Fall shifting to remote Cougar experience
July 23, 2020
To our Cougar community on the WSU Pullman campus:
We write today with disappointing news. Our fall 2020 semester
at WSU Pullman will not be what we hoped, wanted, or planned.
Given the alarming rise in the number of COVID‑19 cases
regionally and nationally, all undergraduate courses at WSU Pullman
will be delivered at a distance and will be completed remotely, with
extremely limited exceptions for in‑person instruction. Information
regarding WSU Pullman graduate coursework and instructional delivery
methods will be announced by August 1.
We are coordinating closely as a WSU system in finalizing plans
for the fall. Our other campuses will announce their plans shortly.
We make this decision with the health and safety of our students,
faculty, and staff foremost in our minds, and that principle will continue
to guide us going forward.
We know this news has major consequences for our students and their
loved ones. We understand the myriad of emotions that this decision will
cause… sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, and for others, a
sense of relief.
To our first‑year Cougs, who have lost any semblance of a
traditional senior year of high school and their first university experience;
transfer students, who were eager to continue their education as Cougs; and
our returning Cougs, who have worked hard to keep their community and peer
relationships intact after a disrupted spring semester; we hear and see you.
Our faculty and staff will continue to work to provide a high‑quality
Coug experience for our students while following current recommendations
for protecting the health and safety of our community.
Nationally, institutions of higher education are making similar
decisions. In the state of Washington and other locations where our students
reside, there recently have been significant increases in the number of
COVID‑19 infections and related deaths. In response to the growing number of cases in
our state, Governor Jay Inslee tightened Phase III reopening guidelines
on July 16.
We have seen what happens when this viral disease spreads unchecked. There
is loss of human life. Inequitable health care systems have caused a disparate
impact for Black, Latinx, lower‑income, and rural communities. Some of
our communities would not have sufficient local health care capacity, including
the City of Pullman and Whitman County, should there be a widespread COVID‑19
outbreak. There is potential for significant known and unknown long‑term
health consequences for people of all ages.
Students, if you can stay at your permanent residence during this current
phase of the COVID‑19 outbreak, please continue progressing toward your degree
Our University-owned apartments will open as planned. University-owned
residence halls will open August 15, but only for those students who
have a demonstrated institutional need and are approved to live on campus.
Please review the fall housing information and the Q&A below and take the
appropriate action for your situation.
Food service will be available with limited offerings, and we will adhere
to occupancy guidelines in dining halls. Recreation and other community-building
centers and activities will remain operational with limited in‑person
services. Most opportunities in student life will be available for virtual
engagement. Cougar Health Services will continue to provide medical and mental
health care for WSU Pullman students.
We remain committed to working together through this uncharted territory
in a way that keeps all of us as safe and healthy as possible. Thank you for
Provost and Executive Vice President
Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President of Student Affairs
Information for those living in areas or states with high rates of COVID‑19 community transmission
I live in an area or state where there is a high rate of COVID‑19 community transmission. What should I do?
If you live in the state of Washington and are from a
county with a high rate of community transmission or live in another state with a
high rate of community transmission, please remain at your current residence and
complete fall 2020 courses remotely.
A high community transmission rate is defined as a positive
test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test
positivity rate, over a 7‑day rolling average. Please review the
Washington State Department of Health COVID‑19 Data Dashboard
and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State and Territorial Health Department website
for additional information about areas with high community transmission. You may also
review sites such as Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center
and Georgia Tech’s Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool.
If you were planning to live on campus and do not meet the
demonstrated institutional need criteria outlined below for living on campus, you
must cancel or defer your residence hall contract to the spring semester. If you:
1) meet the demonstrated institutional need criteria outlined below, 2) are
approved for living on campus in a University-owned residence hall, and 3) are
coming from an area with a high rate of community transmission, you will be asked
to quarantine in a designated University residential facility for 14 days
prior to moving into your residence hall room.
For those of you planning to live off campus, it is
essential that you and your loved ones consider and prepare for the health care
capacity in the City of Pullman and Whitman County in case of a widespread
outbreak. If you are planning to return to Pullman and are coming from an area
with a high rate of community transmission, you should be prepared to quarantine
at your off‑campus residence for 14 days. You may not be allowed to use
the University’s recreational or other facilities, including community
spaces, until proof of quarantine has been provided. More information will be
shared with WSU Pullman students prior to the start of the semester.
Information about instruction
I am staying home. What are my options to complete my coursework?
If you are a WSU Pullman undergraduate student, you will be
able to take all your courses remotely, with very few exceptions, such as highly
specialized labs and some studio courses. While it will be rare, you will know by
August 1 whether a class will be offered only face‑to‑face, and
you can then plan accordingly or adjust your class schedule.
If you are interested in enrolling on another WSU campus,
intercampus enrollment and other information can be found online. You should
also discuss options with your academic advisor.
When can I expect information about how my courses will be delivered?
You will be able to confirm the status of your courses
by August 1. Undergraduate courses at WSU Pullman will be delivered
online and will be completed remotely. Very few exceptions for face‑to‑face
instruction will be available; these will be courses that cannot be taught in a
virtual format. Most classes will involve both synchronous and asynchronous work.
Faculty will receive information about how to apply for exemptions to remote
instruction on Friday, July 24. Those changes will be incorporated by August 1.
Will pass/fail and late withdrawal options be offered to students?
The University will be able to offer a more seamless
learning environment throughout the fall 2020 semester. With clear expectations
and course requirements in place, the
normal campus policies concerning grade and withdrawal dates
How will I take exams?
Your professor will communicate their plans for exams or
other learning assessments. Each faculty member will work with our Academic Outreach
and Innovation team to ensure the highest quality learning and assessment techniques
based on the subject matter and learning goals of the course. For some classes, we
will use proctoring software.
Information about financial aid and student employment
Will the change in course delivery impact my financial aid?
Online course delivery is approved by the Department of
Education through December 2020. If you are receiving federal student loans and
Pell grants, you will retain eligibility.
If you are not changing to a different WSU campus,
your scholarship and tuition waiver awards should not be affected. For students
choosing to enroll at a different WSU campus, your scholarship and tuition
waivers will be managed on a student-by-student basis depending on the award. If
you are receiving private scholarships, or scholarships awarded outside of WSU,
you should contact the funder(s) to ensure your continued eligibility.
If you choose to defer enrollment and will return to WSU Pullman
within one year, your recruitment awards will be reinstated (University
Achievement Award, Distinguished University Achievement Award, Cougar Award,
Western Undergraduate Exchange, and Regents Scholarship).
If you are concerned about financial aid and have
questions, please email email@example.com
or call 509‑335‑9711 to speak to a counselor.
Will the change in course delivery affect my job as a student employee or availability of other student employment opportunities?
If you have been awarded work study, either federal or
state, as part of your student financial aid package, you will still have
access to those work study funds. If you will not be living in Pullman and are
able to work remotely, you should contact your employer to see if that option is
still available. Some student employment positions may require living in Pullman.
Please check HandShake regularly for available student
Information about university-owned residence halls and apartments
What does this mean for the First-year Live In Requirement (FLIR)?
For the fall 2020 semester, WSU has expanded the
FLIR definition of University-approved housing to include your permanent residence.
If you would like to live anywhere other than your permanent address or do not meet
the demonstrated institutional need criteria below, you must have a FLIR exemption
approval on file. You will not be allowed to live in a fraternity or sorority house in
fall 2020 as a first‑year student.
I want to stay at home. I completed a contract and addendum for a residence hall room. What do I do now?
You may choose to either cancel or defer your housing contract
by August 7, 2020.
If you would like to defer your WSU residence hall room
until spring, your security deposit and any initial payments will be retained
and applied toward spring 2021. You will not be charged for the fall 2020
semester. If we are unable to repopulate our residence halls for the spring 2021
semester, your security deposit and any initial payments will be refunded.
You also may cancel by August 7, and
your security deposit and any initial payments will be refunded with no penalties
applied. If you cancel, you may not have access to a residence hall room for
spring 2021 if we are able to repopulate our residence halls at that time.
I read about the demonstrated institutional need criteria to live in a University-owned residence hall. How do I know if I am eligible?
We know some students call WSU their home. The University
has substantially decreased the number of students who can live in our residence
halls. We will do our best to provide housing for those students who meet one or
more of the following criteria; however, eligibility under the criteria does not
guarantee on‑campus housing, and changing circumstances may require
- A student with a financial situation that requires living on campus
(e.g., private scholarship with requirements to live on campus, eligible
for need-based grants, receiving federal or state need-based aid)
- A first-generation college student that needs transition assistance
- A student who is participating in an institutional, state, or federal
program emphasizing or requiring on‑campus resources and support
- A student who has a housing situation that is not secure, in jeopardy,
- A student who has in‑person, on‑campus employment that
requires them to be at WSU Pullman
- A student who is a former foster youth
- A student who is a veteran or a ROTC cadet
- A student who has an ADA accommodation through the WSU Access Center
- A student whose permanent address does not have adequate infrastructure
to learn online (e.g., does not have access to reliable home internet)
- A student who is international or requires extensive travel to return
- A student who is enrolled in a course that requires face‑to‑face
interaction. You will be notified of course delivery decisions by August 1
- A student who has an extraordinary circumstance that requires them to be
physically present at WSU Pullman. Students in this category will be
asked to describe the specific circumstances.
If you meet one or more of the above demonstrated
institutional needs criteria to live in a University-owned residence hall,
log on to the online housing application.
Once you confirm you meet the demonstrated institutional need criteria, you will
receive information about your fall 2020 housing assignment and you will
be given information about signing up for a move‑in time. Please note,
University dining options will be limited at the start of the semester.
If you are approved to live in University-owned residence
halls, you must comply with public health measures such as wearing a face mask,
observing physical distancing requirements, completing a daily self‑attestation,
and adhering to common space use limitations.
What about my University-owned apartment?
University-owned single student apartments will open as
planned on August 1. University-owned family and graduate student apartments
will open as planned per your individual license. All residents must comply with
public health measures such as wearing a face mask, observing physical
distancing requirements, completing a daily self‑attestation, and adhering
to common space use limitations.
For students who have signed a contract to live in
University-owned single student apartments, we have extended the cancellation
deadline to August 7, 2020. You can review our single student apartment cancellation policy online.
For students who have signed a contract to live in
University-owned family and graduate apartments, you may cancel up to two weeks
in advance of your contract start date without penalty. You can review our
family and graduate apartment cancellation policy online. You may also defer your deposit and initial payments
to be considered for a future apartment.
If you would like to change your apartment contract, please
log in to your housing contract or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about off-campus housing
What about my off-campus apartment contract or contract with a fraternity or sorority house?
WSU does not have authority to make decisions for private
landlords, including fraternity and sorority housing corporations.
If you have signed a lease with an off‑campus landlord
or property management company, please contact them directly to explore your options.
If you have signed up to live in your fraternity or sorority
chapter facility, please work directly with your chapter’s housing corporation
to explore your options.