Dear Hawkeye faculty and staff:
Yesterday, we received updated guidance from the Board of Regents stating that we are expected to engage in a face-to-face environment this semester. For many of you, this is a welcome relief. For others, it is discouraging news. I have heard from both sides. Today, I would like to take a moment to encourage us all to put aside our differences and commit to working together, as Hawkeyes do.
Provost Kregel and I noted last week that we have reason for optimism. The vaccination rate in Johnson County is high, the vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, and there is wide availability of booster or third-shot vaccines, which are FDA-approved for all those aged 12 and older. Effective treatments for COVID are advancing as well.
I want to thank you again for the outstanding level of cooperation, care, and community that you demonstrated last fall that allowed us to complete a successful in-person semester for our students and to advance our research and creative mission.
Now, we need that collaborative Hawkeye spirit again to meet the challenge of the Omicron variant. As the number of positive COVID-19 cases increases, we strongly encourage you to recommit to the following safety standards:
- Wear a mask in all indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status. KN95 respirators and Level 1 medical-grade masks are available in all campus buildings.
- Get vaccinated, including a COVID-19 booster and a flu shot.
- Stay home if you’re sick and self-report any positive COVID-19 test.
The university continues our enhanced cleaning and air-handling measures, and I urge you to read the most recent IowaNow COVID update, which lays out how the university is supporting students, faculty, and staff with more than 170,000 KN95 masks and contingency plans. I also encourage you to regularly check in with the university’s COVID website at coronavirus.uiowa.edu for ongoing updates, including the seven-day rolling averages of cases for both the UI and Johnson County, as well as the resources available to us all.
We will continue to monitor the impact of the virus on our campus to determine if we need to alter policies or procedures, and of course we will communicate regularly with you. We are hopeful that this surge will be brief and that we can resume many of the activities we cherish soon!
Thank you for continuing to do all you can to ensure a healthy Hawkeye community. I know our students are as grateful as I am for your efforts to keep our campus as safe as possible.
Barbara J. Wilson