This message from President Lassner was shared with the faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on March 13, 2020.

Dear UH Employees,

As announced yesterday, UH is temporarily transitioning to delivering classes online but keeping our campuses open. I deeply appreciate your calmness and patience through this challenging and tumultuous period.

At this time, we are aware of no immediate direct threat of contracting COVID-19 on any of our campuses. No one associated with UH has tested positive, and none of the current cases have any connection to UH. Further, at this time there are no known cases of community transmission in Hawaiʻi. We believe this is exactly the time to lessen the risk to all of our faculty, staff and students.

Face-to-face classes, large events and travel are situations in which transmission is most likely to occur within our population of largely healthy individuals. These are the activities that are most commonly being addressed in colleges and universities across the country through actions similar to ours.

Some employees have shared views that our actions suggest we believe the risk of contracting COVID-19 is greater on a UH campus than elsewhere in the state, or that we seem more concerned about the health and safety of some members of our campus communities over others. Neither was our intent. We can reduce risks to all within our campuses while continuing to serve our communities and our State through this approach. A number of the actions we announced yesterday, those regarding travel and events, will directly help protect all our employees across our campuses. In fact, following our announcements we are seeing greater caution exercised on the part of many other organizations in Hawaiʻi including our fellow colleges and universities.

Please be assured that your administration values the health and safety of our entire UH community, including all our employees. We are currently working on additional guidelines for when employees should self-quarantine in order to protect each other in the workplace. You are critical to our success, and when in doubt we will always err on the side of caution when it comes to your well-being.

Mahalo for your commitment and hard work on behalf of UH and Hawaiʻi. We could not be the great university we are without you.

David Lassner
UH President