Dear faculty colleagues,
Even as we start the final weeks of the spring semester, we are well into the planning for the fall, one that President Hartzell has communicated will look more like fall 2019 than fall 2020. Last year, planning for fall 2020 made online teaching necessary for many classes as the lowest-risk option. As we approach this fall, however, there is reason for optimism that conditions and safety guidelines will allow us to return to face-to-face teaching in ways that are low risk.
In thinking about how modality will be approached, we start from two principles:
- We will follow the best available science guidance to determine what is safe in a constantly changing environment.
- We want to deliver instruction in a way that provides our students with the best possible learning environment.
There are many reasons face-to-face instruction will be critical this fall. We have many current students who have yet to set foot inside a university classroom and benefit from face-to-face instruction. Many other students have been under a tremendous amount of stress and haven’t been able to fully focus on their academic careers. Many types of learning need physical presence to be fully effective. We need to be sure, therefore, that every student has the opportunity to enroll in courses with a significant proportion of in-person instruction.
We are working to promote and encourage students to receive a vaccine now so we have maximum adoption and protection this fall. Vaccination lowers the risk of contracting COVID-19 and also the risk of severe disease for those who are vaccinated. The combination of widespread vaccination, masking where appropriate, and other proven practices will significantly reduce the prevalence of disease, lowering the risk for everyone. We will continue our robust proactive community testing and contact tracing efforts into the fall.
We know that in-person instruction can be carried out safely, but we also know that our instructional environment needs to adapt to the prevailing conditions.
We will continue to work together to keep our community safe and ensure continuity of the best possible educational experience for students, faculty and staff.