Classes and Academics

COVID Exposure in the Classroom

If a student comes to class sick

If someone comes to an in-person class while ill, instructors should ask them to go home and to send a message to the Student Health Center through their MyWesternHealth Patient Portal to discuss their symptoms.

The Student Health Center will help the student arrange for testing as necessary. If the COVID test comes back negative, the individual should still stay home until 24-hours after their symptoms resolve. If the COVID test comes back positive, Western will take care of notifying the class as necessary.


If a student self-reports that they tested positive

If a student notifies an instructor that they have tested positive for COVID, the instructor should ask if the student has been in contact with the Student Health Center about their test result. If the student has, then no further action is needed. If a student has not, please instruct them to message the Student Health Center through their MyWesternHealth Patient Portal to discuss their test results.

Instructors can also submit a report through the Communicable Disease Reporting form if they are concerned about the student not contacting the SHC. COVID Support will then ensure the student has contacted the SHC. Individuals who report through the form will not receive a follow-up communication from COVID Support, as that would entail sharing personal health information about the individual. 


If a student who tested positive comes to class sooner than you expected

Due to a negative test: When a student without symptoms tests positive on a home-test or other rapid test, they may get an additional PCR test to confirm their result, as PCR tests are generally more accurate. If the PCR test comes back negative, the person will be able to return to classes and other in-person activities. PCR test results are usually received the day after the test is taken.

Due to isolation timeline: Isolation generally ends 10 days after the onset of symptoms if someone had symptoms, or 10 days after their positive test result if they did not. So if someone developed symptoms but did not get tested until a few days later, they might not be in isolation for 10 days total.

If you are an instructor who is concerned, you may ask to the student’s COVID Clearance Tracker. If a student is still supposed to be in isolation/quarantine, their badge will be red/orange. Western will not be providing notice to instructors about when a student is clear to return after isolation or quarantine. Additionally, instructors should not require proof of negative test or doctor’s note for students to be in class.


Classroom Notifications

Western is currently notifying classes that are in-person or have some level of in-person instruction if a person who tested positive for COVID was in class with them. A classroom exposure notification will go to the class instructor, department chair and dean, and all students in the class if the COVID-positive individual attended class when they were infectious.

Individuals are considered infectious:

  • 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms if experiencing symptoms
  • 2 days prior to a positive COVID test if not experiencing symptoms
  • Until they are cleared from isolation

If it is known that the individual did not attend class during their infectious period, no notification will be sent. If it is known that the individual did attend class, or it is not clear if they attended class, a notification will be sent.

The exposure notifications are meant to notify people that they may have been around someone with COVID. This is not the same as a notification of close contact, which would come from the individual with COVID or the local health department.

You can view examples for the classroom notification below:

Popular Questions

Spots on Campus for Virtual Classes

Western has several spots throughout campus for you to study in or join your virtual classes. You can find a list of places to go on the Vice Provost's website.

When in these spaces, please wear headphones if you are listening to class or watching videos. If you do not have headphones, consider reaching out to ATUS to rent out headphones for free.

Course Fees

Departments will be making adjustments to course fees according to what is being provided to students in the course. Some fees will not be charged at all, while the majority will either be charged as posted or reduced to a level commensurate with what is provided during remote delivery of the course. You can expect to learn about any course fee adjustments from your professors and on your student account.

What does it mean if a class is asynchronous?

An 'asynchronous' or fully online course is delivered such that students can complete the work at any time in a day (or sometimes a week). These courses do not require that faculty or students be at their computer during the scheduled class time. In a 'synchronous' or remote class students must be online during the regularly scheduled class time. This structure is most like a face-to-face class and can involve typical lectures delivered via Zoom or another tool.

Can I record my class session?

Class material falls under copyright law; recording and posting Zoom-type class sessions without the permission of the instructor is against university policy. If a student needs to record a session as part of an accommodation, the student should work with the instructor and the Disability Access Center to ensure that accommodation can be made.

Where can I print on campus?

Students can use the computers and printers in Haggard Hall 101 and 112 as well as the Viking Union's Multipurpose Room. Printers may be available at other locations as well. Students will need to wear face coverings, ensure they are symptom-free, and follow physical distancing and hand-washing and sanitizing guidelines when using computer labs on campus.

At the start of fall quarter 2021, Western will return to having computer labs open across campus, allowing for more printing locations.

Classes and Academics FAQs

In this time of uncertainty, we are working to provide those in need with resources in the local community and on campus. Several offices from across campus are partnering to provide available resources for students, including the creation of a resources website that includes an intake form to assess student needs.

After a student submits the intake form, a staff member will contact them with personalized assistance. Examples of assistance might be a grocery gift card, swipes for meals in a dining commons, assistance with emergency housing, and/or laundry cards.  

This work is a collaboration with Western’s Office of Financial Aid, Western Hub of Living Essentials (WHOLE) Pantry, Associated Students, Off-Campus Living, the Western Foundation, Western Success Scholars program, Dining Services, Residence Life, Sustainability Institute, the Outback Farm and the Office of Student Life. We will continue to assess emerging needs to best match with resources and hope to continue to provide students with support in this trying times.   

