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Western will adopt the same approach as fall 2020 and winter 2021 quarters, with only research and experiential classes held on-site

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A sign on Western’s campus promoting physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Due to recent surges in cases, only select students will be taking classes on campus during spring and summer 2021 quarters. // Photo by Nick Sadigh.

By Sophia Pappalau

In response to surging numbers of COVID-19 cases locally, regionally and nationally, Western Washington University has extended online learning through spring and summer 2021 for the majority of classes. 

Only research and experiential classes will take place on-site, said Rich Van Den Hul, WWU incident manager and vice president for business and financial affairs, in the afternoon of Thursday, January 14.

The ratio of face-to-face versus online classes has not been confirmed for spring and summer 2021 quarters. Winter quarter has continued the same levels of face-to-face instruction and campus residency levels as fall quarter, according to a Western Alert from President Sabah Randhawa on Oct. 16, 2020.

“About 90 percent of our classes in fall quarter will be conducted remotely, with only a very few classes offered in person, such as applied performance classes and some hands-on labs,” Randhawa said in an email sent to Western students on August 28, 2020.

Western will continue to operate at Level 2 of the Safe Start Western Plan during winter 2021, while the spring 2021 operating level will be set mid-winter quarter. 

Van Den Hul announced that employees not authorized to work on campus will work remotely in the spring. Decisions regarding summer quarter remote work will be announced at a later date. 

Western’s Office of Institutional Research reported nine new positive cases as of Jan. 14, 2021. This is an 80% increase in new positive cases from the week of Jan. 4. Whatcom County has averaged 98.6 reported cases per day the past week, with the biggest increases seen in and around Nooksack Valley and Lynden. 

University Director of Communications Paul Cocke was not available for comment by time of publication.


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