Coronavirus Update for March 19: WWU Spring Quarter Entirely Online

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Dear Western Community:

Today we are announcing that all classes and instruction will be offered remotely throughout spring quarter on our main campus, and at all centers, facilities and operations statewide. As announced previously, spring quarter classes are starting on Monday, April 6, and the quarter is expected to end as scheduled after final exams conclude on June 12, 2020.

As nationwide social distancing requirements continue to increase and evolve daily, we believe this is the best course of action for reducing uncertainty and allaying some anxiety, while establishing a reliable and safe method of instruction and academic progress for Western’s students.

Another message will be forthcoming this afternoon for faculty and staff in Academic Affairs from the Provost and faculty leadership that details new norms for teaching and learning remotely. The scheduled first week of spring quarter (March 30-April 3), will be a week of preparation and transition for students and faculty alike. Faculty are encouraged to communicate with students, via Canvas, about their courses during this week so that students have a sense of what to expect.

Please know that our faculty, staff and student affairs leadership are here to help you both with your continued academic success and with new ways to engage in this unusual time in your Western education. I have been greatly impressed by the many ways in which our faculty and staff are preparing for this quarter with a spirit of innovation and exploration. We fully expect that active learning, research, and the great variety of programs and offerings that Western is known for will continue online with the same creativity and commitment to quality that they do in person.

Families are likely to have questions about changes to fees, given the changes in our operations. We are currently reviewing all fees and will provide complete information about appropriate changes before March 25. Please know that financial aid disbursements will happen on schedule on March 31 as well.

We expect that most students who returned home prior to spring break will remain there, a decision we appreciate and encourage. Housing and Dining Services will send additional information directly to all students who currently have housing agreements with Western.

If you need to return to campus to retrieve your personal possessions, we will provide ample time to ensure you have a smooth and safe transition, and to help this process, the main Bellingham campus is moving to open parking through April 26.

Our residence halls and limited dining delivery and pick up service, which comply with Governor Inslee’s directives, remain available to students who need to reside on campus. Again, more information will be sent directly to all students who currently have housing agreements with the university.

For those who live on or near campus and wish to access campus services, modified operations will be in place. As previously announced, most public buildings will remain closed by order of the Governor and will remain so as long as the order stays in effect. We encourage all employees who can perform their work remotely to continue to do so. Those essential student support services that remain open for face-to-face services will have limited operations that minimize in-person interaction. Many student services, including Academic Advising, Counseling Services, Career Services, and others, are moving to online approaches and outreach, and will work with students throughout the quarter.

These decisions are significant and will have important consequences. We regret having to take these steps and appreciate your understanding as we follow public health directives and guidance to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and our neighbors.

I know these disruptions are not easy, and I am grateful for the sacrifice you are making for the greater good of our shared community. Please remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. I encourage you to reach out and stay connected, and we will do our best to communicate regularly throughout this health crisis. I take comfort in the fact that we will come through this more resilient and more connected than ever.

Please be well,

Sabah Randhawa