|Below, for your reference, is the full text of President Julio Frenk’s video message (above) to the University of Miami community. |
Like so much else in 2020, this winter break looks and feels different than any in our history. As all of us—students, faculty, and staff—take some time to celebrate the holidays in new ways with loved ones, I’d like to provide a final update for the calendar year on our plans to keep you safe during the upcoming spring semester.
As we did in the fall, we will rely on one another, prioritizing health and safety in our adaptive and responsive strategy to cope with COVID-19.
I want to begin by thanking each of you. You have modeled mutual protection and reciprocal responsibility, demonstrating that ’Canes truly care for ’Canes. Because of your commitment to one another, we made it through 14 weeks on campus this fall with zero in-classroom transmission of the virus, and our student-athletes are making it through a season of play. Many predicted that what we set out to do was impossible, but we pulled together and showed what we can accomplish. Now, we must recommit to doing what it takes to pursue our shared goals, despite ongoing challenges.
As you know, infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths from the pandemic remain high across the country. While there is hope on the horizon with vaccines, it will be some time before every member of our community has access to them. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and vigorously follow the protocols that resulted in this successful semester.
The protective procedures we have all committed to follow include testing, contact tracing, wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance, using the symptom monitoring app, and following the guidance of public health experts as the pandemic evolves. We will also continue to refine the tools at our disposal to ensure our health and safety. As announced earlier, this will include access to the new COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with those on the front lines at UHealth.
Students have until December 22 to make a decision about which modality works best in their individual circumstances. For those students with underlying medical conditions, remote learning is still your best option. We are optimistic that as vaccines get rolled out, you will be able to rejoin us in person come fall of 2021. For those who are considering living on campus this spring, we have space available.
We have invested heavily in making the on-campus experience safe, applying every lesson we’ve learned along the way. I am grateful to our faculty and staff, whose devotion to our students has yielded new ways of engaging while making it possible for us to offer almost 60% of our spring course sections in person. As of this moment, less than 10% of our spring course offerings will be hybrid.
In short, the spring semester at the University of Miami will look a lot like the fall—with the added benefit of our shared experience and the promise of an end in sight.
As we prepared to start this academic year, I said we were at the end of the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. I can now say that we are at the beginning of the end.
Our initial decision to reopen campus this academic year was based on the belief that young people can be trusted to do the right thing. The vast majority of our students have validated that trust, and we enter this next stage with even more reason to believe that the U can rise to the challenges of our time.
I very much look forward to seeing you in 2021. In the meantime, I wish you and yours a holiday season full of peace, health, and cherished memories—different from those of times past yet a source of renewal so we all may find the strength to build a better normal.