Coronavirus Update for March 20: Looking Ahead to Spring

Dear Students,

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the many issues related to the unexpected move to remote learning for Spring quarter. We recognize that this is a very distressing, confusing, and hectic time for you and your families. Please keep in mind that your health and safety are our highest priority, and that we are striving to make this sudden transition as smooth as possible for you.

Academic progression will continue in a Canvas-based teaching environment. It is important to emphasize that Western Washington University remains operational and dedicated to ensuring the academic mission continues through this challenging time. Western’s administration, faculty, and staff are working to provide the best educational experiences possible. We are diligently working to bring our courses to you remotely and expect to connect with you through a variety of mediums. We expect some bumps in the road but know that we can work through this together.

First-things-first. During Spring Quarter, “online” tuition will not be charged for courses originally scheduled to meet in person and falling under the regular tuition you pay to attend Western (called “banded tuition”). Courses taken through self-sustaining programs, whether originally set to meet in person or online, will be charged at the self-sustaining tuition rate indicated on the Outreach and Continuing Education website.

We expect that most courses will run in real time through an internet platform such as Zoom. The courses will include some combination of lectures, online discussion, group work, and regular assignments as is normal in in-person courses. In other courses, particularly experience-based courses, there likely will be significant changes, as we recognize not all experiences can be replicated well in a remote-delivery format. Some instructors might be able to take advantage of technology in different ways to offer similar types of experiences and feedback; others may not and will have to revise their courses significantly. What we can promise you, again, is that our faculty are working hard to make the experience beneficial for you as you work to meet your educational objectives. In some cases some learning outcomes for courses will be changed, but the essential outcomes for each course will be kept to as great a degree as possible.

We plan to offer our full schedule of classes in spring quarter, with a very few exceptions. We do anticipate some small number of classes to need to be cancelled, and that fact will disappoint some of you. We are working together to be flexible in graduation and major requirements, as much as we can, to eliminate detrimental effects and help all the thousands of students scheduled to graduate in spring 2020 to do so. We also are in discussions about the possibility of increased use of a satisfactory/not satisfactory model of grading. We will have more information on that front soon.

You should start to hear from your spring quarter instructors soon. We are asking faculty to communicate with their students about their spring quarter plans through Canvas as soon as possible. Please, as soon as possible, set your Canvas Notifications so you can choose how to be notified as soon as your instructor sends a message. Instructions are here: We expect some instructors will be able to communicate soon, and others may take a little longer; we are asking them all to do so by March 30. 

We want to point you to the ATUS site Keep Learning website, which has excellent resources for you as you move into this new and different environment. ATUS has loaner laptops for those with a critical need and they can also provide tips for getting internet access. Contact the ATUS Help Desk at x3333. We also hope to be able to open some computer labs during spring quarter for those close to campus who might experience problems with internet connectivity.

As a faculty and Academic Affairs administration, we are committed to support you in all your efforts to make progress toward your degree, earn that degree, and continue to a successful post-graduation life. This is an unprecedented time in all our lives, and we will get through it together. We hope that despite all the obstacles COVID-19 has thrown at you that will continue to focus on your education; in fact, we hope that doing so, even in new ways, will bring a small sense of normalcy to a time that no one will call normal. It is our intent and vow to work with you in our courses to allow that to happen.

We wish you the best of luck in this quarter and always. Please stay safe and healthy!


Brent Carbajal and Jeff Young

WWU Provost and Faculty Senate President


The Incident Command System team at Western has established three goals for all of our preparation and response to COVID-19:  to protect life safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus illness, to maintain – as much as possible – the continuity of Western’s operations, and to communicate with our communities as fully as possible.

Western's coronavirus information website features Frequently Asked Questions; has links to campus, regional and national resources; an archive of campus messaging and media stories about coronavirus; a new toll-free campus coronavirus information line, and more. The site is a living document, and will get frequent updates as the coronavirus situation evolves.

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Friday, March 20, 2020 - 4:59pm