Office of the President

March 13, 2020

New state guidance will inform spring quarter instruction and operations

Ana Mari Cauce

Today Governor Jay Inslee announced new measures requiring the University of Washington, and all higher education institutions in the state, to discontinue in-person instruction on our campuses through April 24.

This will require us to begin spring quarter classes with online instruction. Although this mandate by the state comes a few days before we had planned to finalize our decisions about spring quarter, it is consistent with the guidance we have been receiving from public health experts and aligns with our contingency planning. It is important to note there will be limited exceptions, as necessary, for in-person work that can be performed with appropriate social distancing, such as in laboratories and clinics, and in exceptional cases when it is critical to meet the need for cohesive and high-quality instruction and academic progress for our students. Residence halls, dining services, libraries and other essential campus operations will also remain open, although with some limited operations. And, of course, our extraordinary hospitals and clinics will continue to operate. Their care and interventions have never been more vital for our community.

We will provide more detailed instructions to students, faculty and staff about the start of spring quarter no later than March 20.

We encourage supervisors to continue to provide telework options to employees, including student employees, whose job duties can be performed remotely without hampering operations, through April 24, pending further guidance from public health officials. We are also working to address the child care issues that many of our employees are facing, including our first responders, health care providers and public health officials, given the statewide closure of K-12 schools.

I know this latest development will raise many questions and concerns – as well as many emotions, including frustration and disappointment. I ask for your grace and patience as we all work swiftly to address the rapidly changing conditions and challenges in these unprecedented times.

For students in particular, we understand how disruptive this experience is and that you have many questions regarding everything from your academic progress and financial aid to your living situations and visas. Please know that our faculty and staff are working around the clock to prepare for your return to the UW – in whatever evolving form that experience takes – and that your education and community experience is our paramount concern. There is a reason our faculty are acknowledged as some of the most innovative and accomplished in the country. They are making extraordinary preparations to ensure that however your classes in spring quarter are delivered, you will continue to receive high quality teaching that will prepare you for whatever your next step in life might be – graduate studies, or entry into the workplace.

Our shared obligation, above all, is to stay informed and follow the guidance of public health officials: practice social distancing, do not hold or attend large events, keep surfaces disinfected, wash hands, and if you are sick, stay home.

Finally, as I have said and written often these past few weeks, I continue to be uplifted by the essential kindnesses I see you extend to one another. This community is what gives me great confidence and optimism about our ability to endure as we serve our great public mission. My faith is rooted in the extraordinary abilities and dedication that our community is bringing to this endeavor. Thank you all and keep taking care of each other.