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COVID-19 Employee FAQs

2020 Fall Quarter Information

  • What is the plan for fall quarter? Will students return to campus?

    CWU's plan is to bring students back for an accelerated fall quarter that will begin September 9 and end November 24. 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. 

  • How will classes be offered fall quarter?

    Faculty will 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. These choices are currently being recorded to be available when students register for classes. New and returning students are encouraged to develop a schedule that conforms to their learning style and personal needs.

  • What effort will be taken to keep campus safe 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 25.

    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 confirms 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 masks 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. Special attention will be given to portals to popular locations. 

    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 commercial retail outlets.

    Masking and other Physical Protections
    Everyone will be required to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible. This rule applies to all employees and students, 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 so desires.

    CWU will provide cloth face masks 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
    The current situation calls for increased emphasis sanitizing our spaces and on emphasizing personal hygiene. Our housekeeping staff will clean all classrooms, labs, and studios at least daily. They will sanitize public washrooms twice daily. Sanitizing wipes will be available in all teaching and work areas to clean spaces between uses. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the university.

    Cooperation and Culture
    The university will take responsibility for implementing the significant components of 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 masks, and regularly washing our hands—that don’t impinge on the academic freedoms we so cherish.

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

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

    Yes. When social distancing is not possible, the use of masks will be required. This rule applies to all employees and students, unless they are unable to do so because of a health-related reason. This also will apply inside and outside of buildings. 

    Students who enter classrooms or gathering places without masks or remove them after entering the classroom will be asked to mask immediately or leave.

  • 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.

Human Resources information

  • Will I have a job tomorrow?

    President Gaudino remains committed to honoring his pledge to hold off making any staffing reductions through June 30th of this year. However, he has directed his cabinet officers to make plans for summer reductions, which can include furloughs or reductions in the hours of some full-time employees for the period of July 1-September 1, 2020.

  • When will I be notified if I’m part of the reduction in force?

    The vice presidents submitted their proposed reductions to President Gaudino. Following his review, the list of reductions will be given to Human Resources and notifications will be issued and advising sessions scheduled.

  • How long will the reduction in force last?

    The first notices of staff reductions will be for the period July 1 thru August 31, 2020. Those 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. The current order is in place through May 31 and may be extended. 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. 

  • Can leave without pay be used in lieu of reducing full-time staffing temporarily?

    Yes. If an employee would like to take leave without pay, they should discuss this option with their supervisor. There are ways to ensure health care benefits continue through the leave without pay period.

  • 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 is the CARES Act and where can I get more information about it?

    Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act on March 26, delivering emergency funds to businesses, individuals, and public institutions. The CARES Act also increases regulatory flexibility for colleges and universities, such as by providing campus-based aid waivers, permitting allocation of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant funding as emergency grant aid to students, and authorizing continued work-study payments to students. More information is available on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website.

  • 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.

  • Can employees take a voluntary layoff and still receive unemployment?

    Human Resources is exploring how CWU might be able to offer voluntary layoffs to employees through funding the university received through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. We hope to provide a more thorough answer soon. Employees should consult with their HR Partner to explore options.

  • Will step increases now through June 30 be affected? 

    As of April 15, HR has not been notified that step increases have been frozen.

  • 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, please visit the Human Resources website, or contact HR at (509) 963-1202, (email)

University Operations

  • How will the 15 percent budget cut impact CWU?

    CWU must cut $9.9 million from next year’s operating budget. The directive from the state also included a freeze on new hires as well as on spending on personal services, contracts and equipment purchases, effective May 18. CWU implemented a similar freeze in March.

  • How will classes be offered summer quarter?

    Summer courses be offered virtually and there will be no conferences or camps at CWU during this period.

    Spring quarter runs through June 8 with final examination week scheduled for June 9-12. 

  • Is the CWU campus closed?

    No, although it is functioning very differently. Some parts of the CWU campus remain open, including residence halls and dining services. However, due to an official "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order by Governor Jay Inslee, the university has moved all of its academic operations online for spring quarter. 

    Dining services are only providing food-to-go. In-person, university-sponsored events, including commencement ceremonies and associated activities are canceled. All buildings on the Ellensburg campus are now officially closed to the public.

  • If this outbreak continues, what additional steps will the university take?

