UW lays out changes, safety measures for fall quarter

VIDEO: UW lays out changes, safety measures for fall quarter

In a virtual town hall on Friday, the University of Washington laid out changes for the fall quarter — all with the caveat that plans could alter further depending on the coronavirus.

The Pac-12 announced Friday that football, which includes Husky football, would be delayed and have conference-only games this season.

There also will be changes to classes. UW Vice Provost of Academic and Student Affairs Philip Reid said that “of the total 7,000 courses we offer, 2,000 will be offered in-person — things like practical training, things that are very difficult to do remotely.”

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President Ana Mari Cauce called the current viral outbreak on Greek Row, which has tallied more than 130 COVID-19 cases, “a real learning experience for us, and a real wake-up call,” when it comes to responding.

“Your safety is front of mind for us,” she said.

Students can expect to wear masks in classrooms and anywhere else indoors when other people are present.

“This includes common areas, hallways, stairways, restrooms, elevators, even outside when it’s not possible to stay away from others,” Vice-President for Student Life Denzil Suite said.

UW leaders said students will also see a phased reopening of recreational facilities, with some in-person and some remote fitness classes.

Libraries will remain in remote mode, officials said, but they “are assessing what phase three operations (will) look like.” King County is currently in phase two.

Safety measures also include enhanced cleaning and, Suite said, surveillance testing, which usually means sampling the population.

“This will help us with the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases,” he said.

If someone tests positive, Suite said, “for our on-campus residents, we will have several designated isolation spaces for confirmed cases.”

Rising senior and student body president Camille Hattwig pointed out that concerns don’t end at the campus borders.

“I think we are going to need to have some plans in place for students who do live in off-campus housing, but in very close quarters, on how they will be able to self-quarantine if they’re exposed, or what that might look like for them,” she said, adding that housing in Seattle is expensive, often forcing students to live with many roommates.

With thousands of classes still held in person, Hattwig wants to ensure that remote options are available, when possible.

“We have a lot of students who may be immunocompromised, be around people who are immunocompromised,” she said. “There are a lot of reasons why students might not feel comfortable going in person.”

But the move online for many universities has prompted the Trump administration to bar international students from staying in the U.S. if they take all remote classes in the fall.

“This new ruling is a slap in the face,” Cauce said.

She said UW is working with lawmakers, and that the administration is developing in-person classes for UW’s international students.

“I want to say to all our international students, we stand with you, and we will be fighting for you and fighting with you,” Cauce said.

UW officials also acknowledged that families’ financial situations may have changed due to the pandemic. They encourage students in need to contact the financial aid office to see if more funding is available.

Classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 30.