President Yager Shares Overview of Fall Reopening Plan
Sent to faculty and staff August 16, 2021
To UArts faculty and staff:
As we approach the start of the fall semester, and as many of you are returning to campus now, I write to you today with an overview of our COVID-19 response planning for the fall. As you know, regulations are evolving in light of new variants, including the City of Philadelphia's recent mask mandate. Accordingly, so too is our response strategy.
Our planning is a reflection of the work of many, but particularly the Covid Response Team (CRT), which formed in the summer of 2020 as an expanded working group of our Crisis Management Team (CMT). It has been meeting weekly since March 2020, closely monitoring the guidance and direction of the Centers for Disease Control, as well as local, state and federal regulations. They have pivoted as the regulations have changed and continue to make updates to our plans.
Though our plan will continue to be updated based on guidance and directives from government agencies, I'd like to share an overview of our plans as we begin to return to campus. Please bookmark uarts.edu/fall2021 and check it regularly for the most up-to-date information and plan.
University of the Arts is a COVID-19 vaccine-required community, with few exceptions for religious and/or medical reasons. To date, less than 3% of enrolled students and less than 2% of faculty and staff have requested exemptions. Though we are still following up with a number of students, faculty and staff who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination or requested exemption, we suspect we will be a 90% or above vaccinated community. We also anticipate our vaccination rate continuing to increase throughout the semester, as some of our international students are among the current exempt population and intend to become vaccinated once in the US. Those students who are granted an exemption will be required to be tested on a weekly basis, and we are working on a plan relative to tests for faculty and staff. Our vaccination rate will be updated as we near the beginning of the semester, and the CRT is also working on a dashboard tool which will track and share our vaccination rate, as well as any confirmed and reported COVID cases within our community. We will share and announce this tool once it is available. Please remember to submit your proof of vaccination as soon as possible if you haven't done so already. Please encourage others to do so, as well.
As you know, on Aug. 6 we announced that masks are required in most indoor settings. Limited exceptions to the mask requirement will be made in university dining halls, specialty academic instruction environments, apartments within residence halls and some special event / performance settings. Any exceptions will be communicated directly to those impacted and in advance of any circumstance of mask removal.
Vaccine Required and Masks Required for Visitors
Our vaccine and mask requirement extends to all visitors to campus, including guest lecturers / artists, families, contractors and visitors to public events. Any department hosting visitors must communicate the policy to any guests. Student Affairs is communicating how this policy applies to residential student move-in guests / family members.
Relative to special event and performance settings, all departments must require pre-registration to allow any outside guests to certify they understand our policies and are fully vaccinated. All departments are also advised to limit food and beverage events, and when absolutely necessary, consider limiting the audience only to UArts students, faculty and staff. In instances in which masks will be removed, such as for eating and drinking or in some performance settings, this exception should be communicated to attendees in advance. Though there is no federal, state or local mandate requiring social distancing, we recommend that indoor special events not exceed 50% of the maximum capacity. If you have specific questions relative to a planned event, contact your program director and/or dean to surface your concerns. You may also write to the Covid Response Team at email@example.com.
Mixture of In-Person and Hybrid Learning
This fall, we are delivering a mixture of course formats including in-person, hybrid and fully remote; 64% of courses will be offered in person, 16% will be offered in a hybrid format and 20% of courses will be offered remote only. This will afford a de-densified campus.
Mixture of In-Person and Hybrid Services
We have learned many lessons throughout the pandemic, including that some services to students, faculty and staff are best delivered remotely. Area supervisors have made determinations based on the best delivery format for their respective areas, and you will notice some departments will continue to offer services remotely and/or in a hybrid fashion. Refer to department webpages and communications for specific details.
Enhanced Cleaning and Building Safety Protocols
Together with our partners, Aramark for Facilities Services and Allied Universal for Public Safety, UArts has continued to develop a plan that is organized and responsive to the level of COVID-19 transmission in both the Philadelphia area and UArts specifically. Though some major updates to facilities across campus have been made and a separate communication will provide those details, vaccination and masks remain our best tools to combat the spread of COVID-19. If you have specific concerns regarding a space assignment for your course or work environment, surface your concern to your respective program director, dean or supervisor, who can assist you in resolving the issue.
Isolation and Quarantine Protocols and Designated Apartments
UArts has identified a floor of apartments with a separate point of access that will be held and used in the event that any residential student needs to quarantine. Students who are required to isolate/quarantine will be instructed not to attend class, and faculty will be notified of their absence by Student Affairs.
Though official university domestic travel has been approved, area supervisors have been advised to only approve travel deemed truly essential to support our successful functioning as a university. Any international travel must be reviewed and approved first by supervisors and then at the senior staff level.
Above all, our plan for a successful return to campus relies on our shared commitment to uphold the UArts Healthy Promise. Central to the promise is the agreement to uphold our vaccine and mask requirements. It is only through our daily and continual commitment to protect ourselves and the entire UArts community that we will succeed.
In closing, it is important to note that our opening plan is a responsive approach to reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at UArts. Should directives or guidance by local, state or federal authorities change, so will our plan. The CRT, together with senior leaders, will continually monitor trends and information to adjust course as necessary.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support, work and commitment to a safe return at UArts. Though our work is not over, I would like to especially thank those engaged on the CRT and our deans.
I am confident that through the collective action and individual commitments we each make, we will be successful in our plans for the fall semester. I look forward to welcoming you back to campus.