As we open a year that holds great promise to begin anew, I wanted to update you on the efforts that are underway to sustain our university’s excellence.
As you know, we will continue to operate in a largely virtual modality in Spring 2021, leveraging the solid foundation we have built for effective online and hybrid teaching and the remote provision of student support services. But now that the first vaccines have been approved, and their distribution has begun, we are starting to plan for our next academic year.
Fall 2021 may seem far away but the scheduling of courses is beginning like it normally does across our campuses, so that administrators and department chairs can plan the classes that will be offered and so that students are able to sign up for them later in the Spring. With that in mind and after consulting with University stakeholders, I am pleased to announce that CUNY will plan for a safe and gradual return to mostly in-person instruction and support services in time for the start of classes in Fall 2021.
Even as we prepare for the resumption of in-person learning, we fully expect that our digital footprint will remain larger than it was pre-pandemic, particularly in areas where distance learning can enrich the traditional in-person instructional modality. We will work collaboratively with our campus communities to identify such opportunities, and to keep building on the beneficial practices that have emerged during these most trying of times.
It is also worth noting that even as we anticipate better times ahead, at present we continue to face a grave public health crisis. The coronavirus still poses a serious ongoing threat to our safety and wellbeing, as individuals and as a community. I cannot overstate the importance of remaining vigilant in our exercise of caution, and the necessity to uphold the measures that enabled us to reach this point. Mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing continue to be as important as ever, and anyone who plans to visit a CUNY campus or facility must continue to observe established protocols, including the required use of our Everbridge health-screening mobile app.
Additional guidance on Fall 2021 will be shared in the coming months, and as we have learned this past year, plans may need to be adjusted to reflect the ever-evolving circumstances of these most uncertain times. Our primary objective, now and moving forward, is to ensure that the reopening of our physical classrooms prioritizes the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff above all else.
I wish you the best in the new year and much success if you are starting a winter session or fall session II this week, and in the coming semester.
By Félix V. Matos Rodríguez