Campus coronavirus update for March 6: Winter Commencement canceled

Dear Campus Community,

The Incident Command System team at Western has established three goals for all of our preparation and response to COVID-19:  to protect life safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus illness, to maintain – as much as possible – the continuity of Western’s operations, and to communicate with our communities as fully as possible. That’s the framework that governs the planning and decisions we are making for Western.

For those reasons, President Sabah Randhawa, Provost Brent Carbajal, and I have determined that we will cancel Winter Commencement on March 21. Our Commencement team will begin planning for the inclusion of winter graduates in our Spring Commencement celebration. We want family members and friends to be able to celebrate their student’s accomplishments with confidence and joy. We will be communicating soon with Winter Quarter graduates with more detailed information.

We will also begin cancelling large-scale events scheduled for the next three weeks on the Bellingham campus. Our priority must be to ensure that our core missions of education, research and scholarship, and service can be carried out safely and effectively.

Colleagues and Western students at our other locations around the region will continue to follow the direction of their local campus leadership; public health officials at each location will provide overall guidance and advice as we continue to closely coordinate our efforts with community health partners.

We are closely monitoring the evolving situation at other campuses in the region, including the University of Washington and Everett Community College. Whatcom County does not have any confirmed cases as of this writing, and we do not plan to cancel classes or suspend operations at this time.

WWU faculty have flexibility in determining how best to complete the remaining week of instruction and provide final exams in Winter Quarter, including via online options and through Canvas, keeping the needs of students in mind as they make those decisions. Academic Technology and User Services can provide support and consultation as needed.

As the situation changes, and we experience new impacts, there will be stress on all of us. Please take good care of yourself, and extend good care, kindness, and compassion to others. A little grace goes a long way when anxiety is high. It is moments like this especially that call on us to demonstrate our commitment to equity and justice, and our respect for the rights and dignity of others.

With deep appreciation for your partnership,

Melynda Huskey

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services

Western Washington University