Howard University
Office of University Communications
October 19, 2020

Dear Howard University Community,

As the University plans for the Spring, 2021 semester, we continue to prioritize the health - mental, physical, and emotional health, of our students, faculty, and staff.  As we review the data from our activities on campus, other neighboring academic institutions, and guidance from the CDC and DC Department of Health, we will consider the viability of increasing face to face interactions, and potentially housing students residentially, versus any potential increased risk of viral transmission and health concerns.
We appreciate that many students have expressed a desire to be on campus next semester, and we are considering that option, if we can do so safely. A number of factors contribute to the decision whether to maintain the current physical access to campus, or expand access permitting additional students, faculty and staff. Of note, we are obtaining feedback and input from the DC Department of Health regarding any expansion of the population of University community members, not only at Howard University, but also other academic institutions in the District. Additionally, our ability to be able to conduct an increasing number of COVID-19 tests in our campus laboratory, contact tracing capacity with the District of Columbia, and maintaining a relatively low positivity rate on campus is critical in our decision making. Certainly, the widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine would be a significant mitigating factor for the spring semester, as would a mild influenza season.
We have already made a number of adjustments in the University calendar to help better manage any potential concerns. The University will begin the academic semester one week later than usual, with courses starting for undergraduate students on Monday, January 25, 2020. Additionally, spring break is cancelled to help limit travel outside of the DMV region, and decrease the risk of viral transmission. The final day of the spring semester is scheduled for May 5, 2020.
We will continue to monitor the results of COVID-19 testing conducted on campus, as well as obtain feedback from faculty, students and staff regarding their preferences and concerns for the format of the spring semester. Internal testing indicates that the positivity rate on campus has been less than 1% since widespread testing started in Mid-August. We thank each member of the University Community for your support and cooperation through this pandemic. While we are mindful of the flexibility necessary as we consider various factors, a preliminary recommendation regarding the format of courses, and the plans to house students residentially on campus in the spring, will be provided to the community by October 30, 2020.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph.                     
Provost and Chief Academic Officer               

Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Howard University
Office of University Communications
2225 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20059

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Howard University · 2225 Georgia Ave NW · Washington, DC 20059-1014 · USA