Dear Faculty and Staff,
Thank you for all of your work implementing our educational mission at Texas Christian University. Admittedly, this has been a challenging time for us to navigate as a community. While we have enjoyed many of the “normal” trappings of welcoming a new semester with joyous move-in days and an Opening Celebration, I acknowledge the anticipated challenges and changed experience, given the many precautions and responsive strategies that must be taken during this unprecedented pandemic.
Our community’s support of students and our entire campus community leaves me hopeful and encouraged. I applaud the actions of those on the front lines who manage the ongoing cleaning and protective protocols, comprehensive student services and academic needs of those who have been affected by COVID-19. As the case numbers fluctuate daily, I keep in mind that each one represents a beloved person in our community – a student or colleague – who has tested positive, who has been asked to quarantine, or who is hopefully on the road to recovery.
While we experienced an uptick in cases in the early days of our students returning to campus, I am now seeing encouraging markers that give me hope that things are improving. Our daily case count has enjoyed a 5-day decline and a decrease in total active case counts as individuals recover. I do not share these positive developments as cause for premature celebration because we have a lot more work to do as we protect our community, but as a sign that our precautionary efforts seem to be showing a positive impact on the many factors we monitor, and will continue to analyze in the days ahead. I expect we will continue to see upticks and downward trends over the next days.
I am very encouraged to see a major decline in both on-campus and off-campus gatherings of students over the past weekend. While I can’t say today whether our case numbers will decrease accordingly, other schools have been reporting early spikes followed by a leveling off of new cases and I am hoping for similar results. While it is hard to avoid gatherings among friends who have been apart, I believe the necessary changes in behavior will have positive results. In addition to avoiding group gatherings, I believe that precautionary measures including wearing masks, keeping social distance, frequent hand washing and careful cleaning will help us protect our community and prevent transmission.
We believe in our students and expect them to live up to the high standards we have set for them. The university has communicated the gravity of our situation and the resulting strategies and rules designed to keep our campus safe.
When we do identify a number of related cases, our testing strategy is to deploy targeted and vigorous testing to affected areas in an effort to contain additional spread and quarantine those who may have been in contact. While not a popular decision, we have used this method in areas with cluster infections and will again, if necessary.
Because of the fluid nature of these days, we ask you to rely on the transparent reporting and communications of facts about COVID-19 that can be verified rather than on speculation. Please utilize the many reliable resources made available to you as valued members of the TCU community if and when you need more information.
I ask that you continue your good work in prevention, protection and response to the needs of your colleagues and students. It bears repeating that all of this work requires mental stamina and emotional support for all of us as we care for others. Please don’t hesitate to utilize our employee resources when you need them. We know that this is a challenging time in the history of TCU, as well as for many of us personally, and I am grateful for your dedication as we determine the most successful outcomes for our community.
Thank you for your support.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs and
Chair of the Chancellor’s Fall 2020 Campus Readiness Task Force