Faculty and Staff - January 5, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to the New Year! Thank you for being a part of our campus community as we look to kick off the spring semester in the coming days. Many of you have asked about our plans given the surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant as a result of not only its increased transmissibility as compared to other variants, but also the ripe conditions for its spread over the recent holidays. Our campus COVID-19 response team has considered many possible options including a remote (virtual) start, a delayed start, and simply staying the course and sticking with the schedule that we have already posted for the spring semester.  As you can well imagine, there are many logistical and potential financial implications associated with any alteration to our posted schedule. All things considered, and based on our best judgment (as of today), we are planning to stick with our published schedule to start in-person classes on January 10 and follow our regular schedule for the semester. 

Let me explain some of the rationale for this decision. At this point in time none of the other state universities have announced a decision to change their scheduled start date for the spring semester. These include many institutions that have not been as successful as we have been in compliance with our campus protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus. I have said before that because of our commitment to our own and each other’s health and safety over the pandemic, we have kept our numbers low and our campus relatively free of severe illness. Throughout the winter months, we must double down and reaffirm our commitment to mask wearing, physical distancing and following public health guidance considering that there are other respiratory illnesses (such as the flu and RSV) circulating in addition to COVID.

As a reminder, I will note that for students to come back to campus and take in-person classes they will need to wear a mask in all indoor public places including classrooms, will need to provide evidence of being vaccinated, or having just completed and received a negative COVID test result. The only other exception would be if they can provide evidence that they have had COVID recently. Additionally, masks are required in all indoor public spaces for all employees and visitors.

As we have said all along, vaccination is your best defense against severe illness and hospitalization caused by COVID-19. I am pleased to say that we have our first combined testing and vaccination clinic scheduled on Tuesday, January 11, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in Richardson Ballroom. There will be additional clinics like this as the semester progresses. Watch for the details on those and take advantage of these services being offered conveniently in the heart of campus.

For everyone, please note our protocols in regards to illness. Students should report symptoms and exposure on the QI form in the Medicat Patient Portal, schedule a telephone triage appointment, and upload a positive test result. It is very important to answer your phone at the scheduled time for your triage appointment. See Health Services’ COVID-19 information page for additional details. Faculty and staff should report a positive test, symptoms, or exposure through the HR COVID-19 electronic form. Do not come to work if you are sick or if you have tested positive. You will be contacted by someone from HR regarding next steps.

Needless to say, we will continue to monitor the spread and impact of the virus and share details on our COVID-19 dashboard. Should new information dictate an alteration to our plans, you can count on me to be in touch.



George W. Hynd
Interim President