Your Questions—Answered

We know you have questions, and we will strive to answer them as best we can. If you have a question on a topic that isn't listed below, please contact us here.


What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Initial symptoms of COVID-19—fever, coughing, and shortness of breath—are similar to those of seasonal flu. That said, the seasonal flu itself is a significant public health risk. Anyone with flu-like symptoms should remain home (notifying faculty or supervisors as appropriate) until these symptoms subside.

If you have traveled recently to an area in which COVID-19 has been prevalent, and/or have symptoms that worsen over several days, the CDC and local health authorities strongly advise:  

  • Call the Gunnison County Health Hotline at 970.641.7660
  • Remain in your dorm room or place of residence (we will follow up as appropriate with roommates or housemates), and refrain from contact with other individuals until a diagnosis can be confirmed and further instructions can be tailored toward your circumstance. 
  • If you are a student, notify Dr. Abel Chavez
  • If you are a Western employee, notify your supervisor.

What to do after you recover from COVID-19

A student or employee who has had COVID-19 symptoms and was either:

  • Confirmed with positive COVID-19 test
  • Directed to self-quarantine by a health or government official
  • Self-certified (based on this self-certification form) with COVID-19-like symptoms

must, per CDC and local guidelines, have allowed 72 hours to pass at home since all symptoms have concluded without aid of medication (100.4+ fever, shortness of breath, dry cough), and must have allowed 14 days to pass since the onset of those symptoms. Before coming to campus or their worksite, individuals who feel they have met those criteria should notify their supervisor and Western Human Resources by phone to discuss and get confirmation from the supervisor that the individual is ready to return to work. We note that most campus jobs have been moved to remote locations and can be performed online, and that even many jobs that typically require on-site presence have not resumed physical operations on campus.

Administrative leave for employees with COVID-19

The state of Colorado has authorized 30 days of paid administrative leave for individuals who are unable to work due to COVID-19. Individuals with this illness must complete the state self-report form (in lieu of a doctor's note) to receive this benefit. If you are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, please use the confidential forms below to report your illness to both the county and state:

Gunnison County Self-Reporting Form
State of Colorado Self-Reporting Form

Western's procedure after learning of a positive COVID-19 case

  • Western's COVID-19 Task Force receives notification of the case, either directly or through an intermediary.
  • A Task Force representative speaks with the individual, advises them to continue self-quarantine off-campus (if not in campus housing) or in their room (if in campus housing) for an appropriate period per Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance. The Task Force gathers the information needed to support that individual’s welfare and guide campus response. 
  • Task Force members simultaneously reach out to convey relevant information to Western and external officials about the positive test that include (but may not be limited to):
    • The President and Senior Cabinet
    • The Office of Student Affairs (who then would notify potentially affected students)
    • Human Resources (who then would notify potentially affected faculty and staff)
    • Facilities (to initiate comprehensive cleaning of affected spaces, based on CDPHE guidance; note that the virus’s lifespan on surfaces ranges from a few hours to a few days)
    • Residence Life (if the student lives on campus)
    • The Public Information Officer (for relevant public communication and update on the site, where positive cases in the Western community are continually publicly logged)
    • Gunnison County’s Public Health Director, the Colorado Department of Higher Education and other external authorities as appropriate
  • A Western representative would later reaches out to the COVID-19-positive individual to offer support and adaptation to their circumstances to aid their recovery and access to resources as a Western community member.

Gunnison County public health orders

To stay on top of quickly changing local regulations, click the "Public Health Orders" tab on the Gunnison County coronavirus webpage

People 60 and older

According to a Gunnison County public health order released on March 16, older adults (age 60 and older), including employees, and individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of serious COVID-19 are not permitted to attend events with more than 10 people present. However, employees who must be present at their job site to perform necessary duties are permitted to report.

To read the full order, visit the Gunnison County Health and Human Services webpage.

Assistance for people who are self-isolating

Call the Gunnison County Delivery Assistance Hotline at 970-641-7959 if you need help with food and pharmaceutical deliveries. These services are reserved for people who are at-risk, over 60, and/or symptomatic or otherwise in quarantine. The hotline is operational from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days a week.

Medical and mental health resources

Campus Medical Clinic:

Western’s Campus Medical Clinic will be closed for the remainder of the spring semester. This decision was made to allow the campus medical staff to serve from a centralized standpoint at the Gunnison Valley Family Medicine Clinic (GVFM). (Gunnison Valley Health is the contracted provider for Western’s Campus Medical Clinic.) Western students remaining in the Gunnison Valley for the spring semester will receive medical services and support at GVFM’s off-campus clinic (see information below). Please refer to Western’s COVID-19 resource webpage for protocols if you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms. Do not show up to a medical provider unannounced.

Address: 707 N. Iowa Street in Gunnison

Phone: 970.642.8413

Hours of operation:

  • Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (CLOSED March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 18, 2020)
  • Sunday: Closed

Closure information is posted outside the Campus Medical Clinic, Tomichi Hall 104.

University Counseling Center:

Services provided by the University Counseling Center will be delivered to students via Zoom or phone for the remainder of the semester. No in-person appointments will be provided at this time. Counseling Center staff are already reaching out to all students with scheduled appointments to learn their preferred method of therapy from now on (Zoom vs. phone call). Students are instructed to call the University Counseling Center at 970.642.4615, during normal business hours to schedule and receive information about appointments. Teletherapy services are now available to both in- and out-of-state students.

Additional Mental Health Resources:

  • Students in the Gunnison Valley experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the local 24/7 crisis line, 970.252.6220 or call 911. 
  • Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7, text-based service can be accessed by texting “HOME” to 741741. Individuals will be connected with a crisis counselor in minutes and engage in a conversation via text. To be clear, a crisis may mean a wide range of emotional pain. NOTE: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy or a friend.

Staff/Faculty (Non-Emergency)

  • CSEAP (Colorado State Employees Assistance Program): Visit or call 1.800.821.8154. Video counseling is available. This service is free of charge and available to all state employees.
  • United Health Care / Optum Emotional Support Help Line: Call 1-866-342-6892. This is specifically for those experiencing fear or stress related to COVID-19. This service is free of charge and open to anyone.
  • Anthem Behavioral Health: Visit or call 1-888-548-3432. Psychology and psychiatry video counseling is available. These services are fee-based and open to Anthem members.

Student Resources

Preparing for distance learning

In addition to the info below, check out the new Virtual Resources for Students page for tips on how to make the transition to remote learning.

Getting Equipped 

What you will most likely need:

  • Reliable high-speed internet
  • Computer with a camera and microphone.
    • Most laptops have these built in.
    • A separate webcam (e.g. Logitech C920 or equivalent) is a good option for desktop users.
  • Optional: Smart phone
    • Our Canvas LMS and Zoom both have excellent mobile apps for iPhone and Android (see below).

What do I do if I am not equipped for distance education? 

We realize some of you may not have access to everything you need to be successful working online. If you feel you need assistance with preparing for distance learning, please complete this short survey to help us get the information we need to help you. 

Distance Education Readiness Survey 

Testing Remote Instruction Tools 

The primary tools Western has available for remote instruction are: 

  • Blackboard or Canvas, our learning management systems
  • Zoom Conferencing Service
    • Your instructors may be substituting in-class meetings with Zoom, an easy-to-use online web conference tool. 
    • This tool works well on any computer and from smart phones if you download the Zoom App for iPhone or Android.
    • You can use Zoom to host your own meetings. You can activate your new account by going to and selecting Sign In. Use your email address as the username and your regular Western password.
  • Office 365 Suite
    • Office365 provides access to the Microsoft Office Suite of desktop tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) as well as OneDrive for online file storage and sharing,
  • MyWestern and DegreeWorks
    • MyWestern, DegreeWorks and any other natively online services will continue working as usual.
  • Accessing Specialty Software
    • Some courses require specialty software that is not readily available off campus.  We are working with these on a case-by-case basis.  Your instructor will contact you as we come up with solutions.
  • Contact IT Services directly for assistance (, 970.943.3333) 

On-campus housing

As of March 23, we strongly advise that—with the exception of those now self-isolating—all individuals who need not be on Western campus or in Gunnison County should either stay home or—if a student who has a healthier place to stay outside the county—leave now for their year-round residence. If you are not able to move out, or if your on-campus housing provides a better living option than your alternatives elsewhere, please know you are welcome to stay in on-campus housing or keep your belongings there through 5 p.m. on May 8, 2020. If you stay, you will have access to “grab-and-go" food-service breakfast, lunch and dinner options at Mad Jack’s. Further, know that we will do all we can to support your health and well-being. All on-campus residents must login to the housing portal, click "Emergency Plan" and fill out the form to let us know whether you are staying or leaving. If you do move out, Western will be providing you with a pro-rated room and board credit to your student account for the fall 2020 semester. More details on this credit will be forthcoming.

On-campus housing: moving out procedures

As of March 23, we strongly advise that—with the exception of those now self-isolating—all individuals who need not be on Western campus or in Gunnison County should either stay home or—if a student who has a healthier place to stay outside the county—leave now for their year-round residence.

On March 25, Gov. Polis issued a mandatory "stay at home" order for the state of Colorado. This order does not change checkout procedures for Western students. Please read below for guidance on checking out of your on-campus housing and retrieving your belongings.

If you are an on-campus resident, the following procedures were emailed to you on March 19 regarding move out. Please contact Residence Life (970-943-2101 or with any questions.

ALL RESIDENTS: Log-in to the Housing Portal and click on Emergency Plan. 

Options for Moving Out or Staying in On-Campus Housing 

PLEASE READ EXTREMELY CAREFULLY. You are welcome to continue to live on-campus or keep your belongings in your on-campus housing through 5:00 pm on May 8, 2020. Please follow the guidance below for either option: 

Checking out of on-campus housing

  • To check out of your on-campus housing, please complete the Emergency Plan. If you have already moved out, but did not complete the check-out form, you can indicate this as part of the Emergency Plan.
  • Since we are encouraging students to move out of on-campus housing, if you are able, Western will be providing you with a pro-rated room and board credit to your student account for the fall 2020 semester.  More details on this credit will be forthcoming.

What to do if you plan to continue living on-campus 

  • If you choose to remain living on-campus, please complete the Emergency Plan.

Campus dining

Procedure Starting March 30

Please complete the Meal Order Form each week by 8 a.m. Monday for the upcoming week.

This form will help us plan for approximately how many people we will be serving each week. It only takes a few minutes to complete. We appreciate your participation.

Please visit our Rare Air Café Facebook page for current updates and menu postings.  

We will serve from Mad Jack's only. Please note that the menu will be limited, but will always include a full meal to include choices of vegan/vegetarian option, a meat/protein option, and a beverage and dessert. Please let us know if you need gluten-free or other allergen accommodation. 

In order to help comply with the gathering of no more than nine people and social distancing of at least 6 feet between people for Grab and Go, we are assigning meal times based upon the first letter of your last name:

  • A-H: first 20 minutes of service time
  • I-Q: second 20 minutes of service time
  • R-Z: third 20 minutes of service time

You will enter the UC only through the Central South Patio door adjacent to Mad Jacks Café, one person at a time, to pick up your to go meal, and then exit through the southeast door adjacent to the bookstore. There are no dining in or seating options allowed at this time. 

Meal Times


  • Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Dinner 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 

  • Brunch 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • Dinner 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Starting Monday, March 30, we will only be serving lunch and dinner. The service times will remain the same for those meals (Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Dinner: 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.). A continental breakfast may be picked up either at lunch or dinner the day before. 

For students living on campus with a meal plan, meal swipes will work as normal. For students living on campus without a meal plan, we will accept flex, cash, credit card or Mountaineer Cash. Our prices are:

  • Breakfast $7.75
  • Lunch $9.45
  • Dinner $9.85

Please contact Western campus dining services with questions by texting or calling 970.452.9236.

Writing Center and Math Tutoring Center

Writing Center consultants will be facilitating appointments via Zoom. Schedule your appointment here

We also have a new Canvas Writing Center course with instructions for online appointments, citation guides, writing resources and details​ for accessing free textbooks. Students may enroll here.

The Math Tutoring Center is also facilitating appointments via Zoom. Receive synchronous help here


Western will continue paying all student employees (state work-study, federal work-study, GA/TAs, and other student employees) through May 1, 2020. Please read important pay-related information that applies to all current Western student employees below. 

Additional Details

  • The decision to work on campus or to work remotely will be determined by each student’s supervisor. Some student employees will continue to work on campus, while others may be able to work remotely.
  • Student employees who are unable to work on campus or remotely will be paid as if they worked their regular schedule.
  • Details on how to enter student’s regularly scheduled work hours will be available to supervisors next week in plenty of time for the next payroll deadline.

Expectations of Student Employees

  • Student employees should contact their supervisor immediately to determine if they can work on campus, can work remotely, or will be unable to work.  Student employees who are not returning to Gunnison and those who work in offices that are temporarily closed or working remotely, fall into the unable to work category.
  • While working remotely, employees are expected to maintain regular contact with their supervisors.
  • Employees should be available during their regular work hours to answer any questions their supervisors may have.
  • Student employees should verify with their supervisor their regularly scheduled work hours.
  • Employees should review their paychecks after payday to ensure that correct hours were submitted for payment.
  • All student employees should sign up for direct deposit through their MyWestern account to ensure you receive your pay as quickly as possible. See attached instructions for a step by step guide.

Supervisor Responsibilities

  • Supervisors should be available during their regular work hours to answer any questions that employees may have.
  • Supervisors are expected to maintain contact with employees working remotely on a regular basis, but no less than once a week.
  • Supervisors should communicate weekly with student employees in the unable to work category that did return to Gunnison to verify that the student is still unable to work.
  • Supervisors will need to enter the regularly scheduled work hours for all employees who are unable to work by the payroll deadline to ensure employees are paid.
  • Supervisors should submit monthly stipend reports by the payroll deadline for those student who are paid by stipend.

Please direct questions to Paula Giavasis at

Commencement and other events

We regretfully announce we must explore other options for commencement, and must postpone the May 9 event in Gunnison. We are at the early stages of discussion on how we will celebrate our Spring 2020 graduates, with possibilities including an event in the early summer or the early fall. We will communicate further updates on commencement by April 3. It is heartbreaking to have to consider an alternate to a ceremony in the beautiful Gunnison springtime, but as we must heed the direction of health authorities, we will try to identify an alternative that honors our graduates appropriately.

Most other in-person events scheduled to take place during the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, including Spring Fest, have been canceled. However, many virtual events are still taking place. Check out Western's events calendar to learn more.

Refund for Commencement Cap and Gown

Students can receive a $40 refund for returning their cap/gown/tassel, or can keep the tassel and return cap/gown for a $35 refund. Those in Gunnison can schedule an appointment to return by calling 970-943-2196. Those out-of-down can ship them back (trackably: via FedEx or UPS) to the Western Bookstore at 1 Western Way, Gunnison, CO 81231, with a contact phone number so we can process a credit card refund for you.

Academic Resource Center (ARC)

The ARC Testing Center is closed until April 11. Western students should contact Cheyenne Terry to reschedule their exams as necessary. All external testing is discontinued until further notice.

The ARC staff are working remotely. We encourage students to continue to schedule appointments, ensuring timely Summer/Fall 2020 registration.

