UO President Michael Schill and Provost Patrick Phillips sent the following message to the campus community Sept. 15:
Welcome to a new academic year.
We are eager to see this university bustling with academic life once again. This is certainly not a typical fall, so we’re here to tell you how we’ve planned for the year ahead.
Some of you are returning to campus for the first time in over a year, others—in the Law School and researchers—have already returned, and many of you have been on campus all along. We are deeply grateful to each of you for everything you’ve done to support students, continue our research efforts, serve our community and protect each other.
We enter this school year at a very challenging time, as a spike of COVID-19 cases in Oregon is just beginning to slow. Understandably, the delta variant causes all of us unease. We’ve had to adapt quickly once again. Fortunately, we have strong tools—effective vaccinations being the most important. And we are confident that our layered safety strategy will allow us to return to daily life on campus and in our community.
Our comprehensive safety plans include required vaccinations, required weekly testing for those with vaccination exemptions, free COVID testing, required masking, rigorous case management, improved ventilation in buildings, proof of vaccination for large public events, and more.
We have so much to gain as we come back together. Our students, especially those who are first-generation and underrepresented, and many of us, suffered greatly from the isolation and disruption of the last year and a half. The value of in-person education is undeniable. The value of collaborative research, innovation, and knowledge creation is clear.
Also, our campus environment, with high vaccine rates, required testing, masking, and other measures will be safer for us and our students than most other places in their daily lives. We are confident and prepared—but we will continue to work with public health authorities, monitor conditions, and rely on experts and science to adapt as necessary.
COVID isn’t going away any time soon, but fortunately, we have effective prevention strategies and safety plans to move forward together as a campus and a community. We are resilient, responsive, and ready.
Again, thank you, and welcome to the academic year.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law
Provost and Senior Vice President