As we prepare to return to campus, I urge you to take the necessary steps to help us safely reopen UND. This begins with getting the COVID vaccination. The benefits are well-documented and far outweigh the risks. Our ability to protect the campus community is vastly improved with widespread vaccinations, and your individual protection from infection and hospitalization is dramatically increased. While I respect the decision each of you make, the public and individual health benefits are very clear. The growing impact of the Delta variant amplifies this point.
Don’t simply take my word for it. I strongly encourage those who have questions about whether getting vaccinated is right for them to contact their healthcare provider to get the facts. Our students can rely on the resources of UND Student Health Services to provide sound, experienced, and trustworthy advice about their health concerns.
The best part about getting vaccinated is that it’s free and easy. There are many locations – including our own Student Health Services – at which to obtain the vaccine. The University’s COVID-19 Blog is an excellent source of frequently updated information about how and where to get vaccinated, in addition to a wide variety of other COVID-related resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just issued new mask guidelines because of growing concern over the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. I want to assure you that UND’s leadership will continue to monitor the evolution of the COVID pandemic in concert with our county, state, and federal public health partners regarding campus requirements for masks.
On campus, we strongly encourage those who wish to wear a mask for their own protection – and the protection of others – to do so. This proven method of inhibiting the transmission of the virus plays a part in keeping our community safe. In addition, we are granting faculty members the authority to require masks in their classrooms. Staff members and supervisors also have similar flexibility to ensure the safety of their work spaces. This means each person on campus should carry a mask and be prepared to honor the classroom expectations for students or respond to requests when colleagues ask them to mask.
Let me share how I have put this idea into practice. As I have been having face-to-face meetings with colleagues, I typically begin with the question, “Would you like me to wear a mask?” This is a form of respect that we should all show each other, recognizing that a simple gesture can make a difference in our relationships and our ability to achieve the University’s important mission. I ask each of you to put that sense of respect and community at the forefront of your thinking as we continue through the challenges of COVID.
I hope you will join me in the effort to break free from the pandemic and once again have the freedom we expect and enjoy. Vaccinations, washing your hands, masking, and keeping your distance are key to making this happen. We will continue to monitor national and local data and make sensible decisions to safely continue our institutional mission.