets, wearing a mask whenever you cannot maintain 6 feet of separation from others, and being stringent about hygiene. Our FAQ, “What do I do if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?” has more information about steps that you’ll need to take. You can also learn more from Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health.

I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go? (updated 11/25/20)

The following COVID-19 testing options are provided at no cost to you.

  1. Husky Coronavirus Testing program: We strongly encourage participation among employees and students who are on a UW campus for any reason or who live in shared housing (e.g., apartments with multiple roommates, Greek housing and residence halls). If you have COVID-19 symptoms or had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, note your symptoms and/or exposure in your daily symptom check-in, and you will receive testing instructions. (UW Medicine clinical employees and UW student-athletes should continue to participate in their respective testing programs.)
  2. UW employee testing: If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had close contact with an infected person and are not enrolled in Husky Coronavirus Testing, you can get tested through UW Medicine by contacting the UW COVID-19 Response Team (covidehc@uw.edu or 206-616-3344).
  3. Free testing through local public health departments:

Additional testing options

  1. Hall Health Center: COVID-19 testing is available by appointment only. Please call 206-685-1011 to schedule an appointment.
  2. UW Medicine offers testing for current patients. Visit the patient portal to make an appointment.
  3. Some pharmacies offer COVID-19 testing that is billed to your health insurance.
  4. Your personal health care provider may be able to arrange testing.

Multilingual information about public and private COVID-19 testing options is available on the Washington State Department of Health Testing for COVID-19 page.

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

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Notify the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department as soon as your health care provider confirms or suspects COVID-19.

Additionally, if you have COVID-19, you must take the following steps to protect other people and help you recover:

  • Stay home except for necessary medical care.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Physically isolate yourself from other people and pets.
  • Continue wearing a face covering if you have to be around other people. Ask others to mask up around you, too.
  • Avoid public transit, taxis, carpools and ride-share services.
  • Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
  • Keep up with good hygiene like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces every day, including counters, doorknobs, cell phones and keyboards.

If you begin to have trouble breathing, or your fever climbs above 103 degrees, call 911 and let them know that you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

You need to stay home and away from others until your symptoms improve; you have had at least 24 hours with no fever without taking fever-reducing medication; AND it’s been at least at least 10 days since your symptoms started. EH&S provides helpful guidance on self-isolation and quarantine on their website.

Do I need to contact anyone at the UW if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

Notify the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department as soon as a health care provider confirms or suspects COVID-19.

I may have been exposed to COVID-19. What should I do?

You generally need to have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 to become infected. That means being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes during a 24 hour period (even if you both wore face coverings), living with or caring for a person who has COVID-19, or having direct contact with infectious secretions from activities like being coughed on, kissing or sharing utensils.

Whether or not you have symptoms, you’ll need to stay home and away from other people for at least 14 days after the last date that you spent time with the ill person. You should also get tested for COVID-19 5-7 days after your suspected exposure happened. Even if you receive a negative test result, you must stay home and quarantine for the full 14 days.

If you develop symptoms while you’re staying home, contact the COVID-19 Response Team at covidehc@uw.edu or 206-616-3344. UW Medicine clinical personnel should contact their respective Employee Health Center or ehcovidclinic@uw.edu.

When should I wear a face covering?

At the UW, you must wear a face covering indoors wherever other people may be present, including in common areas such as hallways, stairways, restrooms, elevators and open offices. You must also mask up outdoors if you cannot stay 6 feet apart from other people. See the frequently asked questions about face coverings for more information.

Masks help protect other people in your community from COVID-19 and other viruses, particularly when used along with frequent hand washing, physical distancing and staying home whenever you feel sick.

Your job may have additional, specific personal protective equipment requirements depending on factors like how much you interact with other people. EH&S has guidelines to help supervisors and administrators determine your team’s needs. As a reminder, only employees with unit approval may work onsite at this time.

It’s okay to remove your mask when you’re alone in a private office or when you’re outside away from other people. Wash your hands, touch only the mask’s straps or ties, and wash them again when you’re done. Wash the mask itself whenever you wear it.

Additional Resources:

Is Hall Health Center open for services?

Hall Health Center is open for medical and mental health care to current UW students, as well as medical care to UW faculty, staff and alumni. Call 206-685-1011 to schedule in-person, video and telehealth appointments.

COVID-19 testing at Hall Health Center

Hall Health offers coronavirus-related care to students, staff, alumni and the greater UW community. Call 206-685-1011. We will ask you about your symptoms, living situation, and job (if any) to help determine whether you need to be tested and where that testing might occur. We will determine whether you need to visit the clinic in-person, talk with a nurse by phone or schedule a video visit. Please do not come to Hall Health without calling first.

