June 24, 2020
Dear HWS faculty and staff:
I write to update you with information regarding the ongoing planning process for fall reopening. New York State released its reopening guidelines for higher education on Saturday, June 20. Colleges and universities are part of phase four reopening, which may start as early as Friday, June 26 for our Finger Lakes Region. These are important milestones in our planning process, which has been proceeding unabated for months, as I and the other members of senior staff meet daily; confer constantly with many of you, student representatives, our peers in higher education and with New York State and local public officials; and continue to read, discuss and learn all we can about how higher education can be responsibly conducted during the continuing pandemic. Implementation task forces have been working on safety and health plans for our residences, offices, classrooms, dining, athletics and public spaces; testing, tracking, isolation, tracing and quarantine protocols; and, through the Provost’s office, teaching and teaching space use plans.
We continue to be on schedule to resume classes on August 24, as earlier announced. By the middle of next week, we will release our draft reopening plan for comment and questions, and you will get a notice from me of its availability for your review. We will also then announce the times in the following week of a set of zoom meetings, one each for faculty, staff, students and parents, for you to make comments and ask questions. We will also have an email address set up for you to make comments and ask questions at any time. After a period of review and revision, I will submit and attest for our reopening plan to New York State.
I do not take lightly the enormity of the current situation. Every day we learn more about the pandemic, some things encouraging, some things discouraging. Every day new problems and considerations arise and we work on understanding them and addressing them. Our phase two reopening of a number of administrative functions on campus has helped us work out some fall-relevant protocols and we look forward to reopening some on-campus admissions activities, limited library functions, limited student summer research, and the campus bookstore within the next few weeks.
Even in the midst of this evolving situation, the senior staff and I are also working on numerous other matters this summer, and I look forward to updating you on those in the weeks and months to come. We cannot allow the pandemic to derail us from our longer run arc to strengthen the Colleges’ academic, financial and reputational foundations. We have much work ahead of us but also much promise. When we all return in the fall, I look forward to engaging with you on a number of strategic fronts regarding how we can collaborate to continue to advance the Colleges.
Joyce P. Jacobsen