Hot Topics

This section will highlight the biggest questions and most important information our community needs to know right now.

Do students who are living with suitemates or in an apartment with roommates sharing common spaces need to wear masks and physically distance while at home?

The safest approach is for everyone to wear a mask and physically distance at all times in common areas. If students choose to treat their suitemates or roommates as a “pod” or “family,” they are accepting increased risk of exposure. This is especially true if individual students are leaving the residence for classes or other activities and coming back, as other occupants would have no way of knowing if everyone is following public health requirements at all times while away from home. If a student were to become exposed to COVID-19, they would then be exposing their suitemates or roommates if they did not wear a mask and physically distance in common spaces at home. Our strong recommendation is for all residents of a suite or apartment to wear masks, maintain at least six feet of physical distance, and wipe down common areas, particularly shared restrooms after each use.

What testing for COVID-19 will be available on campus for the fall? Will this be required of everyone?


We plan to provide free, highly accurate COVID-19 testing administered by university medical professionals for all students at the start of the fall semester. After this initial round of testing at the start of the semester, all undergraduate students living in the St. Louis region will be required to complete a university-provided COVID test every two weeks for the duration of the fall semester. In addition, we will provide testing for all students, faculty and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time during the fall semester. See the August 31 message to students and families for additional details. 

What should I do if I’m having symptoms or think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you test positive, are presumed positive or believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must report this information as follows:

All Danforth Campus students (on- or off-campus, undergraduate, graduate or professional)
Habif Health and Wellness Center, 314-935-6666 or COVID Call Center, 314-362-5056

Faculty and staff
COVID Call Center, 314-362-5056

Once notified of a positive case, Habif or Occupational Health will:

  • Provide guidance regarding testing, contact tracing, and any other steps you may be required to take. 
  • Communicate with the appropriate local health department.
  • Notify individuals in the university community identified as a close contact of the individual and advise them of next steps, including any required preventive measures such as testing or quarantine.
  • Contact your supervisor or dean to advise on any necessary follow-up within your school or department.
  • Advise and coordinate enhanced cleaning and disinfection of affected areas, if necessary.

Other FAQs

Academic Calendar & Policies

What are the dates for the fall semester?
The 2020-21 academic calendar has been adjusted to accommodate a phased approach to bringing students and faculty back to the Danforth Campus.
See Academic Calendar

Why does our calendar start and end later than other schools?
The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff has guided our decision making regarding the academic calendar. In evaluating scenarios for how best to manage the uncertainties associated with containment of COVID-19, the university determined that a delayed start provided additional time to ready the campus, optimize best practices in health and safety, and slowly and intentionally transition students, faculty and staff back into residential living and learning. 

Will there be a fall break? What about Thanksgiving?
The 2020 academic calendar for undergraduate students does not include a fall break.  Thanksgiving break has been reduced by one day – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is now an instructional day. Students who travel outside of the St. Louis region during the Thanksgiving break will not be allowed to return to campus.

Why are finals being held after January 1?
In order to accommodate the adjusted academic calendar and ensure that students are still able to complete the required number of classroom hours to receive full credit for their coursework, we needed to condense the semester for Arts & Sciences, McKelvey Engineering, Olin Business School, Sam Fox School and University College. Moving finals online and holding them after January 1 will allow students to complete their classes and still have a holiday break. Final exam period in Arts & Sciences, Olin Business School, McKelvey Engineering and Sam Fox School will be January 4-10; all exams during this period will be remote.

What is the deadline for adding or dropping a course, or switching between letter grade and pass/fail?
In Arts & Sciences, McKelvey Engineering, Olin Business School, and Sam Fox School, the deadline to add or drop a course without transcript notation will be Wednesday, September 30 at 9 p.m. The deadline for changing grade options between letter grade and pass/fail/ or audit, as well as to withdraw from a class will be Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. Details of the Brown School, Law School and Olin Graduate School calendars can be found on the schools’ websites.

What are the pass/fail policies for fall?
For Fall 2020, pass/fail policies across all schools will return to those in place at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, and will remain as such even if instruction pivots to fully remote instruction. Details of these policies can be found on the school websites: Arts & Sciences, Brown School, Graduate School, Law School, McKelvey Engineering (Graduate and Undergraduate), Olin Business School (Graduate and Undergraduate) and Sam Fox School ( Graduate and Undergraduate).

How do I request a leave of absence?
Returning students who wish to take a leave of absence must notify their home school. In order to support our fall planning, students were asked to communicate their intention to take a leave of absence by August 7.

Undergraduate students who take a leave of absence before the end of the second week of classes (Friday, September 25) would be eligible for a full tuition refund for the fall semester. Tuition refunds decrease when the leave is taken later in the semester, see Bulletin for details.

Students who are on a leave of absence for any reason are not eligible to participate in a registered student group, hold a student group leadership position, or attend/plan a student group sponsored event as a representative of said student group.

Additional information on school-specific policies and procedures for requesting a leave of absence can be found at the links below, or by contacting schools’ advising offices. See Arts & Sciences, Graduate School, McKelvey Engineering, Sam Fox School websites. Undergraduate or graduate students in Olin Business School may request a leave of absence by emailing their advisor. Incoming students interested in a gap year should see information under Admissions & Financial Aid below.

Admissions & Financial Aid

Is it too late to consider taking a gap year?
All gap year requests for members of the Class of 2024 were required to be submitted by August 5, 2020. An applicant who has been offered admission to Washington University may request to defer enrollment after completing enrollment materials and submitting the enrollment deposit. Typically, students who defer do so because they wish to travel, complete required military service, or participate in a year-long gap year program. Students must request to defer enrollment in writing. Students generally do not attend another university during a gap year, however, if they do complete coursework they must contact their dean’s office at Washington University to have an assessment of any credits earned to see if they will transfer. The dean’s office has the final say on transferability of any credits earned.

What is the deferral process?
WashU recognizes that a small number of students each year may request to defer their admission for a year and take a gap year to complete military service, religious commitments or a well-defined, substantial personal growth opportunity. Deferral requests are evaluated by the Admissions Office on a case-by-case basis, and are only offered for one year. Note: Requests for a second year will be granted only in the case of compulsory military or religious service.

To begin the gap year request process, an admitted student should contact the Admissions Office (admissions@wustl.edu). Students in the Class of 2024 were encouraged to submit their requests by June 15, 2020. All gap year requests were required to be submitted by August 5, 2020, and students were notified of the outcome of their requests by August 15, 2020.

Please note that students are unable to enroll full-time at another institution while on a gap year. Additionally, students admitted after May 1 are not eligible to take a gap year.

Would it be possible to take a gap semester?
No. Deferrals are only available for a full year. Learn more about deferred enrollment on the Undergraduate Admissions website.

How will financial aid be affected by all of this? Will current aid awards be honored?
We are committed to meeting demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. Should the university need to limit access to campus and move to an online instructional environment in the future, all financial aid awards will be honored. The university will also continue to review and adjust aid to support students and families whose financial situations change during the course of their undergraduate enrollment at the university. Additional information regarding Student Financial Services can be found here.

Will any additional financial assistance be available to students who have different needs due to the pandemic?
For students and families whose financial situations have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Financial Services is available to discuss assistance that may be available. The university also has reestablished a Crisis Response Fund, which opened for applications from Washington University undergraduate, graduate and professional students on September 1, 2020. Expenses for unexpected emergency costs in the following categories will be eligible for support: housing, utilities, groceries, medicine and unreimbursed co-pays for physical or mental health services. All students will receive an email notification with additional details and instructions on how to apply when the Fund opens. In addition, the university will ensure that all students have access to a laptop computer.

In the event that the university needs to move to alternate operations again as a result of the pandemic and instruction is shifted to all remote, will tuition be reduced?
No. We are working hard to plan the fall academic semester in a manner that meets Washington University’s high academic standards while also taking the measures necessary to enhance the safety of all members of our community. The public health measures we must take mean that the semester will be different from anything we have seen before. What will not change, however, is the commitment of the Washington University faculty to provide students with a high-quality educational experience. Students will continue to receive academic instruction from Washington University faculty members, in person and/or online, and we will continue to provide academic support services and resources.  Students enrolled in the fall semester will continue to earn academic credit and make progress toward completion of a Washington University degree. The tuition assessed for the semester will be as previously announced.

If the public health situation changes such that we must suspend all in-person classes, instruction will be provided remotely or through other alternative means and there will be no tuition refunds based on that transition. If a student chooses to withdraw, entitlement to a partial refund will be determined in accordance with normal refund policies.

When were student bills sent out?
Bills for the Law School, Brown School and certain Olin Business School graduate programs were issued August 1. Bills for undergraduates, as well as all remaining graduate and professional programs were issued on September 4. Note it may take 5-7 business days for requested changes to be reflected on your account. 

