Fall 2020 Update from the President
Dear WWU Students and Families,
We hope you are all well and safe. I am writing to provide an update as you prepare for fall quarter.
You will recall that in May, Western’s Fall Academic Planning Group recommended a hybrid model of instruction with most classes offered remotely and approximately 20% of classes offered in person. Unfortunately, since that time infection rates have increased locally, throughout the state of Washington, and in many states around the country. It appears that our nation is in the midst of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, and it will take time to reverse the trend.
In response to the growing number of cases in our state, Gov. Jay Inslee recently extended the pause on counties advancing phases under the state’s Safe Start plan indefinitely, and public health officials are concerned that we will face an even greater spike in infections if we don’t take action now to limit the spread of COVID-19 among our students, faculty and staff, and in our local communities.
Given the alarming rise in the number of cases regionally and nationally, we have made the difficult decision – along with many other institutions in Washington and across the nation – to review our face-to-face classes for fall and move most of them to a remote environment, with limited exceptions for some experiential courses that can be taught safely in-person, such as applied performance classes and some hands-on labs. We now expect to offer 8-10% of our classes in person during the fall quarter.
We made this decision with the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff foremost in our minds, and that principle will continue to guide us going forward. We hope that making the decision at this time, well ahead of the start of fall quarter, allows you to make appropriate arrangements.
Cancellations and Closures
Fall athletics have been canceled: As of July 17, all Fall Quarter intercollegiate athletics have been suspended by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference until at least Nov. 30. Find out more here.
Most public buildings on campus are closed to the public, including:
- Carver Academic Facility, including the gyms and fitness center
- Lakewood Watersports Facility
- Viking Union, including the AS Bookstore and the Outdoor Center
- Wade King Student Recreation Center
- Western Libraries (Remote learning and teaching resources)
- The Performing Arts Center
- The Western Gallery
The AS Student Late Night Shuttle is suspended until further notice.
Whatcom County is in Phase 2 of Washington's phased reopening plan. As a result, there may be no public gatherings or events of any size on Western's campus. As the community progresses further in reopening, small essential gatherings may be allowed.
All on-campus visit programs, tours and information sessions are suspended.
Western Washington University is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 in coordination with state and local health departments. The number of individuals in Washington state diagnosed with COVID-19 remains high. There is currently risk to all community members of being exposed to COVID-19, and the risk is increased in a public setting or gathering.
Western remains open following Gov. Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. Those employees critical to the ongoing operations of the university should continue to report to work. All other employees should be working from home, to the extent possible,
This is an evolving situation, and updates are available from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including updated Travel Notices for countries with community transmission.
Campus Tours and In-Person Admissions Visits Suspended
While the Undergraduate Office of Admissions is currently closed to visitors, Admissions staff is available via phone, email, and video appointments, and you are encouraged to explore campus virtually. For visitors with extenuating circumstances (e.g. non-refundable airline tickets), please reach out.
Admitted students: Please review COVID-19 Admissions FAQs for important updates.
Western’s Student Health Center no longer administers tests, but does keep track of results for students tested by the Whatcom County Health Department.
- The total number of Student Health Center confirmed cases (test results that are positive for COVID-19). 2
- The total number of Student Health Center negative results (test results that are negative for COVID-19). 60
If You Feel Sick
The Student Health Center is still here for you — but we have adapted our services for everyone’s safety. Most services are now offered virtually.
All in-person medical and mental health walk-in services are no longer available. Most services are now offered virtually (through phone or Zoom).
Please do not visit in-person. Call the Student Health Center at 360-650-3400 to make a virtual appointment, or to speak to a nurse for urgent medical needs.
For employees with specific health concerns, please contact your primary care provider. Additional information is also available on the Whatcom County Health Department website.
It is vital that we support each other and act as a community, avoiding acts of discrimination and bias, and showing compassion for those affected by this disease.Sabah RandhawaPresident
Keep track of the latest developments
Western is sending out regular updates through its Western Alert system. Families may opt in to Western Alerts.
Regular updates are also posted here and on Western Today's news page.
If you aren't already signed up for Family Connection, click here to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter for WWU families.
- Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus Information
- Whatcom County Department of Health
- Snohomish County Health Department
- Kitsap County Health Department
- Clallam County Health & Human Services
- Guidance for Persons Who are at Higher Risk for Serious Illness
- Stigma Reduction
- Coping with stress during a disease outbreak
- Community resources list by the Opportunity Council
In the Media
Looking for additional FAQs?
The links here will take you directly to pages focused on specific topics.
- Student and Faculty FAQs can be found on the Academics page
- FAQs about dining, events, and housing are on the Housing and Dining page
- Employees and Supervisors can find relevant FAQs on the workplace page
- Admitted students, applicants, and prospective students can find information on the Admissions page
This page is intended to provide information about COVID-19, precautions that are being taken and prevention measures you can take, as well as being one source for information on the effects of measures various governments are taking to stem the outbreak, and to answer the most common questions about how coronavirus might impact campus operations.
This page is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical or legal advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.