Washington University Policies & Response
The university is taking significant measures to protect the campus community from COVID-19. For university employees, alternate operations are currently in effect. As new information becomes available, Arts & Sciences will add to the list of frequently asked questions and answers below.
The most up-to-date information for the university-wide community may be found on the Emergency Management website. The WashU COVID-19 hotline is (314) 935-8300.
Last updated: April 8, 2020
All faculty are encouraged to consult the University's Teaching & Learning Continuity website as well as this guide to Teaching Through Disruptions. For additional questions about online instruction, please visit the Moving to Online Instruction FAQ page. For undergraduate students and their advisors, Arts & Sciences has also posted interim amendments to academic policies.
Will I have to teach my class online?
Yes, beginning March 23, there will be no in-person courses taught in the classroom until at least April 30, 2020. All classes, including those traditionally held in studios and laboratory settings, will be conducted online. Details will be determined by the schools, and students will receive instructions from their academic deans and faculty before the end of the extended spring break specific to their individual programs and the classes in which they are enrolled. We know that some of our students have limited access to high-quality, high-speed internet services at home. For student concerns about internet access, please call 314-935-8300 or 888-234-2863 and listen to the menu options to learn how to access technical support.
Graduate and professional students involved in individual rotations or doing individual research may continue their programs, but must limit travel and group activities consistent with our other policies.
Additional information related to moving Arts & Sciences courses online can be found on the Moving to Online Instruction FAQ page.
Do I have to teach my class in the same time slot it was previously scheduled?
If instructors schedule a synchronous component for their remote class, they must schedule it to include the same time slot in which their in-person class was scheduled, and provide alternative means of viewing/participating for students who may not be able to engage remotely at that time.
Who owns the intellectual property if I move my class online?
Will we need to move our faculty seminar online?
As with other events, we encourage seminar organizers to provide virtual or call-in options for any participants who request this. Virtual options may be needed for anyone who has to self-quarantine, for example, or for those who are more at risk and may need to minimize their exposure. Organizers who would like assistance in exploring or setting up virtual options should contact Ken Keller.
How will course evaluations be affected?
Course evaluations will either be replaced by a short qualitative survey or suspended completely.
At this time, it is imperative to restrict research conducted on campus to critical activities performed by a limited number of designated personnel that cannot include graduate students. Research that is essential for the understanding and reduction of COVID-19 risk should continue. Beyond this, we ask that only those activities that are absolutely necessary to retain critical research assets for long-term progress are conducted on campus.
What is meant by “retain critical research assets”?
Critical research assets include data, samples, and living organisms – animals, plants, and microbes – that are essential to the viability of long-term research projects, as well as costly research equipment that must be maintained to prevent major financial loss. No experiments are to be conducted. We are only focused on maintaining the assets we currently have in our labs.
We are concerned, for example, about instances of loss of data if a person were not able to go into lab; maintaining equipment so that neglect does not cause it to start a fire or be critically damaged; issues related to great financial loss; and federal regulations that require certain tasks to be done only in a laboratory.
How long will this restriction last?
Normal research operations on campus must cease by Monday, March 23, at least until April 22, with the exception of research essential for the understanding and reduction of COVID-19 risk. The university is monitoring the situation and will make any necessary amendments to this time frame on a running basis.
What about research that is not conducted on campus?
Any research that can safely be conducted off campus may continue.
What does this mean for on-campus research laboratories?
At this time, it is imperative to restrict research on campus to critical activities performed by a limited number of designated personnel. Laboratory personnel should refrain from entering campus laboratories and research facilities unless they have been designated as essential personnel in an approved continuity plan, and are on campus only for a limited time to support critical activities necessary for the long-term viability of critical assets for the research program. Examples of such activities might include maintenance of essential equipment and safety standby mode in labs or maintenance of essential samples and living organisms.
I missed the OVCR Virtual Town Hall. Where can I see it?
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) hosted a virtual town hall for the research community on March 18, 2020. You may now access a recording of this event via this link to Box. You can also find this link on the Town Hall website. Please note that the guidance discussed in this town hall is constantly changing. Therefore, you should continue to check the OVCR's Guidance for Researchers on COVID-19 website for updates. If you have any questions that were not answered through the town hall or the website, please email email@example.com.
Can graduate students engaged in research on campus continue their work?
No, graduate students cannot be designated as essential personnel and must not be on campus during this period except in exceptional circumstances, for which permission must be granted by the Dean of Arts & Sciences.
How will library access be impacted?
University Libraries has compiled information on Remote Resources and Guidance for Users. Most library locations will remain open with limited hours and access through this Friday, March 20, and then will be closed through at least Monday, April 22. Subject librarians will continue to provide the full range of instructional and research support, including helping instructors and students with reference requests. Librarians will continue to support courses through asynchronous instruction; see the Library Instruction page for additional details. Thousands of digital materials are available through remote access.
How will these disruptions affect the tenure process?
Potential impacts of the disruption on the tenure and promotion of assistant professors are being taken very seriously. Dean Schaal is in ongoing discussions with department chairs to develop policies to address this and hopes to announce more information soon.
Work and Employment
On March 16, 2020, the Office of the Chancellor announced that alternate university operations would be in effect through at least April 6. That date has since been updated to at least April 22. Only employees who are required to perform essential work that requires a physical presence should report to their place of work. Please see the university's page on Telecommuting Resources for additional information.
When should most university employees begin working from home?
As soon as possible. The goal is to implement this change by March 23 but if units can develop and implement their plans before March 23, they should. Managers will provide more information.
How do I know whether my work must be completed on campus?
Managers will be identifying essential functions that must be completed on campus and developing department-specific plans for other work that can be completed remotely.
What if my type of work cannot be done remotely?
The university recognizes that there are some employees who cannot effectively work remotely and whose regular duties and physical presence are not essential under university alternate operations. Managers will develop plans for redeployment of employees impacted. Employees who cannot work remotely and cannot be re-assigned will be eligible for the special paid time off benefit mentioned below.
My childcare has closed due to COVID-19. What are my options?
All employees are eligible for up to 10 days of special paid time off for circumstances related to COVID-19, including childcare needs. Full details are available on the Emergency Management website.
For employees who must continue reporting to work, particularly those who provide medical services and others whose on-campus work is deemed essential, Human Resources is working diligently to obtain additional child-care services. The university will provide more information about child-care services as it becomes available.
If I need to take time off work due to COVID-19, what should I do?
All employees are eligible for up to 10 days of special paid time off for circumstances related to COVID-19. Full details are available on the Emergency Management website. The special time off applies to the following scenarios:
- You self-quarantine or are quarantined by a public health agency.
- You were diagnosed as having COVID-19.
- You are caring for an eligible family member who is self-quarantined or has COVID-19.
- You have children who are sent home due to school closings.
- You are returning from travel to an area of risk. Refer to the university’s interim travel policies.
- Your manager is concerned about your health and sends you home.
I am a manager, and my employees have questions about the new interim policies. Where can I find information?
For employee questions about telecommuting, COVID-19 special pay, and recording time, managers can refer to these resources from HR. If managers have employees who cannot effectively complete their regular duties remotely, and who are not engaged in other essential work on campus at this time, they should contact Joanie Hill from HR Recruitment for potential reassignment.
Commencement and Events
Will Commencement take place on campus?
No, the university has canceled on-campus events for the 159th Commencement, which had been scheduled for Friday, May 15. For more information and a statement from Chancellor Martin about the cancellation, visit the Source.
How will graduating students receive their diplomas now that on-campus Commencement is canceled?
Diplomas will be mailed to the Diploma Mailing Address in WebSTAC. To change or set this address, log onto WebSTAC and go to Student Information -> Contact Information -> Add New Address. Select Address Type: Diploma Mailing Address.
