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One Year Later, We’re Almost Home

Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Thu, 03/11/2021 - 9:37am

Dear students, faculty and staff members,

This month is the one-year anniversary of the University’s transition to remote learning and business operations in response to COVID-19. Last spring, none of us could have fully anticipated how long the situation would last or the effects the pandemic would have on us as individuals, as an institution and as members of a wider community.

However, we did know this: whatever challenges lay ahead would be met with your resolve and resilience – and that’s exactly what happened.

Our University’s response to the pandemic was local, national and global in scope. You answered uncertainty with determination while supporting each other and serving our community. I am extremely proud and grateful.

The efforts of students, faculty and staff members – those working and learning from home and everyone who continued to do so on campus – helped create a consistently safe living, learning and working environment over the past 12 months.

Your diligence, coupled with the increasing availability of vaccines, enables us to expect that campus life in the Fall 2021 semester will look, feel and be much as it was before the pandemic.

Fall semester classes begin Aug. 23, and I know that many of you have questions about the period between now and then. Here’s what we know so far.

  • Gov. John Bel Edwards recently transitioned the state into Phase 3 of its reopening plan. That change has some implications for student life and campus events this semester, and we’ll be announcing those soon.
  • Many employees may begin returning to campus around the end of the spring semester, though others may continue to work remotely. Some offices, particularly those with space limitations, may adopt staggered work schedules or hybrid approaches to their operations. Supervisors will discuss expectations for returning to campus with employees.
  • As of now, we don’t anticipate significant changes to course instruction in the summer.
  • When advising and registration begin this month, students will find more in-person options available to them. Hybrid, remote and online courses will continue to be available in the fall semester.

It is our intention to be as close to normal as we can be when the fall semester begins, though we will continue to follow the advice and guidance of local, state and national health authorities. As that guidance and other protocols change between now and then, we will make appropriate adjustments. Your health and well-being remain paramount, as they’ve been throughout the past year. 

Earlier this month, we announced COVID-19 testing strategies for students and employees. We’ll soon be announcing vaccination plans for our University community as well.

Your participation in both will help ensure the continued safety of your fellow students, faculty and staff members. That, in turn, will solidify our confidence that we have done all we can to protect everyone who is on campus now and those who return to campus in the fall.

An FAQ is available on the Human Resources website about the testing program for faculty and staff members and student employees who are working on campus. In addition, residents and students taking on-campus courses may be selected for testing, and you can find information about student testing here.

So, we’re close – but we’re not home yet. Reaching our destination requires that we remain as vigilant, cooperative and considerate as we have been.

I know I can count on you to do so, and that makes me all the more certain that I’ll be able to welcome many of you back to campus in a few short months.

And I am looking forward to that moment very much.

Thank you and Geaux Cajuns!

Dr. Joseph Savoie