This message was shared with the faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on October 11, 2021.
Aloha to our entire UH faculty and staff!
At this point we are asking all chairs and faculty to carefully review your spring 2022 schedules and make adjustments to the mode of instruction to provide our students across the UH System with the on-campus educational experience they need and expect.
As Iʻm sure you are observing, our COVID-19 case numbers and the availability of health care capacity are now trending in the right direction. Our vaccination rates as a state continue to exceed national averages. The modeling work of our faculty inspires optimism. And with COVID-19 vaccine now fully authorized by the FDA, our UH vaccination requirement will be fully implemented beginning in January.
The safety measures we put into place have been highly effective. While we have much more activity on our campuses this year than last, our campus case counts have remained low even as the numbers in our communities skyrocketed. We know of no cases of COVID-19 transmission on a UH campus this year.
You were amazing in your shift to remote teaching when the pandemic hit us in spring 2020. Our students could not have continued on track without your commitment and dedication. And now itʻs time to look ahead.
Our UH Health and Well-being Working Group composed of our expert faculty, staff and student membership recommends our return to campuses as both safe and essential to psychological well-being. We thank all of you who have already led the shift of much of our spring instructional schedule back to campus. We know that many of our students have struggled with the loss of face-to-face contact, especially many of those who need us most.
Our students’ success depends in part on our commitment to teach and support them in-person as well as online. On a number of our campuses, retention of students dropped notably, including when the Delta surge prevented us from returning to as much in-person instruction and support this fall as we had planned.
So at this point we are asking all chairs and faculty to carefully review your spring 2022 schedules and make adjustments to the mode of instruction to provide our students across the UH System with the on-campus educational experience they need and expect.
We will return to full utilization of our classrooms per CDC guidelines and we are confident this will be a safe transition. Provisions for safety will include:
- Students will be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to register for any class that includes in-person activities. Students with approved exemptions (medical or religious only) will be required to provide proof of a negative test weekly.
- Masks will be required indoors. This exceeds CDC guidelines, which do not require masking on fully vaccinated campuses. For those faculty concerned about lecturing while wearing a mask, we plan to invest in microphones and other measures to ensure that our instructors are safe, comfortable and effective.
- As the FDA approves booster protocols for the Moderna and J&J vaccines, as early as this month, we will do our best to offer vaccination booster clinics on our campuses in accordance with Hawaiʻi Department of Health recommendations.
Other universities in Hawaiʻi, as well as most on the continent, have returned to their physical classrooms. And as you know, most of the public and private schools in Hawaiʻi have already returned to on-campus instruction.
Should the situation worsen markedly, we will respond and pivot as we have in the past to protect the health and well-being of our campus and island community, including full compliance with federal, state and county orders.
Mahalo for your consideration of the education and needs of our students as we begin the return to our new normal.