Photograph: Students in a classroom.

August 2, 2021 Update From Dean Lowry

Dear Students:

The recent rise in Covid cases has understandably caused many questions about whether the university is adhering to its current policy that vaccinations, masks, and social distancing are not required on campus. At this time, the current policy has not changed, but the university is closely monitoring the situation in light of the Shawnee County Health Officer recommending precautions again, especially for indoor activities and among those unvaccinated. See Updated COVID-19 Recommendations from Local [i.e., Shawnee County] Health Officer. If there are any changes in campus policy, you will receive a message immediately from the university via email. [Please see August 6, 2021 update regarding masks.]

I know this déjà vu uncertainty is very frustrating as you try to plan your life. I'm grateful that Dean Pratt had the foresight to seek and obtain a continuance of the ABA Covid Variance for this fall so that those with health concerns due to Covid can attend hybrid courses remotely without running into the 30-credit distance learning cap. Concern about a family or household member qualifies under the variance.

University Health Services continue to provide free, convenient Covid testing on request. It is not currently able to provide vaccination on demand, but those desiring vaccination should contact them: they can tell you when their next vaccination clinic will be held or where you can most immediately receive vaccination in Shawnee county. See Student Health Services website. If you live outside Shawnee County, please contact your county's health department. We are tremendously lucky to be living in a country where vaccines are now readily available to all 12 and older, while so many millions of people in other countries are still desperate for a shot.

Most of you are weary of how long this has dragged on, and of how uncertain your lives continue to be. I am touched and grateful for how kind you have been to each other throughout. Some among us--students, faculty, and staff--have lost loved ones to Covid and are grieving, and others are faltering from all the uncertainty in the world right now. Please know for yourself, and please remind those whom you may see struggling, that none of us need to be alone in this. I will be here for you, and grief support groups, individual counseling, and financial resources are available. (See details at

Speaking of not being alone, so many of us are looking forward to seeing each other this fall—some of you will be seeing the campus for the first time! It is currently still considered safe to continue with our plans for the outdoor picnic on August 30, which will be spread all over the south patio and the surrounding lawns (bring a blanket!). If you haven’t yet, please RSVP by Monday, August 23 in order to join in the food. The form gives you the opportunity to request particular music you would like to hear, also!

Warm regards,

Jalen Lowry
Associate Dean for Student Affairs