Dear Faculty and Staff,
In just a few weeks, it will be a full year since our lives drastically changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. It set off a rapid and disruptive shift to remote instruction and work for most of our people and operations. It’s been an incredibly challenging year for us all.
We know that many continue to struggle with isolation and the effects of this pandemic at work, at home, with loved ones, and with the loss of many lives. It’s been very difficult for our students as well, with greatly diminished opportunities for social engagement and belonging. Many have struggled with mental health issues, adapting to learning in new ways and financial obstacles.
Yet, your resilience and resolve throughout have been remarkable. Thank you.
During this current deep freeze, it might seem like August is far away, but much is already being done to prepare for the fall semester. Classes are being scheduled and we continue to make our campuses safe spaces. With that in mind, we’re planning for a fully operational fall semester on all our campuses, as long as conditions permit us to do so safely. As we have shared before, we will maintain our focus on the health and safety of our campus communities and adapt as necessary based on public health guidance.
There is much hope on the horizon with the promise of multiple vaccines and widespread inoculation. We are optimistic that, by this summer, the majority of our faculty, instructors, advisors, and others working directly with students will be vaccinated. We urge everyone to monitor eligibility categories and the availability of vaccines. You are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as availability and eligibility allow. Routine and required testing will continue on our campuses until no longer needed. Vaccination, combined with our continued Panthers Protect Panthers diligence, will dramatically increase our chance for vibrant campus life this fall.
Course Delivery and Working On-Site
Using fall 2019 as our framework for instructional planning, we will plan on primarily in-person delivery and will include face-to-face, online and hybrid classes. We will continue to monitor health and safety for our students, faculty and staff. We also will be ready to pivot to primarily remote operations should the need arise. That being said, the policy for fall courses is that they will be scheduled with a modality mix similar to the fall 2019 semester.
While most faculty and staff will resume their on-campus roles, we acknowledge that some individuals will continue to be able to accomplish their jobs remotely, in part or fully. Individual arrangements should be discussed with deans, department chairs and supervisors, as situations will be unique.
We recognize that returning to campus after a prolonged time will require adjustment, patience and compassion. Even though technology has made it possible for us to connect and communicate and teach and learn from afar, the in-person interactions of faculty, staff and students are invaluable. They are truly essential to lively communities and experiential growth.
We will work through these transitions together and ask for your patience and flexibility as we learn and share answers to the many questions that you have. Please join us for our next virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff; it will be held on Tuesday, March 9 from 9 – 10 a.m. Please send questions to email@example.com. As the pandemic and changes at UWM continue to evolve, we want to keep you informed, engaged and ready for a brighter future.
Mark A. Mone, PhD