Dear Howard University Community,
As we prepare to recognize and honor the sacrifice of countless men and women who gave their lives in the service of this country on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25, 2020), we also want to provide an update regarding the planning for the Fall 2020 semester, bearing in mind the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community.
In a letter to the HU Community dated April 29, 2020, President Frederick indicated that “we are planning for a best-case scenario that includes a campus re-open and face-to-face instruction in the Fall 2020 semester. In the event District officials do not relax or end social distancing policies, we will adjust and update the campus community accordingly.” President Frederick also initiated the establishment of a task force on re-opening the University to provide relevant recommendations and guidelines. Given that charge, we have formed the task force co-led by Florence Prioleau, Esq., University Secretary and General Counsel, and Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, Vice President of Clinical Affairs.
In addition we have formed a broader Fall 2020 Preparation Committee, co-led by Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Provost, and Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, which includes over 120 representatives from the staff, student body, faculty, administrators, and local officials. The mission of this committee is to assess the many complex operational issues involved in re-opening the campus including testing requirements, social distancing, athletics, sanitation of the campus, housing assignments, the protection of high-risk individuals, and much more.
The Fall 2020 Preparation Committee includes the following subcommittees and leads;
- Health and Wellness (Dean Hugh Mighty, Vice President of Clinical Affairs)
- Residence Life (Kenneth Holmes, VP for Student Affairs)
- Campus Safety & Foot Traffic (Chief Marcus Lyles, Executive Director for Safety and Security/Chief of Police)
- Classroom Management (Okianer Christian Dark, Esq., Associate Provost)
- Events Management & Athletics (David Bennett, VP for Development & Alumni Affairs)
- Technology (Jonathan Piersol, CIO)
- Facilities Management (Aaron Baltimore, Executive Director, PFM)
- Transportation (Bonnie Murphy, AVP Auxiliary Services)
- Meeting Norms (David Bennett, VP for Development & Alumni Affairs)
- Human Resources (Larry Callahan, CHRO)
- Dining and Retail (Bonnie Murphy, AVP Auxiliary Services)
- Communications (Alonda Thomas, Director of Public Relations)
- Research (Bruce Jones, Ph.D., VP for Research)
Each subcommittee has conducted several meetings, reviewed guidance from the CDC, and the Department of Health and as well as received recommendations and opinions from experts in various fields, and prepared preliminary reports in each respective area. These reports have been shared with the task force. The task force has also met and reviewed the White House Guidelines on Reopening America, District of Columbia recommendations for reopening, CDC Guidance, OSHA Guidance, recommendations from peer experts, and public officials. In consideration of the gating criteria for reopening, as well as testing, tracing, surveillance, physical distancing, access to protective equipment and other requirements that must be in place before the University can re-open, the task force will continue to meet and develop recommendations for President Frederick in preparation for preliminary plans to be conveyed to the community in mid-June regarding the physical re-opening of the University, format for instruction in the Fall, and other key decisions. With the guidance provided by the task force, the working groups will continue to determine the operational details that must be addressed in each of their respective areas. Additionally, we will plan to conduct a community town hall to discuss the plans for the Fall, and solicit additional feedback from faculty, students, staff, and other University stakeholders.
The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community are of paramount importance as we consider any decisions regarding the physical re-opening of the University, format for instruction in the Fall semester, and future programming. The framework of all decisions will be data-informed, based upon guidance from the District of Columbia, CDC, Department of Health, and public health officials. Because the COVID-19 virus has not gone away, we must continuously monitor its presence in our region and be prepared to adjust our Fall Semester re-opening plans for the possibility of a resurgence. Even as we plan a phased return of students, faculty and staff to campus for the Fall, 2020 semester, we must place greater emphasis on transitioning a significant proportion of courses and academic programs online. This includes provision of additional training and support to faculty regarding online instruction, additional access to technology, equipment and software, greater support for CETLA, as well as preparation for a University-wide platform for additional online programs.
We aspire to be physically together on campus as much as possible, when it is safe to do so. Pragmatically, and with the health and safety of our community as our top priority, we have to be ready for any path ahead. As we continue to plan, we are confident that we will be able to continue to provide the high quality education for our students that is unique to Howard University in ways that prioritize health and safety for our students and employees.
We appreciate your patience and understanding that we are operating in uncertain times as there are almost daily changes in our knowledge of the pandemic, ways that we can address health concerns, and our ability to adjust to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Please continue to be safe, and anticipate additional updates regarding finalization of plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. God bless.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph., Provost & Chief Academic Officer
Tashni Ann Dubroy, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer