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July 16, 2020
Dear Faculty Colleagues,

As we prepare for the new academic year and the return of students to our campuses, we must all commit to following one of the simplest and most important safety measures, by far, in this extraordinarily challenging time: wearing a face covering.

I have heard concerns from some of you that you might be uncomfortable wearing a mask for the full length of a class and that you might not be able to communicate clearly. As a practicing pediatric surgeon, and as my other surgical and nursing colleagues will attest, we wear our surgical masks for many consecutive hours, in extremely high-pressure situations, without any discomfort or problems communicating life and death decisions with members of the operating team. We use them as well when teaching. We wear the masks because they are critically important for protecting our patients from infection, just as wearing your masks is critically important for protecting you, your students, and your colleagues.

In the operating room we are able to communicate freely and effectively, just as you will be able to in the classroom, in your labs, and in other university settings. Your students will hear you, and they will be grateful for your dedication to their protection, just as our patients and their families are grateful for our health care providers’ dedication to their safety. There are some unique circumstances, like teaching languages or in support of our students with hearing disabilities, in which face shields might also be appropriate. A face covering, however, in my vast experience, will not limit your ability to be understood by, and to interact with, your students, and can be worn comfortably for the period of instruction.

A face covering protects you and everyone around you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that when they are widely used in public settings, the consistent and proper use of masks reduces the spread of COVID-19, as they are a simple but effective barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets and aerosols from traveling into the air and onto other people when you talk, cough, or sneeze. They also provide this same protection to you.

Thank you for helping us reduce the spread of this deadly virus and for your dedication in the classroom. Together we can protect the members of our University of Miami family and significantly limit the damaging effects of COVID-19 in South Florida as we also educate the next generation of leaders.

Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A. signature
Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A.
Dean and Chief Academic Officer
Miller School of Medicine
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