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Fall 2021 Back-to-School Town Hall

U senior leadership answered commonly asked questions from students, faculty and staff regarding the in-person campus experience we expect this fall.

At the Fall 2021 Back-to-School Town Hall on Aug. 11, U senior leadership answered commonly asked questions from students, faculty and staff regarding the in-person campus experience we expect this fall.

The presenters included Taylor Randall, U president; Michael Good, senior vice president for health sciences; Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs; Lori McDonald, vice president for student affairs; Jeff Herring, chief human resources officer.

Watch the webinar recording and read the summary below.

Welcome from President Taylor Randall

I want to be the first to start welcoming all of you back to campus. We're excited to begin a transition back to a lot of in-person learning. Before we get into the heart of what we're going to talk about today, I think I need to express deep appreciation to every member of the campus community, the leaders, line workers that have kept us safe as we've moved through this pandemic.

It's really been a remarkable effort. Our goals this fall are the same. We want to keep all of you safe the best we can while welcoming our students back. I spoke with some of our student leaders this morning, particularly in the undergraduate population. They're very excited to be back for in-person learning and really want to have a connection with us.

As always, I think we have to remember that these are trying times and there's a lot of uncertainty. So, if we can be patient with each other and remember that the pandemic is the short-term thing here, and it's the relationships we have with each other and with our students that is long-term.

Let me express as well appreciation for Dr. Good and Dr. Reed for their leadership through this entire process. And particularly Dr. Good for serving as interim president. As you know, he's served multiple roles and in particular, he is one of our state's most trusted leaders during this pandemic.

COVID-19 update from Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Michael Good

As I'm sure everyone has been following, as vaccines began to roll out in our country, we saw the case levels of coronavirus come down and we sustained it at pretty low levels for several months. And then over about the last six weeks—in large part due to the Delta variant of coronavirus, which is highly transmittable and somewhat more virulent than the original coronavirus—our case counts have come back up. We've seen here in Utah the number of new coronavirus cases on a daily basis increase and we've seen hospitalizations across the state increase as well.

Hopefully, you saw the communication from Dr. Reed and I about a week and a half ago asking our campus community to do four things.

  1. Get vaccinated. The vast majority—90% or more— of patients with COVID in our hospital are un-vaccinated.
  2. If you're not vaccinated, please get tested weekly. We have coronavirus testing available to all students, faculty and staff. It's easy. It's saliva-based, and results are returned often the same day.
  3. Wear a face covering indoors. Face coverings slow down the spread of the virus from person to person.
  4. We're asking leaders, student leaders, staff leaders, faculty leaders, university leaders to lead by example and model these behaviors.