Feel free to contact us:

* If you have a housing accommodation, an ESA, or Service Animal in university housing, please contact Cheyenne Terry by email to inform her if you will be leaving campus and that you no longer need housing or dining accommodations for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Student employees

If you are a student employee who will be working remotely, please fill out the telecommuting form and email it to your supervisor. If you have any questions, please contact Paula Giavasis at

Study Abroad & Exchange

These programs have been suspended at this time for the rest of the academic year. Contact individual programs for updates on specific programs and itineraries; contact Mikay Elliott at 970-943-7122 for updates if your student is now enrolled in a particular study abroad program. Western students now studying abroad have all been contacted, and have either returned to the U.S. and/or have been accounted for with no adverse health impacts. For more information on studying abroad through Western, visit their webpage. 

Withdrawing from spring semester courses

The final day to withdraw from a course which has not yet been completed, is May 1. Please follow the below process to withdraw from a class. 

1. Send a single email from your Western email account to your instructor and advisor.  If you are an NCAA athlete, also send the email to Ben Griffin (, in addition to instructor and advisor.

2. In the email include (you may just copy the format below):

Your Name:

Student ID:

Course (i.e. ENG 102) and CRN (if you know it):

I am/am not an NCAA athlete.

3. Your instructor and advisor (if you’re an NCAA athlete, also Ben Griffin), will forward the email stating their approval to  The email string will be saved as documentation.

4. The withdrawal will not be processed until we receive all the appropriate emails from your instructor, advisor, and/or Ben Griffin.

5. Remember, the deadline to withdraw is not changing.  Withdrawals will NOT be accepted after April 2.

6. If you prefer to use a paper form, as long as the university is open, you may still pick one up from our office.

Full university withdrawals are still handled by the Office of Student Affairs. Please contact the registrar's office if you have any questions or concerns. 

Important campus contacts

Academic Support

Office of the Registrar
• Laurel Becker, Registrar,, 970.943.7003
• Donita Bishop, Assistant Registrar,, 970.943.7005
• Paula Lee, Degree Analyst,, 970.943.7007
• Carrie Reinecke, Transfer Evaluator & VA Administrator,, 970.943.2048

Academic Support Center (ARC)
• Katie Wheaton, Director,, 970.943.3216
• Mikay Elliott, Academic Advisor/Study Away,, 970.943.7122
• Laurel Fisher, Rady School Academic Advisor,, 970.943.7042
• Derek Harwell, Academic Success Advisor/Exploratory Program Coordinator,, 970.943.7058
• Cheyenne Terry*, Disability Services Coordinator/Academic Advisor,, 970.943.2113
* If you have a housing accommodation, an ESA, or Service Animal in university housing, please contact Cheyenne Terry by email to inform her if you will be leaving campus and that you no longer need housing or dining accommodations for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Student Affairs

Campus Recreation
• Duncan Callahan, Director,, 970.943.3061

Campus Security
• Nathan Kubes, Director,, 970.943.3084

Dean of Students
• Gary Pierson, Dean of Students,, 970.943.2049

LEAD & Orientation
• Sara Phillips, Director,, 970.943.2176

EPIC Mentors
• Text the Mentors at 970.325.3647 or email

Multicultural Center
• Sally Romero, Director,, 970.943.2150

Residence Life
• Shelley Jansen, Director,, 970.943.3104
• Brenda Kaffenberger,, 970.943.2101

Student Health & Wellness
• Scott Cantril, Director,, 970.943.2891

Title IX
• Shelby Schuppe, Title IX Administrator,, 970.943.2616

Vice President of Student Success
• Dr. Abel Chavez,, 970.943.2017
• Alexis Kelley,, Executive Assistant, 970.943.2232

Student Financial Services
• Carrie Shaw, Director,, 970.943.3085
• Tanner Stillwell, Assistant Director,, 970.943.3083
• Nancy Duetsch, Senior Financial Aid Counselor,, 970.943.2282
• Taylor Spezze, Financial Aid Counselor,, 970.943.7044
• Colby Stinson, Financial Aid Counselor,, 970.943.2281

University Center
• Svea Whiting, Director,, 970.943.7057
• Kevin Geisen, Manager,, 970.943.2151

Online Education
• Dustin Fife, Director of Online Education,, 970.943.2278

Registrar's office

The Office of the Registrar's staff are working remotely and are available by phone and email from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Due to the increase in email communication, please allow extra time for your request to be processed.

Drive-up Wifi

Western IT Services has added some new technological equipment to boost the Western Wireless signal to the East Hurst parking lot. This new area is intended for Western students, faculty and staff who do not have adequate internet access elsewhere.

Campus Operations

Campus visits and Preview Day

The Preview Day scheduled for Saturday, March 28 has been canceled. Women at Western Weekend has also been canceled. Though we currently have suspended campus visits through April, we would love to personally introduce you to our campus and the Western experience, and we intend to offer further Preview and Transfer Day opportunities later this spring. In the meantime, you can register for Summer Experience, sign up for the June 12 Preview Day, or take a virtual campus tour.


Leslie J. Savage Library will be closed until further notice. The Savage Library website offers many resources for students and faculty, and library staff are still available to help.

