January 19, 2021
Dear Colleagues and Students,
Welcome to the spring semester.
With the unfortunate events in our nation's capital earlier this month, the year has not started off as I had hoped it would. Such acts of violence and intimidation fly in the face of everything we do as members of an academic community and as citizens who respect the law and one another. Now is the time that we must reaffirm our core values of civility, respect, and open dialogue as we continue our collaborative search for solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Now is also the time for all of us to continue the hard work and determination that will lead to degrees, discoveries, and distinction even as we work together to promote the health and safety of our campus community. Thanks to your vigilance in the fall—wearing masks, practicing safe distancing, and washing hands—we were able to proceed with classes as planned. With your help, we aim to do the same in the spring semester.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines
This spring, thanks to in-house laboratories, we will enhance our testing efforts, increasing the number of people invited for mitigation testing to around 15,000 per week. This increase will mean that you are likely to be selected more often for mitigation testing. Keep in mind that you may be exempt from testing if you are not coming to campus. IUPUI will also continue to offer voluntary testing for individuals who don't have symptoms of COVID-19. Each week, a limited number of voluntary asymptomatic testing slots will be available to those who schedule in advance.
In Indiana, COVID-19 vaccines are currently available to a select group of Hoosiers, including health care workers, first responders, and people age 70 and older. The university has been notifying eligible faculty, staff, and students via email and text message as the state expands vaccine eligibility; you can also go to ourshot.in.gov to check eligibility or schedule a vaccine yourself.
Some of you may have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, and I applaud you. For those of you who have yet to be vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get ready. The more of us who are vaccinated, the quicker we will end this pandemic.
In response to feedback from students and with the endorsement of the IUPUI Faculty Council Executive Committee, we have added two wellness days in the Spring 2021 academic calendar. These two days—Tuesday, February 23 and Wednesday, March 24—will be days without classes on both the IUPUI and IUPUC campuses, and we are encouraging faculty and staff members to limit the number of meetings they schedule on these days. We are also exploring the addition of wellness programming and will share more once plans solidify.
A Spring Semester Challenge
As we continue to battle this pandemic, I want to thank you for all that you are doing, but I also want to challenge you. Reach out to at least two people who have helped you or helped our community, and let them know how much you appreciate them. This is how we can stay connected and let people know that we care. If you're on social media, I'd love to see you post your thanks with #IUPUIStrong or #IUPUCStrong.
Again, welcome to this spring semester. Working together, let's do our best to ensure that 2021 ends better than it began.
Nasser H. Paydar