    We understand some members of our community have concerns about measures that may need to be taken by CWU in the event of widespread local, regional or national transmission of COVID-19. 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. If warranted, we will consider a full suspension of classes. But since our university includes health care facilities and other critical operations, it never fully closes. 

    Early in spring quarter, we may determine the need to relocate students who are continuing to live on campus from their current residence hall room to another building. This is so we can ensure we provide our best service to those students who remain and further the goal of social distancing by providing all residents with a room that has a private bathroom, if possible. If you are relocated, your housing rate will not increase, even if the room you move to is normally charged at a higher rate.

    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, and will continue to do so.

  • How long will CWU employees be working from home?

    President Gaudino has directed all employees to work remotely through at least May 31, per Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order. 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.

  • How will the spring quarter administrative changes affect department spending?

    Short term sustainability measures are necessary to ensure the stability of our university. As we work to protect the health of ourselves and our students, we must simultaneously work to protect our capacity to continue operations. Until unfolding events become clearer, we must begin immediately to take the steps needed to sustain our service to students and the community. Beginning March 19, we will:

    •  Suspend all university-sponsored travel through the end of spring quarter.
    •  Freeze all hiring, including all hiring activities in which an offer has yet to be tendered.
    •  Restrict purchasing to essential functions and services.

    If you have questions about any of these measures, contact your supervisor for direction. Exceptions will need prior approval from a vice president. 

  • 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

  • What is happening with CWU-sponsored events?

    All university-sponsored, in-person events have been canceled through at least May 4. Some virtual events may continue as scheduled. 

  • 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.

General information

  • Should I wear a mask when I go out in public?

    According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), wearing a cloth mask helps reduce the release of infectious particles into the air. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 without taking other protective measures, such as washing your hands and maintaining six feet of physical distance. This recommendation is for cloth face coverings only, not medical-grade masks or respirators. More information about masks can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.

  • My Zoom meeting got Zoom bombed. What should I do?

    If you are using Zoom to schedule a meeting, here are some quick tips to do so safely. Go to and sign into Zoom using your CWU account. From the left navigation, select Settings. 

    1. Require a password and make it 10 in length.  Scroll down and select the box to require a password and change it to be 10 mixed characters long.
    2. Don’t let participants join the meeting before you.  Be sure to uncheck the box labeled, Enable Join Before Host. 
    3. Enable the waiting room feature. Select Enable Waiting Room. People are put on hold here before you give them specific approval to join, and it can help to block out anyone you weren't expecting.
    4. Change the meeting ID, and be careful who you share it with.  When you launch or schedule a meeting, you can  generate a random ID for the meeting rather than using your personal meeting ID. But, if you've got a team who always meet with the same ID, you might not consider the extra inconvenience worth it.
  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • The K-12 schools are closed statewide and I can't find childcare. What should I do?

    Child care in Kittitas County continues to be one of our most difficult challenges. We have asked supervisors to work with each employee to understand your individual situations, and CWU is trying to balance the needs of the university with the individual needs of employees.

    During this epidemic, we are considering solutions that haven’t been used before. We want to be as flexible as possible. Employees and supervisors are encouraged to try things and see if they work. If they do, great! If they don’t, try something different. It may be there is not a solution that will combine work and home for your particular situation. Some strategies that your supervisor might consider include:

    • Does the employee have leave they would like to use? Will their absence from work have a negative impact on the business function? If so, be clear about the essential work that needs to be done by them. You, as supervisor, always have the opportunity to deny and/or revise leave requests.

    • Could the employee work remotely from home or another site? If so, ensure you and the employee have a clear understanding of expectations. What are they doing while working elsewhere? How will you evaluate the amount or quality of the work?

    • Could the employee accomplish the work on a shortened workday or work week? Could they do some work remotely and some work at CWU?

    • Could a group of employees work out a schedule so that essential on-site work gets shared? Employees sometimes are better able to figure out their own schedule than to have a schedule imposed on them. Get the group together and talk about the workload and how to cover your needs.

    • If there are no other options, does a possibility exist for a child to come to work with the employee? Is the child old enough to take care of him or herself, but needs some supervision? Do you have a reception area where the child could quietly pass the time?

    Please understand that the final decision about what is the best decision will be up to your supervisor. The work of the institution/unit must come first, and we want to be as responsive as possible to your needs. .

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.