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.
  • 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.

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.

Learn more about Hall Health Center services.

Medical advice for students

Students can access telehealth nurse advice 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

You need a lab order from a health care provider prior to coming in for testing. Call Hall Health Center at 206-685-1011to arrange for an appointment to get a lab order.

Mental health

If you’re a current UW student and need urgent help day or night, call 866-743-7732 to connect with UW’s partner My SSP.

To schedule an appointment with UW counseling and mental health staff, call 206-543-1240.

What is a COVID-19 antibody test?

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

If you fall into any of the categories listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are considered at increased risk of severe outcome from COVID-19 infection and should try to to stay home and away from public places except for essential activities per public health guidance.

Your health care provider can talk with you about whether your situation puts you at higher risk for severe illness and, if so, how to 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.

 

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About the UW's response

How is the UW testing for coronavirus on campus?

Widespread testing — especially of people who have no symptoms — is one important way to protect our community from COVID-19. That’s why the UW launched the Husky Coronavirus Testing program, which is powered by the Seattle Flu Study team, the group that was the first to report community spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Husky Coronavirus Testing enrollment is open. If you will be on a UW campus or facility for any reason this academic year, particularly if you plan to be there once or more per week, please consider participating.

Testing will be conducted throughout the course of the pandemic on an individualized basis as determined by health risk status and/or risk of exposure. UW Medicine also conducted autumn move-in testing for residence hall students, and SCAN conducted move-in testing for Greek system residents. We fully expect to find positive COVID-19 cases through testing — indeed, doing so is critical to stemming outbreaks before they can grow. Anyone who tests positive receives follow-up guidance from UW Environmental Health & Safety about care, self-isolation and contact tracing. Find out more on our coronavirus testing page.

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 work together 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.

What does the UW do when a member of our community has confirmed COVID-19?

We depend on people to report when they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Peoples’ identities are closely protected and disclosed only on a need-to-know basis, such as a public health response, HR actions, and unit management. Once we receive someone’s report, we take the following steps to protect the health and safety of our campus communities:

  1. We document the person’s symptoms, where they’ve spent time on campus recently and any close contacts, such as anyone who was within 6 feet of the person for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period (even if both people wore masks).
  2. We conduct a risk assessment, which helps us decide on a specific action plan. Our actions may include any or all of the following:
    1. We help the person understand how to take care of themselves and others by staying home and physically apart from other people.
    2. If needed, we notify the person’s academic and/or work unit and provide information about actions that will be taken to prevent the virus’s spread.
    3. We notify people who were in close contact with the person as far back as 48 hours before they developed symptoms. For more information, see our FAQ: “How does the UW follow up with close contacts of a person who tested positive for COVID-19?”
    4. If the person spent time on campus recently, we evaluate and coordinate enhanced cleaning and disinfection of those areas following CDC guidelines.
    5. If the person spent time in a work space on campus recently, we notify coworkers and others who have also been in that space and share information about steps we’re taking to prevent the virus’s spread.

More information about how the UW responds to cases of COVID-19 in the University community is available from UW Environmental Health & Safety.

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

When a student or employee notifies the UW about their positive test result, we begin working with them to reduce the risk of other people getting sick. We work backwards to 48 hours before the person developed symptoms and identify any place on campus where they spent time and people who had close contact with them — that is, anyone who was within 6 feet of the person for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period (even if both people wore masks).

If you’re notified that you may have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, Environmental Health & Safety will help you understand what you need to do, like staying home, monitoring your health for 14 days and getting a COVID-19 test.

UW employees and units, apart from UW Medicine clinical personnel, are required to report confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 to the COVID-19 Response Team at covidehc@uw.edu or 206-616-3344. Peoples’ identities are closely protected and disclosed only on a need-to-know basis, such as a public health response, HR actions, and unit management, and it helps EH&S protect the health of our University communities by acting quickly to trace case contacts.

More information about how the UW responds to cases of COVID-19 in the University community is available from UW Environmental Health & Safety.

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

Current students: In addition to the information below, a summary of key resources for students, including an Autumn Quarter FAQ, is available.

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

In light of current and expected coronavirus case counts in Washington, more than 90% of class sections on the Seattle campus are held online. Only classes that cannot be taught remotely are held in person, with appropriate safety measures and physical distancing in place. 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.

