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Gold Christmas ornament with the U H seal

Editor’s note: Christmas Eve and New Yearʻs Eve are observed holidays since both Christmas and New Year’s Days land on a Saturday. UH faculty and staff DO NOT have to request vacation time for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. The message from Friday, December 17 had mistakenly stated otherwise.

This message was shared with the students, faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on December 17, 2021.


As we end a year that, once again, threw us for surprise after surprise, I want to thank you all for your amazing efforts to ensure a successful semester! We continued to provide a remarkable University of Hawaiʻi education for our students while conducting world-class research addressing the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaiʻi and the planet.

After an explosive Delta surge slowed down our pandemic recovery, we enjoyed a period of relative calm through much of the fall. Unfortunately, we are once again seeing dramatically increasing case numbers across the islands, including in younger individuals. Given what is happening in the communities in which we are embedded it is not unexpected that we have also had several small clusters within our UH campuses, including travel-related.

We generally see surges in case counts after holidays and times of celebration, but we are already seeing these increases now. However, unlike last year at this time, we now have it within our power to prevent major surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The single most important step you can take is to get vaccinated and if you are already vaccinated, then get a booster shot. Vaccinations and boosters are available throughout the state at no cost to persons age 16 or older. Locations and times are available at

In addition to getting vaccinated and boosted, please, please exercise restraint at all in-person gatherings and holiday celebrations. Continue to wear a mask when indoors, or outside near others, except when actively eating and drinking. And then mask up again when you are done eating. Remember that outdoors is always safer than indoors and this is an advantage we all can enjoy in Hawaiʻi. Another important way to protect yourself and the community is to get your flu shot, which you can do at the same time you get your COVID-19 booster. And if you experience any symptoms at all please isolate yourself and get tested.

It is also recommended that you avoid any unnecessary travel given the additional risks posed. If you do travel, be especially cautious. You should test for COVID-19 immediately after a trip and then again 3-5 days later. Information on free testing in Hawaiʻi is available at: Or you can use an inexpensive rapid antigen self-test at home.

Best wishes to all of you and your families and friends for a relaxing, rewarding, healthy and safe holiday season. I look forward to seeing you back on a UH campus next year!

David Lassner
UH President

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