Aloha UH Mānoa students, faculty and staff,
I am writing to update you on our plans for the spring semester. As stated in President Lassner’s December 28 message, UH’s 10 campuses will be temporarily online for the first two weeks of the spring 2022 semester. We have been closely monitoring the pandemic conditions here in Hawaiʻi, with particular attention to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the uptick in hospitalizations. Our health and wellness professionals have been in constant contact with federal, state, and city and county officials, as well as our hospital systems. While evidence continues to emerge that the Omicron variant may produce lower levels of severe illness than prior variants, we remain concerned about the potential stress on Hawaiʻi’s healthcare systems, given many more active infections and the large numbers of unvaccinated individuals across the state. Our approach continues to place the health of our community as the highest priority
Our decision to begin the spring semester with two weeks of online instruction is partially due to the continued uncertainty about the Omicron variant, but primarily motivated by our concern for our students and staff as they return to campus. Those who test positive during the holiday break will need to isolate and would miss the first week of in-person classes. Those who are returning to Oʻahu for the start of the semester and test positive upon arrival would also miss the first two weeks of in-person classes. Thus, we are making the decision now to move to online instruction for the first two weeks of the spring semester in order to minimize possible disruption to student learning and to give our employees, students and their families as much advance notice as possible.
While most instruction will shift online for a limited period of time, our campus will remain open. University operations will continue, including support services for students and employees. Students who choose to be on campus physically are welcomed. The residence halls are open, and our critical research and service activities continue, all with the necessary health and safety protocols in place. The COVID-19 telework policy has been extended through the end of January, and we expect that all high-risk employees will take advantage of this extension and remain safe as we navigate the coming month.
- All classes, with some exceptions, will begin in an online modality on January 10. In-person classroom instruction is scheduled to begin on January 24. Some essential in-person instruction (e.g., clinical skills, some laboratory and other hands-on instruction and training) will remain in-person. Those programs will be in contact with their students and will accommodate students who cannot join us in-person during this two-week period.
- We strongly encourage all employees and students to get a COVID-19 booster shot if you have not already done so. Full vaccination plus a booster is your most effective defense against the Omicron variant, and it will significantly improve our chances of having a successful, healthy return to in-person instruction and campus activities.
- While students may choose to change their travel plans, this is not required. You are welcome to return to Oʻahu and to our residence halls, if you are an on-campus resident, as long as you are healthy.
- All other operations of the university are not affected. With the very high rate of vaccination among students and employees, coupled with our mask requirement, we consider the UH Mānoa workplaces to be as safe an environment as any on Oʻahu. Supervisors should ensure that all essential face-to-face services are provided while also considering the need to accommodate requests for COVID-19 telework to the extent necessary to protect the health of our employees.
- Please get tested 3–5 days after returning from any travel. If possible, employees should work from home while awaiting test results. Students should limit exposure to others while awaiting test results.
We will continue to get through the pandemic united in our care for each other.
Michael S. Bruno, Provost