Masks remain an important tool against respiratory illnesses of all kinds and offer greater protection that can help all in our community feel safe. When you mask up, choose a well-fitted, high-quality mask — such as a KF94, KN95, N95 or surgical mask — which when worn correctly protects you as well as those around you. You can pick up free masks at the University Y Student Center or the Library Help Desk in Snoqualmie. People need to or choose to wear masks for a wide range of reasons, and we should not make assumptions. It is critical that we respect their needs and choices and that we extend each other grace.
The relaxing of the indoor mask requirement is possible thanks to high vaccination rates in the UW and broader communities, as well as the dramatic decline in the number of hospitalizations and infections. It’s also part of changes to our health measures in alignment with the new CDC framework for public health guidance based on community risk. Of course, COVID-19 is not over and we must all continue to be vigilant against new outbreaks or variants, including by getting boosted and remaining up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations, staying home when sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed. If public health conditions worsen once more, we will reinstate an indoor mask requirement and/or other measures until the health situation improves again.
Below is an overview of our current operations, health and safety measures, and links to more detailed information for students and personnel.
Even with the improvements in the public health situation, the coronavirus continues to circulate so we must plan for unexpected disruptions to individual classes as instructors need to stay home and/or if there are significant numbers of students in a class who are ill at the same time. As during winter quarter, we request that instructors be flexible about student absences due to illness or other coronavirus-related disruptions, including the need to quarantine or because of closures to caregiving services that may affect students who are caregivers. And while instructors should work to find typical and appropriate ways for students to make up missed coursework, please recall that they are not required to provide a remote option for classes that are being taught in person.
As a public research university, we’re fortunate to have experts in medicine and public health who’ve been studying the pandemic from its beginning. We understand much more about the virus now than when it emerged, our University’s vaccination rates are outstanding, and Washington state’s vaccination levels remain some of the nation’s highest. We will continue making decisions that reflect the most current public health guidance, as we have throughout the pandemic.
Facilities and learning spaces
Campus offices are expected to be open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. Some offices may open earlier or remain open later. Main entrances to campus buildings are open Monday - Friday from 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Secondary doors require swiping your Husky Card for access.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Tacoma's Integrated Facilities Management has worked closely with EH&S to adjust building ventilation systems as public health guidelines have evolved.
All students, including students in fully online programs, are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they do not receive a medical or religious exemption. You must verify your COVID-19 vaccination status and upload documentation – such as a vaccination card or other proof of vaccination – or upload an exemption request for review by the UW’s Hall Health Center in order to register for classes.
Visit our FAQ to learn how you can check whether you have met the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
There are many free testing options available to you, including Husky Coronavirus Testing (HCT), a voluntary research study. HCT test kits are available for pick up and drop off on campus on the ground floor of Tacoma Paper & Stationery (TPS), Monday - Friday. You can also enroll in the program there.
UW Tacoma will continue to follow local and state public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as we have throughout the pandemic.
While not required, face coverings are recommended for large events, regardless of vaccination status. You’re welcome to continue wearing face coverings wherever and whenever you wish for any reason.
UW Tacoma is fortunate to have an outstanding Facilities team who keeps our classrooms and buildings safe all day, every day. If you’d like a deep dive into our cleaning and safety protocols, UW Environmental Health & Safety has a wealth of information on its COVID-19 resources page, including its building readiness guidelines.
What would cause the UW to change the course of our coronavirus response?
In March 2020, the UW was the first university in the country to move to remote courses. In autumn 2021, we were one of the last to return to largely in-person instruction. Those decisions, along with the many others made along the way, were guided by some of the world’s top health experts and made with health and well-being as our priorities.
We have also considered what would prompt a major change in course, such as a return to largely remote working and/or learning. No single metric can accurately capture a complex public health situation. We will continue to engage in science- and evidence-based decision making, relying on the expertise of our UW, local and state experts to guide us. Several scenarios could lead to a return to largely remote operations, including a major uptick in on-campus transmissions or positivity rates; greatly diminished capacity in our area hospitals; major disruptions in our K-12 schools or transportation systems; or the imposition of state or local restrictions, such as distancing requirements or “stay at home” orders. At this time, none of those scenarios are occurring. We will continue to monitor public health conditions and respond accordingly.