2021 New Faculty Orientation Program
New Faculty Orientation will be held online Tuesday, August 24, 2021 from 12:30 - 4:30.
It’s hard to believe that the start of the Fall semester is just around the corner. I want to offer my deepest appreciation for your extraordinary efforts over this past academic year, and I hope that you found some time for both rest and rejuvenation over the summer months.
We all share the goal of keeping our University community safe and healthy, and we are aware of how rapidly the situation continues to change. I hear and understand the anxiety related to the pandemic and its continued evolution, and especially how we care for our families and vulnerable community members. I’m writing to provide clarity and additional information about our current planning for Fall 2021.
As we have throughout this pandemic, the University continues to consult with and seek the guidance of our public health organizations like the CDC and MDH, as well as our own internationally recognized public health officials and experts.
As you have undoubtedly seen in a number of communications, including President Gabel’s Town Hall yesterday, the University’s current policy is to require everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors. As well, upon formal FDA approval of any COVID-19 vaccine, the University will add the COVID-19 vaccine to those already required for students. Faculty and staff will be asked to sign an attestation of vaccination status, and if not vaccinated, to agree to regular testing in the future.
The University’s guidance on Work. With Flexibility. envisions that many of us are returning to working on campus, including delivering in-person instruction. We have heard concerns from some instructors about risks that this might impose. For any instructor who is concerned, we have a number of resources available to you:
(1) Vaccinations are free, easily available, safe and effective against COVID-19 in all its variants. Breakthrough infections are rare, and significantly less serious than the disease in an unvaccinated individual.
(2) We have prepared strategies for encouraging compliance for your reference as well as this UMD Classroom Guidance FAQ to help answer questions and provide resources.
(3) If you have an underlying health condition that prevents you from receiving a vaccine, or makes a vaccine less effective, please reach out to the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) for a confidential discussion of appropriate accommodations or adjustments.
(4) Facial coverings are currently required while indoors. If you don’t have a University-issued cloth mask, you can get one from your collegiate unit. The University will provide individuals in our community an N95 mask (or alternative) and fitting services, based on DRC recommendation or in response to any other concerns as described in the University Health and Safety Mask Support Program.
(5) We support your setting up your workspace to enable physical distancing from others when possible. You may hold office hours in an alternative campus location to enable physical distancing.
(6) Facilities Management can provide information about the HVAC system in your classroom.
(7) UMD Keep Teaching can help you to structure your class so that students are enabled and encouraged to stay home if they are sick. This doesn't necessarily mean teaching in a hyflex modality (although you're welcome to do so), but instead to make sure that students who miss class because of illness aren't penalized, consistent with the policy on excused absences and current public health and University guidance, encouraging individuals who are sick to stay home.
(8) We encourage you to take a COVID test whenever you wish, and can support testing with our COVID testing program.
These protections, individually and in combination, are designed to combine to enhance your safety during this fall semester.
Many of you may have further questions, which we will continue to add information to the Safe Campus website. Please review regularly. If you have questions, please contact [email protected].
While much progress has been made, we know that this pandemic remains with us, and will for some time to come. We will continue to provide updates and alert you as the situation changes or additional University actions are taken. Our health and wellness, including your mental health, is critically important. Please continue to seek any supportive services you may need, including those available through the Employment Assistance Program.
Amy B. Hietapelto
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs