Update: Transition and Reopening - University of Houston
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Update: Transition and Reopening

May 10, 2021

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Dear Faculty and Staff,   

As we approach the end of this tumultuous, pandemic-plagued semester, it’s only natural to wonder what awaits us this summer and fall.  While we cannot be certain of the future, we have to plan for it now – and we must do so based on the information available today and with the ability to alter the course should the circumstances change. With this in mind, I would like to offer you guidelines about the process and a timeline for our campus reopening.

Guiding Principles: For the past 15 months, we have been guided by two principles: flexibility and compassion. We have relied on CDC guidelines and, as a state university, have also abided by state mandates.  While these principles have served us well, changing conditions require us to look toward the new phase with new principles to serve as our guideposts.  Moving forward, I am asking that our transition planning focus on these two principles: core mission and commitment to our strategic plan.

Our core mission is to transform lives, and we do so by providing an immersive learning experience to students.  Indeed, we have experimented with new technologies and unique delivery methods during the pandemic.  While we should incorporate this new knowledge into our work environment, we should not forget what makes us a Tier One research university—the immersive learning environment. Needless to say, this immersion is shaped by many elements including team projects, research experience, casual interactions and organized discourses on campus.  It is essential that we return to campus and rebuild that invaluable immersive environment.

Transition Begins June 15: While most of us have already been coming to campus, the formal transition will begin June 15.  I understand that all units are different in the nature of their jobs and work activities. Therefore, I am leaving it to our vice presidents to determine the pace and format of their units’ safe transition. Faculty members can expect further guidance from the provost and staff members from their respective vice presidents.

Full Return by August 2: Fall classes are scheduled to begin August 23 while students are expected to arrive in residence halls on August 18.  Given all the preparation needed to begin the semester, I am asking that all units fully return to campus by August 2. Of course, some units will be in full operation earlier than that because of their unique work needs. The College of Medicine, for instance, will return to campus by July 6 because their classes start earlier.  Similarly, Athletics staff will not need to transition since they have been on campus since early spring.  You can expect to receive further guidance from your vice president.

Health and Safety Will Remain Our Priority: As we begin the transition in summer and open in the fall semester, I want to assure you that the UH COVID Coordinator, along with the UH COVID team, will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and state mandates to ensure everyone’s safety. I am sure that you have many questions such as: Will I be required to be vaccinated before returning to work? What if I have a health condition? How will the University keep my work environment safe? Will face coverings be required on campus?  With that in mind, I invite you to peruse the Transition and Full Reopening FAQ for answers to these and many similar questions. Provost Short will communicate separately with faculty on questions unique to their roles.  If you have additional questions, please send them to Gaston Reinoso, Associate Vice President - Human Resources, at greinoso@uh.edu.  Our goal is to return to campus in the safest manner possible.  Your questions and suggestions will help us achieve this goal.

Let me thank you once again for your continued commitment to our common mission.  The stories of your compassion and resilience that I hear from students and their parents are inspiring.

Please stay safe and consider being vaccinated if you have not already done so.

With warm regards,

Renu Khator