September 20, 2021
Dear Tulane Community:
Today, many of our staff and faculty are returning from remote work and settling back into their offices for the first time since Hurricane Ida. Others, especially on our downtown campus and at the National Primate Research Center, have been on-site since last week – and, of course, our critical-mission employees stayed on our campuses throughout the storm and its aftermath. We are pleased to have the full cohort of employees back on our campuses again as we prepare for the return of our students later this week.
As we resume normal operations, we know that many of you are still dealing with your own repairs and recovery from both Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Nicholas. The Office of Human Resources & Institutional Equity has established the Hurricane Ida Employee Relief Assistance Program and our Employee Assistance Program is offering resources to support your emotional well-being. Supervisors and managers have been directed to be as flexible and accommodating as possible and especially sensitive to extenuating circumstances and employee needs during this period. Now is also a time for all of us to be extra patient, forbearing and kind to one another.
In addition to recovering from Ida, we continue to meet the challenges of the ongoing global pandemic. As we return to campus, we are introducing a testing regimen as rigorous as the one employed just last month when we kicked off the new semester. This plan includes pre-arrival testing of students, as well as testing everyone when they return to campus. This will be followed by a comprehensive surveillance testing, contact tracing and isolation program throughout the semester. We will also continue to follow safety protocols and public health guidance from federal, state and local authorities, including mandatory indoor face masking, good hand hygiene and some limits on the size of indoor gatherings both on and off campus. Along with our mandatory vaccination requirement, these efforts will help ensure that we continue to keep our positivity rate, which has remained far less than that of the city and state throughout the pandemic, as low as possible.
While our campuses have been prepared for return following Ida, you will notice the presence of a number of contractors and construction vehicles, particularly on the uptown campus. We have engaged several companies to complete repairs to our facilities. Unfortunately, the rainfall from Tropical Storm Nicholas complicated our repair efforts, and in some places exacerbated damage from Hurricane Ida. If you notice damage to your office space or equipment, please contact your department administrator or building manager. Department administrators/building managers should email all damage information, including building name, floor, and room number, along with photos, to Meredith Beers with the subject line "Ida Damage Report.”
As a gesture of appreciation for your ongoing efforts, the Dining Room at The Commons will be open to faculty and staff for complimentary lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 20 through Sept. 23. Complimentary lunch will also be available for faculty and staff at the Medical School Food Court from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 through Sept. 23 and at the Delta Café on the TNPRC campus from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 20 through 23.
We thank all of you – our healthcare heroes, those who worked on campus throughout the storm, those who evacuated to Houston with our students, those who worked and taught remotely and the many more who served in various ways. Pay continuity for our dedicated staff, contract workers and faculty throughout this crisis was a priority for us and critical for not only Tulane, but for our city and region. Your efforts inspire and help many. For instance, in addition to caring for the Tulane community, our staff also provided a place for medical personnel, first responders, utilities employees and others to eat, rest and recharge when most of the city was without power.
As we return, we will be ever mindful of helping the city and region fully recover. The Center for Public Service is coordinating volunteer opportunities to assist with recovery efforts in the region. We are allowing staff time off during the workday to assist in many of these efforts. We will also help spur the local economy by working with area entrepreneurs through the Freeman School and boosting the city’s profile as a biosciences hub with our discoveries. Our many large-scale purchases and construction projects will also help in the recovery, as will the return of Tulanians to the city’s many restaurants, music venues, museums and businesses (after showing proof of vaccination, of course!).
We will keep you apprised of progress on all of our campuses as we complete our recovery and move forward on all fronts to expand our teaching, research and public service missions. In the meantime, welcome back and, once again, thank you.
Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer