For the past year, I’ve had the honor to witness our community meet this moment in profound ways.
Our heroes on the front lines of this pandemic worked countless hours, devoting time otherwise dedicated to loved ones to combat this unforgiving disease. Our faculty and staff adjusted in admirable ways to continue fulfilling our sacred missions of education, research, service and care. Our students found new ways to learn and engage, discover and grow in an environment so different from what they anticipated when they imagined their time in college.
Because of your efforts – your commitment to this place and its compelling purpose—I'm excited to share with you some initial planning assumptions regarding a return to normal operations in the fall of 2021.
Throughout this process, we will lean on our START team, leveraging our world-class experts to ensure a safe transition and implementation of our plans to return to campus operations. They will help us create specific measures and guideposts to monitor our progress as we begin to look to this fall.
- The in-person class experience is invaluable to this institution and the success of our students, allowing them to interact with our world-class faculty who are experts in their fields.
- Therefore, we expect – and are planning for – 2021 classes to return to levels of in-person instruction in similar numbers to that of fall 2019 in terms of course delivery and attendance.
- We already are planning for that return. And over the summer, we will finalize details and release a comprehensive plan for our return to more in-person instruction, even as we leverage the investments we have made in technology and online learning to enhance what we do and how we do it.
- The university has established a Return-to-Work Committee with employees from across campus who are formulating a plan for our efforts to return to campus this fall.
- While we still will offer flexibility to supervisors in determining remote work options for their respective units, we are prioritizing getting our employees back on campus so we can continue to fulfill our promise as Kentucky’s university. We are a residential research campus. It is part of what makes us distinctive and special. We must have the staff on campus to support that environment.
- With more than 6 million square feet of new, modern and high-tech space constructed over the last 10 years, we have the capacity and quality of facilities to ensure an in-person learning and teaching experience for our students, faculty and staff in a safe and healthy environment.
- The University of Kentucky is known for its transformative residential experience.
- We’ve created state-of-the-art living and learning spaces that give our students opportunities for connection and engagement, such as our Gatton Student Center, The 90, Jacobs Science Building and new e-sports gaming lounge at The Cornerstone.
- We are planning for a more robust residential experience, even as we will continue to be guided by the latest science and recommendations from our START team and the CDC.
We know that this past year has not been easy. But your hard work, your commitment to a safe and healthy community and the prospects of a campus that is vaccinated and protected make planning for a return to more normal operations possible.
After all, if I’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that incredible things happen when we come together, united in a common purpose.
We can do this. We will do this. It’s who we are. It is what we do.
Thank you for being a community so dedicated to what is possible.