iSchool COVID-19 Student FAQ

Last updated: May 19, 2020, 9:45 am

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? (4/12/20)

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:

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? (4/9/20)

We are eager to celebrate our 2020 graduates at the iSchool Convocation in a way that is meaningful to you and your families, and also helps ensure your health and safety, as well as that of the wider community amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. As with the university-wide Commencement ceremony, where you have two options for participation, 2020 iSchool graduates also have two options for participation:

  1. A dynamic virtual convocation event to be held at 1pm PT on June 6, 2020;
  2. Returning to Seattle in June 2021 to participate in traditional ceremonies with special recognition for the class of 2020.

As a 2020 iSchool graduate, you can select either option or attend both. If you are planning to graduate in the Summer of 2020, you are also eligible to participate in either event or both. Further, you do not need to participate in the University Commencement ceremonies to participate in the iSchool Convocation ceremonies. More information about event specifics and how to confirm your participation will be forthcoming.

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.

For spring 2020, iSchool students are able to remotely use our computer lab computers. If you have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications, or if you have a Windows computer and need access to Mac-only applications, or if you need software in our labs that you cannot install on your personal device, this might be a solution.

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.

Are there any changes to the add/drop deadlines for spring quarter 2020? (added 4/9/20)

Two registration fees have been suspended or eliminated, resulting in changes to the add/drop timeline. First, the late change in registration fee (add/drop) is suspended until April 13, providing an additional week for students to adjust courses without penalty. Second, the $25 late first-time (quarter) registration fee will not be charged for spring quarter. Students who have already paid this fee will be reimbursed. For more information, refer to the Office of the University Registrar.

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? (4/19/20)

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!

For spring 2020, iSchool students are able to remotely use our computer lab computers. If you have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications, or if you have a Windows computer and need access to Mac-only applications, or if you need software in our labs that you cannot install on your personal device, this might be a solution.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 need software that I can’t install on my personal device. What can I do? (added 4/19/20)

For spring 2020, iSchool students are able to remotely use our computer lab computers. If you have a Mac and need access to Windows-only applications, or if you have a Windows computer and need access to Mac-only applications, or if you need software in our labs that you cannot install on your personal device, this might be a solution.

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.

Can I get the U-PASS fee waived or refunded for Spring quarter 2020? (added 4/9/20)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in consultation with UW leadership, the Universal Student U-PASS Advisory Board has decided to waive the Universal Student U-PASS fee for spring quarter 2020. This is in response to public health directives on social distancing, area transit agencies’ decisions to temporarily stop collecting fares, and the move to online instruction for spring quarter.

  • For those who have not yet paid their tuition statement, the U-PASS fee will be reversed and removed from the charges you need to pay.
  • For those who have paid their tuition statement already, the resulting credit balance on your student account will be refunded.

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? (5/19/20)

As you can imagine, employers are dealing with a lot of uncertainties themselves, but they will contact you as there are updates. A national survey of employers with 350 responses indicated that 64% of employers intend to move forward with their hiring offers 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 pm PT and Wednesdays from 2-4 pm 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? (5/19/20)

Career Services will be offering weekly online small group career coaching sessions and workshops to address questions such as how to network while social distancing, 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 pm PT and Wednesdays from 2-4 pm PT. To view past workshops, visit our Recorded iCareers Sessions page. 

Starting with the Class of 2020, all iSchool students will have access to Career Services for one year after graduation.

I'm facing financial hardship due to extra expenses or lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are there available resources? (4/12/20)

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 an emergency fund to assist students whose employment or income source has been severely impacted by COVID-19. These funds are limited, and can be requested to help cover the cost of immediate needs such as medication, food, utilities, rent or other necessities not covered through other resources. Funds cannot be awarded to maintain streaming service subscriptions, register for courses outside the UW or other non-essential items. You may be asked to provide documentation to support your request before funds can be disbursed. Please complete an online form to submit your request for emergency funds. The Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies also has an emergency fund available for American Indian and Indigenous students.

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? (4/9/20)

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 has also announced an Emergency Temporary Access Service which will allow students, faculty, and staff from eligible member libraries to access a significant amount of online materials that are currently unavailable to them in library collections. Learn more about these resources and how to search textbooks.

Is there a grace period for late tuition payments due to COVID-19 impacts? (added 4/9/20)

The tuition payment deadline for registered students in Spring quarter is Friday, April 17, 2020. Late fees are assessed the following week. UW is monitoring COVID-19 related impacts to some financial institutions. If there is a change to the tuition payment deadline or late fee assessment, the University will update the Academic Calendar. If impacted fee-based students are assessed a late fee, we recommend that they email UWC² Registration Services at c2reg@uw.edu to request a one-time waiver of the late fee.

Impacts on prospective iSchool students

My plans have changed and I'm now considering applying for a master's program. Can I apply to start in Autumn 2020? (added 5/19/20)

The Information School has launched special summer 2020 admission cycles for both the MLIS and Early-Career MSIM programs for students interested in starting their graduate education in autumn 2020. There will be three rounds of review, based on three application deadlines: June 1, July 1 and August 1, 2020. Submitted applications will be reviewed after each deadline passes, and an admission decision will be delivered within two weeks. We have increased access to application fee waivers, and are allowing many students to apply without submitting a GRE or GMAT test score. While not officially part of this extended admissions cycle, the Mid-Career MSIM program is still considering applications for autumn quarter 2020 admission through its normal admissions cycles until Aug. 1.

Learn more about eligibility and how to apply on our website.

My GRE test date was canceled. Can I still apply for an Autumn 2020 start? (5/19/20)

We welcome your application as part of the special summer 2020 admission cycles and are allowing many students to apply without submitting a GRE or GMAT test score, given the current limitations for GRE/GMAT testing. Summer 2020 applicants meeting at least one of the following criteria will be exempt from the test score requirement:

  • Applying to the MLIS or Mid-Career MSIM program
  • 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 professional or doctoral level degree from an accredited institution in the United States (PhD, MD, JD, etc.).

For those who do not meet at least one of these criteria, test scores are still required to apply. 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.