Students, faculty and staff:
Welcome back, Jayhawks! I hope you had a happy and healthy winter break and that you’re ready for another productive year as a member of our community. With classes beginning today, I would like to remind you of a few key points for the spring semester.
Our campuses will look and feel much like they did in the fall from a health and safety standpoint. We continue to require that you wear masks and observe social distancing. We continue to offer a combination of in-person, hybrid and remote classes and will be thoughtful about the type of gatherings that occur on campus. Most important, we continue to count on you to think not only about yourself, but about the entire university community, in every decision you make.
The good news is, we know we can do this – and do it well. Thanks to your commitment, since reopening campus last summer we have had no known cases of transmission within our classrooms and no county-declared outbreaks stemming from KU events. That said, we cannot get complacent. Now is the time to renew our commitment to safety so we can have another successful semester.
COVID-19 entry tests are required for students and employees who plan to be on the Lawrence or Edwards campuses before Feb. 12. If you haven’t done so, visit covidtest.ku.edu to determine whether you need to participate in entry testing.
As we did in the fall, we will conduct random prevalence testing throughout the spring, and symptomatic testing will be available to anyone who needs it. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, contact the KU COVID-19 Call Center at 785-864-9000 to arrange for a test.
The availability of vaccines across the state remains limited, and KU currently has very limited access to the vaccine supply through Douglas County Public Health. We are monitoring the state’s phased vaccination plan and continue to work with the Douglas County Unified Command regarding vaccination administration and prioritization. We will share details about vaccination availability both on and off campus as soon as that information is available.
As you know, KU faces a projected Fiscal Year 2022 shortfall of $74.6 million, which could worsen depending on state funding. Last week we shared information about a new Kansas Board of Regents policy that gives universities flexibility in suspending or terminating employees in light of historic financial challenges. Provost Bichelmeyer, Executive Vice Chancellor Simari and I continue to engage with faculty and staff to determine if and how this policy might help us address our budget shortfall and prioritize the level of excellence demanded of an Association of American Universities institution.
Thanks to all of you who have prioritized the health of our community during this past year. We could not have had a semester like we did in the fall without you. I know we can do it again.
Welcome back, Jayhawks. I am excited to begin another semester of education, service and research on behalf the state and society we serve.
Douglas A. Girod