Fall 2021 Course Modality and FAQ

Because of the vaccine requirement, we now believe it is reasonable to plan for no physical distancing requirement in classrooms in the fall. Thus, we will plan to have most if not all classrooms scheduled at normal capacity. This change in planning will allow most classes to be scheduled for in-person instruction. We also are planning for a normal time between classes because of the vaccine requirement. Essentially, then, we need to shift our schedule planning to something much more like a normal quarter at Western.

There are many nuances to this, of course. Faculty, classroom support staff, and students who cannot be vaccinated will be accommodated. The nature of those accommodations for students is unclear, but we will be working with the Disability Access Center and others to ensure that all students have access to courses. Faculty have the choice to teach in person, remotely, or in a hybrid or mixed modality. Faculty will not be expected to run parallel versions of their courses for students learning remotely; instead as mentioned above, we will work with DAC and others as necessary to find accommodations. Another possibility, if desired by faculty, is technology that allows virtual participation by students in face-to-face lecture courses, and that will be a necessary priority for investment by the University. We anticipate being able to equip most classrooms with this technology before Fall.

COVID has taught us many things, one of which is the need to be flexible. The presence and continued appearance of variants, the availability and need for boosters, and the possibility of a substantive increase in the number of cases in Fall all point to the need to be ready for a lesser on-campus presence until the pandemic is over—and it is not likely to be over in Fall. That need has a corollary that faculty will continue to need to be ready to temporarily shift modality to remote during Fall if safety mitigation is necessary. We do not anticipate a need to make a wholesale, quarter-long change in the schedule based on renewed restrictions or tighter guidelines for a vaccinated population.

For faculty, the Administration and the UFWW are completing an MOU to address several of these areas related to working conditions and safety measures.

Student Modality Accommodations

Generally, with the relaxation of physical distancing and the ability to ensure adequate ventilation in most classrooms, instructors who desire to teach in person will be able to do so. If, in the schedule completed earlier this spring, sections were scheduled for remote instruction solely or mostly because of concerns about availability, departments should be able to change that modality to in-person assuming the instructor prefers it. The move to in-person instruction requires attention to accommodating students who cannot attend in person. The type of accommodation necessary will be determined by the University in consultation with instructor chair, and dean.

For classes with multiple sections in Fall, scheduling at least one remote section and at least one in-person section will allow for student choice, assuming at least one instructor is interested in teaching in each modality.

For classes with a single section in Fall or no remote offering, the recommended approach is to schedule the section in the modality instructors prefer. If the instructor is considering in-person modality that should be chosen at this point, as it is easier to move to remote than the reverse.

Several approaches to accommodation for students needing remote access to an in-person course could be adopted, depending on the nature of accommodations and the number of students requesting them:

1. Open up a separate remote section if enough students are needing the accommodation and if an instructor is willing to teach it. Resources will be available to departments for additional NTT salaries in this case. If, an instructor chooses to teach an extra section and this causes an overload, the instructor will be paid accordingly per the CBA.

2. Another possibility in this case is to move to a Hybrid, Remote-Synchronous, Remote-Asynchronous, or Remote-Blended modality; in this case, the University will provide technology support, a TA, or both, along with extra compensation for the instructor per an MOU being written between UFWW and WWU. The choice between these possibilities from the instructor’s perspective may depend on the type of class being taught (lecture, lab, seminar, etc.). The instructor will determine the support needed and consult with the chair and the dean; the dean will communicate the need to the Provost’s Office. Further details will be forthcoming.

3. If only a few students, or one student, needs the accommodation, the University will work with the instructor and the student to find the optimal approach to the situation, which could mean any of a number of methods from substitution to advising to some type of class-based accommodation that would be accompanied, for the instructor, with extra compensation (again per the MOU being written).

4. These are quarter-long methods to handle accommodations. Short-term accommodations based on illness or the need to quarantine should be made as per the usual method in such cases.

Who will be responsible for student medical accommodations?

Student accommodations for medical reasons due to disability will be handled by the Disability Access Center as normal. Other types of adjustments, as they arise, will be handled through the Office of Student Life working with departments.

Should faculty teaching online courses allow non-COVID-compliant students to participate in the course? If a faculty member is teaching an in person class and is allowing COVID-compliant students to participate remotely, should they also allow non-covid-compliant students to participate?

The vaccine mandate applies to all students, regardless of how many face-to-face or online courses they are taking.  If a student is not in compliance and is making no efforts to come into compliance, then there will be a student conduct investigation.  If the student is found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct, there will be a sanction. Students who do not come into compliance during the fall quarter will not be allowed to complete face-to-face or online courses remotely, and would, at the end of the quarter, receive an “F” grade in any course they remain enrolled in.

Some students have waited until the last minute to submit their vaccine documentation.  There are also some who have started the vaccine sequence late enough that they will only qualify as fully vaccinated in the early days or weeks of the quarter; these students can apply to be conditionally cleared pending the final determination of their vaccination status.  We anticipate that other students will come into compliance soon and be able to complete their coursework this fall as full participants from that point forward.  In the interim, however, we don’t expect faculty to provide feedback on any work the not-yet-compliant student might submit, and faculty have the option to ask them to leave the synchronous, remote course session.  Once a student does come into compliance, they will be allowed to submit academic work they are behind on for evaluation; whether or not a student is able to complete the requirements for a course successfully after such a delay will depend on judgement of their faculty member, based on the quality of the work, the timing of the delay and the type of course they are enrolled in.  Some studio, lab, field and discussion-based courses may be difficult to catch up on, and there is no expectation that a faculty member create alternative assignments for a student who has put themselves in this situation.  If a faculty member wants to reach out to that student and get a voluntary report on their progress toward meeting the requirement, that is up to them, but, once again, not part of the expectation.
We are asking faculty to include on their Canvas sites the following notification to students, and to keep the notification up on the Canvas site throughout the quarter:
"Students who are not compliant with the vaccination policy (that is, have not submitted vaccination records or who don’t have approved exemptions) and do not have a temporary waiver because they are in process of becoming compliant are not eligible to participate in class, and the instructor is not obliged to grade assignments submitted by such students. If the student becomes compliant it is within the instructor’s discretion to determine whether that student can complete the class successfully."

What if I do not feel confident in local testing protocols and am concerned for my safety?

Per the terms of the MOU on Safety, faculty can choose instructional modality, whether in person, remote, or hybrid, for Fall 21. Faculty who teach in person can change modality at any time should they develop health concerns for themselves or their families.


Will faculty who teach in person be told if they have unvaccinated students who have gotten an exemption in their classes?

No, information on vaccination status is considered private health information and is protected by HIPAA. This is consistent with University policy concerning measles status. Instructors should not ask students their vaccination status, and students can refuse to answer if asked.

Will faculty be informed of the level of vaccination among students in their classes?

We are working toward providing instructors as much information as possible, but as of now, we can expect the following as a minimum: In September (after the majority of students have registered for classes, including new students), Enrollment Management will analyze the data to determine vaccine rates by class. They will work with the campus health experts and the IMS to determine where there may be any concerning rates, according to health guidance available at that time. In the event that any class has a larger than acceptable percentage of students who are not vaccinated, we will notify the instructor and discuss options. As we get closer to September, we will release information about how we intend to make those assessments.

Will students be told if an instructor is not vaccinated?

No, for the same reason; vaccination status is private health information.

Will we receive vaccination rates for our partner institutions? 

Vaccine rates for our partner institutions will be provided as available. 

As of 9/17, Olympic College has provided WWU with the following statistics for vaccinated individuals at all campuses:
Classified staff - 77%
Exempt Staff - 93%
F/T Faculty - 77%
Adjunct Faculty - 52%* This number is expected to increase as this group just came back on contract. They are not expected to provide info until they get a contract. 

We do not have vaccination rates for Everett University Center or Peninsula College at this time.

Will the vaccine mandate be dependent on FDA approval of vaccines by Fall?

At this point the mandate is not dependent on full FDA approval.

What if a student has only gotten their first shot and cannot submit proof of full vaccination to comply with the policy?

Any student who is partially vaccinated will be required to submit a medical COVID Vaccine Waiver. Upon approval of this waiver, the student’s status will be updated to compliant on class photo rosters. The student will then be required to participate in weekly COVID testing until they receive their second dose of the series.  Instructions available at the Student Health Center COVID Vaccine webpage under “I'll only have one COVID-19 shot of the series completed before I need to be on campus. What do I do?”

Why has the university decided that it will not disenroll students who are noncompliant with the vaccine mandate?

Western does not have a policy which would allow the university to unilaterally disenroll students for failure to comply with a policy.  According to policy that Western does have, students are entitled to a defined and clearly articulated fair process regarding any possible conduct violation.  The university can expel or suspend students after a hearing, which certainly is a possibility were noncompliant students to exhibit persistent intransigence despite all efforts to correct the behavior.  We do want to make sure we give space to students who are in the process of being compliant, even through the add-drop period of registration.

Faculty have always been and are responsible for managing their classrooms and other learning environments.  Asking noncompliant students to leave would fall into that classroom management.  Possible ways to approach that management are available here in the FAQ.  Should a student be noncompliant, faculty are under no obligation to grade any work submitted by that student.  The only faculty obligation would be to submit a grade of "F" at the end of the quarter if the noncompliant remains enrolled.

While some universities around the country have communicated that they are disenrolling students for noncompliance, currently none of the six public institutions in Washington are doing so.  Like Western, these other institutions are considering applying registration holds on non-compliant students for future academic quarters or semesters.

Space and Scheduling

Is there a possibility of getting rooms with a little extra space?

Most classrooms have a capacity larger than the maximum enrollment of the classes.

Will all classrooms be used or only the ones with proper ventilation?

With vaccinations now required for all students, staff, and faculty, airflow and ventilation are one component of an overall risk mitigation strategy. Facilities Management has examined airflow in General Use Classrooms and Lecture Halls to ensure that circulation is adequate according to current research and guidance. Some rooms may be taken offline or marked as for limited use. HEPA filters are being considered for rooms with low circulation. Facilities Management expects to have all classrooms ready for the beginning of Fall Quarter.

Scheduling Class Times and Rooms

Please note that if a start time different from that requested during schedule submission becomes necessary, we will consult with the faculty member or the department to provide options before scheduling a different class time. As noted in the message on Friday, April 2, we anticipate that the challenges of scheduling for fall will produce more conflicts and potentially require more adjustments than in past years because of the additional complication of building in air turnover and cleaning time between classes in each room.

With the limitations on space and the added complexities of scheduling for fall, it is likely to be difficult to accommodate any special request for a particular classroom (except to accommodate needs under the ADA). If teaching in a particular classroom is desired, picking a start time that is outside of the high demand 10:00am to 2:00pm period will increase the possibility of being assigned preferred space

Time Between Classes

Our current plan is to revert to the normal amount of time between classes.

What modalities are in use during the pandemic?

In order to facilitate our communication of the updated course information to students during the pandemic and now into Fall 2021, we have adopted the modalities and definitions below. The attributes noted in red are to be submitted with the schedule to denote modality. Since instructional method must continue to reflect the catalog-approved modality for each course, other course details and attributes must be used in Banner to identify modality. All of those details and attributes allow the appropriate modality to be identified and communicated to students through Classfinder and in Web4U.

  • Face-to-Face (FTF):

    • Courses taught in-person

  • Hybrid (HYBD)

    • Courses taught with a combination of Face-to-Face and either Remote - Synchronous or Remote - Asynchronous delivery methods

  • Remote—synchronous (SYNC)

    • Courses originally approved to be offered face-to-face, which will be offered remotely during the pandemic, with designated meeting dates and times

  • Remote—asynchronous (ASNC)

    • Courses originally approved to be offered face-to-face, which will be offered remotely during the pandemic, which do not have a specific meeting day/time

  • Remote—blended (BLND)

    • Courses originally approved to be offered face-to-face, which will be offered remotely during the pandemic in a blend of Remote - Synchronous and Remote - Asynchronous delivery methods

  • DIOL: Distance Instruction Online (attribute = OL)

    • Courses which have been approved and designed to be taught online.

