Message from Chancellor Watson regarding Fall 2020 semester
Together we have finished a challenging spring semester and wrapped up a unique 2019-20 academic year. It is now time for us to turn our attention to the fall semester and the 2020-2021 academic year.
Over the past few months there have been numerous conversations across both campuses and with System about how the fall semester should look. Our first priority has always been, and remains, providing for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. To provide safe environments for all members of our community, we will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, along with those of the state and local health departments, the State of Wisconsin and the UW System.
It is our intention to have students, faculty and staff return to both campuses in the fall. Exactly how that looks is still being established as we seek advice from faculty and staff on safety protocols, lowering classroom density, and self-protection. However, at this time, we plan to have our residence halls open, and teaching will resume in the classroom in modified and flexible ways.
Much work has been done to assess our ability to return to a modified normal. We are confident we will be able provide learning and living experiences that are as safe as they can be given the challenges of the world in which we operate. Will this fall look like the fall of 2019? It will not. We know we will have to make modifications to put the health and safety of all first.
We still have much work to do to plan for your arrival or return to our campuses. Our Emergency Operations Command team has done an outstanding job of developing initial plans for operation under these new conditions. I applaud and appreciate their hard work and effort. I will share details of those decisions and plans as they become available.
Our employees may wonder what this decision means for them in the short term. We ask that those who are working remotely continue to do so. Those employees who have continued to report to the campuses, should also continue to do so. Divisions are working on plans to bring employees safely back to campus. If you have questions, please contact your supervisor.
In our ongoing effort to keep our community informed, we will hold a town hall meeting through Webex events at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 9 to discuss this decision. This will be an opportunity to answer questions regarding the return to campus. We will not have all of the answers, but we will do our best. We ask that you submit questions in advance to Nicole Caine at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Thursday, June 4.
It is my commitment to all of you that we will engage with you and communicate frequently. Your division leaders will ask for your input on important decision points. Your voice will be heard and considered. As more detailed information is available, we will hold additional town hall meetings with our incoming students, current students, families of incoming students, families of our current students, faculty and staff, and the Whitewater and Rock County communities. We are also planning an extensive website to provide as much detailed information as possible. It will be especially important for students, faculty and staff to pay close attention to their campus email.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives and it will alter nearly every aspect of our operations at UW-Whitewater. Regardless of those changes, we remain an institution committed to its values and to its mission to serve our students. That commitment has not changed — nor will it change.
I look forward to answering your questions on June 9. In the meantime, please stay safe and be well.
Dr. Dwight C. Watson