January 14, 2021 - Unified Command Pandemic Response Spring Update

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the spring semester, we – members of UMSL’s Unified Command Pandemic Response team – would like to provide a brief update on UMSL’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the new year. 

As was shared in December, the spring semester will follow our same approach as the fall semester with nearly 60 percent of classes being held fully online with the remaining offered in a blended, in-person format with enrollment caps to allow for adequate social distancing. Looking ahead, the summer 2021 scheduling strategy mirrors our summer 2020 schedule based on the success we experienced in providing a wide array of online course options. Planning for the fall 2021 semester schedule is underway and details will be provided in the coming months.

During the spring semester, we will continue to maximize remote working for employees who are able to do so effectively. Units are not expected to amend their approved repopulation plans this spring. However, if a unit or department wishes to modify their plan in order to add additional in-person personnel, please contact a member of Unified Command to submit an updated plan for review and approval by the Executive Policy Group.

New this academic year is our updated campus closure procedures for inclement weather. UMSL and our fellow UM System universities have modified campus closure practices to reduce interruptions caused by severe inclement weather. Rather than close campus operations entirely during weather-related events, the university will shift to remote learning and working when needed. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with HR-217 Emergency Closure and Transition to Remote Operations.

As you know, our state and nation as a whole is undergoing a comprehensive, phased approach to COVID-19 vaccination allocation. The initial phase includes health care professionals and frontline essential workers such as first responders. Please know that our Campus Health Officer, Chris Sullivan, is engaged with the UM System Office of Emergency Management, St. Louis City and County public health officials, the State of Missouri and CDC to ensure that UMSL has access to the vaccine during the appropriate phase. Many of our campus health care providers have already began being vaccinated and the state has determined that higher education faculty and staff will be included in phase two of the state’s vaccine allocation. More information will be shared with our community as vaccine distribution frameworks are solidified by local and state health officials.

Our response team continues to meet weekly to provide timely updates to university leadership based on engagement with university colleagues as well as local, state and national health officials. We encourage members of our university community to reach out to members of our Unified Command team with any questions, concerns or ideas to help ensure the continued health, safety and well-being of our community.

Additional information on our pandemic response is available on the Start Safe. Stay Safe. website.

Sincerely,

UMSL Unified Command: