Office of the President

March 11, 2020

Thank you for your strength and resilience as we prepare for what’s next

Ana Mari Cauce

These last few weeks have put our community to the test as we work together to combat the effects of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But as stressful as I know this experience has been for all of us, I am uplifted and reassured by all the ways people across our University community are working to keep everyone safe, calm and prepared to weather this crisis.

Since moving all instruction and exams out of the classroom and encouraging employees who can telecommute to do so, our campuses have become significantly less populated, and will become even less so once spring break begins. UW leadership continues to be focused intently on plans for next quarter and how to best protect our community and the people most endangered by COVID-19. We remain in close consultation with UW Medicine and state and local health agencies as we determine when it will be appropriate to return to in-person instruction. The situation remains fluid, but you can expect a decision about whether we will begin spring quarter with classes offered in person or remotely to be announced by March 20.

In the meantime, I remain inspired by the strength and resilience on display in every corner of the UW, from our faculty who were able to swiftly shift classes online to facilities crews who are deep cleaning our campuses thoroughly and expertly. Our Environmental Health & Safety staff are constantly providing up-to-date public health guidance, and staff across our campuses are working to address the countless individual needs and questions that arise with a disruption of this magnitude. In our labs, UW researchers are racing to help provide more widespread testing and to get us closer to effective treatments and an eventual vaccine. Our students, both those who remain on our campuses and those at home, are showing incredible resilience and empathy. In our hospitals and clinics, health-care professionals are on the frontlines, testing for the virus and caring for patients who fall ill, all while continuing to provide the excellent health care that patients require under normal circumstances.

Taken together, this extraordinary mobilization will save lives. We know that the vast majority of people who become ill with COVID-19 will only experience mild to moderate symptoms, but your collective efforts are critical for protecting our friends and loved ones who are most vulnerable to the disease. By following public health guidance to increase social distancing, including canceling events with more than 250 people; self-isolating if you are sick; and using good handwashing and cleaning procedures, you are doing your part to protect these members of our human family.

However long this challenging time lasts and whatever measures we need to take, I know that the UW community is more than equal to the task. There is no community of educators, learners, researchers, health-care providers, professionals and public servants with greater talent, grit, empathy and common sense. When we stand together — even if we are standing six feet apart — we can see each other through whatever may come.