How the pandemic will affect autumn quarter learning

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Posted on: August 6, 2020
Posted by: 
Chancellor Mark A. Pagano & Executive Vice Chancellor Jill Purdy

In July, UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Mark Richards committed to communicating, with as much certainty as possible, what to expect at the start of the academic year as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we are writing to present you with what we believe will be our final plans for autumn quarter classes.

We will hold a Student Town Hall on Friday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m. You can livestream the Town Hall here: Campus leaders will be on hand to describe the plans for the quarter and answer your questions, which can be sent before, during or after the Town Hall to

In light of current and expected coronavirus case counts in Washington, 85% of all class sections on the Tacoma campus will be held online. Only those classes that cannot be taught remotely will be held in person, with all appropriate safety measures and physical distancing in place. The UW Tacoma time schedule has been updated and indicates whether courses and sections will now be taught in person or remotely. Additional changes may occur and these will be updated in the time schedule.

With a few exceptions based on academic program, you have the option to choose an entirely online schedule if you wish. Your academic advisors and course instructors can address questions you may have. While we have every expectation that this will be the schedule in place at the beginning and throughout autumn quarter, we have all seen that the trajectory of the pandemic can change rapidly. Further revisions to our plans could occur if, for example, state or local governments re-introduce more restrictive health measures.

Court 17 Apartments will be open and will welcome a limited number of students with reduced capacity to facilitate physical distancing. All student support services such as advising, counseling and psychological services, disability resources, financial aid and technology support will be offered fully remotely. Student Health Services will continue to be available via our partnership with Franciscan Prompt Care at St. Joseph.

During autumn quarter, the Library will continue to offer virtual services and is planning to provide curbside check-out service of materials and technology. Library facilities in Snoqualmie and Tioga Library Building will remain closed to visitors.

While we are all disappointed that the continued spread of the virus has made most in-person instruction impractical, we continue to be excited about the learning and discovery in store for our academic community. Our faculty and academic support staff have been engaged in developing innovative and creative approaches to online learning. We are looking forward to a meaningful and academically rich autumn, in which our community does its part to protect health and safety.

Students who reside on or come to campus for any purpose must wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in all public spaces, practice hand hygiene and maintain 6-foot physical distancing. All gathering and learning spaces will be routinely sanitized. Neither food nor beverages will be allowed in classrooms or labs. In partnership with the UW’s Seattle campus and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, we are developing a community testing program to help proactively identify and mitigate the spread of the virus. Students will also have ready access to tests if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or believe that they may have been exposed. Face coverings will be distributed to all students, those who are learning remotely and those who are coming to campus for in-person instruction. We also urge you to invest in your own face coverings in order to rotate them as needed.

As we continue to wrestle with the demands of this extraordinary time, our path forward is challenging. But we are clearly on this journey together and our commitment to each other’s health, learning and diverse perspectives and circumstances must continue to be our north star. We look forward to the day when we can welcome all Huskies back to the UW Tacoma campus to resume the classes and activities we enjoy together.

We are looking forward to seeing you, whether virtually or in person, this fall. Please think carefully about about your choices. The coming quarter holds challenges, but it also promises discoveries and insights both in spite of and because of those challenges, and your achievements will be all the more impressive as a result of what we will overcome together.