Classes and Academics

COVID in the Classroom

If a student comes to class sick

If someone comes to an in-person class while ill, instructors should ask them to go home and to send a message to the Student Health Center through their MyWesternHealth Patient Portal to discuss their symptoms.

The Student Health Center will help the student arrange for testing as necessary. If the COVID test comes back negative, the individual should still stay home until 24-hours after their symptoms resolve. If the COVID test comes back positive, Western will take care of notifying the class as necessary.

If a student self-reports that they tested positive

If a student notifies an instructor that they have tested positive for COVID, the instructor should ask if the student has been in contact with the Student Health Center about their test result. If the student has, then no further action is needed. If a student has not, please instruct them to message the Student Health Center through their MyWesternHealth Patient Portal to discuss their test results.

Instructors can also submit a report through the Communicable Disease Reporting form if they are concerned about the student not contacting the SHC. COVID Support will then ensure the student has contacted the SHC. Individuals who report through the form will not receive a follow-up communication from COVID Support, as that would entail sharing personal health information about the individual. 

If a student who tested positive comes to class sooner than you expected

Due to a negative test: When a student without symptoms tests positive on a home-test or other rapid test, they may get an additional PCR test to confirm their result. If the PCR test comes back negative, the person will be able to return to classes and other in-person activities. PCR test results are usually received the day after the test is taken.

Due to isolation timeline: Isolation generally ends 5 days after the onset of symptoms if someone had symptoms, or 5 days after their positive test result if they did not. So if someone developed symptoms but did not get tested until a few days later, they might not be in isolation for 5 days total.

Classroom Notifications

If a student who tests positive for COVID attends a class in-person while they are infectious, Western will post an exposure notice in the class Canvas page under Announcements. If a course does not have a Canvas page, an email will be sent instead.

Individuals are considered infectious:

  • 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms if experiencing symptoms
  • 2 days prior to a positive COVID test if not experiencing symptoms
  • Until they are cleared from isolation

Western will only send the notification if the positive individual tells us that they attended class in person while infectious. Students are asked to provide this information on a form after they test positive. 

These notifications will be set to post in Canvas at 5pm on the day Western receives notice that the student attended class, but instructors are welcome to publish the announcement as soon as they see it. This is done so that the announcement doesn't potentially arrive during class, but still allows individuals to learn about the exposure within 24 hours of Western receiving notice. 

The exposure notifications are meant to notify people that they may have been around someone with COVID. This is not the same as a notification of close contact, which would come from the individual with COVID.

You can view an example for the classroom notification below:

Popular Questions

Course Fees

Departments will be making adjustments to course fees according to what is being provided to students in the course. Some fees will not be charged at all, while the majority will either be charged as posted or reduced to a level commensurate with what is provided during remote delivery of the course. You can expect to learn about any course fee adjustments from your professors and on your student account.

What does it mean if a class is asynchronous?

An 'asynchronous' or fully online course is delivered such that students can complete the work at any time in a day (or sometimes a week). These courses do not require that faculty or students be at their computer during the scheduled class time. In a 'synchronous' or remote class students must be online during the regularly scheduled class time. This structure is most like a face-to-face class and can involve typical lectures delivered via Zoom or another tool.

Can I record my class session?

Class material falls under copyright law; recording and posting Zoom-type class sessions without the permission of the instructor is against university policy. If a student needs to record a session as part of an accommodation, the student should work with the instructor and the Disability Access Center to ensure that accommodation can be made.

Classes and Academics FAQs

Students who are have not received responses to instructor emails and are unable to access their classes should reach out to their department chairs for further guidance. Contact information for chairs can be found in Western's Department Directory.

An 'asynchronous' or fully online course is delivered such that students can complete the work at any time in a day (or sometimes a week). These courses do not require that faculty or students be at their computer during the scheduled class time. In a 'synchronous' or remote class students must be online during the regularly scheduled class time. This structure is most like a face-to-face class and can involve typical lectures delivered via Zoom or another tool.

While seating and room size are typically part of our assessment of capacity, it is still the case that capacity issues matter in the remote learning environment that we will be operating in this spring.  Faculty and departments make decisions about the appropriate size of classes in order to provide an optimal learning experience, whether face-to-face or online.  In some cases, remote teaching can produce a heavier assessment and grading burden on faculty, as well.  Capacity is a function of many considerations.

Students who lack computer access at home can request a laptop with a loan through the end of the term. 

For more information about building closures and guidelines at your campus location, go to: 

Technology Assistance:

The computer labs will be open on all OC campuses (Bremerton, Poulsbo, Shelton) starting July 6th through Fall quarter and are anticipated to be open until 9 p.m. on weeknights. 

Counseling Services: If you are feeling anxious or need someone to talk to:

Everett-based students: Chett Hill, WWU Everett’s Mental Health Counselor, will be available for virtual appointments. Please contact him directly at  to schedule an appointment. All WWU Everett students receive three free sessions with Chett. Please let him know you are a WWU Everett student when you schedule your appointment.

Bremerton/Poulsbo-based students: Students in Bremerton and Poulsbo can access up to three counseling sessions through Olympic College each academic year. Students may reach out to Trish Christean with Olympic College: (360)475-7233 or Please let her know you are a WWU student when you make your appointment.

Port Angeles-based students: Peninsula Behavioral Health (PBH) Counselors will be available to assist students. Students should call 360-457-0431 and ask to speak to the Access Department. Students should identify themselves as WWU students so they can bypass the normal lengthy intake process. All WWU Port Angeles students receive three free sessions with PBH.

