Messages from the University

Seattle/King County and Westchester County, NY students and families: Important information about spring semester

March 10, 2020

Dear students and parents/families,

As part of Washington University’s increasing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I am writing to inform you that if you (or your student) have traveled home to Seattle/King County or Westchester County, NY for spring break, you should stay there because you are not permitted to return to campus at this time. We have added Seattle/King County and Westchester County, NY to the university’s list of locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure. We made this very difficult decision in order to minimize the risk of spread and protect our university community.  

As you certainly are aware, the outbreak of COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. New cases are being reported globally and here in the United States, where a number of geographic regions are experiencing widespread community transmission of the virus. The Seattle/King County and Westchester County, NY regions have been identified as two of these areas by our infectious disease experts, and your permanent address is listed as being one of these locations.

If you come back to St. Louis, you are not permitted on campus until you have been screened and medically cleared by Habif Health and Wellness Center. You will be required to complete a 14-day self-quarantine at your own expense. The university does not have facilities to offer housing for students in quarantine. Students may not self-quarantine with someone else living on campus or in a campus-owned property. 

As Chancellor Martin communicated in his message to the community yesterday, the university is strengthening its response to the COVID-19 outbreak by implementing a number of policies that aim to offset the risk to the university community and slow the spread of the virus in the St. Louis region. These policies are focused on travel, events and visitors to our campuses, with a primary goal of making sure that people who are at elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19 do not come to campus.

A larger university-wide message will be sent tomorrow with further details about the remainder of the spring semester and online learning. We are currently working through details for protocols to ensure members of the community who are not returning to campus are able to retrieve their belongings.  For students living in university residence halls, we will provide a pro-rated refund on any outstanding housing charges or unused meal points.  

We are taking this situation very seriously and making decisions based on what is in the best interest of the university community and the St. Louis region. Please be patient as we are working through next steps. We will keep in touch with additional updates. 

For additional information about COVID-19 and the university’s response, please visit the university’s COVID-19 information page. We appreciate your thoughtful cooperation as we work to implement policies that will help us keep our community safe and healthy. 


Lori. S. White