iSchool COVID-19 Student FAQ

Last updated: March 31, 2020, 11:08am

There are a lot of instances of misinformation and unsubstantiated rumors around COVID-19. Continue to rely on the UW coronavirus page as the definitive source of all information about how the UW is responding to this public health crisis, and the impacts on you. For questions about spring quarter 2020 specifically, UW has created a page to provide facts and information for students and families.

This is an evolving situation, and we will be updating the information here frequently. If you have additional iSchool-specific questions that are not addressed here, please send them to iprocess@uw.edu.

For iSchool-specific news and information and frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus, see below.

Confirmed/presumptive iSchool novel coronavirus cases

What are the names/program affiliations of the students with presumptive positive and/or confirmed positive test results? 

UW and iSchool officials are not sharing names or program affiliations of any impacted students to protect their privacy.

How do I know if I or other students need to self-isolate? (3/24/20)

When a UW community member is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and the UW initiate appropriate protocols to evaluate the situation and protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

Learn more about how the UW is identifying and following up with people known to be in close contact with a community member who has tested positive on the main UW coronavirus site.

How do I find out if/when additional cases are confirmed?

The University’s COVID-19 tracker is available here, and is updated regularly with information reported to UW Environmental Health and Safety. The iSchool will also do our best to share when cases impact our school community.

Health, wellness and prevention

What is my responsibility to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the iSchool/UW/Seattle community? (3/25/20)

Follow all local guidelines relevant to your location. Here in Washington, Governor Inslee issued a "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" proclamation on March 23 requiring all people to stay home until they need to pursue an essential activity. This restriction will last for two weeks but may be extended. 

Regardless of local guidelines, everyone is asked to stay home if they are sick and practice social distancing by avoiding groups and crowds and maintaining a minimum of 6 feet of personal space. Health experts also recommend frequent hand washing, not touching your face, and covering your mouth when you sneeze. Learn more about health, wellness and prevention on the UW coronavirus page.

What do I do if I’m feeling sick, having symptoms or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? (3/31/20)

See the UW coronavirus page for guidance on health, wellness and prevention.

If you’re not feeling well, you (or someone you know, if you’re not able to) should contact your program advisor as soon as possible. The earlier we know, the better we can support you.

Your advisor will ask how long you anticipate being out of school, and what kind of support you need from the iSchool. If you’re serving as a predoctoral instructor, a TA, or a reader/grader, your program advisor will notify our Academics Services team, who will ensure that the work of your class will continue in your absence.

If you’re living in the dorms or visit UW campus facilities within two weeks of showing symptoms, you’ll also need to contact Environmental Health & Safety if your healthcare provider has confirmed or suspects that you have COVID-19: emphlth@uw.edu or 206-685-1026. EH&S notifies UW Facilities to clean the specific locations on campus where you spent time, and may also notify others in the UW community with whom you may have come in contact. Your privacy will be protected throughout this process.

I’m feeling anxious about COVID-19. What should I do?

It’s completely expected and appropriate to experience anxiety during situations like these. It’s also important to know how to manage overwhelming anxiety and keep perspective as the situation unfolds. Here are some resources and tips that may be helpful:

My email inbox is overflowing and the volume of messages I'm getting, many from the UW, is adding to my anxiety. How can I better manage my email to reduce this effect? (added 3/25/20)

This is a stressful time with many unknowns and a lot of information to take in.

Because email is the official form of communication at the University of Washington and iSchool, it’s not possible to stop these email communications. We recommend you identify the sources of the emails causing you anxiety and filter them to a separate folder. You can then set personal goals around how often you log in to check those communications. For example, perhaps you decide to log in only once a day to monitor communications. 

iSchool events/operations

My family was making plans to visit Seattle for Convocation. Will it be canceled or moved online? (3/20/20)

iSchool leadership is carefully considering how we can recognize the achievement of our graduates in a way that is meaningful to them and their families, and also helps ensure their health and safety, as well as that of the wider community amid the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. No decisions have yet been made, and we will provide updates regarding Convocation in the coming weeks.

If I'm in Seattle, can I still access iSchool shared spaces including the TE Lab (MGH 440)? (3/31/20)

iSchool students are not able to use their Husky Card to enter Mary Gates Hall. Only critical personnel with a UW work-related need to get into buildings are able to do so.

If you need to meet with iSchool faculty or staff who work in Mary Gates Hall (or other organizations housed in the building), please reach out to them by email to request an online meeting as all UW/iSchool employees are now working remotely.

If you have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications, or if you need software in our labs that you can’t install on your personal device, iSchool students can now remote into our onsite, physical computer labs and use them via a remote desktop connection. Currently you are only able to access our Windows lab computers. The software is the same as you would find if you walked into one of our Mary Gates physical labs or classrooms.  

We realize this operational change to Mary Gates Hall may create challenges for some students. If you have specific needs/reasons for which you rely on Mary Gates Hall, please contact your advisor, who can work with you to identify ways to meet those needs.

Classes, academics and research for iSchool students

What’s happening with spring quarter? (3/20/20)

The UW has announced that Spring quarter will begin as scheduled on March 30, with remote instruction that will continue through the end of the quarter. There is a detailed FAQ to provide facts and information regarding spring quarter 2020.

How will academic transcripts, graduation requirements or financial aid be impacted by CR/NC grades? (3/27/20)

The UW registrar has announced that there will be a notation added to transcripts. "Transcript Comment: The COVID-19 outbreak impacted Winter and Spring 2020 grades. Some courses display CR/NC rather than numeric grades."

Students receiving a CR/NC grade will be accommodated when degree requirements are being reviewed for graduation. Winter quarter courses converted to CR/NC will satisfy the Graduate School’s requirement of at least 18 numerically graded credits of 400- and 500-level coursework (excluding 499). The Office of Financial Aid and the Veterans Education Benefits Office have confirmed that receiving all/some CR/NC grades will not negatively affect a student’s financial aid and/or VA benefits for the next quarter of attendance. More details on these and other issues are available on the UW Registrar’s FAQ site.

At this time, the iSchool expects most Spring quarter courses to be numerically graded.

What should I do if I don’t have a device? (3/25/20)

Students can make a reservation for a full quarter laptop or tablet through the Student Technology Loan Program. The iSchool also has a limited number of devices available for loan and may be able to support your needs. Contact ihelp@uw.edu for more information and to request support.

What should I do if I don’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi? (3/27/20)

Several internet service companies are offering expanded services that may allow you to get connected through low-cost or even free options. Learn more about offerings from Comcast, Charter Communications and Spectrum. If you’re in the Seattle area, City of Seattle offers information on low-cost internet options as well.

I have a disability that requires accommodations. How can I complete my courses as expected? (3/20/20)

Please coordinate spring quarter accommodation through UW Disability Resources

If you have any issues related to device access, internet connectivity, or a disability due to the move to remote learning, immediately contact your program advisor for assistance.

How is the iSchool helping faculty transition to remote instruction?

The faculty’s priority is helping students progress to graduation. Their focus in the near-term will be on preparing their classes for remote learning.

This will not all be smooth, and you need to be patient and expect some bumps in the road with respect to issues with the technology and pedagogy in online spaces. Our faculty (and faculty across the UW and faculty across the country and world) are being asked to do this with only a few weeks notice. We have a wonderful Learning Technologies Team in the iSchool, and it is providing group workshops and 1:1 sessions to help faculty prepare to teach remotely. These will cover technology issues and instructional design for an online medium, and everything in-between.

We made a commitment to you when you joined the University of Washington, and the Information School, to provide you the best possible education and help prepare you for your future career. We believe in that commitment and stand by it, especially in these challenging circumstances.

What happens if my instructor gets sick? (added 3/31/20)

We always have contingency plans for continuing the class if the instructor is unexpectedly not able to teach, this year we will be extra vigilant in our planning. We have alternative assignments in place for those faculty with related expertise.

How is the iSchool helping students transition to remote learning? (3/31/20)

iSchool students were asked to respond to a survey about their Wi-Fi, technology and software access. This survey will provide useful feedback to help us best support our students remote learning needs for spring quarter 2020. We expect instructors will follow-up with more course-specific surveys during the first week of spring quarter.

We have created a copy of our new student orientation Canvas site, modified it for remote learning and shared it with iSchool students on Friday, March 27. Students can explore the modules to learn more about the most common tools that may be used in your courses this quarter. Most importantly, the site shares information about where to go for help. We anticipate many questions as you transition to remote learning and we are here to help!

We have set up a way for iSchool students to remote into our onsite physical computer labs and use them via a remote desktop connection. Currently you are only able to access our Windows lab computers. If you have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications, or if you need software in our labs that you can’t install on your personal device, this might be a solution. Instructions. To learn more, see: Instructions; Available software.

How do I know if any of my Spring 2020 courses will be cancelled? (added 3/26/20)

The Information School has cancelled two undergraduate courses, affecting 97 students. Each student has been notified and offered the opportunity to secure a space in another Informatics course. 

At present, we have not had to cancel any graduate course offerings. We will notify enrolled students immediately should this become a concern.

Will there be additional seats available in any Spring 2020 courses? If so, which courses and how do I enroll? (added 3/26/20)

We do not anticipate making any additional seats available in any graduate courses. 

We are adding seats to a number of 300- and 400-level Informatics courses, however the seats will be offered first to students displaced by course cancellations. Any remaining seats will become available on Friday, Mar. 27. 

Any INFO student who is concerned about fulfilling their graduation requirements should contact their academic advisor as soon as possible. All advisors are working remotely and available for appointments via phone or zoom. Email informatics@uw.edu or login to iCareers to schedule an advising appointment. To ensure timeliness of response, please include your student number as part of your correspondence.

In addition, we have increased enrollment in the following 100 and 200 level courses to serve students across campus. Undergraduate students should register for these courses following the regular registration process.

  • INFO 101: Social Networking Technologies
  • INFO 200: Intellectual Foundations of Informatics
  • INFO 201: Technical Foundations of Informatics (2 sections)

Can I attend a class meeting or review the syllabus to determine if I want to take a class? (added 3/26/20)

During the first week of classes, students may choose to drop in on a class to learn more about the course, chat with the instructor, and decide whether or not to register for it. In the remote learning environment of Spring quarter 2020, we do not have a practical method to facilitate this “shopping” process. Access to canvas sites and class meetings are restricted to registered students. We recommend you discern which courses are of most interest to you by reading the course description, consulting with your academic advisor, emailing questions to an instructor, and discussing the course with peers who are familiar with it and/or the instructor.

Is Capstone still happening? (3/31/20)

In order to reduce uncertainty and ensure success for every student (many of whom have relocated outside of the Puget Sound area for Spring quarter), the iSchool has made the following determinations:

  1. We will not be holding a face-to-face Capstone event on campus. Consequently, students will not need to arrange for the printing of a physical poster.
  2. All other current expectations for INFO, MSIM, and MLIS students will be maintained. These include: 1) posting project abstracts, 2) creating a digital version of the poster and 3) posting a descriptive video or website to the Capstone Projects site.
  3. The due date for Capstone deliverables is changing from May 7 to May 18.

We are currently exploring how to design a virtual Capstone event that will provide opportunities to invite sponsors, employers, alumni and friends of the iSchool, faculty, staff and students to interact with student work, consider iSchool students for future employment, and deepen their connection and knowledge of iSchool programs and students. More details will be forthcoming in the next four weeks. Most importantly, the iSchool Capstone is a celebration and recognition of student achievement. We are committed to finding ways to highlight the strengths and talents of this year’s graduating class.

My Capstone sponsor is focused on responding to COVID-19 and no longer has capacity to support my project. What do I do?

If you are encountering a challenge in completing your project in whole or in part due to COVID-19’s effect on your sponsor’s operations, please contact your instructor and teaching assistant. At present, the instructional teams for each Capstone course are reviewing projects to identify those that may be challenged by office closures or suspended operations, and will likewise be reaching out.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my project require me to interact with the users of a public service, such as holding a class or an event? If that institution has now suspended face-to-face service, can I still implement some aspects of my project?
  • Does it require conducting interviews or testing with a large number of users or informants that cannot be accomplished through online participation?
  • Does it require frequent, interactive participation from staff at my sponsor organization that cannot be accomplished through online communication?
  • Does it require physical access to materials or collections that are housed at my sponsor’s facilities that are now closed to me?

If the answer to all of these questions is No, then your project may be largely unaffected by closures and suspended operations. You can proceed as originally planned.

If any of the answers are Yes, please consult with your assigned teaching assistant or instructor regarding how to address the challenge(s) and revise the project objectives. When contacting your TA, prepare an outline of possible contingencies ahead of your communication. As the lead on the project, take the initiative to brainstorm solutions and options just as you would in the workplace. Your TA, instructor and sponsor will do their best to suggest alternatives and/or brainstorm with you. They will be better able to support you knowing that you have considered alternative approaches in advance.

I have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications for a course. Or,
I need software in an iSchool lab that I can’t install on my personal device. What can I do? (added 3/31/20)

We have set up a way for iSchool students to remote into our onsite, physical computer labs and use them via a remote desktop connection. Currently you are only able to access our Windows lab computers. The software is the same as you would find if you walked into one of our Mary Gates physical labs or classrooms.  

Other impacts to iSchool students

I live in campus housing. Is the UW planning on closing the dorms and/or dining halls? (3/20/20)

UW residences remain available to students who need to reside on campus. Options and details are outlined in the Q&A for students living in on-campus housing.

Please feel free to email hfsinfo@uw.edu with UW housing questions.

I’m a parent/caregiver and am struggling to complete my coursework and/or TA duties due to widespread closures of schools and care facilities. Is there emergency support available through the UW?

Yes, the UW has an Emergency Aid page that specifies the support it provides.

I’m an international student, veteran, and/or student on financial aid. How will the transition to online instruction impact my visa, OPT, CPT or financial aid? (3/25/20)

There will be no change in financial aid for full-time students enrolled in spring quarter who qualify for and planned to receive it.

Student Financial Aid has created an FAQ to support students with information related to financial aid, as well as benefits for veterans. Students should direct their questions to osfa@uw.edu for general financial aid questions and veteran@uw.edu for Veterans Education Benefits.

For international students: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) has updated requirements in light of the COVID-19 emergency. International Student Services maintains a page with coronavirus-related updates for international students. Please consult that page and with ISS staff for more information specific to your individual circumstances. ISS is also holding daily webinars/drop-in sessions.

How will this situation affect my internship or job offer? (3/31/20)

As you can imagine, employers are dealing with a lot of uncertainties themselves, but they will contact you as there are updates. If you have a job or internship offer, but have not heard from the hiring manager or recruiter, it is also very reasonable to reach out to ask if there are any updates you should be aware of. A national survey of employers with 270 responses indicated that 85% of employers intended to continue with their internships as planned. 

Anecdotally, we’ve heard that local employers have a range of plans – some are moving their new interns and employees to remote work, some are postponing start dates, and some are canceling internships. The UW Career and Internship Center has a comprehensive COVID-19 & Career Student FAQ page, and we recommend reading through it to find answers to many of your questions.

If you have additional questions or concerns, schedule a 1:1 appointment with the Career Services team via iCareers or come to a virtual drop-in (Tuesdays from noon-2 p.m. PT and Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. PT), or attend one of our upcoming small group sessions or workshops.

I’m concerned that the new restrictions will make it harder to get a job after graduation. How can Career Services support me through the coming months? (3/25/20)

During this time of uncertainty, one of the best things you can do is to focus on the things you can control. That includes updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, networking through virtual conversations with iSchool alumni, attending virtual career events, and practicing your interviewing skills. The iSchool Career Services team is here to support you with all of that.