Are visitors still welcome to travel to the university?
Yes, visitors are still welcome. Exclusions: visitors who have had direct contact with a patient confirmed to have COVID-19 or with someone who is under care for suspected exposure to COVID-19; any visitors (including contractors and consultants) who have been in locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure within the past 14 days, whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms. If your unit is hosting visitors to campus, you must inform your guests of this policy prior to their visit.
Does our department need to cancel our event?
At this time, the university is following guidance from St. Louis regional leaders who have placed limits on the number of people who may gather in one space. Campus events planned between now and April 30, 2020 should be postponed, canceled or conducted with technology to allow for remote participation. University leaders continue to monitor the situation and the university community should consult the main university COVID-19 information page for updates.
Should I cancel my international travel?
Yes, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended between now and April 30, 2020. This includes any travel connected to university activities or programs for all faculty, staff and students, whether that travel is funded by the university, an external grant or other source. We also strongly discourage personal travel to international destinations.
Anyone who travels for personal reasons to locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure during this time period will be required to contact the university for screening and clearance in order to return to the university. Depending upon your travel destination, you may be required to complete a 14-day self-quarantine away from campus. (See CDC guidance on self-quarantine.) Prior to returning to the university, Danforth Campus students must call Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-4129. Medical Campus students must call Student Health at 314-362-3523. All faculty and staff must contact Occupational Health at 314-362-3528 or firstname.lastname@example.org for screening and clearance.
Can I still travel within the US?
All non-essential university-sponsored domestic travel beyond the St. Louis metropolitan area is suspended between now and April 30, 2020. This includes any non-essential travel connected to university activities or programs for all faculty, staff and students, whether that travel is funded by the university, an external grant or other source. Requests to engage in essential travel must be approved by the chancellor or the provost, a dean, executive vice chancellor, or vice chancellor. Faculty and staff in Arts & Sciences should direct their requests to Jonathan Cohen.
All approved essential travel must be registered through Emergency Management through this form.
Students, staff and faculty planning personal domestic travel should be mindful of the spread of COVID-19 and continually monitor the list of locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure which may include U.S. cities and states. Anyone who travels to locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure is required to contact the university for screening and clearance in order to return to the university. You will likely be required to complete a 14-day self-quarantine away from campus. Prior to returning to the university, Danforth Campus students must call Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-4129. Medical Campus students must call Student Health at 314-362-3523. All faculty and staff must contact Occupational Health at 314-362-3528 or email@example.com for screening and clearance.
Has study abroad been canceled?
Yes, the university has recalled all undergraduate students from their study abroad program for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. The university’s top priority is our community’s health and safety. The university is working with students who have been recalled from the study abroad location to cover expenses associated with traveling from their international location to their permanent home residence. For more information, visit the university's interim travel policy FAQ.
Arts & Sciences Overseas Programs has made the decision to extend the study abroad application period for Spring 2021 to June 15. Remote advising will be available via phone, email, Skype, and/or Zoom, and we are working to change the format of the study plan so it will be easier for students and study abroad advisors to complete electronically.
In response to hardships and disruptions, the university has created the WashU Crisis Response Fund to support employees and undergraduate, graduate, and professional students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
How can students and employees apply for funding?
Students can now submit a request for help through the WashU Crisis Response Fund for Students. Information about a similar process for employees will be coming soon.
What are some examples of qualifying requests?
Students may apply for crisis funding due to unexpected loss of income or for emergency financial support to pay for essential needs such as food, housing, medicine or utility bills between March 15, 2020, and April 30, 2020. In mid-April, the university will reassess the fund’s capacity to determine whether it will be possible to provide further support to students beyond April 30.
How can people contribute to this fund?
Anyone who wishes to give may do so through this WashU Crisis Response form. Supporters may designate gifts to support students or employees. WashU faculty and staff who want to donate can make contributions through WashU Crisis Response Fund or through HRMS payroll deduction.