This message was shared with the students, faculty, and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on August 10, 2020.

When UH announced plans for fall 2020 we expected that the State and the country would be in a better place with respect to controlling COVID-19. We knew then that our highly modified semester would include extensive use of technology, and we also knew that we would need to be flexible. And our faculty responded to the call, already planning for the vast majority of fall instruction to take place online. In addition, we have reduced the presence of employees on our campuses by staggering presence in offices and enabling many to work from home.

Unfortunately, during these last weeks Hawaiʻi has seen a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported, particularly on Oʻahu. UH leadership monitors multiple factors during our regular COVID-19 planning calls. In addition to the case numbers and a number of emergent hotspots, most alarmingly, last Friday two major hospitals reported that their Intensive Care Units (ICUs) were at or near capacity.

UH is therefore announcing the maximal reduction of unnecessary presence on our campuses with the following new directions:

  • Faculty are requested to assess any current requirements for on-campus instruction to determine if those instructional components can be moved online, with the assistance of campus support staff as needed. The only classes conducted wholly or partly in person to start this fall semester should be those that require physical presence, such as clinical experiences in the health professions, laboratories in the sciences, studios in the arts, and shops in career and technical education. In these and other such cases there must be full adherence to the guidelines released this summer for physical distancing, facial coverings and cleaning/sanitizing.
  • Students are requested to review and revise their fall course schedules to take all or as many courses online as possible while staying on-track for on-time achievement of their degree or certificate. If there are any questions, students should contact their advisor on their home campus.
  • Employees and supervisors are requested to continue and maximize the use of the COVID-19-work-from-home option indefinitely whenever the necessary work of the university can be done from off-campus.

And of course, we urgently need everyone to promote the health of our community through safe practices: stay home if you are sick; wear a facial covering; and wash your hands. More information will be forthcoming about daily on-line check-ins via a new UH app or website.

UH is essential to helping the state recover from the social and economic impacts of this pandemic and to shaping a positive future for Hawaiʻi. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been focused on the health and safety of our students and employees even as we have remained committed to our absolutely critical mission of excellence in education, research and service to our islands. These new directions continue our commitments while responding to the reality of the latest developments of the pandemic in Hawaiʻi.

E mālama pono,
David Lassner, UH President

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