June 24, 2024

Fall 2021 message to all employees

Dear Colleagues:

Eighteen months ago, none of us would have believed that we would still be challenged by a pandemic in fall 2021. Over these many months, we have struggled, at times, to identify the best path forward when faced with hundreds of inflection points and often competing expectations. To guide our efforts, President Paino charged us with making decisions that placed the health and well-being of our employees and students foremost among our priorities.

Even with that guidance, many choices weren’t as clear-cut as they may have seemed. This continues to be especially true when the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly and unexpectedly as it has over the past several weeks. There is no doubt that we are all concerned about what this means for us and our families. We should, however, take great comfort in our collective success navigating the pandemic over the last year.

As we approach the first day of classes, we build upon our record of success established last year with the knowledge that more than 90% of our students and employees are vaccinated. This unusually high level of attainment, complemented by required testing for those who are unvaccinated and an indoor mask mandate, means that the risk is likely lower at UMW than virtually any other place we go in our daily lives.

Even so, some employees have heightened concerns about underlying health conditions of family members or themselves. To support those employees, the Office of Human Resources has established a process by which individuals may request accommodations to include temporary provisions for telework and on-line instruction. Such requests can be made now or at any point in the semester.

In addition, we have received several questions over the last few weeks and realized that it would be helpful to address some of the most frequently asked ones. You can find the FAQs here.

Early next week President Paino will send a welcome email to all students. His communication also helps manage expectations for the semester given the challenges ahead and reminds them that we are depending on them to help keep our faculty, staff, each other – and by extension, our loved ones – protected.

Undoubtedly, all of us feel some trepidation around returning, yet we know that our mission to serve students must continue. We will remind students that the University will keep monitoring COVID-19 conditions and, in conjunction with state and local public health and health care officials, be prepared to undertake additional restrictions or modifications to our operations.

Finally, thank you for your care, compassion, and grace for each other. We should all strive to support and protect all members of our community. Please be assured that the decisions we reach are made in the sincere belief that they are in the best interest of our community.

With thanks to you,

Lisa Bowling, VP for Advancement and University Relations
Kimberley Buster-Williams, VP for Enrollment Management
Dave Fleming, Assistant Dean of Residence Life and COVID Monitoring and Tracing Coordinator
Juliette Landphair, VP for Student Affairs
Jeff McClurken, Chief of Staff and COVID Director
Tim O’Donnell, Interim Provost
Paul Messplay, VP for Administration and Finance & CFO
Beth Williams, Executive Director of HR