See additional Financial Aid FAQs

Campus Access & Visitors

Are buildings open?
All campus buildings are accessible only by card swipe with a valid university ID. Students, faculty and staff can swipe into most campus buildings every day from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. In addition, they can swipe into their designated building(s) at any time. These include assigned residence halls for students, and office- or school-specific buildings for faculty and staff. Limits on building capacity for some campus buildings are in effect. One-way entrances and exits have been designated in a few locations to avoid congestion. Access to buildings or labs for students, faculty and staff may be requested by a department representative or advisor by contacting Card Access.

How have campus spaces been reconfigured for fall?
All campus rooms and facilities have been reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. In many cases, furniture has been moved or removed entirely to create more space. Where physical distancing cannot be ensured, plastic partitions or barriers have been installed as additional protection. Staff schedules have been staggered to reduce population density in buildings.

Is there anywhere on campus to sit and study, eat or attend an online class?
More than 1,000 “Cubbies” have been added to campus. These individual units provide private space for one person to sit to attend an online class, read, study or eat. The Cubbies are available in 18 locations across campus, with some large reception venues and some classrooms converted into space to accommodate this type of seating. This provides a physically distanced option for individuals to share common spaces while maintaining adherence to health and safety requirements. Cleaning supplies are available for users to wipe down Cubbies before use. Cubbies are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Visit the Study Cubby Directory to reserve a Cubby, up to seven days in advance.

Are any additional outdoor spaces available?
Three large tents have installed on campus to increase informal campus capacity for safer outdoor interactions and dining. More than 600 chairs also have been added throughout the campus to provide additional outdoor seating options. Some large outdoor spaces, including parking garages and other parking structures, may also be repurposed to accommodate a variety of student uses. More than 600 chairs have been added throughout campus to provide additional outdoor seating options. Learn more about updates to campus spaces.

Are libraries open?
A limited number of in-services are available by appointment at Olin Library. Admittance is by appointment only. Online and remote services and resources are available now. Access and services are subject to change as conditions warrant. Visit the University Libraries website for more information.

Are visitors allowed on campus?
Only visitors whose presence on campus for mission-critical purposes will be allowed on campus. Mission-critical visitors include individuals approved for mission-critical research and scholarship activities (for Danforth Campus guidance, see the Visitors for Research page on the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research website); finalists for faculty and/or leadership positions, families of current students for drop-off or pick-up only, and vendors and consultants hired for mission-critical university work. A small number of other visits may be approved, depending on circumstances. See Danforth Campus visitor protocol for more information.

How do I request permission to bring visitors on campus?
Requests to have mission-critical visitors on the Danforth Campus must be submitted to and approved by a member of university leadership prior to the visitor(s) coming to campus. Requests within a school or academic department should be submitted to the appropriate dean, or their designated approver. All other requests should be submitted to the executive vice chancellor or vice chancellor/provost overseeing the unit seeking to host a visitor. Aside from families of current students for drop-off or pick-up only, students and student groups may not have visitors on campus. If you have a question about to whom a request should be submitted, contact Jessica Cissell (schools and provost’s CFU units) or Richard Payton (all other CFU units).

Schools, departments and units that receive approval to have mission-critical visitors on the Danforth Campus must keep a visitor log for contact tracing purposes. This log should include the visitor’s name, contact information, dates and times on campus, building(s) visited and name of university host.

Do approved visitors have to follow screening or public health requirements?
Yes. Approved, mission-critical visitors who come to campus must follow all health requirements, including wearing a mask, physical distancing and enhanced personal hygiene and hand-washing. Each day that an approved visitor is scheduled to be present on campus, the visitor is required to complete the university’s daily self-screen prior to their arrival. The self-screen tool for visitors is available at visitorscreening.wustl.edu. Prior to their arrival on campus, the visitor must also attest to their university host via email that they passed the self-screen by forwarding the email containing the result of their self-screen.  If a visitor does not pass the self-screen, they are prohibited from coming onto campus.

Are parking permits still required on campus?
Yes. Anyone who wishes to park on the Danforth, West and North Campuses of Washington University are required to have a valid parking permit, effective September 5. The Parking & Transportation Services team has been working through a variety of options to meet the needs of the university community during this challenging and unprecedented time. Information is available on the Parking Permits page and the COVID-19 Updates page of the Parking & Transportation website.

Classes

Are classes available online or in person?
Academic coursework is being delivered in a variety of formats with some courses being either predominantly online or in-person, and others in a hybrid format, with learning offered both in the classroom and remotely to serve students regardless of whether they are able to be on campus. Standards of content and quality are in place for all courses, including a structured digital presence on Canvas, digitized course content, digital submission of assignments and virtual office hours. All courses have been designed with the capacity to pivot to fully remote learning with minimal disruption.

Can I start a hybrid class in the classroom but switch to remote mid-way should I feel it’s safer?
Yes. Any course with “hybrid” instruction type listed in its course details will be available in a fully remote format for students who wish to take all of their courses online. Students are welcome to switch back and forth during the semester and attend classes in person or remotely.

How have class schedules been changed to accommodate the extra time it will take to follow public health requirements like physical distancing and personal hygiene?
An additional five minutes of passing time has been added between classes to help reduce congestion in entering and exiting buildings and allow time for cleaning of classroom spaces. In addition, one-way entrances and exits have been designated in some locations to further avoid congestion.

Events & Activities

Are student events allowed to take place on campus this fall?
We must prioritize safety above all else, and we have implemented significant changes to all on-campus events and activities in the fall. See Danforth Campus events and meetings protocol for more information.

What are the size limits for events?
Indoor gatherings are generally discouraged and in some cases will not be allowed. With approval, up to 10 people may be permitted to attend an indoor event, with proper precautions in place to ensure physical distancing. All participants will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times while indoors. Events with 11-25 people must be held outside or online, or canceled. All events with more than 25 people must be held online.

How are student events being approved?
All requests from student clubs and groups to hold indoor meetings of any size or outdoor events of greater than 10 people will require approval through Campus Life.

Do other, non-student events also require approval?
Approval must be given by an executive vice chancellor, a dean or a vice chancellor/provost overseeing the school or unit seeking to host an event/meeting. These individuals may appoint a designate for this purpose. See Danforth Campus events and meetings protocol for more information about Danforth Campus events.

What is the status of fall sports?
All fall varsity and club sports were canceled on July 22, 2020. While there may be some team and individual workouts for students who are here, this will be done in small groups following appropriate public health guidelines. 

With the new 2020-21 academic calendar, has the date for Commencement for the Class of 2021 changed?
No. We are planning to celebrate Commencement with the Class of 2021 on Friday, May 21, 2021, as scheduled. We have not changed the date. The Class of 2020 is having a special ceremony that will take place on Sunday, May 30, 2021, since the in-person ceremony was canceled this year.

Will weddings be held on campus this fall?
We continue to work in conjunction with CDC recommendations as well as guidelines issued by the state, city and county. Unfortunately, we have determined that we will not host weddings for the remainder of 2020 due to the external nature of those in attendance. We also will be suspending our ability to accept applications for future weddings at this time and plan to revisit our ability to do so in January 2021. Visit the Event Management website for more information. Additional questions may be directed to Campus Life at 314-935-3443.

Faculty & Staff

How many faculty and staff will be on campus during the fall semester?
All Danforth Campus units have been directed to have faculty and staff return to work only in cases where their physical presence is required to complete their duties. All other employees will continue to work remotely. All unit plans for returning to campus must be approved by the Provost or Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Administrative Officer based on a careful review of the need for staff to be on campus and compliance with physical distancing and other public health requirements. Staggered staff arrangements are encouraged.

What are the policies for working remotely?
Human Resources policies have been adjusted to encourage telecommuting and flexible work hours. See Flexible Work Arrangement Policy on the Human Resources website.

If I’m working on campus, should my co-workers and I have meetings in person?
No. For employees who are physically present on campus, in-person meetings should not be held indoors. Even if people are physically on campus, they should continue to conduct meetings via Zoom, phone or other virtual platforms.

Where can instructors go for information about online teaching?
Instructors at all levels (including faculty, lecturers, assistants in instruction and teaching assistants) should go to Teaching & Learning Continuity for information about online teaching. Also see Frequently Asked Questions on that site.

Where can faculty and staff find technical support?
Learn about WashU IT Services for the fall semester on the WashU IT website.

What counseling and support resources are available for faculty and staff?
Faculty and staff may contact the university’s employee assistance program, Work-Life Solutions. Support for individuals affected by bias is also available, and any member of the community can report a bias incident or related concerns.

What resources and support are available for employees who need child care?
WashU employees, have access to child care and elder care benefits, as well as an array of family tips, tools and WashU expert-led courses and articles aimed at helping employees take care of their families. Visit HR’s new Child and Family Care Hub.

How have parking and transportation been affected by this situation?
The Parking and Transportation Services team has been working through a variety of options to meet the needs of the university community during this challenging and unprecedented time. Check the Parking and Transportation page for the latest information and updates.

Are faculty and staff required to complete any additional training for the fall semester?
Faculty and staff are required to complete Return to Campus training in Learn@Work before coming back to work on campus. In the event that any individual fails to complete the training, they will not be permitted on campus and disciplinary action may be taken.

Where can I find WashU Zoom backgrounds?
Zoom backgrounds with a variety of campus scenes and backgrounds are available on this website. See Zoom backgrounds

Health & Safety

What testing for COVID-19 will be available on campus for the fall? Will this be required of everyone?
We are providing free, highly accurate COVID-19 testing administered by university medical professionals for all Danforth Campus students at the start of the fall semester (entry testing). After this initial round of testing at the start of the semester, all undergraduate students living in the St. Louis region will be required to complete a university-provided COVID-19 test every two weeks for the duration of the fall semester (surveillance testing). In addition, we will provide testing for all students, faculty and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time during the fall semester (diagnostic testing), as well as broader testing as needed for exposures to prevent spread within our community. All COVID-19 testing on the Danforth Campus will be provided at no charge to students, faculty and staff. Learn more about COVID-19 testing.

What public health measures are in place for fall?
All students, faculty, staff and approved visitors are required to wear masks at all times; practice physical distancing of at least six feet from other people; screen for symptoms on a daily basis; and practice personal hygiene, including washing their hands often. See mask requirements for Danforth Campus and Medical Campus, and learn more about health and safety requirements.

What happens if someone does not follow the public health requirements?
Any individual who consistently fails or willfully refuses to meet these requirements may be prohibited from being on campus and could face further disciplinary action.

How do I complete my daily self-screening?
All students, faculty and staff must complete a daily self-screening to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to campus. Individuals living in residential housing must complete a daily self-screening before leaving their residence hall room. Anyone showing symptoms or otherwise not passing the daily screen (i.e., not receiving a green checkmark) will be required to stay home and contact university health services (Habif Health and Wellness Center for students and Occupational Health for employees) for further instructions. Visit screening.wustl.edu and log in with your WUSTL key to complete the screening.

If I have already had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, do I need to take all the same precautions such as masking, avoiding gatherings and maintaining six feet distance from people who don’t live with me? 
Yes.  While our infectious disease experts believe prior infection does provide some immunity, we currently do not know if the protection is adequate to prevent re-infection or shedding of virus when re-exposed. 

What is the WashU Community Pledge and Policy Acknowledgment for Students?
Members of our community must follow the requirements for being on campus fully and consistently. The WashU Community Pledge and Policy Acknowledgment for Students outlines current public health policies and guidelines and applies to all undergraduate, graduate and professional students. All students were required to complete online public health training and acknowledge the Pledge through a module in Canvas. In the event that any individual fails to complete the training and Pledge, they will not be permitted on campus and disciplinary action may be taken.

Where can students get a COVID-19 Care Kit?
One care kit per student will be available at Habif Health and Wellness Center and at COVID-19 testing events for students at West Campus. Learn more

What is the alert level system and how can I find out what level is currently in place for the university?
The university is operating under an alert level system that uses four levels to indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission in the St. Louis region and/or on campus. These levels will determine the nature of campus operations. A COVID Monitoring Team has been established to oversee the implementation of the alert level system, with guidance from infectious diseases experts at the School of Medicine. To see the current alert level, check the home page of this website. Learn more about university alert levels

(Note: Research activity levels are indicated by a separate color-coded system and are not directly tied to the university alert level. To see current status of different types of research activities, and to learn more about the research activity level system, please visit the Guidance for Researchers on COVID-19 page on the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research website.)

How will the university manage contact tracing when there are positive cases?
In coordination with the St. Louis City and County Departments of Health, Washington University Occupational Health and the Habif Health and Wellness Center will help conduct contact tracing and notification within the University community for COVID-positive individuals and their close contacts if affiliated with WashU. See more details about contact tracing.

If someone in the university community tests positive, will they have to isolate or quarantine? How will this be handled?
The university will provide isolation housing for students who test positive unless they are able to isolate in an off-campus location and quarantine housing for students who have been directed to quarantine due to exposure, pending test results or other circumstances. The university will conduct follow-up procedures for all students, faculty and staff to determine that they are cleared to return to campus following a positive test. It also will provide meals and other essential services to meet needs of students who need to be quarantined or isolated in the university-provided quarantine and isolation locations. The amount of time students must remain in quarantine or isolation will be determined by current CDC guidelines.

What if someone I know tests positive or is presumed positive? Should I notify someone?
When a member of the university community tests positive, is presumed positive or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (see CDC guidelines on exposure), that individual must report this information to Habif Health and Wellness Center (students) or Occupational Health (employees).

Members of the university community should respect the privacy of their fellow colleagues and peers and avoid sharing another person’s confidential health information with others. The university has obligations under HIPAA, FERPA, ADA and other federal and state laws, and, depending upon the circumstances, such disclosures may constitute a violation of these laws and University policy. Learn more about reporting and response to COVID-positive cases or exposure on the Danforth Campus.

