COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Academics & Instruction

Instruction to be virtual for fall 2020

WSU Tri-Cities will offer mostly virtual instruction for the fall 2020 semester, with limited exceptions for laboratory experiences where virtual instruction is not possible (these will be extremely limited). 

Courses will be offered synchronously (live at their regular time) via Zoom, but will be available asynchronously (available at times other than their regular class time) – posted on Blackboard. 

We encourage students to select course times that they are most likely to attend live (synchronously), if possible. This will allow for more engaging instruction and truly what separates our plans for fall from many other institutions. Studies show that this is more effective for learning. 

If students are unable to attend at their regular class times due to COVID-19 related concerns, or if they run into Wi-Fi or other issues, we will still offer students alternatives. We want to be as flexible as we can to ensure that all students are still able to complete the courses they need to stay on track for graduation. All courses will also still be recorded and made available through Blackboard. 

Your professors can also help you if you have difficulties with accessing Zoom or Blackboard. They will be communicating with you about what will be required for soon. 

Exceptions to virtual instruction

A limited number of laboratory courses that have hands-on components and have less than 10 students to a class will be considered for a physical, on-campus presence on a case-by-case basis. These will be EXTREMELY limited. If those courses are approved for in-person learning, there will be a note included with the course on the schedule with plenty of notice and communicated by the faculty member offering the course. Mask wearing and strict social distancing would be required. Sanitization would occur between each use of facilities. 

For students who would be unable or uncomfortable attending those classes in person, an alternative curriculum will be offered remotely. No student should feel pressured to attend classes in-person if they are not able or comfortable. Unless impacted by COVID-19 or related issues, students should attend their classes live and on-time as scheduled – either virtually or in-person (whichever is their preference and are able). 

Class participation points

Faculty members may still choose to offer class participation points for live lectures, but for students who are unable to attend live during their regular class time or experience technology or other issues, alternatives should still be made available for students. This could include, but is not limited to, contributing to online forum discussions, alternative assignments, etc. Faculty will work directly with students to assess what will work best for their course and make alternative arrangements, if needed. 

How will exams and quizzes work?

Your professor will communicate their plans for exams or other learning assessments. Faculty members will work with our instructional design teams to ensure the highest quality learning and assessment techniques based on the subject matter and learning goals of the course. For a limited number of classes, proctoring software may be considered with approval from the Office of Academic Affairs. 

Will pass/fail and late withdrawal options be offered to students?

The University will be able to offer a more seamless learning environment throughout the fall 2020 semester. With clear expectations and course requirements in place, the normal campus policies concerning grade and withdrawal dates will apply.

Semester schedule

The semester schedule will remain the same length. It will start on Aug. 24 and the last day of finals will take place on Friday, December 18. For students in limited in-person classes for labs and studio (art) classes, in-person learning will end the Friday before Thanksgiving break and the rest of the semester will take place online, including final exams/project presentations. 

Classrooms all Zoom capable by fall

All WSU Tri-Cities classrooms will be Zoom-capable for the fall semester, meaning when we eventually return to in-person learning, those who are unable or uncomfortable with returning to in-person instruction students will still have the option of attending class virtually. Like this past semester, all courses will still be broadcast live virtually and will be recorded and saved on Blackboard. 


We continue to carefully follow the Governor’s Safe Start requirements, as well as guidance from the Washington State Department of Health, our community public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Applying all of these recommendations across our College and campuses can be challenging as each community may have slight variations in their guidance and campus response. The following are some important updates & reminders for this upcoming academic year:

BSN Pre-Licensure

  • The University and the College of Nursing continue plans for Zoom-based course delivery in the fall term. For students this means we continue to plan for all scheduled class sessions to be delivered at their scheduled time synchronously via Zoom (found here:  Please plan your schedule to attend all synchronous class sessions at your personal computer with quality internet connection, microphone, and video.
  • Students will still have clinical, face-to-face labs, and in-person and virtual simulation as part of their required coursework. The faculty and staff are working to finalize plans and anticipate sending out semester specific schedules by Aug. 20.
  • There will be no early lab experiences such as boot camps or skills reviews prior to the start of the academic year.
  • Students will have clear guidance about when, where, and how long they can stay in the College of Nursing building to complete their lab/simulation experiences.
  • Students will not be able to utilize the classrooms, computer lab or lounge areas in the nursing building. We are working to ensure that students’ lab times are such students will have time to return home for Zoom didactic work.
  • Agencies where you are placed for clinical may add new screening or educational requirements such as modules on responding to COVID-19, hygiene requirements or personal protective equipment requirements. You may anticipate additional onboarding or other requirements at some facilities.
  • Because agencies may require isolation and/or additional testing if you travel outside your region, you should carefully consider any travel plans during the semester.
  • Be prepared to be flexible in re-scheduling clinical hours/non-clinical practicum/research in response to unavoidable changes which may be made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are and will continue to develop contingency plans.

RN-BSN Students

  • For RN-BSN students this means that the RN-BSN required attendance day will be delivered by Zoom this fall. For students in NURS 465 and NURS 495 practice experience courses, any scheduled faculty/student debriefing meetings will also be completed by Zoom.
  • The College of Nursing building and many other University buildings are closed across the state to contain transmission of COVID-19. If you are in need of services at a campus it is important to call or email the main contact for the office you are trying to work with (financial aid, academic support, library) and they will advise you on next steps to obtain services.

All students – Watch your WSU email CAREFULLY as well as Blackboard announcements. Information changes often in these unprecedented times. We will do all we can to provide timely communication and contingency plans for your education.

We request that students who are feeling ill stay home. You will not be penalized for such absences. Please communicate any necessary absence due to illness to your course faculty and preceptor/mentor. This public health situation requires flexibility and patience from all of us. We will continue to deliver our program with excellence, and ensure our students and faculty are safe. Communicate any questions or concerns to your course faculty, campus academic director and/or appropriate program director, Dr. Wendy Williams Gilbert (BSN Prelicensure) or Dr. Vicki Denson, (RN-BSN).

Questions? Contact:
Dr. Bevan Briggs, Interim Academic Director of Nursing at WSU Tri-Cities
Lee Punch, Senior Instructor of College of Nursing at WSU Tri-Cities