Dear Members of the Campus Community,
It has been another busy week here on campus as we advance our goals for a safe and productive fall semester and prepare for an in-person spring semester. In addition to the 178 students already living on campus, we are welcoming 95 student-athletes into residence this weekend as well. They are among 317 student-athletes who are back on campus to resume training and practice in order to be prepared for a safe start to a delayed fall athletics season.
Our virtual classrooms are also humming, with just over 2,200 students engaged in undergraduate and graduate work this fall. This is about 400 students fewer than we typically expect to see in the fall, including an unusually high but not unexpected number of deferrals and leaves of absence as some students decided to pause their educations due to the pandemic. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus just as soon as it is safe to do so.
As you know, prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all members of the campus community throughout the course of the pandemic remains our highest priority. A successful in-person spring semester depends on a number of important factors, such as the rate of new cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations in our local community, having a robust plan in place for efficient and effective surveillance testing and contact tracing, and guidance from public health officials. We are off to a good start with three successful free mass testing events already held on campus, and additional events scheduled on Oct. 2, Oct. 28, Nov. 18 and Dec. 19. Our student-athletes have their own protocol, developed in careful collaboration with our athletic trainers and public health guidance. We also have sufficient space for self-isolation and quarantine, which is critical to controlling the spread of infection.
By the spring semester we look to have increased testing options and more rapid results, which will help us further limit the spread of the virus. To help our community assess the safety of campus, we expect to have a COVID-19 dashboard available on our website soon to document any reported cases. To date, we have been very fortunate to have less than a dozen reported cases involving members of the campus community since March.
Of course, we will be well prepared to pivot again to remote learning if absolutely necessary, but our goal is to resume in-person in January. Please continue to take all recommended health precautions and to fill out our daily screening survey. Keeping case counts low not only on campus but in Pierce County or wherever you might be will keep us on track to reopen in the spring.
Finally, as I assured groups of alumni and donors with whom I met earlier this week, it is not all-COVID, all-the-time on campus this fall. I hope you are making the most of a rich array of lectures, cultural opportunities, and rigorous coursework. I am heartened by the terrific efforts underway to get out the vote for the presidential election and to respond to the most pressing issues of our day. I also am mindful of the stresses we all are experiencing in our daily lives, and encourage each of you to take the time you need each day to reflect, reset, and ready yourself for whatever lies ahead.
Being part of a highly caring and engaged community is a blessing in times like these. In addition to the amazing work of our students, faculty and staff members, our alumni, parents, and other friends have come through for us in very significant ways as well. Thanks to their generosity, we ended the 2019-20 academic year with more than $16 million in gifts, including $2.5 million to the Puget Sound Fund that directly supports our current operations—one of our most successful fundraising years on record. Next month we will engage in our annual fall meetings with our board of trustees in a virtual format. Their support has seen us through these challenging times in substantial ways that have benefited all students, faculty and staff members.
I’m proud to be a Logger and know you are, too. Thank you for everything you are doing, every day, to keep us all moving forward.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President