During this first week of the Fall 2021 Semester, we return to campus optimistic about the future and the opportunities that resuming in-person education, research and student services present. At the same time, we are acutely aware of the stress and strain of starting another school year with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting our campus community.
We are working on several fronts to provide additional resources and guidance as we move forward:
- University Human Resources Management and University of Utah Health leaders are exploring the feasibility of establishing free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all dependents of university faculty and staff (with locations on campus and the west side of Salt Lake City). More information on this project will be available soon.
- University administrators are talking to state health and legislative leaders, as well as the governor’s office, to discuss masking policy in indoor spaces on campus, including classrooms and other common areas. And, with the FDA granting full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, we are working with state leaders to explore greater flexibility for the university to manage its pandemic response. We hope to have more news on the outcome of these conversations later this week.
- We continue to encourage all members of the campus community to get vaccinated, or, if unvaccinated, to take advantage of free, weekly asymptomatic testing. This testing is key to our efforts to trace and isolate any outbreaks or breakthrough infections.
As our public health experts remind us daily—the only way out of this pandemic is through herd immunity. Our campus community is working toward that—with approximately 70% of students vaccinated and more than 80% of benefitted faculty and staff immunized against COVID-19.
We know nothing can replace the face-to-face interactions that happen each day on a university campus. We firmly believe if we continue to encourage vaccination, regular testing and masking indoors, we can keep our campus community safe and open.
Thank you for your resilience, creativity and strength throughout the last two years. We will get through this together as One U!
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs