Fellow Bears:

As the spring semester winds down and we prepare for a continuation of online instruction over the summer, our focus has naturally turned toward planning for the fall. I want to take a moment to share what information I can with you now so our students and their families, as well as our staff and faculty, can begin taking appropriate steps to prepare.

Our plan is for our students, faculty, and staff to be back on campus and for in-person instruction to resume in time for a traditional start to the academic year in late August. Our Community of Bears thrives on face-to-face interactions and meaningful relationships that are formed among students, faculty, and staff. These human connections enrich teaching, learning, discovery, and our individual and collective growth, and breathe life into our academic mission.

I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff for making a swift transition to alternate modes of delivery of instruction and student services back in March. We have proven our resilience and ability to adapt to changing circumstances on short notice. Because of that, I am confident that we have ample time in the next 115 days to make necessary and reasonable accommodations to ensure that we can return to campus while continuing to protect the health and safety of our community. We are already seeing Colorado lift some of the restrictions on in-person instruction for courses and research activity that simply cannot be conducted virtually or in an online format. I am optimistic that the instructions they have established for carrying out this activity safely are going to offer us a valuable opportunity to prepare for the types of guidelines that are likely to emerge over the summer.

What our return to campus in the fall looks like is going to depend on how conditions evolve between now and then—flexibility in responding to public health orders and changing circumstances will be necessary even after the semester begins. We will be prepared to implement changes to our operations to ensure the health and safety of our people. For example, some social distancing measures are likely to still be in place requiring us to make adjustments to how classrooms are arranged or how many students can be in any space at once. Testing, temperature checks, and contact tracing might be utilized to monitor the health of our community. We may need to make accommodations for students living in residence halls to have their own rooms, and we are confident that we have sufficient surplus housing capacity to make this happen. And, we could find that conditions require us to all wear masks when we are in public spaces on campus. 

We still have a lot of work to do to ensure we return to in-person instruction this fall. Fortunately, we have time. Over the coming weeks and months, I will leverage every resource available, including the talent, expertise, and ingenuity of our faculty and staff, to ensure that we are ready. I know we cannot possibly eliminate every conceivable risk, but in every decision, your health and the safety of our community will remain my top priority. To that end, we will continue to confer with our partners in state and local government and follow the guidance of public health authorities. And, we will continue to communicate frequently and openly with you, sharing as much information as possible as soon as we can—much as we have done since this pandemic began to affect the way we come together as a community of learners and scholars.

I look forward to seeing you all again, in person—soon. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and your neighbors.

Stay safe; stay healthy, Bears!

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Andy Feinstein