Cherry Blossoms

Coronavirus Response and Resources

For the most up-to-date information and resources on the UW’s response to COVID-19, please visit

This page provides general information for department chairs and faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences. Please consult with your Divisional Dean with specific questions.


General Message Archive

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Research Considerations

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The UW is open for research. Researchers should do everything possible to encourage social distancing – but whatever is needed for research continuity should continue. As of March 18, buildings on campus will require keys/keycards – please ensure processes are in place to handle deliveries and receive packages and mail.

Research Message Archive:

Course Planning for Spring 2020 Quarter

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As announced on March 18, 2020, the UW will move to remote instruction for the entire spring quarter.

Moving courses to a remote environment will require difficult compromises, and that in some cases, it may not be possible at all. Canceling courses is a last resort, but if you do change your curriculum, please keep a few factors in mind:

  • Work closely with advising staff to ensure that any change is communicated as soon as possible to affected students.
  • Develop a plan to mitigate the impact on students, including alternative courses or changes to requirements.
  • Maintain required courses or prerequisites, if at all possible. Advisors will have the best knowledge of which courses meet which requirements (including requirements outside individual departments).
  • Changing courses produces significant advising work – addressing questions from students and placing them (manually, in most cases) in alternative courses. Remote work further complicates these efforts.

Other considerations around course planning:

  • Instructors are encouraged to exercise flexibility and creativity in adapting courses to a remote environment.
  • Chairs can make individual decisions about major requirements and potential waivers for graduating seniors. Chairs should work with closely with advisors and ensure such waivers are implemented consistently. For questions, please consult with your Divisional Dean. 
  • University-level requirements, including the 180-credit requirement for a bachelor’s degree, are in the hands of the Registrar and cannot be waived at either the departmental or the college level.
  • In developing course materials, instructors are encouraged to prepare as much information as possible in advance and consider back-up options should the instructor become unable to deliver the course during the quarter.
  • Departments are encouraged to develop contingency plans – including identifying a pool of alternate instructors – if needed.
  • 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, including a link to a readiness quiz from UW Information Technology.

Information on registration for ACCESS students is available on the Office of the Registrar website.

Department Communications, Notifications and Website Banners

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Departments should focus on operations remaining “open,” even if staff is working remotely.

When communicating broadly across the department, reference existing communication from the UW’s leadership and information from credible sources. Reference the UW President and Provost’s messages to the campus community on broad decisions and large-scale initiatives. It’s often helpful to reiterate these decisions and put them in the context of a department or program’s operations. Continue to share links to the UW’s resources page (, as well as state and local public health department guidelines and recommendations. There’s a significant amount of information online about the coronavirus – rely on credible information and share articles that are relevant and helpful.

General Communications, Email Newsletters and Social Media

Find key messages and guidelines for effective communication on our Department Messaging Resources During Coronavirus page.

Web Banner Notices

Many of the College’s departments have updated their website banners to include contact information for staff and advisors, including email addresses and phone numbers. While physical offices may be closed, staff working remotely keep operations open. Include any relevant information about hours if different than typical operations.

  • Example #1: [Department name] office operations have moved online until further notice. Our staff is available at [email/phone] and student advising is available at [email/phone]. For more support and information, please see our Coronavirus Resources.
  • Example #2:  Our office has moved online for the spring quarter. Faculty and staff are available to respond to inquiries via email. For student advising, see Student Services. For more resources and information, please see Spring Quarter 2020.

Department Resource Web Pages

Many departments have created resource pages to help members of their community impacted by the public health crisis and the transition to remote instruction.

  • If the resources are general, we recommend titling the page “Coronavirus Resources” or “Spring Quarter 2020 Resources/Information.” This will help audiences understand the specific context of the resources and create consistency for students who are taking courses in multiple departments.
  • Since most resource pages provide helpful guidance, links, and information that can be utilized throughout the spring quarter, please avoid using language like “emergency” or “urgent” when describing the pages.
  • If all the resources on the page are specific to online teaching or learning, a title like “Online Teaching Resources” or “Remote Learning Resources” is appropriate.
  • If the page is targeted primarily at faculty, we recommend that it be nested under your existing faculty/internal resources section.
  • If the page is targeted at students and general audiences, we recommend putting it in the main Resources dropdown below Advising (or in alphabetical order if your Resources menu if alphabetized).
  • A link to the page can be added in the banner notice at the top, as shown in the examples above, to make the resources easy to find over the next few months. If you have more than two coronavirus-related resource pages, we suggest including one link in the banner and linking out to the other pages from that landing page.

Office Hours and Directory Web Pages

Most students should be aware that office hours will be held remotely during Spring 2020. The following steps can help clarify this:

  • Add a banner notice across all the People and Directory pages that says, “All office hours for Spring Quarter 2020 are virtual or remote. Please check with your instructor.”
  • Advise instructors to enter the mode of meeting in the Office Hours field on their profile. Keep it very brief. Examples (choose one):
    • MW 10-11 on Zoom
    • By appointment, on phone or Zoom
    • Email to schedule
  • Advise instructors not to post Zoom links on their public profiles. Students can email them for the link or consult the course website or syllabus.


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Advancement Updates

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Protocol for Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Cases

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In the interest of individual privacy, it’s important to not share information about particular cases unless instructed to do so. When a UW community member is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and the UW initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

If you have a person within your department who is symptomatic and/or believes they have been exposed to COVID-19, please do the following:

  1. Direct the impacted individual to call their doctor (or Hall Health if a student) for appropriate medical treatment and/or testing.
  2. Direct the individual to contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) for appropriate support and screening.  (Note that it’s important for EH&S to speak with the individual directly). or 206.685.1026
  3. EH&S will perform a risk assessment and follow-up with appropriate guidance.  If an individual is determined to be medium or high risk for COVID-19 or if the individual is determined presumed positive, EH&S will coordinate with the UW on appropriate operations and communication guidance and next steps.  Units/departments should not send broad communications about individual cases until they have this guidance. 
  4. The University will not send all-campus or unit messages for every case.  As testing increases and more individuals are identified, localized mitigation responses will likely increase in frequency, as will the number of individuals who test negative.  Positive cases will be posted at for full transparency.

Many departments maintain various list serves to communicate with faculty, staff, and students. In the interest of privacy, we encourage all departments to use discretion and moderate messages about presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 as they may contain sensitive personal information. As noted above, faculty, staff and students in departments should not send broad communications unless they have guidance from EH&S.

Study Abroad and Travel Resources

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