Rainbow over the valley

This message was sent to all University of Hawaiʻi employees on May 15, 2020

Aloha University of Hawaiʻi ʻohana:

As spring 2020 draws to a close, the University of Hawaiʻi, the University of Hawaiʻi Professional Assembly (UHPA), the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association (HGEA) and the United Public Workers (UPW) would like to jointly share our personal appreciation to all of you. You have demonstrated your passion, patience, flexibility and resilience this past semester. There is no doubt that COVID-19 fundamentally changed how our university teaches and conducts research, but it has not affected our deep shared commitment to our university’s mission. Collectively, we have demonstrated the ability to respond and adapt quickly with an indomitable spirit in service of our students and our state.

Plans are now being developed as to how we can best operate safely and effectively in fall 2020. Rest assured that the health and safety of everyone who sets foot on our campuses will be our foremost priority. We are paying particular attention to accommodating the needs of those who are especially vulnerable, including:

  • high-risk students, faculty and staff
  • quarantined or ill students, faculty and staff
  • international students who are unable to travel to campus

Public health best practices will guide our decision-making as we work under unprecedented conditions to prioritize safety as we create the best learning experiences and maintain our essential world-class research, scholarship and service to our state.

The wealth of expertise of our university ʻohana—faculty, students, staff and administrators—will be harnessed to make appropriate decisions and guide our actions. Consultation with government and industry leaders will also occur as needed. There is no certainty regarding the condition of our communities by fall, so multiple scenarios must be considered depending on the pandemic’s course. We are targeting June 30 to share initial plans, well ahead of the start of fall 2020. But even that date is more than seven weeks before the actual start of the fall semester, and we know conditions will continue to change.

There are working teams being assembled on each campus with assignments in areas considered essential to the planning process for fall. Faculty, staff and administrators will serve on these teams so that health and safety concerns can be appropriately identified and addressed. We want to lessen the risks of exposure so that individuals are at reduced threat to themselves or the health and safety of others. Our goal is to develop systemwide health and safety guidelines for all campuses to follow.

Over the summer, the working teams will be actively developing plans. Your concerns and suggestions can be communicated to your campus leaders, and team leaders once their names are posted on campus web pages, or by email to covid19@hawaii.edu. The University of Hawaiʻi is committed to share updates during the planning process.

Thank you again for your commitment to your University of Hawaiʻi. Stay healthy and well, and we look forward to a safe and effective fall 2020 semester.

David Lassner, UH President
Christian Fern, UHPA Executive Director
Randy Perreira, HGEA Executive Director
Liz Ho, UPW Administrator