An Update on the Evolving Coronavirus Situation: March 4

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Dear Western Community,

As you likely know, the spread of coronavirus continues to be a rapidly evolving situation.  There have been a few additional cases in King and Snohomish counties attributed to coronavirus disease, which you have likely heard about in the news by now.  I want to share with you our ongoing work to ensure that Western is prepared to deal with this issue.

Since my last communication on Monday we have developed a new website with additional information and resources at, which is linked from Western’s main landing page as well as the Student Health Center website.  At this site you will find more information about preventing the spread of disease, guidance for students and faculty regarding potential academic impacts, guidance for employees around leave and work options, and general planning for the possibility of disruption to university operations.  More general updates are also 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.

For students, if you feel sick, please do not come into the WWU Student Health Center and risk spreading disease to others.  Please call (360) 650-3400 and a trained medical professional will guide you on next steps.  For employees, please call your primary healthcare provider.

Perhaps the two most common questions on the minds of our community members are “How should students and faculty prepare for the possibility of class disruptions?”, and “Will classified employees be compensated for an emergency closure?” 

There is more information on the website, but please know that instructors are preparing for the possibility of remote teaching and are being encouraged to accommodate students who are requesting to stay home due to illness.  In addition, I have just approved an Interim Policy that would allow FLSA Non-Exempt Professional Staff and Classified Staff to work remotely for up to 15 days in the unlikely event that an emergency closure of campus is warranted due to COVID-19 spread.  Human Resources will be sharing additional information on implementation of the policy with supervisors in the next few days.

Please rest assured that we continue to closely follow guidance from our regional health partners so that we are as prepared as possible to protect the health of the Western community at all of our site locations.  To that end, we have been in conversations with administrators at our locations beyond Bellingham where we deliver programs managed by other educational partners, to ensure that we are fully engaged in their plans related to coronavirus preparations. 

We will err on the side of over-communicating with you on this issue over the next couple of weeks.  Please continue to practice good hygiene, support one another and stay informed.



Sabah Randhawa