This message was sent via e-mail to all staff on the UW Tacoma campus. Similar messages were sent to students and faculty.
Although you may already have heard about UW’s plans to return to largely in-person classes on Jan. 31, we want to assure you that we on the Tacoma campus are aware that conditions in Pierce County are different than in the counties of our sister campuses, and this message describes how we will be approaching the remainder of winter quarter.
Based on improvements in case counts in the wider region (Pierce County is at most a few days or a week behind King County), we are now ready to welcome students back to largely in-person classes and experiences on Monday, Jan. 31.
Staff do not have to update telework agreements for the remainder of winter quarter. Deans, managers and supervisors are empowered to make decisions about how to structure staffing to meet our core values: providing, safely, an excellent in-person educational experience for our students, while exercising as much flexibility for staff recognizing the toll that COVID exposures, K-12 and day care closures are having on employees. We ask that you clearly communicate to students and others how they can reach you during operating hours.
Autumn quarter worked because of your efforts! We ask you to continue the same diligent care: stay home when sick, get a booster shot, avoid unmasked gatherings, wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask. Testing options in our region continue to expand and now include rapid tests that are mailed to you. Faculty and staff can request accommodations due to health conditions or other extenuating circumstances.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 25, from 10-11 a.m., we will be hosting a Community Conversation where you can learn more about how the remainder of winter quarter will work, and you can ask questions you may have about our plans. It will also be an opportunity to hear your suggestions for how best we work together to uphold our values of access, equity, excellence and belonging as we successfully transition back to a largely in-person environment. You can submit your questions in advance or during the event to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want you to know how much we appreciate the grace you have shown throughout these last two years. The emergence of Omicron has been stressful and for many traumatic, but case counts in some parts of our region are already declining, and are predicted to begin declining in Pierce County within the next week. We want to thank the Staff Association for sharing their survey results and we acknowledge that staff have been particularly affected by the demands of these last two years. And by allowing as much flexibility as we can, we want to accommodate those who are still facing challenges.
Winter quarter promises to be a momentous time in the history of UW Tacoma, and not just because of COVID. We have much work to do on propelling our institution forward to meet our mission, and much of that is going to be visible during winter quarter. We have an update to our strategic plan, the on-boarding of new leadership in areas such as enrollment services, and a growing sense that Tacoma’s time at the forefront of the Puget Sound region is coming. For all these reasons, we are excited to be working with you!
With your continued dedication and patience on- and off-campus, we will get through this! Thank you. You make us proud to be Huskies!
Sheila Edwards Lange, Chancellor
Vann Smiley, Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration
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