Please note that synchronous, asynchronous, or blended must be selected for all online courses—those that were originally approved as distance learning/online courses and developed for online delivery (DIOL) as well as those designated as remote during the pandemic.

Note: Hyflex has been referenced in some materials. Hyflex can be categorized as hybrid and further explained in course text on Classfinder.

Modality and Support

Do faculty have the ability to choose whether to teach in person or remotely for Fall?

Yes, faculty can choose modality, whether in person, remote, or hybrid, for Fall. Faculty who who are scheduled to teach in person can change out of in-person modality at any time should they develop health concerns for themselves or their families. We do request that if possible faculty change modality by August 1 to be able to give incoming students as complete information as possible.

What if an instructor wants to teach in-person, but doesn't have enough in information to make a choice at this time?

In-person modality should be chosen, as it is easier to move to remote than the reverse.

Support for Faculty Teaching in Mixed Modality

To reiterate from earlier messages, no instructor will be required to teach a section including both remote and in-person students. Instructors who choose to teach in a mixed modality (both in-person and remote instruction in some manner) can expect to receive necessary support. Such support may include technology, such as cameras and microphone arrays, additional instructional support staff to monitor and facilitate remote participation, and compensation.

Faculty Workload and Support

Adjustments we may need to make for Fall 2021, including teaching in mixed modality, may result in extra workload for faculty. The UFWW and administration are working on an MOU regarding compensation and other support for faculty for this extra workload.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Assignments

Adjustments we may need to make for Fall 2021, including teaching in mixed modality, may result in extra workload for TAs. Departments should assess and plan for any additional training or other resources that TAs may need. TA assignments remain limited to a maximum of 20 hours/week, and schedules should reflect any additional workload expectations arising from remote or hybrid components. As with other instructors, no TA should be required to teach a section including both remote and in-person students or to teach face-to-face if they have concerns about risks from Covid-19 to their own health or to the health of others.

Changing Modality After Registration

Faculty who choose to teach in-person in Fall 2021 but, after registration, decide to teach remotely, or vice versa, may do so. The Registrar’s Office will change modality; days and times will remain the same to minimize scheduling conflicts.

Is the WWU course modality contingent on Whatcom County Reopening Phase?

No. Course modality will be determined by COVID activity on campus this fall. The Student Health Center (SHC) will closely monitor COVID cases on campus and will continue to work with the Whatcom County Health Department to collaborate on decisions if an outbreak occurs.


What will be the mask policy?

Currently Western continues to require masks in campus facilities. Unless guidance from the CDC, Department of Health, and other authorities changes for populations that include unvaccinated people, masks will be required in classes in Fall. For classes or accommodations that require the ability to see one’s mouth, such masks will be provided by the University.

How will I know which students in my class are not compliant with the COVID policy?

As of September 15, 2021, information about COVID compliance started loading into class photo rosters. Faculty can now see the compliance status of each student who is registered in their class(es). That information is updated daily around noon. At noon each day a Student Health Center staff member creates a file of students who are in compliance with the COVID Compliance Policy. An automated process has been created to load this data into Banner and into the photo rosters. If checking the photo roster before noon on any given day, the COVID compliance information will only be up-to-date as of noon the day prior.

Will the students who have not complied with the COVID policy be disenrolled?

The University has determined that we will not be disenrolling students.  Between COVID Support, Admissions, University Communications, the Registrar’s Office, and the orientation team, we have sent multiple messages through a variety of channels to students notifying them of their obligations under the policy and making clear that they will not be allowed to report to work, attend in-person classes, reside in University housing, and participate in on-campus activities if they do not comply with the policy. In addition, we expect instructors to apply their grading standards to non-compliant students who cannot attend classes, and we will be assessing further actions that may be taken prior to Winter 2021 registration. We have received documents from 90% of our student body as of the morning of Sept. 20th, and more students are submitting materials in these final few days. 

What do I do if a student who is not compliant with the policy shows up for my in-person class?

The message sent earlier this fall and posted here on the provost's website includes information concerning non-compliant students, as well as students without masks, in the classroom. Most of the language is concerning masks, but the information applies to non-compliant students as well.

If a student attends class but is symptomatic, what should the instructor do?

If you are on the Bellingham campus and a student comes to class with concerning symptoms, including a cough or fever, you may ask the student to leave class until their symptoms have improved, and remind them that they can call the Student Health Center for advice. Do not ask the student to show you a negative COVID test in order to return to class.

If you are at one of Western’s other locations (Everett, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Angeles, Burien) send the student home and tell them to contact their local healthcare provider.


Plans for testing on campus in Fall 2021 are evolving. Current plans are for some testing capacity to remain on campus, including the possibility of rapid antigen testing.

How can I tell if a student is up-to-date on their COVID testing requirements or has a positive test?

The Student Health Center has re-activated the COVID Clearance Status Tracking System – now called COVID tracker—for students, giving students direct access to their COVID information, located in their student health portal.  Students can access a daily “COVID pass” that reveals a color code identifying whether they are (as of that morning) fully cleared, overdue on a COVID test, non-compliant, or required to isolate/quarantine.  If faculty wish to have additional details about student COVID status, they can have the students present their COVID pass each day of class or lab.  Anyone presenting with a green “cleared” pass can attend.  Anyone with yellow, red, orange or blue should be turned away.

Details about the color codes can be found on the COVID tracker webpage.

  • Blue "N/A" - You do not have either (1) proof of COVID Vaccination or (2) an approved medical or religious COVID Vaccine Waiver on record.
  • Green “Cleared” - Either you have submitted your completed COVID Vaccine Card or you are on an Exemption and are up to date on your testing requirement.
  • Yellow “Overdue” - You are overdue on a required COVID test.
  • Orange “Quarantine” - You are unvaccinated and have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Red “Isolation” - You have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms consistent with COVID.

We are working on messaging to students about use of the COVID tracker and letting them know that they may be called on to provide their COVID Pass for access on campus.  If a student does not have a smart phone and the ability to display the color-coded COVID pass electronically, the student can print a copy of the color-coded COVID pass daily that will have a date/time stamp on it.

Students who are in compliance with Western’s vaccine policy but are not located in Bellingham will have a green pass. The pass will remain green for the term. Other statuses may include:   Blue "N/A" - You do not have either (1) proof of COVID Vaccination or (2) an approved medical or religious COVID Vaccine Waiver on record, and Yellow “Overdue” - You are overdue on a required COVID test.

Please do not ask students to show you their test results; the COVID pass is designed to make student clearance information available to you. It is updated daily.

If a Student in a Face-to-Face Class Tests Positive for Covid-19

If you are on the Bellingham campus and a student in your class tests positive for COVID-19, encourage them to contact the Student Health Center for information regarding self-isolation at home or possible isolation options available on campus. If you are outside of the Bellingham campus, they can contact their healthcare provider for the same.

Their COVID Clearance Status on their phone will be red “Isolation Status” and they should not be allowed to return to class until they are cleared by the Student Health Center. They will be required to isolate for 10 days. They do not need to be tested again, and you should not ask for a negative test result when the student returns to class. The student’s COVID pass will show that they are cleared after they have completed their isolation period. 

The student who tests positive should be accommodated as with any situation where the student cannot attend class for health reasons. 

Unvaccinated students and faculty who have been exposed to COVID must quarantine for 14 days. They may return to class at the end of that period, unless they develop COVID during quarantine, in which case they must isolate for 10 days. They do not need to be tested again at the end of that period, and you should not ask for a negative test result. The student’s COVID pass will show that they are cleared after they have completed their quarantine period.

Vaccinated students and faculty who have been around someone with COVID-19 and who do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine and may continue to attend classes. They should schedule a COVID test for 3-5 days after their exposure. If that test is negative, they should watch for symptoms, but do not need to quarantine. If that test is positive, they are required to isolate for 10 days.

Please do not send your entire class to be tested if you receive notification of a positive case in your class. Students are notified directly as to their necessary actions based on their health information.

To report a case of COVID among your students or colleagues, please use the form on the university’s COVID webpage. It is not necessary to report a case of COVID about which you have learned from the COVID Management Team. 

