Guide for Faculty

Expectations and Resources for the Remote Delivery of Courses

Western will be delivering all of its courses remotely for the entirety of spring quarter 2020. We are asking that every effort be made to deliver all courses remotely. This means that we do not expect to cancel courses slated for delivery.

We are faculty and departments to exercise their own discretion in determining the best approach to remote delivery that will achieve the desired essential learning outcomes and get students to where they need to be. Such an approach may be as simple as delivering live lectures via Zoom or another tool during regularly scheduled class hours, while hosting class discussion, group tasks, assignments, office hours and exams via Canvas. It is important that we all maintain realistic expectations of what can be achieved. We understand that in most cases there is no perfect substitute for face-to-face courses, but with a concerted effort we can still deliver a world-class educational experience for our students. 

Resources, ideas, and strategies for converting a face-to-face course to one designed for remote delivery are provided here by ATUS:

Online Technologies for Remote Teaching – Addresses Canvas and videocasting technologies, intended for faculty new to Canvas, slightly familiar with Canvas, or interested in learning more about videocasting.

Keep Learning: A Useful Resource for Students – A companion website for students during spring quarter.

Getting Started: Moving Your Class Online – Addresses communications that faculty should have with students and offers some instructions on how to “get started” in Canvas, including discussions of announcements, course files and syllabi, and publishing.

Keep Teaching Checklist – Includes live drop-in question and answer sessions for faculty every Wednesday and Friday focused on remote teaching, links to other helpful webinars, and information on ensuring academic integrity in an online environment.

Grading Policies

Pass/No Pass (EP/NP) Grading

The coronavirus pandemic has led the university to shift to remote learning, a modality that is new for many faculty and students. In response to this shift, and the likelihood of disruptions as the pandemic continues, the University has moved to a Pass/No (EP/NP) grading policy. A grade of EP (Pass – Exceptional Circumstance) during spring and summer 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and degree requirements for all students.

Your class performance may be recorded in Canvas or provided to you in another format by your instructor. Students who get an A — D+, upon course completion, will receive a EP (pass). If D — F, a NP (no pass). If a student requests their letter grade by June 5 (Spring) or July 24 (Summer), it will be entered in place of the P/NP grade. An assigned grade of K (incomplete) will be removed and replaced by the earned grade upon completion of remaining assignments.  This will only apply for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 quarters.

Some departments may raise the minimum passing grade. If this is the case, you will be notified before classes start.

Student Requests for Letter Grades

Students have the option of requesting that letter grades be added to their transcript, rather than the EP/NP grade - and have until June 5, 2020, Friday of Finals Preparation Week, to do so for Spring Quarter, and July 24 for Summer. Instructions for making this request will be provided by your instructor.

Pass Standards and D Grades

All grades of D+ and above will receive an EP unless a student requests their letter grade or if the department has approved a different standard. A grade below the pass standard (typically, F, D or D-) will be recorded as a NP, which will not earn credits or be reflected in the GPA. A student may elect to have the letter grade of D or D- reported to their transcript, which will earn credits and be reflected in the GPA. A grade of F will be recorded as NP on the transcript, will not receive degree credit, and will not be reflected in the GPA.

Special Situations

Some students may be advised to request a letter grade if grades are required by an external accreditor or other purpose relevant to their program. Your professor or Chair will inform you if letter grades are required or recommended by your program.

Some degree programs require a grade higher than a D+ for a course to count toward a major. Students in this situation will be informed of the higher pass standard by their faculty.

During all quarters in which P/NP interim grading policies are in effect at the undergraduate level, the following policy will apply to graduate level courses, beginning Summer 2020.

PDF icon Graduate School Interim Grading Policy

Policy Highlights
  • Graduate students may choose P/NP grading for courses that are normally A-F letter-graded, excluding thesis courses. Courses graded S/U cannot be changed to P/NP.
  • Students who request P/NP must initiate the grade mode change two weeks prior to the end of the quarter, or one week prior to the end of summer quarter.
  • A minimum C- equivalent is required to receive a P grade. Programs may specify a higher passing grade, and must communicate that to students by the first day of the course.
  • Beginning Summer 2020, a maximum of 6 credits of P grades may be counted toward degree requirements. All spring 2020 P grades may apply to degree requirements, and do not count against the 6 maximum.

See the full policy in the PDF for further details.