Students who are have not received responses to instructor emails and are unable to access their classes should reach out to their department chairs for further guidance. Contact information for chairs can be found in Western's Departmental Directory.

An 'asynchronous' or fully online course is delivered such that students can complete the work at any time in a day (or sometimes a week). These courses do not require that faculty or students be at their computer during the scheduled class time. In a 'synchronous' or remote class students must be online during the regularly scheduled class time. This structure is most like a face-to-face class and can involve typical lectures delivered via Zoom or another tool.

While seating and room size are typically part of our assessment of capacity, it is still the case that capacity issues matter in the remote learning environment that we will be operating in this spring.  Faculty and departments make decisions about the appropriate size of classes in order to provide an optimal learning experience, whether face-to-face or online.  In some cases, remote teaching can produce a heavier assessment and grading burden on faculty, as well.  Capacity is a function of many considerations.

Western Libraries buildings are currently closed but the Libraries remain open online. All current WWU students, faculty, and staff can place online requests for materials from Western Libraries, or for items from Summit libraries, and may choose either on-site pickup or mail delivery options. Western Libraries also offers 24/7 online access to online tutorials, e-books, articles and databases, and other video resources. All course reserve materials are electronic and available online. Course instructors, faculty members, or their representatives may submit course reserve requests for their classes, and students can access these resources via Canvas.

The Tutoring Center will provide tutoring support services online, including support for math and science GURs. During the Tutoring Center’s regular hours, students can connect with a peer advisor by clicking on the “Chat with the TC'' link, found on the left side of the Tutoring Center’s main page. Tutoring Center peer advisors are available to answer general questions, match students up with a tutor, or make referrals to other services. The Hacherl Research & Writing Studio offers students support in research, writing, and other related areas. Students can connect live to an online meeting, initiate a chat using “Ask us,” or submit a draft paper for email response. Chat is available in real-time online during open hours, and students can also text the Studio with questions to 360-797-5910. There are also many online guides and resources that cover all steps of the research & writing process. To learn more about accessing library services, materials, and programs online, please check out the Library Resources for Teaching and Learning webpage.  You can also take a virtual tour of the library. For additional questions, please email:

Many campus services are operating remotely, including: 

The Academic Technology and User Services (ATUS) Help Desk is available by phone and email from 8am to 5pm on weekdays. Helpful articles and service request forms are available at Walk-in tech support is not currently available in HH 123, but in-person support can be scheduled when necessary. Contact the Help Desk at, or at (360) 650-3333.

Students who lack computer access at home can request a laptop with a loan through the end of the term. 

For more information about building closures and guidelines at your campus location, go to: 

Technology Assistance:


The computer labs will be open on all OC campuses (Bremerton, Poulsbo, Shelton) starting July 6th through Fall quarter and are anticipated to be open until 9 p.m. on weeknights. 

Counseling Services: If you are feeling anxious or need someone to talk to:

Everett-based students: Chett Hill, WWU Everett’s Mental Health Counselor, will be available for virtual appointments. Please contact him directly at  to schedule an appointment. All WWU Everett students receive three free sessions with Chett. Please let him know you are a WWU Everett student when you schedule your appointment.

Bremerton/Poulsbo-based students: Students in Bremerton and Poulsbo can access up to three counseling sessions through Olympic College each academic year. Students may reach out to Trish Christean with Olympic College: 360-475-7233 or Please let her know you are a WWU student when you make your appointment.

Port Angeles-based students: Peninsula Behavioral Health (PBH) Counselors will be available to assist students.  Students should call 360-457-0431 and ask to speak to the Access Department. Students should identify themselves as WWU students so they can bypass the normal lengthy intake process. All WWU Port Angeles students receive three free sessions with PBH.

Library/Writing Support: Western offers a wide variety of library services remotely, including support in research and writing - essay drafts, project components, scholarship applications, resumes -- they will be available to assist you online.

All Western students and employees are expected to follow the University’s Reporting Communicable Diseases Policy (POL-U1000.12) if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. They should complete the COVID-19 Self Reporting Form, which notifies Western’s Student Health Center and is used to determine appropriate follow-up for addressing the needs of the campus community. 

Healthcare options for site-based students outside of Bellingham include:

1)      Contacting their primary healthcare provider

2)      Calling the Washington State Department of Health at 800-525-0127

3)      Accessing free e-visits by MultiCare Virtual Care to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath).

Health officials will guide students on next steps. All Western students are also encouraged to visit Western’s coronavirus website and the state and regional health departments in their area for the latest information and announcements:

Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus Information
Snohomish County Health Department
King County Health Department
Kitsap County Health Department
Clallam County Health & Human Services

Generally, if a host site is still accepting our students, then internships, student teaching and other experiential learning that is currently in place may continue as planned.

Faculty or staff advisors commonly evaluate the acceptability of a host site for meeting the objectives of their department’s experiential learning program and a formal relationship with that host site is established. As a precaution, and if practical, advisors may wish to ask their host site liaison what they are doing to protect their employees, clients and interns from transmitting and contracting COVID-19. That information should be passed along to our students.

