October 1, 2021 Memo on Winter Quarter 2022

To: Academic Affairs
From: Brent Carbajal, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Date: October 1, 2021
Subject: Winter Quarter, 2022

With the fall quarter underway and registration for winter quarter scheduled to start in less than six weeks, many of you are wondering what the parameters for teaching in the winter quarter will be.  As you are probably aware, President Randhawa has reiterated our intention to continue our progress towards returning our residential campus to its traditional face-to-face delivery of courses, while he acknowledges the reality that we will continue to respond to future twists and turns in the pandemic. The UFWW and WWU have negotiated eight memoranda of understanding related to COVID-19's impact on working conditions and we expect to begin negotiating another soon. In the interim, there are a number of expectations for the winter quarter that are outlined below:

  • As a default for the winter quarter, courses will be scheduled as face-to-face unless they have permanent or temporary approval for remote delivery through the Academic Coordinating Commission (ACC).  The Registrar’s Office will move forward now with the scheduling of courses and will make the necessary changes as any accommodations are determined.
    • As was communicated by the Chair of ACC, proposals for temporary changes of course modality to remote or hybrid instruction for the Winter Quarter will be considered by ACC on the basis of programmatic needs.  These must be approved by the appropriate college-level curriculum committee and submitted to ACC by October 19th. 
  • In circumstances where faculty teaching face-to-face classes need short-term flexibility to shift to remote instruction, these requests may be approved by chairs and college deans on a one-time basis.
  • Faculty who have a medical concern about the risk that returning to face-to-face instruction would pose to them personally can submit a request for a health-related accommodation to Human Resources. Note that this requires medical certification of the risk and applies only to the faculty member themselves, not to a possible exposure risk to someone in their family or household.  In the case of documented medical risks, we will fully support the use of remote teaching as a reasonable accommodation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For faculty who have other concerns about the risks of returning to the classroom (e.g. it leading to possible exposure of someone in their household who cannot be vaccinated or has other health vulnerabilities), we anticipate that the upcoming MOU will outline options that create a degree of continued flexibility within the larger framework of our overall return to campus-based operations.

When an MOU is finalized, we will work with the Registrar’s office, ACC and others to rapidly implement a process by which any modality accommodations agreed upon can be documented and approved. 

We recognize that all of us are making decisions about winter quarter in the face of ongoing uncertainty.  When will vaccines become available for children ages 5 to 11?  Will the current promising trends of slowly declining COVID cases in Washington continue?  How common will breakthrough cases of COVID-19 cases become for vaccinated individuals?  The good news is that we will go into the winter quarter as a vaccinated campus community with extraordinary efforts at WWU to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, including one of the best testing efforts of any college campus. 

Thanks for all you continue to do to support student learning during the pandemic and for all your collective efforts to keep our community safe.  We know this has not been easy, but our efforts are working.