September 9, 2021
Dear Tulane Community:
When we wrote on Aug. 30 to inform you that the university was planning to return to in-person classes on Oct. 11, we also held out the hope that this return could occur sooner if the city’s electrical power and essential services were restored earlier than expected. Today, we are pleased to announce that this hope has been fulfilled.
At the time we wrote our first reopening message, just one day after the storm, it was unclear how long the city would be without power, with estimates up to several weeks. Now Entergy power has returned to much of New Orleans and surrounding communities. According to our Cox representative, internet service is expected to be fully restored to Orleans Parish no later than the end of this week or early next week. Our campuses are now fully powered and are currently being assessed and repaired for our safe return. Gasoline stations, restaurants, groceries, pharmacies and other vital businesses are reopening while area universities and grade schools are planning to restart in-person education as early as next week.
With a large and diverse national and international student body and faculty, we cannot pivot and return as quickly as some local universities and schools. However, our campuses and city will have been restored to the point that we can resume in-person classes Sept. 27, two weeks earlier than we had previously announced. Our schedule for return will be as follows:
All classes will remain canceled until Sept. 13.
All classes will be held online from Sept. 13 through Sept. 22
Downtown campuses will re-open Sept. 13. Supervisors will communicate with downtown staff on whether they need to return to on-site work before Sept. 20. Supervisors will be flexible with staff who have storm-related issues that prevent them from returning to on-site work on or before Sept. 20.
TNPRC laboratories will re-open Sept. 13. TNPRC supervisors will communicate with their staff on whether they need to return to on-site work before Sept. 20. Supervisors will be flexible with staff who have storm-related issues that prevent them from returning to on-site work on or before Sept. 20.
Uptown staff will return to on-site work on Sept. 20. Supervisors will be flexible with staff who have storm-related issues that prevent them from returning to on-site work on Sept. 20.
Fall break will be rescheduled for Sept. 23-26
Uptown faculty and staff will be able to eat for free at The Commons during the week of Sept. 20, prior to the return of students. A food truck with free food will also be available for downtown faculty and staff during the same time period.
Our campus will be fully open and operational and we will resume in-person education on Sept. 27. For more details on the fall academic calendar see this recent message. Some degree programs in medicine and law have different calendars, so please consult your school for further guidance.
Students who live on campus should plan to return to campus between Friday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 26. All on-campus students will receive more detailed information regarding the return to campus from Housing & Residence Life via their Tulane e-mail address soon.
We know that the news that we are shortening the time away from our campus from six to four weeks will be welcomed by the overwhelming number of students, faculty and staff who have expressed a strong desire to return as soon as possible. Please know that, as we write this, there are hundreds of Tulane staff and professional contractors working around the clock, going room by room, building by building to assess, repair and remediate any campus damages.
We understand, however, that not every student, staff and member of our faculty, especially those now abroad, will be able to change their plans to return at this earlier date. Moreover, even if they could change plans, they may not be able to do so without incurring travel costs and other expenses. To assist with storm-related expenses, emergency funds are available for both employees and students. Faculty and staff can apply for these funds by contacting hr.tulane.edu/hurricane-ida. Students should submit their requests for assistance with travel expenses related to Hurricane Ida by filling out this form. Our goal is to return to on-site operations as soon as possible while offering flexibility and assistance to students, faculty and staff facing consequences that could delay their earlier return.
If some faculty members cannot get back to campus by Sept. 27, they may continue to teach online beyond Sept. 22. But they should return to teach in-person no later than Oct. 11, the originally announced date of return. Faculty facing legitimate encumbrances to the earlier return date should inform their department chair and dean of their plans as soon as possible. Likewise, some students, especially our international students, may not be able to return by the move-in dates listed above or by the first day of in-person classes, Sept. 27. In such cases, faculty should offer these students as much flexibility as possible and ensure that they do not suffer any academic disadvantages because of their delayed arrival. One option is to accommodate these students using the same process for students who may have to miss class because of a positive COVID test. However, every student registered for an on-ground program is required to return to campus no later than Oct. 11.
Staff, and off-campus students, whose homes may have been rendered uninhabitable by the storm, may also face major obstacles in returning to campus at the same time as the rest of the community. These Tulanians, who have our greatest sympathy and support, are urged to contact their supervisors or deans to see what arrangements might be made to allow them to continue to work remotely past Sept. 20 or to study remotely until Oct. 11.
Faculty and staff are reminded to please complete this survey which will inform us of the damages to their homes from Ida and help us better assess the challenges they face and how we might assist. Off-campus students are asked to complete this housing status survey. We will soon publish a webpage that lists short-term rentals in the area that are available for potential use by off-campus students whose homes are not habitable as a result of the storm. Louisiana homeowners and renters may also visit FEMA’s Disaster Assistance for additional relief opportunities. Other federal assistance programs that storm survivors may be eligible for, can be found here.
While we did suffer damage to campus buildings and power loss had a significant impact on the city and Tulane, the levee system held and we did not witness the type of catastrophic flooding and other losses from Hurricane Ida that surrounding communities and areas of the Northeast experienced. This outcome has allowed us the opportunity for a nearly full semester of hands-on learning, research, living and work that benefits Tulane’s rich relational culture. It also means, as the city’s largest employer, we can bring our students, faculty and staff home to help revitalize and restore New Orleans and surrounding communities as they recover from Ida.
Last year, when many universities were forced to remain online due to COVID-19, we were able to bring students back for in-person classes thanks to one of the country’s most rigorous testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation programs. We also erected temporary buildings for social distancing, conducted half a million COVID tests and implemented mandatory vaccinations, masking and safety health protocols.
In this same spirit, and with many of the same safety protocols mentioned above, we will return to our campus home this semester to continue our mission of education, research and service for New Orleans and the world. We can’t wait to see you again.
Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer