iSchool COVID-19 Student FAQ

Last updated: Dec. 18, 2020

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 graduate admissions specifically, including details about I-20 processing, UW has created a graduate admissions FAQ for incoming/prospective students and families.

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

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

Health, wellness and prevention

What is my responsibility to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the iSchool/UW/Seattle community? (12/18/20)

Protecting our health and the health of our community will take a commitment from each and every one of us. We will expect all UW students to do their part, and for each of us to model best practices.

Whether you’re on campus or taking classes remotely, all UW students are asked to adhere to the responsibilities embodied in the Husky PACK Pledge. Additional guidance and resources are available to help make your time at the UW safe and successful.

Follow all local guidelines relevant to your location. Here in Washington, Governor Inslee has implemented Safe Start, a 4-phase plan to reopen the state of Washington. The plan is location-specific, meaning that each county will advance through the 4 phases based upon their ability to meet specific criteria set forward by the state. 

If you're here in Washington, learn more about and follow physical distancing directives from state and local governments as part of our collective effort to combat this disease. To learn more about safety procedures on campus, please visit the University of Washington's page outlining its COVID-19 Safe Start status.

All of our decisions, policies and procedures are based on consultation with public health experts and are examined through an equity lens. We recognize that every individual’s circumstances are different, and we know that some of us have underlying health conditions that put us more at risk for contracting COVID-19.

The University has established policies, including requiring students, employees and visitors to wear masks when they are indoors near other people and outdoors if people are unable to stay six feet apart. Contact tracing and voluntary expanded testing to spot any potential outbreaks early also are part of our campus protocols. You can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by enrolling in the Husky Coronavirus Testing program.

We will also expect everyone to practice the good and now familiar hygiene recommendations of public health officials: washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer and monitoring your temperature and other changes in your health.

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? (6/26/20)

See the UW coronavirus page for guidance on health, wellness and prevention. If you are sick with any potential illness, you must stay home.

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.

  • INFO:
  • MLIS:
  • MSIM:
  • PhD:

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.

Please notify an Employee Health Center as soon as your health-care provider confirms or suspects COVID-19. This helps us track the UW’s case count and start any contact tracing to help other campus community members minimize their risk of becoming sick and spreading the virus. Contact the EH&S Employee Health Center at or 206.685.1026.

I’m feeling anxious about COVID-19. What should I do? (12/18/20)

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:

iSchool events/operations

Are all regular iSchool operations/services available and how will I access them if I’m not in Seattle? (6/26/20)

All iSchool staff and faculty are working and available to assist you. 

As directed by the UW Back to Workplace task force, the iSchool has created a “COVID-19 Prevention Plan” to guide our gradual and safe return to the workplace for staff, faculty and student workers. As we implement this plan, the majority of our employees are working remotely to reduce population density on campus; however, all regular operations are continuing. 

  • Contact our admissions office at
  • Reach academic advising and career teams to schedule an advising appointment, sign up for an event, or attend a drop-in session.
  • Contact Cynthia del Rosario at to learn about diversity programs and events. 
  • To reach a specific faculty member, send them an email.
  • If you’re not sure who to contact, or for general inquiries, reach out to 

The UW is working hard to ensure all students are able to access services critical to their academic progress, well-being and Husky experience. Learn more about campus operations on the UW coronavirus page.

If I'm in Seattle, can I still access iSchool shared spaces including the TE Lab (MGH 440)? (4/19/20)

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.

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.

Will the iSchool be hosting events? How do I participate? (6/26/20)

The iSchool is following guidance from the UW Back to School task force on protocols to protect the health of the UW community in all operations. Per the Safe Start plan, in-person social events and gatherings will not be permitted until Phase 3, and then only when deemed necessary and with no more than 50 people.

We will continue to offer virtual events to engage with the iSchool community and further our academic and research mission. Details about all public events, including workshops and events for prospective students, will be shared on our event calendar with details about how to register and participate.

Classes, academics and research for iSchool students

How is my coursework affected? (12/18/20)

Regardless of your mode of instruction or changes that may arise, the iSchool and the UW are fully committed to ensuring your academic progress.

Our faculty, teaching assistants and academic support staff have been engaged in developing innovative and creative approaches to online learning. Your program chair, advisor and faculty will share more details about student expectations and program delivery and we encourage you to reach out to them with any questions or concerns specific to your circumstances. 

The iSchool has transitioned its operations online, and all iSchool staff and faculty are available to assist you. Student groups, advising, career services, research and iSchool events are all operating despite the remote environment and there are a myriad of ways for you to engage. Students can explore the iSchool event calendar, sign up for an advising appointment or career event, and connect with a student group online.

What does a remote instruction class look like? (12/18/20)

On a weekly basis, a typical course being offered remotely includes some amount (1-2 hours a week) of synchronous class meeting time or office hours, recorded lecture content, class readings, discussion boards on the readings and lecture, and an exercise or assignment. Beyond this basic framework, some classes include other types of learning activities such as group projects, online labs, sharing videos created by students, peer review activities, online community outreach projects, co-production activities where students log into an online whiteboard or Google document, etc.

Instructors work to accommodate students in different time zones through the thoughtful creation of project groups, deadlines that accommodate different time zones and asynchronous activities. While we try to be as accommodating as possible, some activities will have to be based on Pacific Standard Time and the official class schedule. No matter what options are offered, students will be accountable for completing required work in each class.

How are grading, academic transcripts or graduation requirements impacted by COVID-19? (12/18/20)

The University has deemed Spring quarter 2020, Summer quarter 2020, Autumn quarter 2020 and Winter quarter 2021 as Extraordinary Circumstances quarters due to extenuating circumstances that globally or by individual campus have had an impact on grading and student success. Learn more on the Registrar's website about the impacts of this status on undergraduate and graduate students.  

What should I do if I don’t have a device? (9/22/20)

Students can make a reservation for a laptop or tablet through the UW Student Technology Loan Program. Separately, the iSchool also has a limited number of devices available for loan and may be able to support your needs. Note that these devices are only available to those students who can come to campus to borrow them. Contact for more information on the iSchool devices and to request support.

What should I do if I don’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi? (9/22/20)

If you are in Seattle, the UW Campus Wi-Fi network functions well and is available from nearly all open campus buildings, residence halls and public locations. Select internet service companies such as Comcast/XFinity are offering expanded services that may allow you to get connected through low-cost options. Check with your provider. The UW Libraries and City of Seattle offers information on low-cost internet options as well. For students currently residing outside Seattle, please check with your local service providers about low-cost options.

In these extreme circumstances, our goal is to be flexible. However we expect that students to have access to a quality internet connection that will allow them to access course content, participate in class, and collaborate with peers.

I have a disability that requires accommodations. How can I complete my courses as expected? (9/22/20)

Please coordinate needed accommodations through UW Disability Resources. As appropriate, please inform your instructors and work with them to determine how your accommodations should best be supported in each class.

What is happening with Winter and Spring quarters 2021? ( 12/18/20)

The University is monitoring the current situation with the COVID-19 global pandemic and the state’s Safe Start plan to return to work and classes. While Winter 2021 will look essentially the same as Autumn 2020, it is too early to make determinations about Spring 2021 at this time. The University leadership is mindful of the academic calendar, registration dates, current limitations on travel, and health and safety needs. We anticipate that information for Spring quarter will be announced by the University in a timely manner that will enable students to make any plans and arrangements.

Other impacts to iSchool students

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? (9/13/20)

Yes, the UW has an Emergency Aid page that specifies the support it provides. You may also be eligible for support through the CARES Act

UW Human Resources has provided additional information for parents and caregivers on its website.

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? (12/18/20)

The University is working with state and federal officials to clarify any potential impacts or accommodations available for financial aid, OPT or CPT. 

Student Financial Aid has created FAQs to support students with information related to financial aid, as well as benefits for veterans. Students should direct their questions to for general financial aid questions and for Veterans Education Benefits.

For incoming international students: please refer to the graduate admissions FAQ  or the undergraduate admissions FAQ for information about I-20 processing and other questions related to joining the UW..

For current 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 regular webinars/drop-in sessions.

How will this situation affect my career or internship prospects? (12/18/20)

Please see the FAQ and Feedback page maintained by the iSchool Career Services team for common questions, general advice, and details about career advising/support. 

I'm facing financial hardship due to extra expenses or lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are there available resources? (9/22/20)

The University of Washington offers Emergency Aid to assist students who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships that may disrupt their education or prevent them from earning their UW degree.

The UW’s COVID-19 Resources site also includes pointers to available resources. 

I rely on borrowed textbooks from the library to keep my education costs down. Is this still possible with UW Libraries on restricted operations? (12/18/20)

UW Libraries is working hard to support students and researchers during this time and is committed to working with you to help you meet your needs. Learn more about their operations, available resources and tips and tricks, and how to connect with a librarian via their Student FAQ.

Impacts on prospective iSchool students

My plans have changed and I'm now considering applying for a master's program. When is the earliest I can start? (12/18/20)

Most graduate programs at the Information School offer one start each year, in autumn quarter. Learn more about admissions to our Ph.D. in Information Science, online and residential Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and residential Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM). Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an information session and apply. Admission cycles for each degree program vary and applicants are strongly encouraged to pay close attention to the deadlines and process specified for their chosen program option.

Students wanting additional flexibility may consider the newly launched MSIM program offered online, which offers four opportunities to begin the program each year (September, January, March, June). Online and residential students take the same courses and earn the same Master of Science in Information Management degree. 

My GRE/GMAT testing center is closed. Can I still apply? (9/12/20)

We welcome your application and remind prospective students that test scores are optional for both the Ph.D. and MLIS program applications. 

Test scores are required for applicants to the MSIM program; however, those meeting at least one of the following criteria are exempt from the test score requirement:

  • Applying to the Mid-Career MSIM degree option
  • Applicants who have earned an accredited bachelor's degree from the UW or any other regionally accredited institution located in the United States. (Learn more about accreditation and how to confirm if your institution is regionally accredited on the UW Graduate School’s site.)
  • Applicants who have earned a graduate or professional degree from an accredited institution in the United States (PhD, MD, JD, etc.).

For MSIM applicants who do not meet at least one of these criteria, test scores are still required to apply. For these applicants, or those wishing to submit test scores to support their application to any iSchool graduate program, you may be eligible to take a GRE General Test at home

Additional information and resources

Various UW offices have developed FAQ pages to provide additional information and helpful resources: (9/13/20)

Where do I go for help? (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 The resources of both the iSchool and the UW are available to you.

How can I help my community through this crisis? (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