Career Services will be offering weekly online small group career coaching sessions and workshops to address questions such as how to network when you have to social distance, how to stay focused on the job search in uncertain times, and how to prepare for online interviews. Log in to iCareers to view the full calendar of small group coaching sessions and workshops, to make a 1:1 career advising appointment, and to access Zoom links for the virtual drop-ins happening on Tuesdays from noon-2 p.m. PT and Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. PT.

I'm facing financial hardship due to extra expenses or lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are there available resources? (added 3/31/20)

The University of Washington Office of Student Financial Aid center is available during normal business hours at osfa@uw.edu and 206-543-6101. They may be able to help with extra expenses like medical costs, extra child care costs, technology costs to take courses online, or loss of income. They state to “Please keep in mind that we have more loan funds available than grant funds and although we will consider your request for grant aid first, we may only be able to award additional loan funds.”

The iSchool has established a fund to support students with immediate needs and will be sharing more information about the process to apply within the first week or two of Spring quarter.

As groups mobilize to help those impacted, new resources emerge daily to provide free/low cost services or expand aid. A group of UW staff have been crowdsourcing and researching resources for support across numerous areas. New resources are being added regularly. 

Please look at the UW’s Emergency Aid site for pointers to available resources. If those resources are insufficient, please contact your program advisor with an email that details your needs.

I rely on borrowed textbooks from the library to keep my education costs down. Is this still possible with UW Libraries on restricted operations? (added 3/31/20)

Maybe. The Internet Archives recently announced the creation of a National Emergency Library, opening up more than 1.4 million ebooks to address the increased global demand and need for electronic reading and research material to serve the nation’s displaced learners. HathiTrust is also planning to expand fair use access to its corpus to ensure that the academic communities of its members can continue to utilize HathiTrust for teaching and learning. Learn more about these resources and how to search textbooks.

Impacts on prospective iSchool students

My GRE test date was canceled. Can I still apply for an Autumn 2020 start? (added 3/25/20)

We welcome your application and are working to mitigate/address the limitations for GRE testing due to the current circumstances. You may be eligible to take a GRE General Test at home

Travel and study abroad

Should I cancel my planned travel? (3/25/20)

All travel outside the U.S. by UW employees and students is restricted until further notice, effective March 20, 2020. Read more about this policy at the UW Office of Global Affairs.

These restrictions do not apply to personal travel. However, we strongly encourage you to review applicable travel warnings and avoid travel where you cannot practice effective social distancing (e.g., planes, trains, buses, etc.). While you may not have any symptoms, you may be a carrier of the virus, and you could spread it to someone else who is at greater risk of harm due to age or preexisting conditions.

What do I do if I was awarded travel funds that I can no longer use?

If the event was canceled and not rescheduled, then the unexpended funds will revert to the iSchool. You are eligible to apply again for this or another travel opportunity in the future. The iSchool acknowledges that not all funds may be recoverable for a canceled event.

If the event was postponed, then the funds can be used at a later date to travel and conduct your activity as planned.

I want to request travel funds for spring or summer quarter. Can I?

We are currently not allocating any travel funds for spring or summer quarter. Until guidance on travel changes, we have decided that it is not prudent to encourage work-related travel. In fact, we are actively discouraging it.

Additional information and resources

Various UW offices have developed FAQ pages to provide additional information and helpful resources: (3/31/20)

Where do I go for help? (added 3/31/20)

If you need any help, reach out. It’s what the iSchool staff and faculty are here for. We want you to reach out, and we want to help you! Reach out to your instructor about challenges with a class. Reach out to each other for support. Reach out to your program advisor about almost anything else. And always feel free to reach out to Dean Dey directly at iProcess@uw.edu. The resources of both the iSchool and the UW are available to you.

How can I help my community through this crisis? (added 3/25/20)

We are moved and inspired by the outpouring of offers to help as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and care for those impacted by it. Learn about the UW's most critical needs and how you can help.