Published on Mon 05/04/20
Dear Faculty and Staff:
I want to start by thanking everyone for their heroic efforts in continuing teaching over the past semester. Your commitment to the students and to our community has been awesome. I have been incredibly impressed by the Texas Aggie “can do” spirit and overwhelmed by your outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have you managed to continue providing an outstanding education for our students, you have demonstrated what it means to be resilient, flexible, and creative in a crisis. Your example of how to step up in the face of a crisis has made a lifelong impression on our students and our community. Thank you!
As you now know, Chancellor Sharp and President Young have announced that Texas A&M University is planning for face-to-face instruction to resume this fall, unless evidence or directives suggest otherwise. I am working closely with my leadership team and the college deans to ensure we continue to teach courses responsibly, uphold our commitment to academic quality, and maximize the health and safety of our faculty, students, and staff.
While we are still finalizing details for instruction, I can confidently state that campus life in the fall will look different. At present, we are reviewing all options for increasing the safety of teaching, advising, and assisting our students through a blend of face-to-face, remote, and online instructional technology. We are assessing all of our centralized classroom space and identifying plans that allow for social distancing. Over the summer, the university will ensure that all centrally-managed classrooms are equipped with cameras and microphones to allow for simultaneous in-person and remote, synchronous instruction.
This will be particularly important for students who are at higher risk from COVID-19 so that all students can continue making progress toward their degrees. We are seeking ways to enhance safety through increased use of masks, plexiglass partitions, and hand sanitizer, where appropriate. We are also exploring the possibility of implementing a testing and contact tracing strategy on campus. Finally, we are considering adjustments to the class schedule and additional safety measures for access and egress of buildings, hallways, and classrooms. These are only some of the issues that we are currently discussing.
What is evident is that we will all be involved in continuing this transformation of our campus learning environment in ways we have not experienced before. Much of this will need to be implemented over the summer in time for fall instruction to begin on August 24th, therefore we will continue to teach all summer courses remotely in order to effectively implement these changes. I welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to continue providing a world-class education within the limitations necessary for COVID-19. Please send your ideas to email@example.com.
I am deeply grateful for your hard work and commitment to providing a world-class education to our students this semester. We have worked together to solve a difficult situation in a very short period of time, and I thank you for that. Now we will apply the lessons learned from the transition to remote education this spring to a more robust and resilient learning environment this fall. After a brief respite following final exams, I hope that we can continue to work collaboratively and demonstrate to the world what it means to be a member of the Texas A&M family.
Carol A. Fierke
Provost and Executive Vice President