Dear Colleagues,

Thanks to everyone who came to yesterday’s VCEA Town Hall COVID-19 Q+A- either in person (or online!).

For those who missed the meeting, I’ve attached brief notes.

I am bringing the questions and issues I could not address to my daily meetings with WSU’s Incident Command Group and will provide answers as soon as I receive them.

As you know, WSU’s COVID-19 response is rapidly evolving. I encourage you to remain calm, be kind, be flexible—and continue to do that great work that you do. If you need assistance. do not hesitate to ask those around you, your unit director, and myself for help.

I will continue to keep you informed of our response to COVID-19, and I encourage you to look for regular updates and FAQs on WSU’s COVID-19 website. You can always send your questions and suggestions to WSU’s dedicated COVID-9 email

Be Safe, Cougs!

Dean Mary Rezac's signature
Mary Rezac (she/her/hers)
Dean, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University
Phone: 509-335-5593
Twitter: @VCEA_Dean

VCEA COVID-19 Town Hall Q&A March 10 Notes

Dean Mary Rezac-
Here to give you an update and try to answer some questions you may have.

  • Not all questions may have answers
  • Gov. Inslee declared a state of emergency.

    WSU had to respond incident command system and prepare for possibilities.

  • Provost asked us to prepare for eventuality of transitioning to online course delivery.
  • University training with Panapto and Zoom.
  • Unknown timeline. Rapidly evolving situation. Gov. state of emergency asked us to plan if it happens or not.
  • Plan for campus closure.

Q. Labs?
A. College safety committee met yesterday. How has faculty prepared? Answers vary from lab to lab.

Q: Guidance for spring break, should students plan to not come back?
A: Communication with students to be sent out through Dean of students.

Q: Should students go home if they live on west side?
A: Dorms and facilities will be open. It’s an option. Announcement coming today or tomorrow what the suggestions are. Campus will likely be open; classes may be online unless it goes to extreme case. Incident Group is considering that. Facilities open if they choose not to go home. Going online is hugely different than closing campus. Just classroom activities affected.

Q: Do we have personal data to if students have access to Wi-Fi?
A: Sent out survey asking students if they do. About 1/3 of student may not, if they go back to parents. Just starting to gather data. Modest pop. of students who don’t have computers or access. Can we do loaner laptop program?

Q: Is canceling spring break an option?
A: Leadership not canceling. Students working with us, paying for product. Rules for financial aid. National level rules are being loosened but not all them. Not really a viable option.

Q: Is one of the options more preferable regarding students with no broadband?
A: University labs with computers will be open for students who need computers or can’t leave. That’s why university can’t shut down.

Q: Is there a flowchart for procedures?
A: Situation evolving rapidly. Pullman relatively isolated. West side- decisions have ripple effect on other things. Not the way this is playing out. Incident command response group evaluating decisions. Easy to say we should go online after spring break, but it has implications on other things. Team is working really hard to be appropriately cautious not reactionary.

Q: If classes go to online, how does VCEA handle staff that meet with students like advisers?
A: Discussing this at advisers meeting. We can communicate them through zoom or telephone. Advisers will develop a plan for this. Closure much less likely outcome than trying to minimize large rooms of students working. Might see quarantine situation, have to prepare for it.

Q: Should I take my books home?
A: Only answer is university has not made a decision. Day-to-day basis. If the coronavirus continues to expand, results may change. Be prepared for multiple eventualities.

Q: How do we get info about student Wi-Fi head count to you?
A: Email is fine. Whatever we can get helps us get a sense of what we have to do. Everett computer labs still open. Social distancing being implemented at Seattle area.

Q: Middle ground solutions, how much autonomy do we have? How strict are the rules?
A: Hands-on classes have different perspective than us. What does it mean to move all our courses online? Can 8 students come to lab- maybe but not going to say yes. It’s a university-level decision. But prepare for “no” as an answer.

Q: Full closure- allowance on what we do with courses?
A: That’s a really extreme situation. Delivering full education is harder and we haven’t been asked to think about that.

Q: What criteria needed if we have to go online? How do you communicate this effectively? How many students don’t have access?
A: WSU Communications has a website for what’s going on is being published. Communication going out is being displayed there. Go check it once in a while.

Q: Students need to know by Friday or Saturday if they’re coming back. How are they going to know?
A: They are aware of the need to get info out there. Real your emails, WSU alert might be appropriate mechanism.

Q: Do faculty have autonomy over how they want to run things?
A: Yes, to an extent. Can make modest changes.

Q: Who do we contact if we can’t access buildings to turn off equipment that needs to be turned off?
A: Building temp. closures might happen. Make sure there is multiple numbers that can be called, cells and homes. Think about walking someone through shutting down equipment. Essential personnel will be around.

Q: Do we need backup professors if an instructor becomes ill?
A: Authority should be given to someone other than faculty responsible of class.

Q: Pullman seems secluded- students might get exposed over spring break. How do we prepare for not going to closure?
A: None of west side schools have closed, just online. East coast too. We can learn from what others are doing. Not asking faculty to restrict domestic travel. All you can do is wash your hands.

Q: How should this influence our hiring?
A: Continued to host people on campus. Started to see some candidates say I don’t want to fly through Seattle. Exploring what to do to keep system moving while respecting candidates’ concern. Interviews over zoom, second trip to Pullman. Case by case.

Q: Events?
A: State recommendations on limiting amount of people at events. Consider events and who will come, the bigger the event and older the demographic, the more likely of reconsideration recommendation.

Q: Does leadership have a policy of COVID-19 testing?
A: No information as of yet. Testing is critical. Testing info will come from public health dept. Legally can’t ask anyone to get testing.

Q: What do I tell a student who is experiencing flu like symptoms?
A: Encourage them to go to Cougar Health Center. Helps medically, and with data gathering. No expectation that they need to provide documentation. Don’t install panic.

Q: Can we get checklist for what happens if you get COVID-19?
A: Good recommendation.