Yes. With input from the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students, and with the approval of the Provost, the University will – with the modifications described in the link below – return for Fall Quarter 2020 to the standard and published grading policy. This temporary policy has no bearing on courses graded S/U or on grading in the Fairhaven College, which has its own grading policy. 

Find out more here:

Faculty FAQ

The Disability Access Center (DAC) wants to support access to online course content, whenever possible.  To this end, the DAC is offering a FREE Closed Caption Pilot for Spring Quarter 2020.  If you’re developing content that you would like to have captioned proactively, please complete this survey.  The DAC Team will provide closed captions for a limited number of courses.  Priority will be given to General University Requirement coursework and content likely to be used again in future quarters.

Looking for more tips on creating accessible course material? Please visit the Accessible Online Course Design Webpage

Haggard Hall has two computer labs open (HH101 and HH112) M-F from 8-5. Additionally, students can access computer lab workstations remotely. Many labs are open to all students and some are department-specific.

We ask that you include the following language in your syllabus:

Disability, equitable access, and accommodations

This course is intended for all WWU students, including those with visible or invisible disabilities. Students with disabilities will be provided equitable access to educational experiences and opportunities. If, at any point in the quarter, you find yourself not able to fully access the space, content, and experience of this course, please first contact the Disability Access Center (DAC) to discuss potential accommodations. Faculty and staff partner with the DAC in the implementation of accommodations.

If you already have accommodations set up through the DAC, please be sure to send your Faculty Notification Letter to me, through the myDAC portal, and reach out so we can discuss how your approved accommodations apply to this course.

If you are unsure if accommodations are appropriate for you, contact the DAC for more information, temporary assistance, or connections to other resources: or 360-650-3083.

We recommend that, where possible, faculty relax attendance policies or otherwise create procedures for students to make up for absences or missed work, given the likelihood that students--or someone in their family--may fall ill or face other disruptions this term. 

The Registrar’s calendar of important dates for Spring has been revised.

A student who is unable to complete a course due to hardship may petition for a late course withdrawal after the stated deadline. Hardship is considered to be an incapacitating injury or illness requiring extensive recuperation or a significant personal emergency such as the death of an immediate family member. Instruction and more information are available from The Office of Student Life.

We anticipate that some students will have access issues the first day of class and might not be able to be in “attendance.” Students have been asked to contact their instructor, via Canvas or e-mail, if this happens to them. In case students do not get this instruction, we are also asking faculty to contact students that who do not participate when classes begin. In that message, please ask if there are specific problems preventing their involvement with the class or if they intend to drop. For questions or problems that you cannot address, please advise students to first visit the Keep Learning page and/or the Spring Guide. We want to extend every opportunity to students to keep enrolled and engaged.

While the library is closed to visitors, several resources and services are available online. 

Read more about Western Libraries Remote Services and Contingency Plans for Users

Guidance on teaching remotely can be found at ATUS's Checklist for Temporary Remote Teaching. In addition, resources for a successful remote-learning experience are available at the Keep Learning website. Find the schedule for live webinars on using Zoom, Canvas and other technologies. New services for spring quarter are being offered such as at-home licensing for the Adobe Creative Cloud as well as extended laptop checkout for students who lack computer access at home.

The Western A.S. Bookstore, your independent student store since 1910, is closed to in-store purchases. Store personnel are still working hard to fulfill course material orders to support students as they shift to online courses for Spring quarter.

Spring 2020 course materials are available online for purchase. Spring 2020 course materials are available in eBook formats in addition to traditional books. Digital alternatives are listed alongside rental and purchase options wherever they are available.

40% of the titles adopted by faculty for Spring Quarter now available in eBook formats in addition to traditional books. Digital alternatives will be listed alongside rental and purchase options wherever they are available.

As always, purchases can be made through credit/debit cards, bookstore gift cards, or charging student accounts. Many students count on the ability to charge their purchases to their student account when they purchase through Western’s Bookstore.

Order fulfillment is through shipments only at this time. We will process orders as quickly as possible. Note, we have limited staffing onsite due to the shutdown and the safety of our team.

