As we come to the end of the spring semester, met by warmer temperatures and news about the growing number of people now vaccinated against COVID-19 in our community, there’s reason to feel hopeful about an expanded return to campus by this fall. But we’re not out of the woods. While the pandemic’s grip has eased in the United States, a large segment of the population is still not fully vaccinated.
So what does this mean for our researchers, scholars, and creative artists?
As you may have seen in the recent announcement in Iowa Now, the University of Iowa is planning—with some exceptions, and with modified safety precautions still in place—to return campus largely to regular, in-person operations this fall. This is contingent on the latest, and ever-evolving, guidance from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa; the Iowa and Johnson County departments of public health (IDPH, JCPH); the Big Ten Conference; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This is also our hope for the University of Iowa’s research enterprise. We’re as eager as you to return to pre-2020 levels of on-campus research activity. And as you know, the CDC has begun to relax some of its guidance on wearing masks outside and when congregating with family members and people we know have been vaccinated. Still, over the next few months we will continue to need to make smart choices that make sense for our individual research and creative spaces, in close consultation with our colleagues and associate deans for research. Safety must remain our top priority; we need to remain vigilant and flexible should circumstances change.
We hope to provide more definitive information for working on campus June 1, when we expect to receive updated guidance from the state that will have a bearing on our next steps. In the meantime, the university’s COVID-19 site and regular emails on the topic continue to be valuable resources for campus-wide information. We’ve also updated our own COVID-19 Response Website, so please check it often for the latest information, guidance, and resources.
All of you have made tremendous accommodations in your research spaces and routines this past year, which has gone a long way toward keeping campus and the wider community safe. I want to personally thank you for your efforts. I know this wasn’t without sacrifices. But because of your continued collegiality, professionalism, and cooperation, the University of Iowa’s mission of research and discovery—despite one of the biggest public health crises of the last century— has been able to forge ahead with great success.