Aloha UH Hilo Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Yesterday President Lassner issued an announcement regarding the changes to COVID-19-related restrictions across the State and County and the impacts to our operations taking effect December 1, 2021. For Hawai‘i County, these include increases to social gathering limitations (25 persons for indoor, 100 persons for outdoor) and increasing capacities at food service locations.
The updated State and County orders/rules defer to the CDC guidance for safety, hygiene, and physical distancing. Per the CDC guidance for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) that are fully-vaccinated, there can be a return to full capacity for in-person learning. Masks must continue to be properly worn while indoors.
We are taking a moderate approach in returning to “normal,” and do so with you in mind. This approach may be different from other campuses, and that is because we are a different institution. We have different resources and needs than Oʻahu. What works on Oʻahu does not necessarily work here, and we feel this approach to reopening and returning to “normal” is the best fit for our community.
At UH Hilo, we are beginning the transition to full capacity in-person learning. For Spring 2022, while we are keeping the 3-foot distance capacities in classrooms, faculty may continue to work with their respective Chairs and Deans to increase in-person class presence or other adjustments informed by enrollment patterns before January. The Spring 2022 transition is with the expectation that schedules for Fall 2022 are developed with full capacity classrooms and learning environments in mind. Intentional, well-designed distance learning options will continue to be a vital component of our offerings as we have seen in the last 20 months that DL meets the needs of a segment of our student population.
Part of the transition includes the return to a form of in-person Commencement on December 18, 2021. We hope that through our continued efforts as a campus and community, that we can continue to provide more events and opportunities for everyone. This takes a campus effort: being safe, following our campus rules and guidelines, and remembering that your individual actions impact a host of individuals. With the emerging new Omicron variant, the selflessness of our actions and behaviors continues to be important.
Bonnie D. Irwin