We realize this is a shift in how students may normally purchase textbooks. Our efforts are to ensure we are following best practices as a response for Covid-19 social distancing for both students and for our staff. Spring 2020 course materials are eligible for refund, in the same condition they were purchased, by the add/drop date of 4/12/2020. If you have questions about your adoption for Spring 2020, please email us at We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Materials for return for Spring 2020 are to be mailed into the bookstore with a ship date on/before April 12, 2020. This is the consistent policy we have as we need the materials back to ship out to vendors and process refunds. Our system has a limited timeline on processing intelligent refunds, which means refunding to the original form of payment. Once this time is expired, we have to have the person in store with the card or issue the refund to a bookstore gift card. Each quarter we have students with unique circumstances that the Bookstore reviews to determine if we can make an exception, with a focus on ensuring fairness and equity for all.

Yes, faculty can contribute to the COVID-19 response effort outside of their primary roles at Western as teachers and scholars.

Western faculty, because of their expertise, may be asked to participate in the COVID-19 response effort in Whatcom County or beyond. Faculty also may have a desire to volunteer to support the response effort.

Learn more here about Faculty Service during COVID-19


The processing of requests for exceptions to the prohibition of on-campus research has been paused. Please be patient as we work through multiple interpretations of the Governor’s order and our own processes. We will communicate further when the processing resumes.

Yes. Review these new FAQs on the Research Compliance page of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, here.

The Disability Access Center (DAC) wants to support access to online course content, whenever possible.  To this end, the DAC is offering a FREE Closed Caption Pilot for Spring Quarter 2020.  If you’re developing content that you would like to have captioned proactively, please complete this survey.  The DAC Team will provide closed captions for a limited number of courses.  Priority will be given to General University Requirement coursework and content likely to be used again in future quarters. Looking for more tips on creating accessible course material? Please visit the Accessible Online Course Design Webpage.

With much of our work being done remotely, the Registrar’s Office has developed a new e-form for authorizations of independent study courses. It can be found here: Directed Independent Study and Registration Authorization Web Form.

Here is, for ease of reference, the University guidance for faculty and students on recording of Zoom-type class sessions.


 For students who are thinking of recording a 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.


For faculty in making decisions concerning recording of class sessions:

Is a consent form needed?


o    Check your settingsSettings to Keep Your Zoom Session Secure

o    Limit personally identifiable informationHow to Participate in Zoom Privately

If you are teaching synchronously, you must schedule meeting times as scheduled by the Registrar.  Please do not set times outside of the registrar’s schedule, as it will cause conflicts for students taking other classes that are also meeting synchronously.

The folks at WesternOnline have created a set of tips for teaching a synchronous course online; the general site,, has many other resources for faculty.

Final exams should be scheduled during the time assigned by the Registrar. If you plan to allow students access to the exam over one or more days, please include the normally scheduled time within that range

This is a reminder that any inquiries for resources from Whatcom Unified Command should be forwarded to Also, please remember the FAQs on faculty service that can be found at

We recommend that departments engage in contingency planning concerning faculty illnesses. This would likely need to be handled differently in each department, but at a minimum, chairs should have copies of all syllabi. Faculty might be encouraged to identify a colleague to substitute for them should an illness or other disruption occur. 

In ordinary operations, offices are vacuumed on a weekly basis. Since we began responding to COVID-19, we have added the disinfection of the exterior door handles and the push surfaces of the doors daily. We have also disinfected the interior door handle at least once during the lockdown. If you are a critical on-site employee and are using your office regularly, please clean and disinfect your space as necessary.

If you would like to discontinue the weekly vacuuming of your office, please go to the Ready website and fill out a custodial services request.

While most of us are working from home, critical on-site personnel continue their vital work on campus, maintaining life safety and security. This small group of employees can only complete their work while on campus. They have been formally notified of their status. 

If you have not been notified by your supervisor that you are critical on-site personnel, you are not approved to work from campus, and you should stay home. If you believe that you should be on the approved list of critical on-site personnel, please discuss your request with your supervisor. Human Resources will work with ICS to approve any employees who need to work on campus.  

Non-critical staff may need to make rare, brief visits to campus for supplies or equipment for their work. For each visit, employees must contact their supervisor or dean, and complete the On-Campus Visit Reporting form.  

If you are not in one of these categories, you should not be in a campus facility for any reason.  

See more here.

Most standards for online education have been temporarily relaxed or suspended. However, the Dept of Education is requiring the following standard:

  • Instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis.
  • Any synchronous class in which the instructor uses Zoom to conduct a class and interact with students meets this standard.
  • Faculty teaching asynchronous classes could meet the standard by using Canvas discussion boards to communicate with students, setting up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engaging in email exchanges with their students, or by interacting with all students in the evaluation of their course work.

