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Option to Complete Semester Remotely

December 12, 2021

Dear Tulane Community:

Once again, we want to thank everyone for their extraordinary work, dedication and perseverance during the last two challenging years. As you may be aware, we have seen an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases among our undergraduate population. The positivity rate is still lower than what we have experienced at several intervals during the past two years, and those testing positive are, as far as we know, either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. There have been no severe cases or hospitalizations. In fact, if this uptick had occurred mid-semester, we would likely not be suggesting any change in practice or policy.

However, the timing of this surge – the closeness to the end of semester and to the holidays – is greatly adding to the complexity and anxiety surrounding this increase. Our goal with this letter is to articulate a clear path forward, for both students and faculty, so that we can complete the semester in a way that allows everyone to have a safe and happy holiday.

In light of the timing of this increase in cases, we are offering all undergraduate students the option to complete the remainder of the semester remotely, either on campus, in their off-campus apartments or in their hometowns. The details of how this option will be accommodated will vary from class to class. Some faculty will move their classes entirely online, while others may maintain an in-person and remote option. Please contact your professors to let them know your plans for the remainder of the semester and to learn course-specific details.

Since there has been no significant increase in COVID-19 cases among graduate and professional students, the remote option will not apply uniformly to them. Rather, the dean of each school will announce what, if any, alternative learning modes will be available for graduate and professional students for the remaining week and a half of the semester.

We have asked much of our faculty over these past two years, and over this semester especially, as they have had to reorganize their classes in response both to COVID-19 and to Hurricane Ida. We are greatly appreciative of them for being as flexible and accommodating as possible and for their ongoing dedication to the education of our students in the most trying of circumstances. We also appreciate our students’ cooperative spirit, resilience and commitment to their studies during this continued challenging period.

We advise students, and all who are planning to leave town for the holidays, to test prior to their departure and upon arriving at their destination. Doing so will help protect parents, grandparents and other vulnerable family and friends they may visit while home. We urge students to get tested as soon as possible to ensure that they will be able to complete any required isolation period before the beginning of Winter Break.

COVID-19 positive students are being isolated at off-campus locations until Dec. 23. If any student needs assistance finding isolation space after Dec. 23, they should contact Dean of Students Erica Woodley at ewoodley@tulane.edu. Our indoor mask mandate, ongoing efforts to administer booster vaccines to everyone in the university community and other safety protocols will also continue.

We know that the announcement of this remote option is a further disruption in what has been a most challenging two years. But this action seems to be the most prudent course and is intended to give students and faculty more options to deal with a complicated educational and health environment. We remain grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work toward the common goal of protecting our community and giving everyone the best chance for a much needed and anticipated break.  

Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer