Messages from the University

More information about the weeks ahead

August 24, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

We are writing to follow up to the communication you just received from Chancellor Martin and Provost Wendland, to share some additional, important information related to fall planning.

First, we want to share a personal note. We know these past few months haven’t been easy on all of you. It’s been hard being away from friends, dealing with the uncertainty of the fall semester, and the many unknowns that we all are facing every day. Living in a global pandemic is stressful and difficult! And we know this to be even more so for some members of our community.

These past few weeks, we both have been coming to work on the Danforth Campus.  Every morning before we come in, we take our temperatures and sign on to a special screening tool that takes 30 seconds to complete so we can come to campus. We affirm our commitments to the public health requirements on the self-screening tool every single day.  When we arrive on campus, we put on our masks and stay at least 6 feet away from anyone we encounter. We hope it won’t be like this for too much longer. But we do these things every day because we want to be back on campus with all our colleagues and with you, our students. These are small sacrifices we all must make because we want to be together. We miss you!  

The steps we are taking every day are the same things our students who are returning to campus will be required to do when you get here. We are excited that many of you will be back on campus with us soon and we appreciate the sacrifices those of you who are coming back to campus will make so we can be together again. We also are looking forward to seeing you virtually, if you have opted to study remotely this semester. 

Now onto some important business. There are a number of things that you will need to know – and do – to help prepare for the fall semester.


As a reminder, you are required to complete the COVID-19 Canvas course before you come to campus or by September 1, whichever date is first. The Canvas course includes COVID-19 public health guidelines and the WashU Community Pledge and Policy Acknowledgment, which all students must complete before the start of the semester. 


If you are planning to return to campus, we need you to significantly limit your interactions with others starting 14 days before you leave for St. Louis. (For many of you, this starts today, if you haven’t already begun!) This means staying at home as much as possible, washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask if you must be in contact with anyone outside your home, and physically distancing at all times with anyone who doesn’t live with you. Please monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and if they develop, seek medical advice and do not come to campus.


Please be extremely careful while you’re traveling, to help make sure you are healthy when you arrive. Here are some important tips: 1) Don’t travel if you’re sick. 2) Bring masks and hand sanitizer with you and use both while traveling. 3) Wear a mask at all times in airports, on planes, or in any closed space with other people. If you have access to a disposable surgical mask (also known as an isolation mask), consider wearing this type of mask during flights, or while riding trains or buses. 4) Stay at least six feet away from other people as much as possible. 5) If you are flying, double check to make sure you choose an airline that requires and enforces masking for everyone on board. Same with train or bus travel – be sure to check the policies of the transportation companies you choose and only travel with one that requires masks. 6) If you are seated near a passenger who is not wearing a mask (unless they are eating or drinking), ask to be moved to another seat. 7) Use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in airports or other transportation hubs. 8) Avoid gathering with groups of people, paying particular attention to boarding areas, information desks, and other places where a crowd may form.


Based on the general prevalence of COVID-19 nationwide at this time, we know it is highly likely that some of you who are reading this message will test positive for COVID-19 when you arrive on campus.  We know this will be stressful, but our goal is to support you here on campus, if you do not return to your permanent residence to recover.  If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be moved temporarily into designated campus housing for isolation, unless you are able to isolate in an off-campus location. If you are assigned to temporary isolation housing on campus, you will still be able to attend your classes online and we will bring you meals and other food on a daily basis. The Habif Health and Wellness Center will check on you daily, and let you know when you are cleared to return to your housing assignment and resume on-campus activities.  We will have staff available if students have questions or need support.

Our isolation housing will be located in the Millbrook Apartments on the north side of the Danforth Campus.  Our quarantine housing for students who have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive will be in Dardick and Nemerov Houses on the South 40.  As a precaution, we have also secured additional space on campus as well as in off-campus university housing as potential quarantine locations, should they be needed during the course of the fall semester.  Being in quarantine or isolation housing will not be easy and students assigned there will be expected to remain there for the duration of time required by medical professionals at Habif, following CDC guidance.  Leaving quarantine or isolation housing at any time before receiving medical clearance will be considered an egregious violation of our Student Conduct Code.  But our goal is to make this housing as supportive as possible, so students assigned there can continue their academic coursework if they are able to do so, and we expect most will.  As a reminder, the Habif Health and Wellness Center will determine when quarantine and isolation housing will be utilized, based on the living arrangements and needs of individual students.  When indicated, this housing will be made available for any university student, regardless of whether you live in Residential Life housing. 


We know you have heard this many times before but again, there are four primary behaviors that everyone on campus must follow. They are: wear a face mask, keep a physical distance of at least six feet from others, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and complete a daily self-screening, and take extra care to wash your hands and practice personal hygiene. It is extremely important that we all do this, all the time, so we can help keep each other healthy and so those of us who will be on campus can stay together.


The safety of our WashU community depends on every single one of us following the basic public health principles that will prevent the spread of COVID-19. We stand a much greater chance for a successful realization of our fall plans when we meet this goal. Alternatively, we will fail if each of us doesn’t follow these principles, at all times, both on and off campus.  We will treat violations of our public health principles and policies very seriously.  Students who host parties – either on or off campus – who refuse to wear masks, or who engage in other reckless and egregious behavior in violation of our basic public health principles will face immediate temporary suspension and in some cases expulsion from the university.  These rules are in place for the safety of every person in the WashU family.  All of us.  Together.  If you feel you cannot meet these expectations, that is your choice.  But please do not come to campus or St. Louis if you feel you are not able to meet these expectations.  We have given all students the ability to study remotely and you should do that if you feel there is a possibility you cannot follow our public health requirements at all times.  


We know housing has been a challenge for many of you. In order to comply with public health guidance, we communicated that housing would be limited due to de-densifying our spaces to single-occupancy bedrooms.  For those who remain in Residential Life housing, you will receive your housing assignments by the end of the day today. We will continue to accommodate as many juniors and seniors from the waitlist as possible. A list of Frequently Asked Questions is available on the Residential Life website. 


For those of you who are bringing cars to campus, the Parking & Transportation office is working hard to make sure you have access to on-campus parking. We are reducing permit rates and adding capacity by repurposing much of the visitor parking throughout the core of campus, and offering more options for those who will need to occasionally drive to campus. Shuttles will resume operations this week, with lowered capacity to allow for physical distancing, and more time built into the schedules to allow for frequent cleaning. Shuttle schedules, which will include route changes to accommodate additional off-campus housing locations, will be available soon. Permit sales will open for students on Wednesday, August 26 at 10 a.m. Feel free to check the Parking & Transportation website for the latest information. 


As always, your safety and well-being are our highest priorities. With more students living off-campus, we are planning to take steps to make sure travel between campus and off-campus residential spaces is as safe and convenient as it possibly can be. We will be enhancing our security protocols in the neighborhoods near campus, including adding unarmed safety ambassadors whose primary responsibilities will be providing escorts, answering questions about university public safety resources, and reporting incidents to WUPD and municipal police departments. We also remind you to travel with friends when possible, and to always be aware of your surroundings. We will share more information about off-campus safety when you move in.


Dining meal plan requirements and rates have been adjusted for the fall semester. Students living in Residential Life Housing will be required to have a meal plan and will be assigned meal plans based on their housing assignments. All undergraduate students without a Residential Life housing contract living in the St. Louis area will also be required to have an off-campus meal plan. Students with extenuating circumstances should apply for an exemption to the requirement by filling out the Meal Plan Exemption Request Form.  More information about dining for the fall semester is available on the Dining Services website.


We are still working through the details for fall payments. Bills for undergraduate tuition, housing, dining and other fees will be issued no sooner than September 1. We will contact you directly when more information about timing is available.

We know there is a lot of information here, and there will be more to come. We will provide additional updates as they become available.  And, of course, we will continue to monitor public health conditions now and throughout the semester and be prepared to adjust our plans as needed.  But know that we are working hard to make sure everything is in place so we can have a smooth start to the semester. It will be an unusual fall for sure, but we know we’ll make it work by pitching in, being flexible, and doing all we can to support each other. We can’t wait to see you!


Kawanna Leggett
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Robert M. Wild, PhD
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs