September 17, 2020
Dear colleagues and students,
We have reached the end of our fourth week of classes, and Labor Day is behind us. I was at IUPUI that day, and once again I saw the campus community taking care of each other, wearing masks, and observing physical distance. We continue to take steps in the right direction.
The latest IUPUI COVID-19 dashboard, which features weekly mitigation testing numbers, reports the good news for the Indianapolis campus. Since testing started, we have administered COVID-19 tests to 4,107 faculty, staff, and students—both those living on and off campus—with a total of 12 positive results. Just last week, we tested 1,443 people with just one student testing positive. These numbers make a strong statement about the hard work all of us are doing, and I encourage you to keep up this good work. Check the IUPUC and IU Fort Wayne dashboards for those numbers.
The purpose of our weekly testing is twofold as you may have heard from Dr. Aaron Carroll in our town hall meetings. First, by sampling groups of students, faculty, and staff from all over IUPUI, IUPUC, and IU Fort Wayne, we can determine the prevalence of infection in those groups and differentiate among them. This allows us to intervene on a smaller scale to improve safety in specific locations. Second, if we see a group with significant rates of infection, we may decide to test all members of that group. By identifying all positive cases and getting them into isolation, determining close contacts and getting them into quarantine, we have a much better chance of controlling the spread of infection. Even now, we may decide to test some of our highest risk groups every week.
The strength of this testing program depends on widespread participation. If you are selected, we expect you respond immediately either by scheduling your test or requesting an exemption if you meet the narrow set of exemption criteria.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I know this isn't easy, but it's worth it. After hundreds of meetings on Zoom, I feel like I'm back home again being on campus every day. When I speak at small events or go to the Campus Center to grab lunch, it's such a pleasure to see people in person (in their masks, of course), enjoying real-time conversations and laughter (physically distanced, of course). I'll be honest, it's different and sometimes awkward, but getting used to changes like these takes a little time. We just need to support and take care of each other along the way.
As I'm sure you are too, I continue to look forward to the day we have a vaccine. Until then, if you're struggling with work/life balance or experiencing problems you feel you can't handle on your own, I encourage colleagues to reach out to the Employee Assistance Program for 24/7 access to professional counseling and referrals and students to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services.
To take care of each other, we also have to take care of ourselves. We'll get through this together.
Nasser H. Paydar