Office of the Provost
Provost’s Message: Working Together to Move Forward
Dear UConn Community:
COVID-19 and the return to the UConn learning experience have presented our university with unprecedented challenges. We write today to celebrate our ability to maintain our core values, give you more information about the presence of COVID on our campuses, and indicate our path forward.
COVID-19 at UConn
We have learned a great deal over the past several weeks about balancing community well-being and educational progress in the midst of COVID-19. Together, we have used our strength as a research university to solve a complex problem and reopen UConn safely. We are grateful to the partnerships that have emerged throughout our campuses, administration, student and campus services, UConn Health, and the academic schools and colleges.
Our current infection rate is around 1%. This is a remarkable accomplishment. To date, our spread among students is because of small interactions such as card games, common meals, and other informal interactions. For all of us, our risk of spread is avoidable through our own individual actions, as expressed in the UConn Promise. This includes monitoring your health, participating in random surveillance testing, following guidelines for mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing, and heeding medical guidance provided by your primary medical provider. These are all especially important as we head into colder weather and spend more time indoors.
While we are hardly declaring victory, it is important to acknowledge the hard work of our community to promote safety in maintaining a largely safe and healthy environment on our campuses.
UConn Research and Innovation
As we planned for reopening this fall semester, we benefitted from workgroups that were enriched by the research talents of many partners, including InCHIP, Institute for Systems Genomics, MARS, CLEAR, and our epidemiology expertise in UConn Health.
We encourage you to learn more about these intersections of research and practice through upcoming events. InCHIP is hosting a series of panels, detailed on their website. The Provost’s Office is also hosting a research forum that features panelists involved in the innovative work in wastewater testing and pooled sampling on the Storrs campus, managed collaboratively among MARS, Institute for Systems Genomics, CLEAR, and Student Health and Wellness. This forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 5 to 6 p.m. More information is available on the Provost’s Office website. We welcome suggestions for future panels via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Path Forward
Plans are underway for the spring term, which we are approaching with optimism and humility, working closely with many organizations, including the Senate Executive Committee, AAUP, UCPEA, and USG. We expect to make key decisions prior to the opening of registration in late October building on what we have learned from the fall semester.
Spring will likely be quite similar to the fall with continued decreased residential occupancy (currently around 5,000 students at Storrs) and continued medical due diligence through testing and surveillance. Students received a message today with more details on housing availability, including the option to retain their housing assignment from fall to spring.
Student events and activities continue to be guided by activities and program information that is available here. We have learned that building safe and connected campuses is enhanced by small in-person and virtual activities, examples of which appear on the uKindness site. We welcome all campuses and departments to submit events and activities to uKindness.
We are grateful to students, including leadership in USG and GSS who have shared thoughts on maintaining a meaningful connection between instructors and students in the spring, and many other critical university actions.
Our physical and mental health are deeply entwined and many are experiencing stress during this time. Students are reminded and encouraged to utilize SHaW-Mental Health resources. Faculty and staff are reminded of the support provided through the Employee Assistance Program.
Thank you, UConn, for your combined effort in keeping us safe and allowing us to return to in-person learning and research. Thanks to all of you, we are in this for the long haul.
Carl and Elly
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Eleanor JB Daugherty
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students