Together, we have learned much this spring about the value and strength of our UMBC community, and we are applying this understanding as we make plans for the fall semester. Like most universities, UMBC is carefully evaluating options, and we want you to know how our campus is approaching this work. It is our intention to offer some level of on-campus activities in the fall, prioritizing instruction and student support, if it is possible to do so in a way that protects the health of our community.
Last week, we announced the launch of a Fall Planning Coordinating Committee. This group is taking a holistic approach, with more than 150 faculty, staff, students, and shared governance representatives working toward scenarios for the fall semester that adapt all aspects of our mission to the physical distancing and other measures required for health and safety. They are guided by overarching principles of protecting health and safety, preserving the quality of our academic program, and supporting the people in the UMBC community. Work groups are currently developing plans to enable teaching and learning, student life, research and creative activity, operations, and events and engagement to continue, with the modifications necessary to safeguard the health of our community, our families, and our neighbors.
By early June, we will share plans for the fall semester and invite feedback, understanding that any plan we adopt will need to be flexible as we continue to monitor pandemic conditions. Our plans will be informed by the best available scientific data and adjusted as local, state, and federal public health guidance and restrictions change. While it is important to understand that no public environment will be completely free of COVID-19, our plans must include steps to ensure appropriate standards for physical distancing and sanitation, proactive monitoring of the health of community members who return to campus, and effective response to cases as they occur. Implementation of any reopening plan also depends on access to adequate testing, contact tracing, quarantine capacity, and medical care.
As much as we all desire to gather as a whole community on campus, we know that the coming academic year will bring continued adaptation. At the same time, our commitment to the success of our students requires their continued progress through academic programs, applied learning, and co-curricular experiences. Our mission as a public research university also requires us to continue, to the extent possible, advancing knowledge and understanding through research, scholarship, creative achievement, and community engagement. Public research universities have an urgent role to play in addressing the health, economic, social, and cultural impacts of COVID-19. We are committed to finding the best possible ways to continue this vital work, and we will keep you informed as plans for the fall semester develop.
In the meantime, we thank you again for all you do for UMBC and one another, and we wish you a restorative and productive summer.
President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous