To all members of the IU community,
I am extremely pleased to inform you that the Fall Semester on all IU campuses this year will be in person. Though we expect that some of our present public health policies may need to remain in place, we expect that this semester will see a return to mostly normal operations of the university. This decision has been made on the basis of advice from IU's medical and public health experts who have been leading the university's comprehensive and successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year now.
Our ongoing mitigation and symptomatic testing data continue to show that COVID-19 cases on our campuses are very low and remain manageable. For much of the fall and winter, our weekly positivity rates have fallen well under 1 percent, even though IU's Pandemic Response Labs are now conducting up to 50,000 tests a week.
Additionally, more and more Hoosiers are being vaccinated as part of Indiana's phased rollout plan. Already, more than 905,000 individuals in our state have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 460,000 have been fully vaccinated. The new vaccines that are being produced and distributed to Indiana and other states have been spectacularly effective.
A return to mostly normal operations in the Fall Semester, then, will also rely heavily on all members of the IU community — students, faculty and staff — getting vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as you are able. In addition, we expect that routine mitigation testing and other public health policies will continue at some level in the Fall Semester, and all of us will need to continue to adhere to these policies and engage in the actions and behaviors that have kept us safe, healthy and together.
As optimistic as we are, I stress that the battle is not yet won. For the rest of the Spring Semester — and into the summer — we need to continue to strictly observe IU’s policies, including masking, social distancing, avoiding crowds and groups, personal hygiene, and complying with regular mitigation testing, that have proved so effective.
The Fall Semester will commence on Aug. 23, 2021, and continue without a break through Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. We will have a week’s break for Thanksgiving, and then the Fall Semester will continue for a three-week period from Nov. 29, 2021, to Dec. 19, 2021. Depending on the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be necessary to revert again to a hybrid mode of instruction for this final three-week period. More details about how each campus will operate for the Fall Semester will be provided on campus websites in subsequent months.
Since the onset of the pandemic, IU has prioritized the health and safety of the IU community and the continuity of our instruction, research and clinical operations. These priorities have guided — and will continue to guide — every decision we make to address the pandemic.
Hence, as we have learned from the experience of the past year, in the face of this deadly pandemic we cannot set any of our plans in stone. As long as the pandemic is with us, we must be ready to adjust course rapidly, and we will constantly review our plans, activities and operations.
However, because of the outstanding efforts of the entire IU community on all campuses across the state in successfully battling the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, I am very confident that we will see a successful return to mostly normal university operations in the fall.
With thanks for all you do and continue to do for IU,
Michael A. McRobbie