Dear Danforth Campus students, faculty and staff,
The current academic year has had many twists and turns, and we have worked together as a community to meet the significant challenges that have come our way. We are so proud of the way you all have risen to the occasion and helped us not only to succeed, but to thrive in our efforts to keep our community safe and to advance our mission in support of education, research and patient care.
As we head into the final weeks of the spring semester, we know many of you are thinking about the next academic year and our plans for fall. We are as well, and we’re writing today with some updates about what we believe will happen in August. At this point, we are planning to resume most of our on-campus activities in the fall. As always, the health and safety of our community will be our number one priority in all decisions. There will likely still be public health protocols in place for a while longer, but we believe conditions will allow us to return to a more typical campus experience for our students, faculty and staff.
For the fall semester, we are planning for predominantly in-person instruction on the Danforth Campus. Given the likelihood that we will need to continue some degree of physical distancing in the fall, at least the lecture component of our largest courses will likely remain online. However, our goal is for most learning to take place in the classroom. We will provide limited accommodations to allow for online coursework for students and faculty who must learn or teach remotely due to extraordinary personal circumstances. Information about requesting accommodations will be provided by April 12. Course listings will be updated before registration begins for fall classes. This will include anticipated course modalities as much as possible, but some classes will not be assigned as online, in-person or hybrid until as late as June. Additional information on course listings will also be provided by each school no later than April 12.
Residential Life housing
We will increase density in on-campus housing this fall. Students will be allowed to live in modern double rooms because the bathrooms in those buildings are more private. In all of our traditional buildings, students will be assigned to single rooms. All bathrooms and common spaces will be cleaned frequently and thoroughly in accordance with CDC guidelines. We will continue to use the Millbrook apartment building for quarantine and isolation housing as needed during the fall semester. Information about move-in and orientation will be provided in early May. In the meantime, please visit newstudents.wustl.edu and families.wustl.edu for updates.
Public health protocols
As we have throughout the pandemic, we will let science and safety be our guides. As long as COVID-19 remains present in St. Louis and on our campus, we may need to continue with masking, physical distancing, self-screening and attention to personal hygiene/hand washing for an unknown length of time. We will share information with our community closer to the start of the fall semester, based on available guidance from our public health experts at that time.
With more access to the vaccine anticipated in the months ahead, we are hopeful that everyone in our university community will have had the opportunity to receive the vaccine by August. This would be a major step forward for us in being able to return more fully to an in-person campus experience. It is possible that we will require the vaccine for students, faculty or staff, depending on vaccine availability. We highly recommend that everyone gets vaccinated, if you are able to do so, and that you consult with your doctor if you have any concerns. You can learn more, including how to pre-register to receive the vaccine, on our COVID-19 vaccine FAQ page.
We are closely monitoring conditions on campus and in the St. Louis region, and will determine the need for ongoing surveillance testing for our community when we get closer to August. It is possible that we will continue to require regular surveillance testing for our undergraduate students, and we will also continue to offer testing for any member of our community who experiences symptoms of COVID-19, as we have throughout this academic year.
Faculty and staff work arrangements
At this time, we do not have a firm date for when the majority of Danforth Campus and CFU faculty and staff will return to working on campus. We anticipate that a portion of our staff will continue to work remotely for a while longer, depending on individual roles and whether employees need to be physically present on campus to fulfill their duties, as well as how much we will need to reduce campus density in order to create a safe campus environment. Our approach likely will vary based on the needs of departments. We are currently developing a set of principles that will guide our decision-making for when and how to bring employees back to campus, and we will share those with faculty and staff soon. In the meantime, we will provide at least one month of advance notice to any employee who will be asked to return to campus from working remotely. The Flexible Work Arrangement Policy remains in effect.
Events, gatherings and visitors
We recently made changes to the Danforth Campus events and meetings protocol to allow for larger outdoor gatherings. We are hopeful that this trend will continue and that we will be able to lift restrictions even further and allow more events to take place on campus in fall. We are also reviewing our visitor policy and are likewise optimistic that we will be able to welcome more guests to campus during the fall semester.
Overall, we are cautiously optimistic that fall will feel a lot more “normal” than what we have experienced during the current academic year. Of course, “normal” is now a relative term. There are many areas of our operations that likely will never be entirely the same after our experience in the past year. We have lost a great deal and also learned a lot. While it has certainly been a difficult time for everyone, we know we are stronger as a community and will apply many of the lessons of the pandemic well into the future.
We will provide additional updates as new information becomes available. Please continue to check the WashU Together website for the latest news. Again, we thank you for your hard work and support during this academic year. We are looking forward to being more fully together as a community this fall.
Andrew D. Martin
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs