President's Message - UHD Extending Fall 2021 Soft Opening
Dear UHD Community,
I hope this note finds you in good health and that your fall semester is off to a great start.
I can tell you that I am certainly pleased to finally have met so many of you on campus … albeit safely, given our current COVID-19 conditions. And I hope to engage with more of the Gator Family very soon, but it is imperative that the University continues its efforts to ensure the safety and success of everyone on campus.
As you’re aware, the University conducted a soft start to the Fall 2021 semester that would reduce campus and classroom density. Today, I am announcing that we are extending this soft Fall start to further support campus health safety through October 9 with the expectation to resume our regularly scheduled Fall 2021 classes on Monday, October 11. This October 11 time frame is when local and state health officials predict we can expect a greater decline in Houston citizens being impacted largely by the Delta variant.
As indicated in prior messages, UHD’s soft start currently provides flexibility for students, faculty and staff.
Faculty teaching in-person or hybrid sections should continue to engage students in one in-person experience each week.
Offices should remain open during regular business hours, and non-essential staff may continue to work hybrid schedules with approval from supervisors and vice presidents. Employees who require medical-related accommodations may reach out to the UHD Benefits staff in Employment Services & Operations.
I am confident in a full return to campus on October 11, which just happens to coincide with Homecoming Week. And this would indeed be a very special Homecoming for those many Gators (myself included) who have yet to experience this dynamic celebration of our university.
I must add that I am seeing many of you doing the right things here on campus. You’re wearing masks, being tested at the on-campus testing kiosk, attending our vaccination events and practicing social distancing in hallways and offices.
These small steps make a big difference in overcoming this virus, in allowing UHD to continue its mission and ultimately, returning everyone to campus.
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown