Office of the President

December 13, 2021

Through a challenging transition, our community has thrived

Ana Mari Cauce

As autumn quarter draws to a close, I am reflecting on the extraordinary experience of our community’s return to campus and anticipating the start of a new quarter and a new year. Re-acclimating to in-person work and learning amid Covid precautions posed some difficulties. But I am overwhelmingly grateful for our collective efforts, which made this quarter not only safe and productive, but also one in which our students, faculty and staff reinvigorated our sense of community and shared purpose.

Across the University, so many of you have shown care and empathy for one another through this challenging transition, exemplifying the Husky spirit while demonstrating your commitment to keeping each other safe. With vaccination rates among students, faculty and staff exceeding 98%, our campuses are among the safest places to live, learn and work. This has resulted in very low community case count numbers, and to date, we have no evidence of classroom transmission. Thank you all — especially our students — for consistently masking, hand-washing, getting vaccinated, getting tested and staying home when sick. You are living the values of putting others first and it has made our whole community safer.

I know that many of us are excited to see family and friends this holiday season — please be sure to take the same precautions that you would take on campus and don’t hesitate to get a free COVID test before and after travel. If you’re eligible to get a COVID booster shot — see the details on eligibility from the CDC — you are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as you can. You can get a booster shot at UW Medicine or a range of pharmacies, clinics and vaccination sites. Any changes to our University vaccination requirements will be made in accordance with changes to state and local public health requirements.

We will approach winter quarter in the same spirit and follow the same protocols that have served us well this fall. With the weather getting colder and wetter, we also recognize the increasing need for more informal spaces for gathering, eating and studying, and are working to increase staffing and expand the number of available spaces. While the emergence of the Omicron variant here in Washington state creates new uncertainty, as always, we will be closely monitoring any changes that could affect health and safety, and following the guidance of our state, local and UW public health experts. Keep in mind that we know much more about how to protect ourselves from Covid and even other viruses than we did last year. This includes recognizing that practicing self-care and tending to your emotional and mental well-being is also vital a component of staying safe and healthy. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength and self-knowledge.

As we begin a new year and new quarter, we will continue our work of creating meaning and impact — in our own lives and in the lives of the people and communities we serve. Whether you are working to complete your degree, advancing learning and discovery in the lab or classroom, keeping our great research university running smoothly, or caring for the health of the public, you are a vital part of our shared mission to create a more equitable, educated, healthy and prosperous world. I am honored to be a part of this collective endeavor and look forward to the work ahead.

As we face whatever challenges the coming year brings, our experience of coming this far together continues to be inspiring and reassuring, for which I’m so grateful to our community. Happy holidays and happy new year — may our 2022 be healthy, joyful and rich with purpose.