How can I find information about COVID-19 in the university community?
A dashboard is available with information about testing, positive cases and percent positive. The dashboard is updated every Monday and Thursday. See dashboard.

Is a flu vaccination required in order to be on campus?
Yes. All students, faculty and staff who are physically present on campus will be required to receive an influenza vaccine. Details about the vaccination requirement and the process for obtaining the vaccine will be shared directly with the university community. Flu vaccines will be provided free of charge.

How will the university decide whether to remain fully or partially open?
The university will operate under an alert level system that uses four levels to indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission in the St. Louis region and/or on campus. These levels will determine the nature of campus operations. A COVID Monitoring Team has been established to oversee the implementation of the alert level system, which ranges from Very High Alert to Low Alert, depending on existing conditions. Learn more about the alert level system in the WashU Together Plan for Fall.

How will I know what alert level the university is under at any given time?
Check the home page of the WashU Together website to see the current alert level.

Is the university taking any additional steps to clean and disinfect spaces and surfaces?
Yes. The university has implemented a campus wide Integrated Disinfectant Plan based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the American College Health Association, and infectious disease experts at the School of Medicine. With new protocols in place, our cleaning and sanitation activities have increased in frequency and scope for most areas. Disinfectants recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are being used for cleaning and sanitization, and signage is prominently displayed in campus spaces to clearly state the cleaning protocols for individual areas.

Has the university made any changes to its heating and cooling (HVAC) systems?
Yes. University Facilities has implemented a variety of indoor air quality strategies to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. These include increasing fresh air supply and implementing MERV-13 filtration. Each building is being reviewed, and the appropriate strategies are being deployed based upon the system design. 

Housing & Dining

How is housing different this fall?
A number of changes have been implemented in university Residential Life housing to accommodate compliance with the required public health measures. All students have been placed in single bedrooms, reducing our on-campus density to no more than 65% of normal capacity.

Which students received Residential Life housing?
We guaranteed housing on campus for all first-year students on the South 40. Sophomores with prior housing contracts for the 2020-21 academic year were guaranteed housing. Sophomores were assigned on the South 40, in limited numbers, while most were placed on the North Side, and in apartments near campus. We are providing housing for all juniors and seniors with special circumstances. In almost all cases, juniors and seniors who are not approved for housing due to special circumstances will be required to live off-campus. More information about housing is available on the Residential Life website.

What additional off-campus housing options are available?
To manage the need to reduce density and provide students with single-room living options, the Office of Residential Life has secured approximately 450 additional beds near campus. These units were assigned directly by the Office of Residential Life and they are located in apartments near campus, Everly on the Loop, and the Moonrise Hotel. All of these options are fully furnished and shuttle service is available to and from campus. For more information about these locations, visit the Recently Acquired Residential Life Properties page on the Students website.

Where are quarantine and isolation housing be located?
The university has reserved beds on campus to use as isolation housing for all COVID-positive students. To contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community, COVID-positive students must have a space where they can recover comfortably without coming into contact with other people in our community. Students in isolation housing are monitored by staff from the Habif Health and Wellness Center. We are ensuring they have meals delivered and that they do not need to leave the isolation or quarantine space while they recover. In many cases, COVID-positive students may be asked to share apartments with other COVID-positive students while they recover. 

In addition, over 150 quarantine spaces on campus will be available to students who are not able to quarantine in their existing single rooms due to shared bathrooms or other considerations. If additional capacity is needed, we will pursue other available options, which we have already tentatively identified. Quarantine and isolation housing will be available to all students, regardless of whether they have an existing Residential Life contract.

Will students living in off-campus housing have access to the quarantine beds should that be required?
Yes. The university will provide isolation housing for all students who test positive unless they are able to isolate in an off-campus location. We also will provide quarantine housing for students who have been directed to quarantine due to exposure, pending test results or other circumstances. The university will conduct follow-up procedures for all students, faculty and staff to determine that they are cleared to return to campus following a positive test. We also will provide meals and other essential services to meet needs of students who need to be quarantined or isolated in the university-provided quarantine and isolation locations. The amount of time students must remain in quarantine or isolation will be determined by current CDC guidelines.

Are first-year students required to live on-campus this fall, per usual policy?
No. The requirement for first-year students to live on campus has been waived for the 2020-21 academic year.

