February 15, 2021
Dear Gonzaga Students, Faculty, Staff, and Families:
Greetings on this Presidents’ Day holiday!
As you all are aware, the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 compelled us to close down all but the most critical of campus operations and shift to primarily “remote” work through much of Spring and Summer 2020. Despite the upheaval and disruption of this period, through the concerted efforts of everyone in our university community, the State, and the Spokane Regional Health District, we successfully resumed our educational programs with a combination of remote- and in-person approaches – with many modifications – for the current academic year. I will never be able to adequately express how grateful I am for the commitment of everyone involved which made possible our successful resumption of work this academic year. Nor will we ever forget the tremendous impact this pandemic has taken upon the world, especially those whose lives have been lost or altered due to this virus.
Although the distribution of vaccines created to prevent or reduce infection, transmission, and the severe symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been slower than any of us would wish, we are thankful for the incredible efforts of scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and governments around the world that have led to their development and production. First responders, healthcare professionals and many of the most vulnerable have been receiving the vaccines for several weeks, and on the basis of the latest government projections, it is our belief that an expanded array of effective vaccines will be widely available to the general public by late-Spring and Summer 2021.
For this reason, we therefore announce that our goal is to fully return to in-person instruction, housing, and campus activities for Fall 2021. Achievement of this goal is dependent upon the health, welfare and safety of our students, staff and faculty – including the widespread availability of vaccines. Presuming we are safely able to do so, our intent is to support “in-person” and face-to-face delivery of those courses that, prior to the pandemic, were delivered in person.
The work of planning to return to campus will demand that we again develop comprehensive plans for a full return to campus. There is much that the past year has taught us about functioning in the face of this pandemic, and there are certain practices that evolved which we may choose to preserve. We soon will share further details about Spring Commencement, Summer sessions, and Summer and Fall study abroad in the weeks ahead. In addition, we will continue to post updates and details on our pandemic response website, ZagOn 2021.
Request for Continued Vigilance
I ask that everyone in the Gonzaga community continues to be vigilant by wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, hand washing, and avoiding gatherings with those outside of your household. We continue to observe individuals who have contracted the virus both on- and off-campus, resulting in students who need to isolate or quarantine. COVID-19 and its variants remain a very real threat to public health and individual safety, here and around the world. Gonzaga is working to seek approval as a point of distribution for the COVID-19 vaccines, but it is not yet clear if, or when, this might happen. If in the meantime you become eligible for the vaccine(s), we strongly encourage you to make arrangements to receive it/them.
Thank you for your continued resilience, commitment and support.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.