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COVID Update: Summer and Fall On-Campus Working and Teaching

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Jeremy Haefner

News  •

Dear faculty and staff,

With the end of a challenging academic year, I am pleased to report that students are enthusiastic to join us this fall—first-year student enrollment is projected to be up by 200 students, graduate enrollment is up 10% and we expect fully occupied residence halls. In anticipation of an enthusiastic return to campus in the fall, and as the percentage of our community vaccinated against COVID-19 grows, I would like to share the University’s expectations for summer and fall in-person working and teaching.

The summer and fall return plans and expectations are based on many of the recommendations of the Working@DU 2021-22 Task Force. You can find the full set of recommendations here. I thank this group for their thoughtful and carefully considered work.

I want to acknowledge that many of our staff and faculty have been on campus for quite some time, and I am particularly and deeply grateful to them. We could not have kept the University running without their willingness to be physically present and to teach, support and care for our students, our community and our campus.

I am also grateful for those who found ways to successfully work from home. For these individuals, the return to on-campus work will occur gradually over the summer with the expectation that, by the beginning of the fall term, the campus will experience the vibrancy and feeling of connection we enjoyed before the pandemic.

Expectations for Summer and Fall Work at DU

Details about the return to in-person work, such as additional required protocols needed to be “cleared” for campus, will be shared next week. For now, I would like to share the University’s high-level expectations:

  1. Anyone working, learning or living on campus will be fully vaccinated or will have requested an exemption. Those who are presently on campus and not yet fully vaccinated should check with their supervisor on next steps.
  2. Some individuals will return to campus as early as the first week in July, and others will return later in the summer. To accommodate this flexibility, we will use a gradual approach:

Stage I: Return to working on campus two to three days a week by mid-July

Stage II: Return to working on campus at least four days a week by mid-August

Stage III: Full return to working on campus by September 2021—or the beginning of the fall quarter or semester.

The above plan is flexible by design. The needs of individual schools, units or departments may vary—as well as the circumstances of individuals within those schools, units or departments. In addition, a gradual return by staff and faculty to their buildings and offices will enable appropriate scheduling from Facilities and IT. DU’s leadership (deans, vice chancellors, division and department heads) will be communicating with their colleagues in the next week or two to discuss these details and put plans in motion for the coming months.

Recharging and Reconnecting

In addition to Friday, June 18, on which we honor and commemorate Juneteenth, and Monday, July 5 to celebrate Independence Day, this year, DU will also add Friday, July 2 as a paid holiday for the community to enjoy a four-day weekend for recharging, relaxing and connecting with friends and family. We suggest that those whose job duties require them to work Friday, July 2 and/or Saturday, July 3 be permitted to take one or two floating holidays during the summer months. 

In the fall, as we fully come together as a community, in-person, for the first time in over a year and half, there is much cause for celebration—and for reconnection. The pandemic and the sacrifices it made necessary have taken a mental and emotional toll on us all.

To help the community navigate this transition we are establishing programming this summer, such as:

  • Monthly university-wide special events, such as BBQs, coffee hours and ice cream socials.
  • Re-establishment of summer Wellness Wednesdays, which includes no meetings scheduled on Wednesday afternoons.
  • Continued availability of mental health resources through SupportLinc and Cigna.

While I am grateful for the warming weather, I am especially looking forward to this fall. To see the community fully together once again on our beautiful campus, to be able to offer our students the vibrancy they desire, and to simply share space with you all after such a long and trying time fills me with optimism and gratitude.

Finally, and importantly, given all that we have learned about successful management through quick and routine on-campus testing and tracing, and in partnership with National Jewish Health, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, we are confident we can monitor and mitigate cases on campus as we return to full capacity over the next few months.

Thank you for working so diligently to ensure our success and for doing what you can to keep the community safe, which has made this approaching “homecoming” possible.

Jeremy Haefner