University Center (UC)

Beginning Wednesday 3/25/2020:

University Center - all main doors: CLOSED with swipe access only for all staff that currently have access to the building

South Side Patio Door by Mad Jack's: 

  • CLOSED beginning Saturday 3/28
  • Beginning Saturday 3/28 Sodexo will do outside food pick up service on the south patio for students only
  • Special requests need to be directed to Jacqueline Rush with Sodexo at 970-452-9236

South Side Patio Door by Bookstore:

  • OPEN Monday-Friday noon-2 p.m. for access to Mail Center for pick up and drop off of mail for all campus departments and students
  • Special requests need to be directed to Cindy Asbury at 970-943-2468 or

We are in the process of canceling all events scheduled in the UC till the end of May. Please continue to reach out to us to schedule your events for the summer and upcoming fall semester.

Mountaineer Field House

Per a local health order, the Mountaineer Field House will be closed until at least May 17.


KWSB, Western's radio station, is off the air until at least April 3. 

Electronic door access changes

Starting March 20 at 9 a.m., all electronically managed doors will require a card swipe to enter. Additionally, all student access to academic and administrative buildings will be disabled. This includes all work study students.

Student access can be restored on a case-by-case basis by contacting your Building Manager. If you do not know your who your building manager is, contact Aaron MacLennan (

NOTE: Unless you are in an emergency situation, do not use a physical key if a card swipe is available. Using a physical key results in a Door Forced Open alarm and makes managing our facilities ineffective.

Please refer to the following table for information about your building:


All Academic:

Paul Wright Gymnasium, Crawford Hall, Kelley Hall, Hurst Hall, Quigley Hall, Borick Hall

  • Essential Services#
  • Faculty housed in building
  • Admin Assistant
  • Students by faculty request only, per established guidelines.
  • *High Country News

Academic buildings will be receiving limited janitorial services until further notice.

Admin Assistants and Chairs manage student access.

Residential Halls

  • Essential Services#
  • Staff housed in building
  • Students housed in building

All visitors will be limited

Administrative (Taylor Hall)

  • Essential Services#
  • Faculty housed in building
  • Admin Assistant
  • Staff housed in building
  • Students by request only, per established guidelines

Admin Assistants and Chairs manage student access to academic spaces.

Field House, all facilities

  • Essential Services# for essential use.
  • Staff housed in building

Field House will not be receiving janitorial services during this time.

Recreational use will be strictly prohibited.

University Center

Open, limited access

To limit and focus traffic, only south doors will be operable

Paul Wright Gym, all facilities

  • Essential Services#
  • Staff housed in building

#Essential Services include Facilities Services, Security, IT Services and Cabinet

School of Graduate Studies application fee

Western's School of Graduate Studies has waived application fees for the 2020-21 academic year.

Students with Disabilities

General precautions

If you have a condition that compromises your immune system such as diabetes, lung conditions, and other chronic conditions, take extra precautions including social-distancing, and discuss with your friends and family about how they can help protect you. Here are some general precautions you can take below:

  • Avoid areas with high concentrations of people whenever possible.
  • Avoid the use of public transportation whenever possible as well as non-essential cruise and air travel. Avoid crowds in places that are not well-ventilated.
  • Refrain from having visitors in your home or residence.
  • Consider wearing a mask and/or gloves to protect yourself if you need to visit a healthcare facility.
  • Find ways of having food and medications delivered to your home by way of friends, family, community, and/or commercial networks.
    • Use curb-side pick-up services for your grocery needs to reduce your chances of exposure.
    • Refill your medications early and utilize the services of a mail-order pharmacy for delivery whenever possible.
  • Keep over-the-counter medications, tissues, and other sanitary items on hand.
  • Use the phone and other internet-based technology to conduct meetings that are typically conducted face to face.
    • Work with your mental health care provider to consider alternative options for face to face counseling such as telehealth counseling. Telehealth laws vary from state to state; therefore, you must check with your provider to discuss your available options.
  • Stay in touch with friends, family, and your healthcare provider and be willing to ask for help via email, text messaging, or other means if you become sick.
  • Determine who can provide you with care should your personal care assistant become ill.
  • Have backup plans for obtaining care if possible. Many communities are working to help people with disabilities and older adults in similar situations. You should familiarize yourself with what is available in terms of community support.
  • The blind and visually impaired may be greatly impacted due to the closure of public transportation and public access to common areas.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call the Gunnison COVID-19 hotline at 970-641-7660 (if local), and to stay home. Do not go to the doctor or ER unannounced.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs may include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Considerations for people with pre-existing medical conditions

Considerations for people with spinal cord injuries

Lung capacity and body temperature are more difficult to control with neurological affected issues. Most people will become diagnosed by presence of some or all these symptoms:

  • Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Aching muscles
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

If you think you have the flu, contact your healthcare professional or call the Gunnison COVID-19 hotline at 970-641-7660 to see if you are eligible for one of the COVID-19 tests.

  • Before taking a new medication, ensure that it will not interact with your current medications, even if it is an over the counter drug.
  • Monitor your temperature to make sure it does not get too high. If you do develop a fever after spinal cord injury, your body might not be able to control it.
    • A cooling bath or cool cloths placed on your forehead, underarms and groin can help reduce a fever.
    • If your fever is over 102°F and not resolving, call your healthcare professional or 911. Tylenol can help reduce fever if you are able to take it.
  • Check for symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia (AD) if you have a spinal cord injury at the cervical and thoracic levels, even if you have never had AD symptoms before.
    • If you have a new onset of AD, immediate treatment is required. You will need to call for emergency care (911) if you do not have an established treatment plan. If you have had episodes of AD, follow your individual instructions for AD. More information about AD is available using the autonomic dysreflexia wallet card.
  • Maintain fluid intake to avoid dehydration if not affected by vomiting.
  • Keep your airway clear. Cough and deep breathe to clear your airway or use your airway equipment.
  • Wash your hands often and insist your caretaker wash their hands as well. You might pick up COVID-19 by touching anything including things in your own environment such as wheel rims, door knobs and in your own bathroom.
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you for ready access for hand cleaning.

Considerations for people with lung conditions

People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.  COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

Follow your Asthma Action Plan

  • Take your asthma medication exactly as prescribed. Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications, such as asthma inhalers. Make sure that you have 30 days of non-prescription medications and supplies on hand too in case you need to stay home for a long time.
  • Know how to use your inhaler.
  • Avoid your asthma triggers.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19. Avoid disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack.
  • As more cases of COVID-19 are discovered and our communities act to combat the spread of disease, it is natural for some people to feel concerned or stressed. Strong emotions can trigger an asthma attack. Take steps to help yourself cope with stress and anxiety.

Considerations for people who are transplant recipients or candidates

We recommend that you contact your transplant center with specific concerns.

FAQs Regarding Transplants

Q: Are transplant recipients at higher risk for the virus?

A: We do not have specific information on whether COVID-19 infection will be more severe in transplant recipients compared to healthy people; however, other viruses often cause more severe disease in people whose immune system is low, such as transplant recipients. For this reason, it is important to take precautions to prevent infection. Infection occurs mostly through close, direct contact with someone who is carrying the virus. The chances of being infected depend on whether there are infected individuals surrounding the transplant recipient.

Q: Are there any travel restrictions for transplant recipients?

A: COVID-19 has now been declared a pandemic, which means it is found in most areas of the world. Please visit the CDC website for information regarding the number of infections across the globe. For the most up-to-date travel advisories, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

We currently recommend that transplant recipients:

  • Follow public health recommendations for social distancing. Stay home as much as possible and put distance between you and other people if you must be out.
  • Do not travel to areas with high amounts of the circulating virus.
  • Should try to avoid crowds, especially if you live in an area where COVID-19 is being seen. The level of risk varies by country and area, and it is changing quickly.

It is best to postpone nonessential travel, particularly to countries where access to medical care may be limited. We also highly suggest that transplant recipients’ immediate household contacts should postpone non-essential travel to areas that are considered high risk. All travel plans should be discussed with your transplant provider before your travel. Travel restriction recommendations are likely to change over time. Check frequently for updated recommendations:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

Q: My family member just returned from an area with high COVID-19 activity. What should I do?

A: It is best to avoid contact for 14 days with individuals who returned from an area where they could have been exposed to COVID-19. If the individual remains healthy after 14 days, contact can be resumed. If avoiding contact is not possible, it is recommended to:

Practice frequent handwashing or hand sanitizer use.
All household members should avoid touching their eyes, mouths, and noses.
Try to limit your contact with the family member. Maintain as much separation as possible.
Cough and sneeze etiquette should be practiced.

Q: Should transplant recipients wear a mask or avoid public places?

A: The benefit of wearing masks in public is controversial even for transplant recipients. It is unknown if wearing a mask will help prevent infection. Most surgical masks are not tight-fitting, and aerosols can get through. However, they may prevent you from touching your nose and mouth.

If you have a fever and are coughing and sneezing, you should:

  • Tell your transplant center
  • Put on a mask when you go out in public, to the hospital, or a transplant clinic.

Overall, if you choose to use a mask to prevent any spread of infection, it is recommended to choose a surgical mask (DO NOT use an N95 mask), and use it combined with good hand hygiene.

Q: What should I do if I have flu-like/respiratory symptoms?

A: Currently, in North America, influenza and several other respiratory viruses are circulating as well. If you believe you have COVID-19 based on your travel or contact history, or if there is a community spread of COVID-19, call your transplant team for further instructions. If you have a cough or fever and access to a mask, place a surgical mask on when in public to avoid the spread of infection to anyone else. If you have only mild symptoms your transplant center may not want you to come to the clinic, so talk with your transplant center FIRST before coming to a hospital or clinic.

Q: What should I do if a family member/co-worker is diagnosed with COVID-19?

A: If a close contact is diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, he/she should avoid all further contact with the transplant recipient. The transplant recipient or their family members should let their transplant coordinator know that they have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. The transplant recipient should be monitored for symptoms and contact their transplant coordinator if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath. Currently, there is no approved vaccine or medication to treat or prevent infection, but clinical trials are in development.

Q: How can I get tested to see if I have COVID-19?

A: At this moment, testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 can only be done by public health authorities or through select institutions. Many institutions have limited testing at this time, although this may change. If you believe you have COVID-19, call your transplant team for further instructions.

Q: Is it safe for me to go to the hospital for appointments?

A: The risk of acquiring COVID-19 in hospitals in the United States and Canada is still very low. Healthcare facilities are evaluating patients for the risk of COVID-19, and if the suspicion is high, those patients are being isolated. Additional protective measures may be instituted as the outbreak progresses, including delaying routine visits for well transplant recipients who are at least several months post-transplant. Please contact your transplant team for further instruction.

Q: What can I do to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 in my area?

A: We recommend that you be mindful of what is happening in your community by checking the local public health reports and follow the recommended guidelines from the CDC and your local health department.

Q: I am awaiting a transplant. Could I get COVID-19 from my donor?

A: The risk of acquiring COVID-19 from organ donation is low. Donors are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history. Living donors who have been to high-risk areas or exposed to someone diagnosed or being evaluated for COVID-19 infection are generally being asked to postpone donation for 14 to 28 days after returning. Some organ procurement organizations are testing some or all donors for COVID-19. Also, living donors are being asked to not travel to high-risk areas for at least 14 days before donation and monitor for symptoms. Information about recent travel and possible exposure is also asked about deceased donors to help determine if it is safe to use them for organ and tissue donation.

Q: Where can I get up-to-date information about COVID-19?

A: The CDC and WHO are working hard to maintain up to date information about the spread of COVID-19 including changing conditions in the United States. 

Recovering at home

  • Stay home except to get medical care. If you must leave your home to receive medical care, call your doctor ahead of time. Do not arrive to your doctor’s office unannounced as your presence may make others sick.
  • Separate yourself from others and pets at home and limit direct contact with them.
  • Consider having another member of your household to care for your pets, ESA, or Service Animal while you are sick.
  • Wear a facemask if you will be around other people.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Wash your hands when you use the bathroom, before and after you prepare food, before you eat, when you have visitors, and when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid sharing household items including dishes, bedding, and clothes. Wash these items after each use.
  • Stay in touch with your healthcare provider and be aware that you may receive daily calls from your doctor or local health department for monitoring purposes

You must remain at home until you are instructed to leave by your healthcare provider and/or local health department. They must wait until they believe the risk of secondary transmission of COVID-19 is thought to be low.

Ending Self-Quarantine

The option to discontinue self-quarantine will be made on a case-by-case basis between your healthcare provider, the local health department, and state agencies. Do not leave self-quarantine until you have received instruction from your healthcare provider and/or local health department.

Emotional health

  • Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about wellness strategies for mental health.
  • Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
  • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
  • Avoid too much exposure to news– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
  • Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990.

Look out for these common signs of distress:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

If you experience these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them, seek professional help.

Emotional health for first responders and members of Western’s Mountaineer Rescue Team

During a Response: Understand and Identify Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress

Limit your time working alone by trying to work in teams. Responders experience stress during a crisis. When stress builds up it can cause:

  • Burnout – feelings of extreme exhaustion and being overwhelmed.
  • Secondary traumatic stress – stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event.

Coping techniques like taking breaks, eating healthy foods, exercising, and using the buddy system can help prevent and reduce burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Recognize the signs of both of these conditions in yourself and other responders to be sure those who need a break or need help can address these needs.

Signs Of Burnout:

  • Sadness, depression, or apathy
  • Easily frustrated
  • Blaming of others, irritability
  • Lacking feelings, indifferent
  • Isolation or disconnection from others
  • Poor self-care (hygiene)
  • Tired, exhausted or overwhelmed
  • Feeling like:
    • A failure
    • Nothing you can do will help
    • You are not doing your job well
    • You need alcohol/other drugs to cope

Signs of Secondary Traumatic Stress

  • Excessively worry or fear about something bad happening
  • Easily startled, or “on guard” all of the time
  • Physical signs of stress (e.g. racing heart)
  • Nightmares or recurrent thoughts about the traumatic situation
  • The feeling that others’ trauma is yours

Get support from team members: Develop a Buddy System

In a buddy system, two responders partner together to support each other, and monitor each other’s stress, workload, and safety.

  • Get to know each other. Talk about background, interests, hobbies, and family. Identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Keep an eye on each other. Try to work in the same location if you can.
  • Set up times to check-in with each other. Listen carefully and share experiences and feelings. Acknowledge tough situations and recognize accomplishments, even small ones.
  • Offer to help with basic needs such as sharing supplies and transportation.
  • Monitor each other’s workloads. Encourage each other to take breaks. Share opportunities for stress relief (rest, routine sleep, exercise, and deep breathing).
  • Communicate your buddy’s basic needs and limits to leadership – make your buddy feel “safe” to speak up.

Responder Self-Care Techniques

  • Limit working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts whenever possible.
  • Work in teams and limit amount of time working alone.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Talk to family, friends, supervisors, and teammates about your feelings and experiences.
  • Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.
  • Know that it is okay to draw boundaries and say “no.”
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and use of alcohol.

It is important to remind yourself:

  • It is not selfish to take breaks.
  • The needs of survivors are not more important than your own needs and well-being.
  • Working all of the time does not mean you will make your best contribution.
  • There are other people who can help in the response.

Responding to disasters can be both rewarding and stressful. Knowing that you have stress and coping with it as you respond will help you stay well, and this will allow you to keep helping those who are affected.

Working Remotely

Resources for working remotely

As of March 23, we strongly advise that Western faculty and staff work from home if their job duties permit remote work.


Email phishing scams have increased in the past few weeks in an attempt to take advantage of the uncertainty generated by COVID-19. Please use extra caution when dealing with any unexpected messages.

IT Work Order System

If you need equipment or assistance during your transition to studying or working remotely, please submit a request through the IT Work order system describing what you need. IT staff are able to fix most problems remotely but will schedule an in-person appointment with you if necessary.

Working Remotely

The primary tools available for staff remote access are:

Zoom Conferencing Service

We have acquired a Zoom account for all employees.  You can activate your new account by going to and selecting Sign In.  Use your email address as the username and your regular Western password. NOTE: If you are already using a Zoom account, you should continue to use that account. We are investigating how to transfer information between accounts.
After you have activated your account, you may also install a mobile app on your phone. If you choose to use the app, you must select SSO and enter “western” when prompted. Sign in with your email address and normal password (see attachment).
Zoom is fairly intuitive but if you have difficulty or need a quick tutorial, put in a work request and we will walk you through Zoom use.

Office 365 Suite

Office365 provides access to the Microsoft Office Suite of desktop tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) as well as OneDrive for online file storage and sharing, Use your email address as the username and your regular Western password to login.
You can access your email from any device by going to
You can forward your Western phone number to a cell phone by using the Shoretel desktop application.  More detailed instructions will be available soon.
If you are already set up and using access Banner from home, you may continue to do so.
We are in the process of deploying a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client to all Windows computers. Once this is installed you may see it running in the system tray in the lower corner of your screen. Do NOT log into this client, even if prompted, while on campus as it will cause connectivity problems.
Once we have fully deployed the VPN client we will be following up with further instructions.
Native web services like MyWestern, Skype for Business, etc. will continue to work as usual.
Phone number
Banner and File Share Access 
Web Services

Getting Equipped

If your Western computer is a laptop equipped with a camera, you should have what you need for basic requirements. The Zoom client is very effective when used from a phone.

We have a limited number of laptops, webcams, etc. on site (more on the way) and will distribute these on a case by case basis. 

Resources for faculty on transitioning to online format

Refer to this online guide created by Western library staff that offers resources, tips, articles and tutorials to help transition your courses to online format. 

Virtual Private Network (VPN) access for faculty and staff

You should see the client pop up during a computer restart.  If you do not, hit the Windows Key and type Global and you should see the client installed (see below).

Once you have the client installed and you need off campus access to Banner or Departmental file share, please submit an IT work request to activate the VPN. Please include in your request the resources you need to access, e.g. Banner. The VPN service in not yet active, but we expect to have it completed no later than early Monday morning. IT will be in contact once the VPN services is ready to go.

Accessibility supports for remote teaching

Accessible documents

Documents provided on Canvas and Blackboard need to be accessible to students with disabilities. For documents using the Microsoft Office Suite, the built-in accessibility checkers will provide feedback on errors and guidance on how to fix them.

Text Equivalents for Audio and Video

For any recordings, either audio or video, a text equivalent must be provided. For audio, this is a transcript; for video, captions. The best way to create a text equivalent is to write a script and record from that. However, if this is not an option, you can use auto-generated captioning tools like YouTube or to generate a transcript or caption file. You will need to edit the file to be accurate; auto-generated captions are typically about 60-70% accurate, which is unacceptable for students.

Make a text announcement in advance of a live video call informing students about the live meeting, and tell students to reach out to Disability Services if they need live captioning as an accommodation.

Text Equivalents for Images

Any images included in the course site need a text description. In documents, the accessibility checker will advise on how to add a text description. In Canvas or Blackboard, the image uploader may have a field for alternate text, which is where you can add a brief description of the image. It is recommended that this description is no longer than a tweet or about 140 characters.

Further Information

If you’d like to learn more about creating an accessible course, please contact Cheyenne Terry at Disability Services via email at or by phone at 970-943-2113.

How to Help


From the Gunnison County website:

If you would like to volunteer to assist with operations please review the list below of needed services:

  • Picking up/transporting/delivering needed supplies both in town and possibly out of town
  • Supporting patients quarantined at home by safely delivering groceries, running errands, etc. so those affected do not need to venture into the community
  • Interpreting for Spanish-speaking residents
  • Delivering meals and other needed items to non-infected seniors at home so they do not have to venture out into the community unnecessarily
  • Call center staff to assist with answering questions

For those that are interested in helping, please email or call Arden Anderson with the following information: Full name, phone number, email, and availability. Availability for weekends is particularly needed right now. If volunteering for the Call Center, having some medical training would be beneficial but is not required. Volunteers will NOT be physically exposed to potential patients.

Phone: (970) 901-5739

Donate to the Western CARES fund

If you are inspired to support our students with a donation, please consider a gift to the Western CARES (Critical Aid Relief Emergency Support) Fund. Your gift will support students who need assistance with unexpected emergency expenses and other essentials to sustain their continued education and success at Western.