To Our Faculty and Staff:
Early last month, we announced plans for a fall semester with full residential offerings and in-person classes and activities—in short, a campus experience comparable to the semesters before COVID-19 arrived in Ohio.
Providing such an experience will require that we significantly increase the number of faculty and staff regularly present on campus than have been here during the pandemic—a figure that fell again after the November surge that forced us to ask most of you to work from home for several weeks.
Since that time, however, case counts nationwide and Cuyahoga County have dropped by more than 75 percent, and more than a third of the populations in our county, state and country have at least started their vaccinations. In addition, we are closely examining the possibility of requiring vaccinations for all who come to campus (with an exception process for those with medical or religious concerns), a measure that would reduce transmission risks for the entire university community.
Given this context, we will begin working with unit and department leaders this week regarding a return to regular operations this summer. We expect to gradually increase the population present on campus during July and August, with a goal of resuming operations similar to fall 2019 by the time the semester starts Aug. 23.
As has always been the case, the health and safety of the university community will continue to be our top priority. We also will continue our practice during the pandemic of consulting regularly with local and national health experts to inform decisions regarding campus operations.
Even with the significant progress against COVID-19 to date, we recognize that not all working spaces will be able to accommodate the presence of all staff at once. We also appreciate that in some instances, opportunities for intermittent or continuous remote work may be justified. The university’s offices of human resources and general counsel have developed a process that involves discussions with unit leaders and opportunities to request exceptions for different levels of remote work. Representatives of those offices will be meeting with deans and vice presidents in the coming weeks.
We appreciate that some will welcome the energy and activity of having more people on campus, while others may view it with trepidation. We want to emphasize that this process will be deliberative, with rationales and matters of timing made clear at every step. As one example, we recognize that many families will have limited options for child care this summer; we will make every effort to provide flexibility in cases where employees encounter circumstances like these—i.e. beyond anyone’s control.
We will provide additional information about this process as it becomes available. We thank all of you for your contributions to Case Western Reserve throughout these challenging times, and look forward to seeing more of you on campus this summer.
Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President