August 11, 2021
Dear Tulane Community:
As we look forward to the beginning of a new academic year, our pride and gratitude for all the Tulane community has done to get us to this point continues to grow. Thanks to you, over the past year and a half Tulane has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic as well as any university in the country. We came back to campus, we tested, we masked up and we practiced social distancing — but above all, we looked out for each other and for the New Orleans community.
At a time when the world became more divided over the response to the pandemic, we pulled together to continue our vital in-person education, research and community engagement while also protecting our health and that of our neighbors.
The health of the Tulane community and the residents of our city remains foremost in our minds and is our overriding goal as we return to campus. All of our planning is based on the latest guidance from local, state and national public health officials, as well as our own campus health experts. Like last year, the core of our return to campus plan this fall will be testing, contact tracing, mandatory face coverings and good hand hygiene, regardless of vaccine status.
Classes will be in-person, and work will remain on-site, but face coverings will be required for all students, faculty, staff and visitors when inside any university property.
Given the rapid spread of the Delta variant, we have quickly adapted our plans to include new safety protocols which are not as comprehensive or wide-ranging as those that were required last year. For instance, at this time, social distancing is not necessary, as long as masks are worn. Should public health officials reinstate social distancing requirements, we can quickly pivot and make necessary adjustments to allow distancing between students in classrooms.
There will also be some restrictions on crowd sizes, especially indoors, based on the city of New Orleans’ COVID-19 gathering sizes. However, students will still be allowed to host events using our standard event registration process at WaveSync. Residence hall visitation will be limited to on-campus students only as we begin the new semester. Housing and Residence Life will update residential students on when we can lift these visitation restrictions.
We know everyone is disappointed that this semester is not going to be a “normal” semester, such as the ones we enjoyed pre-pandemic. But, despite the continued safety protocols and testing requirements for students, faculty and staff, we still have much to look forward to in the academic year ahead. With more than 95 percent of students and 92 percent of employees already vaccinated and the rate of vaccinations still rising, we have a nearly fully inoculated campus population – and we will soon welcome a first-year class that has shattered records in academic achievement, diversity and selectivity. We also have the knowledge that the Tulane community faced a host of difficulties last year, from the pandemic to hurricanes, and we met them magnificently through our resilience, grit and commitment to one another.
Through our strict adherence to safety protocols and our robust testing, contact tracing and isolation program, we will continue to help limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses and hasten our journey to post-pandemic days. Since the beginning of this crisis, our rate of infection on campus has remained far lower than that of the city or state. We are hoping that, with a marked increase in vaccinations statewide and with reinstated safety protocols, the restrictions outlined above will be temporary.
Long before COVID-19, Tulane was leading efforts to make the world better. This is our purpose and is reflected in everything we do. We carry out world-class biomedical research so that others will not suffer and die from disease. We study coastal erosion to protect homes and livelihoods. We teach entrepreneurs to create thriving communities. We create works of art that inspire and promote change. We run clinical trials so that others can have hope. We invest in our city so that others can have opportunities. We teach so that others can learn, grow and achieve – and can pay it forward down the line, continuing our proud tradition of service. All of these efforts continued to grow and blossom over the past year and a half as we confronted and overcame a new set of societal challenges.
In the coming semester, we will engage with the same commitment and dedication that has always defined Tulane and made last year so successful.
Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer