April 24, 2020
Dear OU Community,
I hope this letter finds you safe and well. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives, threatened our well-being, and inflicted severe economic loss. I know we all feel anxious about what the future holds. But this unimaginable hardship brings with it an opportunity for our University to affirm our fundamental values and forge a future brighter than ever. As the Sooner Nation, we confront crises directly, with honesty and with informed courage. It is from this perspective that I write to you about our plans for the fall semester.
After careful deliberation, our intention is to return to in-person educational operations on all three campuses by this fall, offering traditional instruction and residential life. We are doing everything we can to make that realistic and safe. We are acutely aware of the certain challenges COVID-19 will present as we pursue this goal and are planning to address the issues proactively and creatively. We are prepared to adapt instructional and housing models as appropriate to protect our community and still offer the life-changing in-person OU experience. Flexibility will be a guiding principle as we navigate the coming months, and we will ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are presented with appropriate options to return to our campuses, keeping their safety top of mind.
While we cannot eliminate all risk, we will mitigate it in every reasonable way we can. We are fortunate to benefit from the expertise of our own public health and infectious diseases experts, and we are consulting daily with our subject-matter scientists and physicians. Safety precautions will be at the forefront of all campus operations, from the classrooms to the residence halls. Those measures include adapting class schedules, utilizing larger classrooms for the practice of greater social distancing, enabling the widespread use of masks and other PPE, increasing on-campus testing, and providing enhanced cleaning throughout all of our campuses. Over the coming weeks, we will work tirelessly to identify the best ways to create the safest possible environment for our campus communities, and we will share the elements of our plan as they continue to be refined.
We have an obligation to our students, our state, and society to continue our important work. As we navigate the coming months, the real measure of our success is not that we just get through this pandemic, but that we emerge from it stronger. I am confident that our OU family is up to this task, and I join each of you in eager anticipation of being together again, safely, this fall.
Joseph Harroz, Jr.