Students who are responsible for evaluating and selecting their own host site for their experiential learning activities may wish to ask their host site representative about COVID-19 protection measures as well. Students should be instructed to weigh the risks and benefits and then make the best choice for the own health, safety and well-being.

Students should be instructed to closely follow the policies and procedures of their host sites, including required prevention measures, screening for symptoms, personal protective equipment (e.g. face mask, gloves and gowns), social distancing and reporting when they feel sick or suspect they may have COVID-19 symptoms.

Also, a student’s professional credentialing organization may be relaxing the field experience and clinical practice requirements in light of COVID-19. For example, the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) has done this for student educators.

Notwithstanding the above, host sites that are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak should be avoided. Requests for exceptions should be directed to Paul Mueller, Director of Risk, Compliance and Policy Services at x3065.

Faculty, staff or students who know or suspect they have COVID-19 should follow applicable guidance posted in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Resources

University Policy POL-U2100.03-Managing the Risk of Off Campus Experiential Learning Programs

University’s Experiential Learning Online Risk Management Toolkit

Gov. Inslee announces new rules to protect older adults in nursing homes, assisted living facilities


Yes, you can access computer labs remotely. Many labs are open to all students and some are department-specific.

The first day of class, please contact your professor, via Canvas or e-mail, about your intent to remain in the class. If your instructor can’t help you, they will forward your message to ATUS for additional assistance.

Yes, you will be cleared to register for the fall term if you were eligible to enroll this spring term but chose to sit out. Western will be waiving the application and the fee for those returning students.

Academic Year Self-Sustaining courses do not receive state support and are funded completely by Western, which means they cost more in tuition. AYSS courses are noted as such in both Classfinder and Web4U Registration and the per credit tuition rate is posted as $280/credit.

For students who are enrolled in fewer than ten credits, the AYSS courses offer an option with little cost difference, but students who enroll in 10-18 credits may be best served by finding similar state-supported class sections.

While the state does not provide funding for AYSS courses, Western is committed to serving students across Washington, and chooses to provide access to a wider depth and breadth of courses than students would otherwise have access to. 

You can read about Western’s current safety guidance at the COVID-19 site overview. Mandating vaccines and requiring facial coverings in all indoor spaces provide the best protection. Additionally, we are consistently improving and monitoring ventilation in our campus buildings to help with airflow and cleaning of high-touch areas multiple times a day.

Western Washington University will offer primarily in-person instruction in the 2021-22 academic year. If you cannot attend and need to request a disability-related accommodation, please visit the remote participation request website and contact the Disability Access Center. Please note that most of the university’s academic courses have essential in-person components, while we’ll do our best to accommodate requests for remote participation, it will not necessarily be possible in all courses. 

Yes, all COVID-related temporary grading policies expired at the end of Summer Session 2021.

How to prepare for classes

We learn and remember best when we can attach new information to something we already know. Consequently, the best way to prepare for your classes is to learn as much as you can about your subjects before classes start. Here are a few simple ways to do this: 

Order your textbooks early and get started on your reading. Don’t try to read too much—read slowly so that you can make sure you understand the key concepts. Want to see if you understand a key concept? See if you can explain it to a 9-year old. People who understand things can make them simple. 

Access your courses’ Canvas pages as soon as you can and get a head start on your first assignments. Remember, don’t try to do too much. Instead, work slowly to make sure you understand the key concepts. 

Remember what you already know about the subjects you are taking. Review your high school work in that area, read online introductions or take a crash course.

Establish a calendar and schedule-in your classes and study times. Successful students study like it’s their job on a daily schedule. They also find ways to study more-- often by forming study groups. They also vary their approaches to studying. The best way to do this is to blend reading, note-taking, and practices sets with quizzes--either by making your own, quizzing with a study group, or by putting a flashcard app on your phone.

Learning from Home

Learning online will take more motivation and attention than in-person classes, with one of the biggest hurdles being the environment. Home, be it in Bellingham or elsewhere, is where we relax and unwind after a long day of work. But now it's where all the work will get done.

Here are some ways you can create a good learning environment at home:

Set up a “home office” that’s quiet and well lit, away from distractions. If you are not using your phone for class, consider leaving your phone in another room.

Be aware of your notifications. Push notifications on your phone or other device could cause distraction. Be aware of these and consider turning them off while you work/study.

Set up a routine and schedule that includes getting up at a regular time, getting ready (and out of those PJs) and getting to work. 

Manage your time. Time management is an essential skill to have as a student and even more important when you are learning remotely. Managing your time will keep you focused, on track and making progress in your studying and assignments.

Try the time blocking Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, to prevent burnout, work 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute segments, take a longer 15-minute break to stretch, step outside, etc.

Make time for lunch instead of snacking through lectures – crinkling can distract other students during a video call.

Don’t work in bed. Doing so can associate work/school stress with what’s supposed to be a relaxing environment – doing work in a different area helps with compartmentalization.

Move around. Getting up at least once an hour to stretch, walk around, etc. will boost concentration and give you a brief mental break. These are additional best practices for healthy distance learning.

Be open to learning new technology. There are many of resources available to help students learn in a remote way including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Check them out and see how they might help you stay connected.