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 work closely 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 Safe Start plan 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:

  • 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. If you do want to meet friends, take steps to minimize risk: keep it under 5 people and stay outdoors, masked and 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands frequently. 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.
  • Don’t touch your face. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • If you live off-campus, consider adopting a roommates agreement.

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.

When should students consider missing class?

While remote instruction eliminates the need to physically stay home from class, 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 health care 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

In addition to the information below, a summary of key resources for employees is available.

The UW Center for Teaching and Learning also 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 or 2020-21 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, EH&S or 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 health care 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 Safe Start plan, telework is strongly encouraged for all non-critical personnel, and all in-person work must adhere to all appropriate safety measures and unit COVID-19 Prevention Plans. 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 Safe Start plan?

The University remains open and critical functions continue. Governor Inslee’s Safe Start plan encourages physical distancing, a crucial measure for slowing the spread of COVID-19 by flattening the curve of new diagnosed cases. 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.

What's the status of autumn quarter operations?

In light of current and expected coronavirus case counts in Washington, more than 90% of class sections on the Seattle campus will be held online. Only classes that cannot be taught remotely will be held in person, with appropriate safety measures and physical distancing in place. Further revisions to our plans could occur if, for example, state or local governments re-introduce more restrictive health measures.

While we are all disappointed that the continued spread of the virus has limited our ability to safely provide more in-person teaching, we continue to be excited about the learning and discovery in store for our academic community. Our faculty, teaching assistants and academic support staff have been engaged in developing innovative and creative approaches to online learning. We look forward to a meaningful and academically-rich autumn, in which we all do our part to protect our community’s health and safety.

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

The UW is following a phased approach to our operations, coordinated with Governor Inslee’s Safe Start plan. You can see what these phases mean to the UW at the Safe Start status page.

As a reminder, our University campuses never close, and our hospitals, clinics, critical research and limited residential operations continued, even after the move to remote instruction for spring quarter.

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. Telework is strongly encouraged for all non-critical personnel, and all in-person work must adhere to all appropriate safety measures and unit COVID-19 Prevention Plans. 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 projected 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. State revenue forecasts, made periodically throughout the year, 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?

Restrictions on events are based on the current phase for each campus under the state’s Safe Start plan and UW Environmental Health & Safety has created COVID-19 prevention guidelines for UW events.

While the University is in phase 2, events are allowed only if necessary, and they must have 5 or fewer people. Events not directly related to academic or critical operations, or hosted by non-UW entities are not currently allowed. You can learn more about the status for the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses and what events are allowed in each phase on the Safe Start status page.

Are UW Libraries open?

While all physical branches of the UW’s Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma libraries remain closed until further notice, all users with an active UW NetID or UW Libraries Borrower’s Card can request physical materials via the Libraries No Contact Pick-Up Service, with options for pick-up at all three campuses.  For full details and updates on all locations and available services visit the UW Libraries COVID-19 Update page.  The Libraries Fall Quarter FAQ for Students is a helpful resource as well as the post Faculty Guidance for Fall Quarter. While Libraries buildings are closed, Libraries staff is 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), research and writing consultations, online workshops and many other events.

Will the HUB be open for services and studying?

The HUB is open with limited operations as an informal learning space for individual UW community members. Access is limited to UW students, faculty, staff, and non-UW guests with previously scheduled appointments. The HUB is only accessible with a Husky Card during specified hours of operation. There are more than 200 seats available for UW community members to comfortably access WiFi for classes, studying, and work. Learn more about visiting the HUB.

Most HUB offices remain available remotely. Please contact individual offices for information.

Should supervisors allow employees to work remotely?

In any instances where UW faculty and staff are teaching, conducting research or providing critical services in person, we are committed to ensuring that you can do so with the appropriate protective measures and in sanitized spaces. Employees who can telework will continue to do so throughout the autumn quarter and we remain committed to supporting all faculty and staff with maximum empathy and flexibility throughout the challenging months ahead.

If you have questions about your specific work circumstances for the fall, we encourage you to speak with your chair or supervisor about your unit’s local COVID-19 Prevention Plan. We also recognize that many faculty and staff have caregiving responsibilities, and we have commissioned a task force to provide recommendations on additional measures we can take to support caregivers in our UW community. The Caregivers Task Force’s recommendations will be complete prior to the start of autumn quarter.

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 are currently on pause, 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?

On May 29, 2020, chancellors, deans, vice presidents and other direct reports to President Cauce and Provost Richards received the COVID-19 Prevention Plan and Safe Start Checklist to use as the basis for developing unit-specific plans. These unit plans are submitted to the Executive Office for review and approval.

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; requiring students, employees and visitors wear face coverings on campuses and at UW Medicine facilities; and enhanced cleaning protocols especially in communal spaces and high-touch areas.

Learn more about these and other measures on the Back-to-the-Workplace Task Force page.

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, including in classrooms, 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.

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

This autumn, research will continue as it has been conducted since the spring, with all appropriate health and safety protocols for laboratory and field work. 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 both should follow the appropriate guidelines based on the current Safe Start phase and the procedures outlined in your campus, school and/or college’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan. For more information, consult with your PI/faculty sponsor and/or unit leadership. If that does not feel like a safe option, you can also contact Environmental Health & Safety directly or submit an anonymous workplace safety concern online.

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 or face covering 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 health care 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.

 

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Travel and study abroad

Are there restrictions on travel by UW employees? (Updated 11/20/20)

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.
  • On August 6th, 2020 the global travel advisories by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC were rescinded and both organizations are reverting to national level advisories for each country. The UW travel restriction is still in effect.
  • Faculty and staff researchers and graduate students may apply for an exceptional waiver to the current official travel restrictions. 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.
  • UW Medicine has restricted work-related travel for all employees effective Nov. 20, 2020, until further notice, in order to protect and preserve its workforce to serve patients and communities in the Puget Sound region and across the state. These restrictions include travel for conferences and meetings related to professional membership societies and associations as well as meetings or gatherings related to grants.

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 precautions should I take before international travel? (Updated 11/25/20)

The UW supports Washington state’s advisory against all non-essential travel. If you must travel internationally during the pandemic, follow CDC pre-travel recommendations, which include receiving a COVID-19 test from 24-72 hours ahead of your scheduled departure. You should do this both on the way to your destination and before you return to the U.S. or other country of origin. Do not travel if you are waiting for test results, test positive, or are sick. Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information. The CDC provides additional recommendations based on the specific country that you are traveling to or from.

What should I do to protect myself and others during my trip? (Updated 11/25/20)

Because the novel coronavirus is widespread around the world, any international travel can expose you to COVID-19. The CDC recommends that you wear a mask, wash your hands and keep at least 6 feet away from other people during all parts of your trip. Follow all local requirements when you arrive at your destination and provide any required or requested health information to local officials.

If you had a known exposure to COVID-19 while travelingdelay further travelquarantine from other people for 14 days after your last known exposure, get tested, and monitor your health.

What should I do to stop the spread of COVID-19 after returning home from international travel? (Updated 11/25/20)

People returning from travel can be contagious without having any symptoms and pose a risk to others for up to 14 days after their initial exposure to the virus.

Make plans to stay home for 7 days and receive a COVID-19 test during the 3-5 days after your return trip. If you aren’t able to be tested, the safest thing to do is stay home for a full 14 days.

Continue to follow good hygiene and prevention measures including wearing a mask around anyone who did not travel with you, staying at least 6 feet away from other people and washing your hands/using hand sanitizer frequently. The CDC provides additional recommendations based on the specific country that you have travelled from.

I recently returned from international travel and am having symptoms. What should I do? (Updated 11/25/20)

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 or class.

In addition to taking the steps below, refer to the FAQ “What do I do if I feel sick? for additional information.

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.

 

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Student visas

International Student Services maintains a page with coronavirus information for F1 & J1 students that features answers to many additional questions.

What is the current status of guidance for international students on F-1 visas?

The UW is pleased with the July 14 news that the U.S. government has agreed to rescind the July 6 SEVP guidance and return to the status quo as established by the March 9, 2020 policy directive and the addendum issued on March 13, 2020. SEVP has released an updated Frequently Asked Questions for Stakeholders.

It is our understanding based on this announcement that continuing students will be allowed to stay in the U.S. or return to the U.S. for either online or in person courses. Continuing students will not be required to register for an in person course to maintain F-1 status. Continuing students who wish to remain outside of the U.S. for autumn quarter and take online courses will be allowed to maintain their F status as long as they continue to follow all F visa regulations. The UW will also not be required to re-issue or certify I-20s and students can maintain their status or travel with their currently endorsed I-20.

International Student Services will continue to update its information page as details become available.

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.

 

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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.?

Please see the Travel and Study Abroad section for more guidance. Specifically refer to the question “What should I do after returning from international travel?”

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

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

All J-1 exchange visitors must request a remote check-in by contacting acadvisa@uw.edu as soon as possible upon arrival in the U.S. See J-1 Check-in for more information.

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 the embassy of your home country for assistance in booking a flight. If you are still unable to return home, 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.

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 to discuss revising your program dates or other assistance that may be available. 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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