I want to update you on the University’s progress after our “first quarter.”
A Message from President Julio Frenk

September 11, 2020

A video message from President Frenk
Below, for your reference, is the full text of President Julio Frenk’s video message (above) to the University of Miami community.

During last night’s football season opener, our Hurricanes made us proud, defeating the University of Alabama at Birmingham 31 to 14. A football game feels different amidst a pandemic, but it still reminds us that fall is here, and it amplifies the excitement of a new school year. The game took place one-fourth of the way through this semester, and today I want to update you on the University’s progress after our “first quarter.”

I’ll start by saying that it is not only our football team that is making us proud. Students, faculty, and staff are also working together toward a successful semester. As we continue to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and respond to our community’s needs, our student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and athletic staff offer a powerful example. Their desire to play has manifest in hard work and a laser-focused commitment to staying healthy, showing us that there are great rewards to be had for the sacrifices we make during a pandemic.

As of last night, our dashboard indicates 285 COVID-19 cases since the start of the semester. The overall trends so far continue to be encouraging—not only on campus, but also in surrounding communities, with 7-day positivity rates at UM remaining under 5 percent and cases in Florida and Miami-Dade County at their lowest levels since mid-June. But as I have said, we cannot let our guard down.

In fact, as restrictions ease in Miami-Dade County, we must become even more vigilant. With the arrival of fall, most experts expect an increase in cases, so we must redouble our efforts to make sure we all remain healthy and can successfully complete the semester.

There are four things each of us can do to ensure that, like our ’Canes, we maintain the momentum after the first quarter:
  1. Participate in testing. We are continuing to expand our testing protocols, requiring residential students to be tested every 10 days and off-campus students to submit test kits through LabCorp every two weeks. When students decided to come back to campus, they agreed to participate in testing, which is the way we can trace and control transmission of the virus. Therefore, the new testing regime for students is mandatory. We’ve also begun random testing of faculty, staff, and essential vendors on campus. While this creates significant expense for the University, it is a critical element of our plans to keep everyone safe.
  2. Get your flu shot. Whether you come to campus or work and study remotely, it makes all the sense in the world to inoculate against an illness with similar symptoms to COVID-19. It prevents unnecessary complications to our testing, tracking, and tracing efforts; it reduces demand for health care resources; and it protects you and your loved ones from the unknown ways COVID-19 will interact with seasonal influenza. Details on where and how you can get your flu shot will be provided next week.
  3. Adhere to protocols . The safety measures we have put in place are meant to keep our community healthy. Wearing a face covering, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, maintaining physical distancing, and honoring curfews are reasonable sacrifices compared to the serious disciplinary and health consequences of flouting the rules. As promised, we have revisited the campus curfew and are easing it to 11 p.m. beginning Monday, September 14, consistent with Miami-Dade County guidelines. That said, I urge all of us to proceed with caution. Our contact tracing indicates that the greatest risk of transmission—for students, faculty, and staff—is during off-campus social interactions where public health guidance is not followed. Our data shows significantly more infections among non-residential students. Inappropriate gatherings off campus put all of us at risk. Let me be clear: no matter where you live, safety must not be something you leave at the door when you exit the classroom.
  4. Speak up when you need help. Some changes we have made to policies and practices as the semester has progressed originated with your suggestions. We recognize that listening and responding to your needs will lead to success, so please continue sharing your suggestions and questions.

As you know, the 9/11 attacks occurred 19 years ago today. In response to that tragedy, human beings around the world demonstrated that when the stakes are high, we have an innate ability to rally, to unite as a team. The University of Miami, like the rest of the country, suffered loss and our community pulled together in the ways we do best: with a spirit of inclusion and our hallmark resilience.

That sense of coming together for a higher purpose often drives accomplishment, both individually and collectively. We now count on you to tap into your purpose here at the U and to play your role in keeping yourself and everyone else safe.

We are One U.
President Frenk signature
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