Will first year students be guaranteed housing for spring should they choose to study remotely this fall?
At this time, we are only making housing assignments for students who are returning to Residential Life housing for the fall semester. We hope these assignments will carry forward into the spring semester. Students who choose to study remotely for the fall semester will be advised of the process for applying for spring semester housing in November. There are many variables that will determine what will be available in spring, and we will work through those details as the situation continues to evolve. It is our hope that we will be able to accommodate as many students as possible who apply for Residential Life housing for the spring semester.

Will upperclassmen potentially have the option to live on campus in the spring?
We do not yet know the answer to this. It is likely that the conditions related to COVID-19 will require us to provide a reduced density housing environment for the full academic year. We also do not know yet how many students will receive Residential Life housing for fall. We will reevaluate the situation in November and if we can make more housing available in the spring, we will do so.

Should students living on campus expect their housing assignment to change in the spring?
It is our hope that fall housing assignments will carry through to the spring semester. We will need to reevaluate as the situation continues to develop, and will work to minimize disruption to our students as much as possible. However, we cannot guarantee that students will not be asked to move at some point during the academic year.

Do students who live off-campus need to buy a meal plan?
Information about meal plans is available on the Dining Services website. Students with extenuating circumstances are encouraged to reach out to Dining Services at diningservices@wustl.edu.

Is fraternity housing available this semester?
Fraternity houses are part of Residential Life-managed housing. Any students assigned to housing should follow the housing instructions shared with students as it pertains to their class year. Please connect with your Campus Life contact with direct questions regarding fraternity housing.

What is the Residential Life guest policy?
To help ensure the safety of our residential communities, our guest policies have been changed for the fall semester. Residential Life properties are only accessible to the students who live there and the staff who work there. Guests, including those who live in other residential spaces on campus, are not permitted for the foreseeable future. This policy and others will be evaluated as needed throughout the course of the coming year.

Can more than one student be in a residence hall room at the same time?
Residence hall room capacity is limited to the number of people who can be present while maintaining physical distance of at least six feet between individuals. Only students who reside in the same hall may visit other students’ rooms in that hall. Masks must be worn at all times if more than one person is in a room. Students are highly encouraged to socialize outdoors whenever possible, always adhering to public health requirements regarding masks and physical distancing.

Do students who are living with suitemates or in an apartment with roommates sharing common spaces need to wear masks and physically distance while at home? Or should these students behave like a “pod” or “family”? 
The safest approach is for everyone to wear a mask and physically distance at all times in common areas. If students choose to treat their suitemates or roommates as a “pod” or “family,” they are accepting increased risk of exposure. This is especially true if individual students are leaving the residence for classes or other activities and coming back, as other occupants would have no way of knowing if everyone is following public health requirements at all times while away from home. If a student were to become exposed to COVID-19, they would then be exposing their suitemates or roommates if they did not wear a mask and physically distance in common spaces at home. Our strong recommendation is for all residents of a suite or apartment to wear masks, maintain at least six feet of physical distance, and wipe down common areas, particularly shared restrooms after each use.

Should I sign a lease for my non-Residential Life, off-campus apartment? What if classes are moved online and I have to break my lease?
The university will not reimburse losses associated with private off-campus leases. In the event that the Danforth Campus closes during the course of the semester for reasons related to health and safety, students living in university-owned housing will be reimbursed a prorated portion of their room and board.

Have fall housing and dining fees been reduced since the semester is shorter?
Student fees for dining and the housing single room rate have been reduced to reflect the shorter fall semester with final exams being conducted remotely over winter break.

What if the semester is disrupted again? Will we get refunds for housing and dining?
Should the university decide that all students should return to their primary residence during the course of a semester as a result of the pandemic or other emergency, the university would provide a prorated refund of room costs to students who were living in Residential Life housing. Students receiving full financial aid would also be eligible for this prorated university housing refund to provide additional support if they are required to return to their primary residence. Students enrolled in meal plans would receive a refund of any unused meal points.

If this were to occur, the university would offer students the ability to seek an exception to remain in residence on campus on a case-by-case basis if international travel restrictions or other significant extenuating circumstances prevent them from returning home. 

What changes are planned for campus dining?
Campus dining has been redesigned to reduce seating and add table dividers in spaces where physical distancing is not possible. Grab-and-go options have been greatly expanded. Buffets and self-service areas have been eliminated. Changes have been implemented to allow fewer people to be present in dining locations at the same time and to reduce contamination. 

Dining locations also have “hospitality coordinators” present to help ensure guests are able to follow all requirements and guidelines, and to answer any questions.

Click here to watch a video about Dining Services and new safety guidelines.

What dining locations are open during the fall semester?
Dining locations and hours are available on the Dining Services website.

See additional Residential Life FAQs

Student Resources & Information

Who can students call for technical support?
Students should go to Strategies for Learning Remotely on the Teaching & Learning Continuity website for information about the shift to online learning. Also see Frequently Asked Questions on that site. In addition, students can visit the Tech Den to learn about technology to meet their academic needs.

Learn more about WashU IT Services for the fall semester.

What if I don’t have internet at home or my internet is too slow?
We know that some of our students have limited access to high-quality, high-speed internet services at home. Contact Student Technology Services for any technical assistance by emailing student.technology@wustl.edu or by calling 314-933-3333.

What if I don’t have a laptop or my computer isn’t fast enough for remote learning?
In order to ensure that students can fully participate in online classes, all students are required to have a laptop that meets specified standards. The university will provide assistance to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to ensure they have access to laptops and necessary internet bandwidth capacity. Visit the Student Financial Services website for more information. In addition, students can visit the Tech Den to learn about technology to meet their academic needs.

If I am not returning to campus, but I need to work in order to help pay for tuition, room and board? Will the university help me find a job where I live?
As a WashU student, you are always welcome to utilize the services provided by the Career Center. To learn more or to get in touch with the Career Center, visit the Career Center online.

I have an accommodation through Disability Resources. Will I still receive my accommodation if I am not on campus?
Yes. Disability Resources is available to support you via virtual communication. You may arrange phone and Zoom appointments to occur during business hours (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. CST) by emailing disabilityresources@wustl.edu.

I’m an international student. Where can I find information about the requirements to maintain my visa status?
Washington University is a “hybrid” school in that the university is offering both in person and online courses. The immigration rules and government agencies’ interpretations of the rules have changed during the COVID-19 outbreak and could change again. The university will work diligently to keep international students informed of any changes to requirements to maintain their visa status. For more information, visit the FAQ page on the Office for International Students and Scholars website, and see the International Students Most Asked Questions from the August Town Hall.

What counseling and support resources are available for students?

Where can I find WashU Zoom backgrounds?
Zoom backgrounds with a variety of campus scenes and backgrounds are available on this website. See Zoom backgrounds

Travel & Study Abroad

What is the current university travel policy?
All non-essential university-sponsored travel, including all student group travel, is suspended until further notice. Requests to engage in essential university-sponsored domestic travel must be approved by the chancellor or provost, a dean, executive vice chancellor or vice chancellor. All approved essential travel must be registered here.

Starting July 31, 2020, the International Travel Oversight Committee will accept petitions for exception from faculty, staff and graduate/ professional students to pursue essential university-sponsored and supported international travel. Details including the definition of “essential” and the process to submit a petition for exception can be found here.

All travel restrictions are subject to change based on travel conditions and public health guidance. Most student group travel will be considered “non essential” for the foreseeable future. See the travel page on this site for additional information.

Can I travel home for Thanksgiving break?
Students who travel outside of the St. Louis region for Thanksgiving break, will not be allowed to return to campus and will have to complete their courses remotely. For students who choose to go home for Thanksgiving and do not return to campus, any unused meal points will roll over to the spring semester but housing will not be refunded. You may want to consider this before making non-refundable travel plans or reservations.

Is local travel in the St. Louis region permitted?
Students, faculty and staff must follow orders and guidelines that are in place in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and other local jurisdictions. Members of the university community are strongly encouraged to limit their off-campus activities as much as possible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

What changes has the university made to its study abroad and international academic study programs in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Given the continued uncertainty surrounding international travel conditions, the university has suspended university-sponsored international travel for undergraduate students for the fall 2020 semester. University-sponsored international travel for groups of graduate students has also been suspended through Fall 2020. 

These decisions are based on the health and safety concerns associated with international travel, restrictive entry requirements, interruption of visa processes and consular services, and potential disruption due to ongoing revisions to academic and program calendars. 

What about Spring 2021 study abroad and international academic programs?
Travel conditions remain uncertain for spring 2021. The university continues to monitor the situation closely. The university will allow applications for spring 2021 study abroad to move forward with conditional acceptance and terms of participation. A decision about spring study abroad programs will be communicated to applicants no later than the first week of October. It is important to note that decisions to suspend or modify individual programs could be made either by the university of the program itself. 

Study abroad offices will be in contact with applicants with updates and details as they become available. Applicants can contact their study abroad advisor for program-specific questions.

Which applications used by WashU are blocked by certain countries?
Visit the Overseas Technology Access webpage for a breakdown of which applications are blocked by which country and what options are available.

Don’t see your question listed? Email us at covidquestions@wustl.edu and we’ll try to help.

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