This message was shared with the students, faculty and staff of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on January 11, 2021.
Aloha and Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!
Let me begin by saying that the events in Washington on January 6, a date on which we normally celebrate our democratic traditions, shocked and saddened us all. The events demonstrated how fragile our democracy truly is, and the care, respect and courage necessary to defend it.
Despite the very real challenges ahead, we look forward to the new year with hope and confidence. Although the spring 2021 semester course delivery and work environment will be much like fall 2020, I am very optimistic that our campus, and our lives, will begin returning to what we would consider normal prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester.
The primary reason for optimism is, of course, the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. We anticipate that there will be opportunities for members of our campus community to get vaccinated in the months to come. When my turn comes, I will get vaccinated, and I encourage you all to do the same. The higher our rate of vaccination, the faster we will be able to begin a gradual, safe return to the personal interaction that we all have missed so much.
Until then, we will continue to teach, learn and work as we did successfully in 2020. Though the numbers of positive cases have ebbed and flowed in Hawaiʻi, we have been largely successful in keeping both our cases and the stress on our health care system at a low level. Concerns remain about our underserved communities, and this concern extends to many of our students and their families.
Our campus case count has remained low (45 students and employees as of this message), but we must remain vigilant. Remember your daily health check-in using the Lumisight UH app when coming to campus, and wear face coverings, wash your hands frequently and follow social distancing guidelines on and off campus. We did such a great job last year; let’s keep it going this year. You can find out more about COVID-19 and our campus online.
We will be initiating several additional measures to protect our campus community from the virus this spring, including surveillance testing and testing wastewater for COVID-19 from our student housing complexes. Please stay tuned for more information about those efforts.
While the vast majority of instruction this semester will remain online, there will be a slight increase of in-person classes. We remain committed to providing our students with a high quality education, and I commend our students and especially our faculty for their amazing efforts during these challenging times. I would like to remind our students that laptops and wifi hotspots are available for loan through the library.
We are excited to offer approximately $3 million for students who are in financial need due to the impacts of COVID-19. You can apply for this federal funding online January 11–31. Find out more about the funds at the FAQ page.
Mahalo to you all for your perseverance and your resilience. To our faculty and staff, words cannot possibly express my gratitude and appreciation for your dedication to our students and our home, Hawaiʻi.
Brighter days lie ahead; we’ll get there together.
Mahalo nui loa,