26 Aug UW-Madison in a semester of COVID, message from Chancellor Blank
We’re on the cusp of what is sure to be one of the most unusual fall semesters in our university’s history.
If you’re a student, I want to take a moment to welcome you back. If you’re an employee, I’d like to thank you for your hard work this summer to help us reach this point. It’s taken extraordinary efforts from all employees – faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate students – to help prepare for our fall semester.
I recognize that, to some degree, we’re all anxious about the ongoing pandemic and exhausted by the change and uncertainty we’re experiencing. For our university, COVID-19 disrupted our spring semester, our research, teaching and outreach work, and our chance for graduates to celebrate together. It has led to furloughs and a hiring freeze. Despite efforts to shield our lower earning employees from the worst outcomes, this has had an economic ripple effect through families and the wider community. We know that it has deeply and disproportionately impacted our communities of color.
Amid all these effects, I have been repeatedly asked over the past weeks why we would choose to move ahead this fall with our plans for a hybrid model of instruction using both virtual and in-person modalities. I have heard the feedback from employees and acknowledge the anxiety and uncertainty some are feeling about the start of the semester on September 2. I want to take this opportunity to directly address many of the core questions I’m hearing and provide the latest information we have.