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COVID-19 Employee FAQs

Human Resources Information

  • How long will the reduction in force last?

    The first notices of staff reductions will be for the period July 1 through August 31, 2020. These reductions will be reviewed as more information becomes available.

  • When will CWU employees be returning to campus?

    Employees who have been working remotely since mid-March should continue to do so until the state’s stay-at-home order has been lifted. Different areas of the state are in different phases of reopening. As of June 23, Kittitas County is in phase 3. CWU will follow the lead of the public health department and state government about how best to proceed. If you have additional questions, please ask your supervisor. 

  • What are my options if working from home is too difficult?

    CWU employees who are having problems working remotely should discuss your options with your supervisor. You may be able to change your work hours or use some of your accrued leave time. 

  • What is the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

    The FFCRA provides temporary protected leave and paid leave benefits for certain absences arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The benefits became available April 1, 2020. The FFCRA provides for two categories of leave:
    • The first expands existing FMLA coverage to provide up to 12 weeks of paid Public Health Emergency Leave (“PHEL/FMLA”) for eligible employees forced to miss work due to closure of their child’s school or the unavailability of the child’s childcare provider for reasons related to COVID-19. 
    • The second provides up to 10 days of Emergency Sick Leave for various reasons related to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

    CWU’s Human Resources staff is available to work with employees to help them learn about how the FFCRA program applies to them. The interactive process with HR begins by filling out a web form at

  • What are my options if I exhaust my accrued leave time?

    Most employees who are working remotely shouldn’t be affected. If your job doesn’t translate to work from home, there is a lot of flexibility.

  • In families where both spouses work at CWU, are they each entitled to 12 weeks for child care, per the emergency PHEL/FMLA?

    Yes. Each CWU will receive 12 weeks total under the emergency leave program.

  • Where do I get answers to other HR-related questions?

    For additional information regarding reduction in force or other personnel issues, visit the Human Resources website, or contact HR at 509-963-1202 or

Status of Employee Salaries

  • Will exempt employees receive a salary increase in July?

    No. Salaries for all non-faculty exempt employees have been frozen for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

  • Why are exempt employees’ salaries frozen but not classified staff?

    Represented and non-represented classified employees are governed, in general, by Washington State HR/Office of Financial Management and state and local collective bargaining agreements. Classified employees are not affected by this freeze, and as of July 1, 2020, increases for these employees will be forthcoming, under applicable collective bargaining agreements and salary schedules.

  • Are faculty subject to this salary freeze?

    Not necessarily. Faculty have ratified an extension to their contract that maintains their current salaries without a cost-of-living increase. This agreement is subject to an early fall compensation negotiation that will be evaluated in the context of the university’s overall financial condition as of fall 2020. 

2020 Fall Quarter

  • How will classes be offered during fall quarter?

    CWU plans to bring students back for an accelerated fall quarter that will begin September 9 and end November 20. On the Ellensburg campus this fall, about 30 percent of academic courses will be taught at least partially in person. Faculty will choose between teaching in-person, using virtual modalities, or combining the two. All three options are currently available to view and select when students register for fall classes online.

    Instruction at the eight university centers and sites will depend on conditions in those communities. For example, Yakima Valley College will offer all fall classes online only. If you need additional information about a specific campus, please contact them directly.

  • What efforts will be made to keep campus safe for fall quarter?

    The following practices will apply at the Ellensburg Campus and all university centers and teaching sites: 

    • Accelerated Quarter Schedule
    The fall quarter will begin September 9 and end November 20. The goal is to complete the quarter ahead of a forecasted increase in flu and COVID-19 cases and to avoid the logistics of students leaving campus and returning following the Thanksgiving holiday. 

    • Choice of Teaching/Learning Modality
    Faculty are allowed to choose between teaching in-person, using virtual modalities, and combining the two. The goal is to find the modality that best balances the safety and quality of instruction. Students are encouraged to develop a schedule that conforms to their learning style and personal needs.

    • Choice of Working Modality
    Staff will be encouraged to work remotely unless their job only can be performed in person. As with the teaching environment, a combination of modalities is possible. Supervisors are working with their teams to determine the appropriate working environments that balance the risk of infection and the need to accomplish the required tasks.

    Until a vaccine is available, physical distancing is a crucial factor in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The best distancing practice is to remain six feet or more from one another. When that is not possible, the use of facial coverings will be required. These rules will apply inside and outside of buildings.

    Learning spaces: Classes will be scheduled to maximize physical distancing. Classes will likely be scheduled using an expanded framework of days and times, and some non-academic spaces will be employed. Furniture and arrangement of spaces will be altered if necessary.

    Gathering spaces: We will modify the arrangement of furniture in common areas of some buildings, as needed. The SURC, dining facilities, and residence halls will receive special attention.

    Movement on campus: An additional goal of the fall schedule is to reduce the traffic in portals and hallways. An analysis is underway to map significant pedestrian pathways and to mark them with appropriate signage to help promote physical distancing. 

    Client-facing spaces: Many spaces on campus involve face-to-face service, such as dining, stores, and advising/counseling operations. In addition to using online service options, the spaces will be reconfigured in ways modeled after retail stores.

    Facial Coverings and Other Physical Protections
    Everyone who comes on campus will be required to wear facial coverings when physical distancing is not possible. This rule applies to all employees, students, and outside personnel (vendors) unless they are unable to do so because of a health-related reason. Face shields may be worn while teaching or working if the employee prefers.

    CWU will provide cloth facial coverings to all students and employees. Alternative facial protection (hoods/shields/face guards) will also be made available to employees whose positions require additional protection.

    • Sanitizing and Washing
    This situation calls for increased emphasis sanitizing our spaces and on emphasizing personal hygiene. CWU’s custodial staff will clean all classrooms, labs, and studios at least daily, and they will sanitize public washrooms twice a day. Sanitizing wipes will be available in all teaching and work areas to clean spaces between uses. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the university facilities.

    • Cooperation and Culture
    The university will take responsibility for implementing the plan and for monitoring emerging research findings and changes in public policies. All of us must join together to keep one another safe. We can do this by distancing, wearing facial coverings, and frequent hand-washing.

    For more information, see President Gaudino’s May 26, 2020 letter

  • Will face coverings be required? If so, what happens if they aren’t worn?

    Yes. Everyone on campus is required to wear face coverings (medical and other exceptions to be included). Face coverings will be provided for all faculty, staff, and students. The planning team is targeting to begin distributing face coverings or face shields in mid-August. Individuals are also welcome to bring their own face coverings when coming to campus.

    Students who enter classrooms or gathering places without face coverings, or remove them after entering the classroom, will be asked to cover their faces immediately or leave.

  • Where can I get a face covering if I need to be on campus? 

    CWU has face coverings available for employees who must be on campus. Face coverings may be picked up at Central Stores, located in the Jongeward building. Please go to the shipping/receiving entrance off Wildcat Way between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. One to two face coverings will be issued per employee.

  • Will faculty and staff also return to campus fall quarter?

    There will be a choice of working modality. Staff will be encouraged to work remotely unless their job only can be performed in person. As with the teaching environment, a combination of modalities is possible for faculty. Supervisors are working with their teams to determine the appropriate working environments that balance the risk of infection and the need to accomplish the required tasks.

University Operations

  • Is the CWU campus closed?

    Most CWU buildings are closed to the public, but campus housing and dining services remain available to students who continue to reside here. The Student Health and Counseling also remain open for services. Information specific to dining will be posted on the website.

  • Is the Recreation Center open?

    No. While recreational facilities are allowed to be open under phase 3, the Recreation Center will remain closed to the public until September 1.  However, the Recreation Center will be open this fall only for members of the campus community (students, faculty, and staff). Face coverings will be required, and social distancing will be enforced.

  • Why is the Recreation Center closed when the state allows it to be open?

    This decision was made out of an abundance of caution. We, like all businesses and Washingtonians, must prevent any further spread of COVID-19 as the state gradually reopens. We wish to do our part to allow for a successful, safe start for the 2020 fall quarter.

  • Which CWU recreational services are available?

    Starting July 1, Outdoor Pursuits & Rentals (ORP) will begin providing services to those who would like to rent outdoor equipment. Please call (509) 963-3537 before arriving and maintain physical distancing during pick up and drop off.

  • How long will CWU employees be working from home?

    President Gaudino has directed all employees to work remotely through at least the 2020 summer quarter. If the nature of your work prevents you from working remotely, please use appropriate safeguards: social distancing, regular hand washing, and cleaning surfaces.

    The work-from-home requirement could be extended, and CWU will follow the lead of the public health department and state government officials about how to proceed.

  • Do the state of Washington COVID-19 employee communications and rules apply to faculty and staff at CWU?

    It depends. Rules and communications that reference “higher education” employees apply, generally, to CWU and the other four-year state institutions. The term “general government” or “state employee” refers to employees of Washington state agencies, for example the Department of Transportation. We understand there can be confusion and will work hard to ensure we communicate with faculty and staff about what applies to  CWU employees.

  • What is happening with CWU-sponsored events?

    All university-sponsored, in-person events have been canceled. Some virtual events may continue as scheduled. 

  • If the public health situation worsens, what additional steps will the university take?

    The university has extensive and thorough emergency procedures, and is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the health and safety of our community. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities. We already have suspended some operations (student recreation center) and large, in-person events, as well as moved classes primarily online. 

    In the event that a quarantine involving students becomes necessary, we are preparing for a multi-faceted response that would include providing food service and/or moving students off-campus or to sequestered areas of the residence halls. In the event many cases are diagnosed, those who could safely leave the campus would be encouraged to do so, thereby increasing our capacity to assist others who are unable to travel.

    The university is coordinating closely with county public health agencies and the Washington State Department of Health on its response, including contingency planning.

  • What happens to mail and deliveries while buildings are locked?

    Standard U.S. postal service packages continue to be delivered normally to each building’s mail room.

    FedEx and UPS have been notified to deliver all packages to Central Stores. Signs also have been placed on the doors of buildings, notifying vendors to deliver items to Central Stores.

    Staff can arrange to pick up deliveries from Central Stores once the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order is no longer is in effect.

    Until further notice, all purchases should list the delivery location as:

    Central Stores
    Department (Name), Individual (Name)
    400 E. University Way
    Ellensburg, WA 98926-7523


  • Is CWU restricting travel to other countries or locations?

    On March 19, the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory: Do Not Travel, and on April 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Global Level 3 Travel Health Warning for COVID-19, an upgrade of its previous alert. Moreover, the U.S. and countries around the world continue to maintain an array of travel restrictions, stay-in-place orders, and other measures to stem continued transmission. These include cessation of non-emergency passport processing, cessation of visa processing, and continued denial of entry. Therefore, CWU has canceled all education abroad programs and university-related international student travel until Winter Quarter 2021, at the earliest.

    The university administration and Office of International Studies and Programs continue to monitor developments and will evaluate the viability of further terms at a later date. Students should not make any non-refundable payments at the moment; CWU will not reimburse students for such expenses in the event of cancelation.

    Any member of the CWU community who chooses to disregard university recommendations for international travel must understand they will do so at their own risk and may face difficulties in return travel to the U.S. and/or possible restricted access to the CWU campus.

  • May I travel on official CWU business?

    No. CWU has suspended all non-essential, out-of-state university travel effective immediately and for the foreseeable future. This includes, but is not limited to, conferences and/or professional development opportunities. Essential travel is travel deemed necessary to the operations of the university. 

    If you previously booked travel to occur before June 1, 2020, talk with your supervisor. Because this is a rapidly changing environment, travel will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

  • What if I wish to travel on non-CWU-sponsored trips?

    If your plans include traveling, particularly internationally, please understand you will do so at your own risk and may face difficulties in return travel to the U.S. and/or possible restricted access to the CWU campus.

    Depending on your destination, you may have to make difficult decisions to change or even cancel plans to ensure your own well-being and timely return to campus.

    In many countries, there may be new entry and exit control measures and even quarantines implemented with very little notice during the coming weeks. These actions could severely impact your plans and/or delay your return home or your ability to return to campus once you are back in the state.

    Please carefully weigh the risks and benefits of any international travel and view U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on COVID-19 to learn more.

General Information

  • I am feeling anxious about this situation. Where do I go for help?

    If you are feeling anxiety, there are resources available via the Employee Assistance Program (username: cwu). It can help to talk to supportive people in your life – maybe a friend, family member, partner, or other trusted person. Or engage in your favorite calming activity such as taking a walk, doing some deep breathing, coloring or listening to music.

  • Is there information available about any community members being screened for COVID-19?

    Should any CWU community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and CWU would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

  • How is CWU following up with people who were in contact with anyone who is being tested?

    Local health departments closely monitor people who are at potential risk and have protocols for contacting individuals who may have been in close contact with CWU community members being screened for the novel coronavirus, such as roommates.

    Should any CWU community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and CWU would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

  • If I work from home and only have personal devices, may I use them?

    Yes. However, employees are required to keep work files separate from personal files if using a personal device. Using Office 365 and OneDrive allows for remote work options with the use of personal computer equipment. In addition to OneDrive, remote work options for use of personal computer equipment would include the use of flash drives to separate files and the use of our Virtual Private Network (VPN), when needed.

    These approaches allow employees to work from home on their personal devices and keep CWU files separate from personal ones. Check out CWU Remote Work Resources.

    The ITS Service Desk’s Knowledge Base has resource documents to assist you.

  • How can I request information services?

    Although Samuelson Hall is closed, the Service Desk staff is working remotely. Any technology pickup/drop off or in-person assistance will need to be scheduled to take place outside of Bouillon Hall. Bouillon is locked, along with all other academic facilities, so please continue to contact the Service Desk to coordinate any hardware- or software-related support at 509-963-2001 or

  • Has CWU been seeing any new cybersecurity threats related to COVID-19?

    Yes. CWU Information Services has alerted all faculty and staff to be on the lookout for phishing and scam emails with a subject line referring to COVID-19. These messages are consistent with recent warnings from the Washington State Office of Cybersecurity. To combat this threat, the I.S. team has created a resource to assist CWU users in identifying these scams. The emails included in the article are actual staff emails that were flagged with the "Report Message" feature in Outlook. 

    Please continue to be vigilant when clicking on links contained in emails so we can reduce the cybersecurity threat to our users and our network.

  • Are there any resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia related to the coronavirus?

    Many of us are concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality.

    Stigma doesn’t fight the illness and will hurt innocent people, but sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumor and misinformation from spreading. Public Health — Seattle & King County has compiled resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia that can be used to prevent and respond to incidents of discrimination.

    If you know of incidents of bias related to the novel coronavirus, please notify the CWU Diversity and Equity Center.