Fall Housing and Dining FAQs

Following the Remote Learning Announcement from President Randhawa on July 30, 2020, Housing has updated its occupancy standards under the direction of University, local and state health officials.

Take a look at our updated occupancy standards and other FAQs below for more information about fall Housing.

Looking for information on Spring or Summer Housing?

Please visit our Spring and Summer FAQs

General FAQs


Per the President’s message, “We expect to be able to safely accommodate continuing students who have already confirmed for fall or who are on the waiting list, and students for whom university residences is their permanent or only home, or who have a compelling need to live on campus.”

For new incoming students, we know there are many reasons why people want or need on-campus Housing. While living in your permanent address may be the safest option for many of our students, below are some examples of why on-campus Housing may be a better choice:

  • A student with a financial situation that requires living on campus (e.g., private scholarship with requirements to live on campus, eligible for need-based grants, receiving federal or state need-based aid)
  • A first-generation college student that plans to use campus support systems
  • A student who is participating in an institutional, state, or federal program emphasizing or requiring on-campus resources and support
  • A student who has a housing situation that is not secure, in jeopardy, or unsafe
  • A student who has in-person, on-campus employment that requires them to be at WWU Bellingham
  • A student who is a former foster youth
  • A student who is a veteran with support services requiring a presence on campus
  • A student whose permanent address does not have adequate infrastructure to learn online (e.g., does not have access to reliable home internet)
  • A student who is unable to return home safely
  • A student who is enrolled in a course that requires face-to-face interaction
  • A student who has an extraordinary circumstance that requires them to be physically present at WWU Bellingham
  • A student who can better succeed academically in a campus living environment

Working in tandem with Western’s overall strategy for safety, we are closely following the American College Health Association’s (ACHA) guidelines for campus housing programs. 

As of Aug. 21:

  • All residence halls and apartments are single-occupancy rooms only fall quarter
  • All residence halls on the Ridge are currently reserved


Right now we are still finalizing what the residence halls will look like, and should soon be able to assess if students will be guaranteed housing, which we hope is the case.

Usually, we can balance the needs of returning and new students very well. This year, we are forced to get creative as we hope to serve all Western students while maintaining safety guidelines set by state, local and University health officials.  

We are working hard to create a safe housing experience that will include:

  • Reduced, shared bathroom with increased custodial service
  • Planning for virtual and in-person events and meetings with live-in staff
  • Space on campus for quarantine and isolation for students who cannot travel home
  • Increased sanitation procedures by custodians in high traffic areas
  • Single-occupancy rooms in our residence halls fall quarter
  • Birnam Wood Apartments will house one resident per room
  • All residence halls on the Ridge are currently reserved

Housing is reserving the entire Ridge area for multiple planning purposes for on-campus housing demand and University need.

Due to the construction of the New Residence Hall, Ridgeway Commons, including the dining hall, is currently offline.

You will select your own room on campus for fall 2020.

Incoming Students

Room Selection begins 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24. Time slots are divided in two starting groups, each based your Housing priority date (the day you applied for admission):

Phase A: Roommate Groups
Phase B: Free Selection


Returners already completed Room Selection Redo. Due to the updated Occupancy Standards, returners will have to select a room again if one of the following applies:

  • You are in a Birnam Wood apartment with more than one person in each room

Residents can see their housing status in their MyHousing portal at any time.

Find out more about our buildings at Explore the Buildings.

We have a multilayered response plan and will identify isolation space in the event a resident tests positive for coronavirus and quarantine space if a resident is exposed, but did not test positive.

Housing will continue to work closely with University, local, and state health departments to adhere to best practices and responses to the coronavirus.

Yes! Your student engagement experience will be different, but our Residence Life team is working hard to provide both virtual and in-person programming and meetings with live-in staff.

For those who decide to live on campus this fall, our team is working hard and thinking creatively to make the on-campus experience as fun and engaging as possible. Below are just a few of our events we are planning for.

Please note: all events and hall activities will abide by safety standards guided by University, local, and state health officials.

  1. Floor dinners (outside in a physically distant way when the weather is nice and restrictions lessen)
  2. Scavenger hunt in the halls to learn about resources on campus and amenities within the on-campus community
  3. Outdoor movie nights
  4. Trip to Lakewood
  5. Chalk painting competitions
  6. Door decorating competitions
  7. Resident Advisor led game nights:
    • Pool tournaments
    • Physically distant lawn games
    • Card games
  8. Physically distant walks with common questions
  9. In-person and virtual campus tours
  10. In-person games to get to know your floormates/suitemates and community
  11. Socially distant watch parties
  12. One on one and small group dialogues with the Resident Advisors and Apartment Advisors

Our commitment to building a safe community where you invest in academic success and personal growth remains a central component of our mission.

Housing is working with campus partners to find effective ways to ensure facility use is set up to encourage stay safe habits, like social distancing, wearing face coverings, and frequent hand washing.

We understand many residents will want to remain at their permanent address if their in-person classes are now all online.

If you would like to change your Housing status for fall quarter:

Incoming residents

Change your Housing status prior to Sept. 4 to avoid losing $200 Housing Deposit to one of the following two options in the Fall Status Change Survey:

  • You want to cancel fall but may want Housing winter/spring quarter
  • You want to cancel Housing for the 2020-21 academic year

Returning residents

Change your Housing status prior to Aug. 15 to avoid the $600 Renewal Cancellation Fee.

If you need to cancel after Aug. 15, email housing@wwu.edu with the following:

  • Name
  • W#
  • Change your Fall Housing Status to one of the following options:
    • You want to cancel fall but may want Housing winter/spring quarter
    • You want to cancel Housing for the 2020-21 academic year

All Residents

For all residents canceling after moving on campus, please review Contract Breakage Fee.

We expect to have room for all incoming students and active returners wishing to wait until their classes are in-person and housing occupancy returns to normal during the 2020-21 academic year.

WWU Testing

The relatively low prevalence of COVID infections in Whatcom County of approximately 1% supports a surveillance testing model using pooled samples to identify possible pockets of infected individuals.

Surveillance testing would involve pooling test samples of 10 students into a single batch that is submitted to the lab for analysis.  If the pooled result is negative, no further action is needed.  If the pooled result is positive, then each student in the pool would be retested individually to determine precisely who was positive. 

WWU will be regularly testing any student who has an on-campus presence anytime during the Fall Quarter 2020.  This includes students living in on-campus housing, participating in in-person classes or research groups.

Participation in the testing program is mandatory.  

All residents must get tested for COVID-19 through their healthcare provider or an official testing site, ideally in their home counties. On-campus residents should get tested no more than 7 days before arrival. Test results must be sent to Student.Health@wwu.edu before arrival to Western for move-in.

  • Students should contact their primary care physician to get tested. Those who don't have a physician may contact their local health department to learn how to get tested for COVID-19 in their area. Barrier-free testing is available in many cities (such as the Whatcom County Mobile Testing Program). If your county does not offer testing, search for other counties in close proximity for a testing site.
  • Email your results from your WWU email to Student.Health@wwu.edu with the subject: COVID-19 Test Result_Last Name, First Name, WWUID
    • Subject Line Example: COVID-19 Test Result_Viking, Vonnie, W01234567
  • Bring your pre-move in test results with you on Move-In Day
    • You can show your results on your phone or print out a paper copy

If you test positive for COVID-19, do not come to campus. Email reslife@wwu.edu to reschedule your move-in day.

If you encounter barriers in obtaining a COVID-19 test:

  • Barrier free testing is available in many cities. Search for barrier free testing information on your local or state health department website. If your county does not offer testing, search for other counties in close proximity for a testing site.
  • If you cannot obtain a COVID-19 test before your scheduled move-in date, another option is to arrive in Bellingham a few days before, get tested at the Whatcom County mobile testing unit (before September 17) or Western’s Student Health Center (starting on September 17), and stay at a local Bellingham hotel until our Student Health Center receives a negative test result (results are usually returned within 24-48 hours)

All students will be tested for COVID-19 on move-in day as part of the check-in process

For campus community safety, we strongly recommend anyone without a test before arrival avoid shared spaces within the residence halls and choose meals to go from the Dining Commons until test results are received.

Please note: the Student Health Center typically receives results within 12 hours.

Should the test return positive, you must physically relocate to isolation housing until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since the date of their first positive diagnostic test and;
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and;
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved.
  • NOTE: A negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test does not supersede the above expectations.

If you test positive for COVID-19 in their pre-move in test or are experiencing symptoms, do not come to campus. Contact reslife@wwu.edu to re-schedule your arrival day. 

Surveillance testing using pooled samples will continue, every two weeks, through the remainder of the quarter, targeting specific on campus “household” groups or “social bubbles” as defined by class-involvement or housing floor assignments.  It is important to note that the frequency or targeting of testing may change according to updates in community spread.   

Nothing.  WWU will incur the costs of all testing related to the surveillance program.  If a student is part of presumptively positive pool, they will be retested and the costs to retest will be submitted to the student’s health insurance carrier.  If the student does not have insurance, of if the insurance company denies the charges, Western will pay these costs as well.  

Western is fortunate to be working in partnership with a local lab that is current taking 24-48 hours to process test results.  

Western’s surveillance testing model is developed to scan Western’s campus to identify pockets of virus.  If the pooled test result is negative, test results will not be provided.  If the pooled test result is presumptively positive, all members of the pool will be contacted by the Student Health Center and advised to get retested.  

Students will be notified of their individual results in the Student Health Center’s patient portal called MyWesternHealth.  

If your individual COVID-19 test is positive, your private health information is protected and will not be shared outside of the Student Health Center. Western is required to share the positive result with the Whatcom County Health Department so they can receive accurate case data and reach out to you to help identify people you may have come in contact with.   

If you live in on campus housing, you will be instructed to move to an isolation space.  Residence hall staff will assist you and will be reaching out to you regularly to check-in with you about how you are doing in isolation and if you need anything.  If you live off campus, you will be instructed to self-isolate at home.  The Whatcom County Health Department isolation and quarantine team will also be monitoring your health status on a daily basis.  

If any student refuses to comply with Western’s COVID Testing Program, they will not be allowed to have an on-campus presence.  They will not be able to continue to live in on campus housing nor will they be able to take in-person classes.  

Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) will be performing any necessary contact tracing, after Western has alerted them to a positive case. Those who have tested positive can anticipate being contacted by the health department.  

To learn about what the contact tracing process entails, please visit the Whatcom County Health Department website.   

If you cannot locate a testing center in your county, Housing recommends searching at testing locations in neighboring counties. For help locating testing sites, please look at the Department of Health and Human Services website to find a testing location near you. 


Another option would be to come to Bellingham early to get tested. Whatcom County advertises getting results back within 24-48 hours. However, many tests have come back in a much shorter turnaround and have results within 12 hours of being tested.  

If you are a student who was unable to get tested for COVID-19 prior to your arrival, you are required to self-isolate in your residence hall room or apartment until you receive your negative test result from Western’s Student Health Center. This is to protect your health/safety and the health/safety of other community members. 


Expectations: While self-isolating in your room, there are several expectations for you during this time to ensure your own health and safety as well as the health and safety of our campus community: 

  • You may not enter common spaces, lounges, or other public areas in your building except for the community bathroom (if applicable). 

  • When using the community bathroom or your suite/apartment bathroom, please be as efficient as possible in utilizing the bathroom facilities including the showers, sinks, and toilets – and wear your mask whenever possible. 

  • You will not have access to laundry rooms, community kitchens, or other public amenities within your residence hall community. 

  • Custodial and maintenance services are not available unless an emergency repair is needed.  

  • No guests or visitors are permitted in your room. 


If your COVID-19 test returns with a positive result, you will be required to immediately move to an isolation room in another designated residential community. 

Isolation & Quarantine

Quarantine is reserved for students  who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. These are single rooms in a suite shared with up to 2-3 other people. They will not have symptoms. 

Isolation is reserved for students exhibiting symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19. These spaces our individual suites not shared with anyone. 

Select residence halls on the Ridge are reserved for isolation and quarantine space, providing a total of approximately 150 spaces for quarantine and isolation. We also have a couple of accessible spaces reserved for isolation and quarantine in Birnam Wood.  

We encourage campus residential students to return to their permanent homes for recovery if able. However, no one will be asked to leave campus to isolate or quarantine. On campus isolation and quarantine spaces are only available for students residing within WWU residence halls and directed by the Student Health Center to be moved into a campus quarantine or isolation room. These rooms will be ready when students begin moving into the residence halls on September 17, 2020. 

WWU takes seriously the public health impact of COVID-19. In keeping this virus from adversely impacting our community, it is expected all Western students do their part to keep themselves and others healthy. If a student refuses to follow Student Health Center guidance, the student will receive a referral to a conduct officer in University Residences. Failure to comply by the guidance of the Student Health Center can result in sanctions up to and including removal from residence halls.

You will be instructed to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Students in isolation will be advised to be isolated for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared or since the date of their first positive diagnostic test; and at least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved. *Note: A negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test does not supersede the above expectations. 

 It is expected you only leave the space if you are required to go to an appointment at the Student Health Center or have a service animal in need of care. Additionally, guests will not be allowed. Any extension of a stay in isolation/quarantine will be handled on a case by case basis by Student Health Center and the Whatcom County Health Department. 

Since you will be in the room for two weeks, please bring anything you need to be comfortable during that time, as well as plenty of clothing. You will not be able to do laundry during the time you are in quarantine/isolation.  

Spaces will include at a minimum: bed, mattress, dresser and internet access provided There will be basic bed linens and towels provided as well as toilet paper, paper towel roll, cleaning spray can, and toiletries. In addition, a care package will be provided that includes non-perishable foods such as granola bars, tea and cup of noodles. We will also provide a tea kettle that stays in the space once the student leaves. We encourage students to bring what will make them comfortable for the 14 days. 

If you are moving to isolation, we have a trained team who will be in full PPE to move you and what you need to bring to the isolation space. If you are moving to quarantine, you have the option to transport yourself. If you have a vehicle with a WWU parking permit, we can transfer your permit to the isolation/quarantine area. If you need assistance, the transport team will help to move you to quarantine. 

Yes, you can. The transport team can assist with the transport of your animal too. You will need to pack what your animal needs for 14 days and you will be able to utilize certain outside spaces of isolation/quarantine to care for your emotional support animal. 

University Residences meal plan holders may order their meals online and University Residences staff will deliver these meals at 10am, 2pm and 5pm daily. The meals will be hung on the exterior door of each resident in quarantine or isolation. Students without a meal plan can purchase a 25-meal plan for the length of their time in isolation or quarantine. They may also choose to have food delivered to their exterior door by friends or family. Isolation and quarantine spaces do not offer any kitchen facilities. 

If you are in isolation or quarantine, a practitioner from the Whatcom County Health Department will contact you daily for tele-health check ins. You will receive a thermometer and pulse oximeter to check your vitals and report them back to the provider.  

In addition, you will have a daily virtual check in with a Residence Life professional staff member to address questions and concerns, and provide any support or resources needed. 

Financial Information

Our room and board rates are posted!

Visit Room and Board Rates for up-to-date 2020-21 financial information.

We are not charging more than the double room rate to any residents living with us fall quarter. 

Please note: Posted winter and spring 2021 rates may be updated based on occupancy restrictions.

Visit Room and Board Rates for up-to-date 2020-21 financial information.

President Randhawa announced on Thursday, July 30 that WWU expects to offer 8-10% of our classes in person during the fall quarter. We know that many of our on-campus residents may want to change their Housing Status if they don't have in-person classes.

For residents canceling before Fall Move In, please note the following deadlines:

  • Returning residents must change their Housing status prior to August 15 to avoid the $600 Renewal Cancellation Fee
  • Incoming residents must change their Housing status prior to Sept. 4 to avoid losing $200 Housing Deposit

For residents canceling after moving on campus, please review Contract Breakage Fee.


Dining halls will be open during the Fall 2020 to meet the demand of housing occupancy and to meet safety guidelines set by the local, state and University health officials. This may include to-go options as well as in-person dining with physical distancing practices in place.  Other safety measures include: 

  • All employees required to wear masks 
  • Health questions will be asked to employees prior to their shift 
  • Temperature checks will be performed prior to the beginning of staff members shifts 
  • Adjusted sneeze guards to act as barriers between the servers and customers 
  • Touchless payment options 
  • Enhanced signage in all locations focusing on physical distancing and hygiene protocols 
  • Strict cleaning and sanitation guidelines 

​​​​​​​Dining halls will have both to-go options and in-person dining options. Tables will be further apart as to follow the CDC’s physical distancing guidelines. Group size will also be limited for in-person seating options. 

​​​​​Dining information will be available to all on-campus students here: https://wwu.campusdish.com/  

Returning Residents

All residents who selected New York Apartments were sent an email informing them that University Residences terminated its 2020-21 lease for the New York Apartments, due to budget impacts related to the Coronavirus. 

If you want to live on or near campus for fall you have these options: 

  1. Contact Apex Property Management, who manages the New York Apartments, to ask about lease availability. Please note that agreements made with Apex are not WWU rental contracts and contain different deposits, fees, and rental term dates.
  2. For on campus housing you will receive another email from housing with more information once the soon to be announced fall class schedule/location information is posted.
  3. To secure off campus housing visit Off Campus Living for information on how to contact Bellingham property managers about rental options

There are multiple likely scenarios as to why you your Housing Deposit was refunded

  1. You cancelled Housing for 2020-21
  2. You did not respond to our Survey and your application is in hold status
  3. You indicated on the Housing Survey that you don't want housing fall 2020, but you may winter/spring 2021

We are not legally able to hold your deposit over the quarter that you are not living on-campus with us. If you indicated that you may want housing winter/spring, we will ask you to pay your deposit upon offering housing as occupancy restrictions ease and revert back to normal.

We understand many residents will want to remain at their permanent address if their in-person classes are now all online. If you would like to change your Housing status for fall quarter, returning residents must change their Housing status prior to August 15 to avoid the $600 Renewal Cancellation Fee.

If you need to cancel after Aug. 15, email housing@wwu.edu with the following:

  • Name
  • W#
  • Change Fall Housing Status to one of the following options:
    • You want to cancel fall but may want Housing winter/spring quarter
    • You want to cancel Housing for the 2020-21 academic year

For residents canceling after moving on campus, please review Contract Breakage Fee.

Move In

We are in the process of planning move in now.

Fall 2020 Move In is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17 - Monday, Sept. 21. We are extending Move In to last 5 days rather than the usual 3 days as in previous years to spread out when students arrive on campus.

We are looking at different services and options on how to bring items to campus early and how to drop off items, as well as sanitizing moving carts, spacing people out when entering the residence halls, considering virtual check ins, and more. 

Please note: we will provide all 2020 Fall Move In updates regarding dates, format, and instructions to our residents' student emails and on our Move In website

Fall 2020 Move In will occur Thursday, Sept. 17 - Monday, Sept. 21. Find out more information at Moving In.

We are working hard to ensure our plan adheres to safe social distance guidelines for all of our residents moving in with us before classes begin on Sept. 23.



Visit the Western A.S. Bookstore at www.bookstore.wwu.edu to place your order for course materials, supplies, and apparel.  

The Bookstore is open and processing student orders Monday – Friday. Pick-up service for course material orders will be available for campus residents only from 9/21/2020 - 10/02/2020.   
If you have questions please visit our Textbook FAQ Page or contact us for further assistance. 

We are working with the Bookstore and Mail Services to provide an option for delivery to residence halls for online orders placed after 10/2/2020.   

Check www.bookstore.wwu.edu soon for more information. 

On-campus Order Pick Up is in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21 – Friday, Oct. 2. 

  • Plan approximately 20 minutes for your visit. Wait times will vary. 

  • Facial coverings are required. If you do not have one, one will be provided. 

  • Take time to read the signs. There will be one-way traffic in and out of the building to support social distancing. 

  • Observe social distancing by keeping six feet of distance between yourself and others while waiting. There will be markers on the floor to assist. 

  • Groups are not permitted. Anyone accompanying you that is not picking up an order should wait outside. 

  • Have your order confirmation number ready. This is the nine-digit number from your email notifications (example 379111XXX).