Dear undergraduate students who are studying in St. Louis and families,
I am writing as a follow-up to my September 29 communication about Thanksgiving Break, which is scheduled for Thursday, November 26 through Sunday, November 29. This message contains some very important reminders about safety for our entire community and also contains this important link to a survey that you need to complete by Thursday, November 5 to let us know your plans.
We want to express our gratitude to every student who has been in St. Louis for the fall semester. We have experienced a very low number of COVID-19 cases in our WashU community during the first half of the fall semester and YOU, our students, deserve much of the credit for this – for wearing your masks, maintaining physical distance from others, and completing your daily self-screenings.
For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to get together with our loved ones and give thanks for the many good things in our lives, even in these difficult times. This year will need to be different in order for us to keep our families and community safe. In our last communication, we indicated that we “highly recommend” that any student traveling away from campus for Thanksgiving should remain home and not return to campus. We recognize that many of you and your families want and need to see one another. Some of you may choose to stay home after the break to care for your own well-being. We understand that, and we encourage you to make the choice that is right for you. But please keep in mind that the choices you make affect more than just you – they affect all of us.
We strongly advise all students planning to leave campus and go home for Thanksgiving, to remain home for the final three weeks of the semester. This is particularly important if you cannot limit your exposure to other people during the Thanksgiving break (see Thanksgiving travel advice below). This advice also applies to those of us who are choosing to remain in or near St. Louis for the holiday weekend.
As a reminder, we all will need to remain flexible in our plans during the weeks ahead as fluid pandemic conditions may require the university to adjust our plans at any time. Should conditions continue to worsen nationally or locally, the University may decide that students who choose to travel outside of St. Louis will not be able to return to campus, and will need to complete the final three weeks of the semester remotely.
We hope you will consider staying on campus for the break. We have been hard at work planning several outstanding activities for Thanksgiving weekend. We are planning to keep the Sumers Recreation Center open all four days, and our team has developed a fun and safe schedule of activities on campus for the holiday weekend that include a virtual Turkey Trot and safely opening the larger spaces on campus for a football watch party and movie marathons. And of course, our world-class dining team will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings on Thanksgiving Day.
For now, some of you may still decide you want to travel home and return to campus after the holiday. For those of you who make this decision, it is very important that you follow the safety advice for during travel and while you’re away that you can find here.
We know that all of you are constantly faced with difficult personal decisions that you have to make, while also keeping the safety of others in mind. Nobody wants to get sick with COVID and we must continue to trust each other to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of everyone. We deeply appreciate the sacrifices everyone is making and we look forward to a safe and successful second half of the fall 2020 semester.
Robert M. Wild
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs