Editor’s note: This message was sent to the Colorado State University community by Provost Mary Pedersen on July 29.
Dear Faculty and Staff:
We are now less than four weeks away from the start of the fall semester, setting the stage for a renewed sense of Ram community for our faculty, staff and students in ways more reflective of our pre-COVID world. Thank you for all your hard work this summer in preparing for the return of our students. We appreciate all you have given and how you elevate CSU every day, in every way. As we near the start of fall, I want to share some updates with you on what we are doing to stay on top of the evolving pandemic.
The pandemic has created a constant state of flux for the world since March 2020, and we have strategically managed its shifts to protect our community, fulfill our mission and preserve our long-term viability. We are grateful for your understanding and patience, as we continue to closely monitor and respond to the virus risks. We want you to know that we are aware you have increasing questions as we near the first day of classes, we are listening and will share more information with you as soon as it is available.
As you likely are aware, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued a change from its May 13 guidance that eased mask restrictions for those fully vaccinated. The CDC is now recommending people in high-transmission communities in the U.S. wear masks in certain circumstances even if fully vaccinated. We are prepared to adhere to any new shifts that might come in mask guidance from our county and state health officials, and we remain in constant communication with them.
Protecting our Ram Community
A fully-vaccinated university community remains our best hope for moving to life post-COVID, and staying there. A high vaccination rate leads us closer to herd immunity, which impacts our ability to remain in-person, maintain a relaxation of physical distancing and face mask requirements, and to fulfill our mission without critical disruptions.
- National and local public health officials and our own infectious disease experts have made clear that current research shows being fully vaccinated diminishes the risk of infection and serious illness or death, if infected.
- We recognize there are personal reasons some people are declining vaccinations at this time. We ask those individuals who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors to protect themselves and others in our Ram community who, among other concerns, might be immunocompromised or have loved ones with a weakened immune system.
- Please keep in mind that some people who are fully vaccinated also will choose to wear masks for personal reasons.
In what is very promising news, more than 8,000 students have submitted confirmed COVID vaccination records to the CSU Health Network and hundreds of student submissions are being received daily. As the Pandemic Preparedness Team announced in its July 27 update, a portal will soon be available for faculty and staff to voluntarily self-report their vaccination status.
Returning to Learning and Teaching
- Please remain mindful that all our students, but especially our first-year students who had their transformative junior and senior high school years upended by COVID, might need extra support, compassion and understanding from our faculty and staff as students (re)adjust to university life and social engagement. (A great resource on this is Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students prepared by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which details the impact of the pandemic on America’s students in K-12 and higher education.)
- Our enrollment numbers are very good for the fall (final numbers will be released after census in September), and we are reopening previously closed spaces in residence halls to accommodate the increased student housing needs.
- Most classes are in-person for the fall, but CSU will continue to offer a small number of online sections and hybrid courses (i.e., a mix of face-to-face and remote instruction) to accommodate students who need options in course delivery.
- If a student has a documented disability (as federally recognized and mandated) and wants to inquire about online accommodations, please refer them to the Student Disability Center.
- Faculty are not expected to accommodate student requests outside a documented disability managed through the SDC. If a student has a preference for remote course work, please instruct them to consult with their academic advisor or departmental representative who can assist them with possible alternatives. Options might include an online version of the course or an alternate online course offered through CSU, should these options exist within their major.
We know for many of you there is great excitement about being on CSU campuses again with our full community, and for others there is anxiety and uncertainty about the transition to fall. We are here for you all, continuing to assess and evolve our COVID response with your health and well-being top of mind.
Provost and Executive Vice President