All Western students and employees are expected to follow the University’s Reporting Communicable Diseases Policy (POL-U1000.12) if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. They should complete the COVID-19 Self Reporting Form, which notifies Western’s Student Health Center and is used to determine appropriate follow-up for addressing the needs of the campus community. 

Healthcare options for site-based students outside of Bellingham include:

  1. Contacting their primary healthcare provider
  2. Calling the Washington State Department of Health at 800-525-0127
  3. Accessing free e-visits by Indigo Online Care to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath).

Health officials will guide students on next steps. All Western students are also encouraged to visit Western’s coronavirus website and the state and regional health departments in their area for the latest information and announcements:

Generally, if a host site is still accepting our students, then internships, student teaching and other experiential learning that is currently in place may continue as planned.

Faculty or staff advisors commonly evaluate the acceptability of a host site for meeting the objectives of their department’s experiential learning program and a formal relationship with that host site is established. As a precaution, and if practical, advisors may wish to ask their host site liaison what they are doing to protect their employees, clients and interns from transmitting and contracting COVID-19. That information should be passed along to our students.

Students who are responsible for evaluating and selecting their own host site for their experiential learning activities may wish to ask their host site representative about COVID-19 protection measures as well. Students should be instructed to weigh the risks and benefits and then make the best choice for the own health, safety and well-being.

Students should be instructed to closely follow the policies and procedures of their host sites, including required prevention measures, screening for symptoms, personal protective equipment (e.g. face mask, gloves and gowns), social distancing and reporting when they feel sick or suspect they may have COVID-19 symptoms.

Also, a student’s professional credentialing organization may be relaxing the field experience and clinical practice requirements in light of COVID-19. For example, the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) has done this for student educators.

Notwithstanding the above, host sites that are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak should be avoided. Requests for exceptions should be directed to Paul Mueller, Director of Risk, Compliance and Policy Services at (360) 650-3065.

Faculty, staff or students who know or suspect they have COVID-19 should follow applicable guidance posted in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Resources

Yes, you can access computer labs remotely. Many labs are open to all students and some are department-specific.

The first day of class, please contact your professor, via Canvas or e-mail, about your intent to remain in the class. If your instructor can’t help you, they will forward your message to ATUS for additional assistance.

Academic Year Self-Sustaining courses do not receive state support and are funded completely by Western, which means they cost more in tuition. AYSS courses are noted as such in both Classfinder and Web4U Registration and the per credit tuition rate is posted as $280/credit.

For students who are enrolled in fewer than ten credits, the AYSS courses offer an option with little cost difference, but students who enroll in 10-18 credits may be best served by finding similar state-supported class sections.

While the state does not provide funding for AYSS courses, Western is committed to serving students across Washington, and chooses to provide access to a wider depth and breadth of courses than students would otherwise have access to. 

Western Washington University will offer primarily in-person instruction in the 2021-22 academic year. If you cannot attend and need to request a disability-related accommodation, please visit the remote participation request website and contact the Disability Access Center. Please note that most of the university’s academic courses have essential in-person components, while we’ll do our best to accommodate requests for remote participation, it will not necessarily be possible in all courses. 

How to Prepare for Classes

We learn and remember best when we can attach new information to something we already know. Consequently, the best way to prepare for your classes is to learn as much as you can about your subjects before classes start. Here are a few simple ways to do this: 

Order your textbooks early and get started on your reading. Don’t try to read too much—read slowly so that you can make sure you understand the key concepts. Want to see if you understand a key concept? See if you can explain it to a 9-year old. People who understand things can make them simple. 

Access your courses’ Canvas pages as soon as you can and get a head start on your first assignments. Remember, don’t try to do too much. Instead, work slowly to make sure you understand the key concepts. 

Remember what you already know about the subjects you are taking. Review your high school work in that area, read online introductions or take a crash course.

Establish a calendar and schedule-in your classes and study times. Successful students study like it’s their job on a daily schedule. They also find ways to study more-- often by forming study groups. They also vary their approaches to studying. The best way to do this is to blend reading, note-taking, and practices sets with quizzes--either by making your own, quizzing with a study group, or by putting a flashcard app on your phone.

Learning from Home

Learning online will take more motivation and attention than in-person classes, with one of the biggest hurdles being the environment. Home, be it in Bellingham or elsewhere, is where we relax and unwind after a long day of work. But now it's where all the work will get done.

Here are some ways you can create a good learning environment at home:

Set up a “home office” that’s quiet and well lit, away from distractions. If you are not using your phone for class, consider leaving your phone in another room.

Be aware of your notifications. Push notifications on your phone or other device could cause distraction. Be aware of these and consider turning them off while you work/study.

Set up a routine and schedule that includes getting up at a regular time, getting ready (and out of those PJs) and getting to work. 

Manage your time. Time management is an essential skill to have as a student and even more important when you are learning remotely. Managing your time will keep you focused, on track and making progress in your studying and assignments.

Try the time blocking Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, to prevent burnout, work 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute segments, take a longer 15-minute break to stretch, step outside, etc.

Make time for lunch instead of snacking through lectures – crinkling can distract other students during a video call.

Don’t work in bed. Doing so can associate work/school stress with what’s supposed to be a relaxing environment – doing work in a different area helps with compartmentalization.

Move around. Getting up at least once an hour to stretch, walk around, etc. will boost concentration and give you a brief mental break. These are additional best practices for healthy distance learning.

Be open to learning new technology. There are many of resources available to help students learn in a remote way including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Check them out and see how they might help you stay connected.