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 in my class, how will contact tracing work?

If contact tracing efforts determine that there were multiple possible direct contacts with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, the entire class will be notified with a general announcement.  This will provide guidance for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.  Those who are vaccinated will be advised to test in 3-5 days and monitor symptoms for the next 14 days, and those who are unvaccinated will be advised to quarantine for 14 days and test in 3-5 days.

  • Bellingham Campus - Students will be directed to the Student Health Center for further assistance.  Staff and faculty will need to contact their medical provider or obtain a COVID test at Northwest Laboratory.
  • WWU Locations (non-Bellingham):  Students, staff and faculty will need to contact their medical provider or obtain a COVID test through a local provider.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Facilities Management is confident that they can clean and disinfect classrooms according to CDC guidance. Current CDC guidance on surface transmission can be found at Science Brief: SARS-CoV-2 and Surface (Fomite) Transmission for Indoor Community Environments | CDC.

Supplies and Equipment

Procurement is confident that important supplies and equipment, including masks, disinfectant and disinfectant wipes, and barriers, can be purchased in sufficient quantities to be available for Fall 2021.

Site Supervisors and Academic Affairs Staff Support

Site supervisors have experienced significant stress during the past year even with a limited number of students and employees on campus. It is unreasonable to expect the current site supervisors to shoulder a load that will significantly increase in the fall. Our aim will be to significantly reduce the demands on the Site Supervisors, and we will be engaging with the Site Supervisors during Spring on the best ways to achieve this.

The increase in on-campus presence also may necessitate an increase in general staff support needed, particularly technical and lab support. We are committed to compensating for that increase in staff support, whether that is increasing the number of staff, paying overtime where necessary, finding other means of support, or a combination of these. We will work with deans, chairs, and Site Supervisors to understand the needs and meet those needs where necessary.


Reopening Plans

President Randhawa’s previous direction to continue working remotely through the spring quarter remains in effect. Over the remainder of the spring quarter and through the summer, we will gradually be expanding the numbers of people and activities on campus. Our intent is to resume as much face to face instruction in the fall as possible. We must prepare over the coming months to do so. We know that many employees continue to be challenged with child care and caregiving disruptions; we also know many employees may need some time to reacclimate themselves to a busier and more populated work environment. As supervisors plan for summer operations, you may allow employees to continue to work remotely if it can be done without impeding operations, while recognizing the need to begin to bring many employees back by fall as necessary to complete your mission. Supervisors are encouraged to start discussions with employees about transitioning back to campus over the summer recognizing the value we have learned about remote work that may be used into the future. Please see guidance from HR on remote work. As plans are prepared, supervisors also need to consider the resources and time that may be needed to arrange for Transport Services and ATUS to address office changes as employees come back to their workspace.

Beginning in early July, departments will be allowed back on campus as long as they have up-to-date and approved COVID-19 safety plans in place. We encourage departments without a reopening plan to start thinking about their summer plans in preparation for fall. There is a new process that is being introduced next week to assist you in developing an onsite safety plan. We invite and encourage you to attend one of the two information sessions that are being held to answer questions about this new process. We invite you to attend an upcoming session:

Friday, May 14, from 10-11a.m.: Click here to join the meeting

Academic Policies

Grading Policies

All COVID-related temporary grading policies will expire at the end of Summer Session 2021. Graduate and undergraduate grading policies will be going back to their usual methods during Fall Quarter 2021.

What is the grading policy for this fall?

From the provost’s COVID page: Graduate and Undergraduate grading policies will return to normal during Fall Quarter 2021. 

Will student teaching evaluations be required this fall?

No decision has been made on whether student evaluations of teaching will be required in Fall. This will be covered in the upcoming MOU.

Does ACC plan to revise the current blanket approval for remote offering of courses in the fall?

No, ACC has no plans to revisit its decision for Fall.

Motion approved by ACC on 4/6/21, approved by Faculty Senate 4/12/21.

Because of ongoing concerns with COVID-19, ACC will waive its standard process for modality approval for Fall Quarter, 2021.