Yes, there sure are, from canvas courses to web content to telehealth and tele-mental health. Find out more at

Spring Timeline

Here is what we expect spring quarter 2020 will look like:

Start of Spring Contracts – March 16

Faculty employment contracts for spring quarter began on March 16, and the first pay will occur on March 25, 2020.

Preparation Week – March 30 to April 3

From Monday, March 30, to Friday, April 3, students and faculty will have time to prepare for the transition to remote delivery of courses. We encourage faculty to communicate with students about their courses during this week so that students have a sense of what to expect. Faculty should make their expectations for students clear during this period.

Perhaps the most important thing to communicate to students is the nature of the course: Will there be any expectation for the students to make themselves available during any of the scheduled meeting times (synchronous), or will all of the expected coursework be able to be accomplished by the students on their own time (asynchronous)?

If you intend to teach your course(s) in a fully asynchronous manner, please email Austin Cooper as soon as possible, but before Friday, April 3, so Austin may compile the information and communicate it to the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar will then remove the scheduled meeting days and times from Banner and ClassFinder for any spring sections that are identified as truly asynchronous. This will help students select classes whose time commitments don't conflict with each other. Again, if there remains any expectation for students to watch a live lecture or engage with the rest of the class remotely at any of the scheduled meeting times, the section is not asynchronous, and the scheduled meeting times should not be removed.

Other topics to address during preparation week include class policies and syllabus, discussion of learning goals, etc. If  course requires that a student has to be in front of a computer with adequate connectivity at a specific time, it is critical that the syllabus states it. Instructors should also describe the necessary technology resources in their syllabi. 

Start of Instruction and Graded Assignments – April 6 to June 5

Instruction and graded assignments will begin for students on April 6. The university will move to a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) quarter for all students, and students will have the option of requesting letter grades at the quarter’s conclusion. Briefly, faculty will maintain rank grading (ABCDF) records during the quarter, but the default reporting of grades for students will be to receive either a P or a NP. See this policy for details; the policy also will be posted to the Provost and Faculty Senate websites. We have emphasized that you have great flexibility in designing and delivering your courses. We also want to affirm that you have flexibility in how you assess student work under this policy.

End of Quarter dates

  • Finals Week – June 8 to June 12
  • End of Spring Contracts – June 15
  • Faculty employment contracts for spring quarter end on June 15, and the last pay will occur on June 25, 2020.


Western Washington University and the UFWW signed a COVID-19 MOU on March 19. The MOU addresses these topics:

  • Student course evaluations

  • Cancelled Presentations of Research and Creative Activity

  • Tenure Review Dates

  • AY 2020-21 Post-Tenure Reviews

  • Professional Development/Travel Funds

Please let Austin Cooper, Faculty Relations Manager, know if you have any questions about the application of the MOU.

Faculty Travel

Last updated March 25, 2020

Any faculty member planning to travel (or continue travel) out-of-state or internationally during spring quarter should request authorization from the Provost, whether or not the University is funding the travel. Contact Austin Cooper, Faculty Relations Manager, via email with your travel request. If the travel is approved by the Provost, you will be asked to complete a Travel Authorization.  

Complying with FERPA

Last updated March 25, 2020

One aspect of teaching online is complying with FERPA regarding student privacy. We are working on a document to relate these to Western, but in the meantime the Department of Education has posted a letter with links at FERPA and Virtual Learning Related Resources. Also, our colleagues at the University of Washington have posted guidelines relating to FERPA and Zoom in the FERPA and privacy section of their FAQ’s at their Teaching Remotely site.

Stay-at-Home Order

Last updated March 25, 2020

On March 23, Governor Jay Inslee signed a “stay-at-home” executive order which takes effect on Tuesday, March 24, at 11:59 pm and ends Monday, April 6, but could be extended if the outbreak worsens. Even though higher education, in delivering education through distance learning, is exempted from the governor’s stay-in-place order, faculty who do not need to come to campus should not. However, we know that some faculty may need access to equipment not readily available at home to teach in this environment. Faculty should feel free to come their on-campus offices and labs to prepare for and to teach courses or to collect materials to take home for teaching or other work, all while practicing social distancing during their time on campus.

The governor’s stay-in-place order prevents the university from opening experiential spaces such as labs, studios, and practice rooms to individual student use. At this time is in effect until April 6, the first day of classes, although it’s possible the order’s time period will be extended. We will communicate definitively about this issue in the near future.