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June 5, 2020
Dear University of Miami Faculty and Staff,

Over the past several months, so many in our community have worked tirelessly to sustain and advance the mission of the University of Miami. We write today regarding the steps we now will take to gradually and safely welcome faculty, staff, and students back to our campuses in preparation for the fall semester.

To guide our path forward, leaders and subject-matter experts from across our University and health system have developed a detailed plan for a phased return to operations while limiting virus exposure and opportunities for community transmission on the Coral Gables and Marine campuses. The plan follows two phases: Phase I is a measured resumption of specific on-campus operations over the summer months, and Phase II is the return of students to campuses for the fall semester.

Through all phases of repopulating our campuses, the health and well-being of our community will remain our highest priority. We are, in this regard, fortunate to have the very best minds in public health and medicine among our ranks and guiding our work.

The Coral Gables, Marine, and Miller School of Medicine (excluding UHealth clinical activities) campuses begin entering Phase I of the plan this month. Faculty and staff in clinical services of the UHealth system should continue to follow the existing health system guidance.

Here are the details about Phase I:

Remote work remains the primary work environment

Telecommuting continues to be the primary work arrangement, and faculty and staff who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until further notice. UHealth staff working in clinical services should continue to follow previously communicated reactivation plans and stay informed about health system operations on the website.

Faculty and staff may return to campus only after meeting these requirements: (1) approval by their dean or department head as part of a unit work plan approved by executive leadership, and (2) completion of an online COVID-19 screening tool. For those who will be engaged in research, creative, or scholarly activities on campus, approval of a standard operating procedure plan is also required. The details of these requirements are described below.

Summer academic terms will continue in remote format

The plan does not change the method or schedule for academic course delivery during the summer terms. As previously communicated, all summer sessions—A, B, and C—will be offered remotely. Select courses in Summer C may transition to on-campus instruction later in the summer if it is deemed safe to do so.

Research and scholarly activities must follow vice provost guidance

All research, scholarly, and creative activities must follow the requirements outlined in the communication sent to all faculty by the vice provost for research and available on the University’s COVID-19 site. All faculty planning to resume their research, scholarly, and creative activities on their respective campuses may do so following submission, review, and approval of a standard operating procedure document by designated leadership in their schools/colleges.

Four pillars will guide all phases of the plan

The first pillar is testing, tracing, and tracking. All faculty, staff, and students must complete an online COVID-19 screening process prior to returning to campuses. Additional information regarding the screening tool will be provided in a separate communication from Human Resources. As stated previously, telecommuting continues to be the primary work arrangement. Any faculty, staff, or student who is experiencing COVID-19 or influenza-like symptoms will be required to undergo a COVID-19 test; contact 305-243-TEST to make arrangements. Additionally, contact tracing for confirmed cases will continue; COVID-19 positive individuals will be required to self-isolate; and systems are being established to track disease prevalence and evolution.

The second pillar is cleaning and disinfecting. The University will conduct deep cleaning of all campus spaces regularly with enhanced protocols and increased frequency, and will increase the number of hand-sanitizer and disinfecting-wipe stations located throughout campuses. Additionally, all individuals should regularly wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and clean all personal items, such as keyboards, desks, and phones, before and after each use.

The third pillar is protecting personal space. Individuals must maintain six feet of separation, when possible, and masks or face coverings must be worn in public areas or when six feet of separation between individuals cannot be guaranteed. Physical distancing signage and wellness shields are also being installed throughout campuses. Telecommuting will continue to be the primary work arrangement to minimize the number of individuals working in areas simultaneously.

And the fourth pillar is vaccinating. Students and non-clinical faculty and staff will be required to receive the seasonal flu vaccine. We recognize that some people may question the obligatory character of this measure—and we will grant exemptions for legitimate health and religious reasons—but we have a mutuality of responsibility not just for our own health but for the health of others in our community during this public health emergency. UHealth and Miller School staff working in clinical services should follow existing guidance for the medical campus and health system.

A “Safe Return Kit,” which will include a cloth face covering, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, a thermometer, and information cards, will be available to faculty, staff, and students upon their return to campus.

As part of the plan, we also will significantly reduce the number of events hosted on our campuses that are organized by external entities or that bring people unaffiliated with the University to our campuses.

The specific measures of the plan will adapt as circumstances change. All decisions regarding the return to on-campus operations will be made with guidance from the Board of Trustees, University leaders, public health experts, and health and government agencies. Additional information regarding Phase II of the plan will be communicated to the University community in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued work and your steadfast commitment to our University and our shared mission. We look forward to moving the U forward—together.

Jeffrey L. Duerk signature
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Jacqueline Travisano signature
Jacqueline Travisano, Ed.D
Executive Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Operating Officer
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