Dear Danforth Campus staff,
As we near the end of the spring semester, we wanted to provide an update about planning for the upcoming fall semester. As Chancellor Martin and Provost Wendland shared at the end of March, we are planning for predominantly in-person instruction on the Danforth Campus and increasing density in on-campus housing this fall. With more of our community back on campus this fall, we need to provide the appropriate level of in-person support and service. Students learn beyond the classroom through formal and informal in-person interactions with each other, and with faculty and staff. To this end, we expect most staff will be on campus in the fall, though schools and units may be able to leverage some hybrid and remote working arrangements under limited circumstances.
Because schools and units have unique operational needs, planning for the return of additional staff to campus will take place at the school and unit level. We recently provided Danforth Campus deans and CFU leaders with instructions for developing plans and submitting them to our offices for review and approval. In those instructions, among other factors, we asked schools and units to plan for having a meaningful in-person presence this fall that contributes to our rich campus culture and student experience. Once approved, Danforth Campus schools and CFU units will share their respective plans with their staff, including if, when, and how individual staff are to return to campus. To ensure that employees have sufficient time to transition back to working on campus, schools and CFU units will provide employees at least 30 days’ notice before they are required to return to campus. Staff can expect to be notified of their school’s or unit’s plan by July 2, and we expect most staff will begin returning to campus by early- to mid-August.
We want to acknowledge the importance of research activity on the Danforth Campus. Research continues to be managed through a separate process and revised guidance for researchers was issued in mid-April.
We know that many of you may have questions about returning to campus, particularly about the COVID-19 vaccine. The university recently announced that students will be required to get the vaccine, and we continue to strongly encourage our faculty and staff to get vaccinated as well. While we are hopeful that conditions will improve and we will be able to modify COVID-19 protocols over the summer, we cannot predict the future and will continue to rely on guidance from the COVID Monitoring Team as it evaluates the need for COVID-19 protocols like masking and distancing. The best guidance we can give now is to assume that some variation of the current COVID-19 protocols will likely need to be in place for the fall. When any significant policy changes are made, we will communicate them and update the university’s COVID-19 website. As we remain focused on the health and safety of the university community, our planning and decision-making continues to be grounded in science, thanks to the expertise of our School of Medicine and public health colleagues. We have learned a lot from this last year about how to keep people safe in the work environment and we will call on that knowledge to ensure that return-to-campus plans for fall do just that.
To support the university as we transition into this next phase, Human Resources has updated the Flexible Work Arrangements policy and other related resources. The revised policy and other information can be found on HR’s website. Schools and units will be using these resources as they develop their return-to-campus plans, and we encourage employees to familiarize themselves with these resources. We understand that returning to campus can bring joy while also altering daily routines and personal responsibilities. For support, we encourage you to refer to the employee well-being section of the HR website, which includes wellness, family care, mental health support, and other resources to help you prepare, find balance, and address varying needs.
Finally and most importantly, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for the resilience, adaptability, and commitment you have demonstrated over the last 14 months. Though it has challenged us like no other, the 2020-21 academic year has largely been a success, and we have you and our faculty and students to thank. In the face of an unprecedented and unpredictable working environment, and on top of significant personal challenges brought on by the pandemic, you have continued to perform at high levels to help ensure that we can continue to deliver excellent teaching, research, and service to our university community.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Henry S. Webber
Executive Vice Chancellor for Civic Affairs and Strategic Planning