Today marks an important milestone: the completion of the first month of the fall semester. Thank you for all that you have done to enable our University to reach this mark. We commend your hard work and perseverance, your patience and flexibility, your care and concern for others, and your unyielding commitment to carry out our vital instructional mission—even in the face of the most challenging circumstances. If you remember nothing else from this letter, please remember this: we are very proud of you and very grateful for your tremendous determination and spirit.

To be sure, our path to this point has not been easy. Countless teams and individuals worked tirelessly throughout the spring and summer to prepare for instruction this fall, but our plans—like all good plans—have required adjustments and modifications over time. You have been asked to adapt on several occasions, and you have done so successfully.

This week, we observed some encouraging signs about the impact of our collective efforts. Yesterday’s weekly report of positive cases on campus showed dramatic improvement—more than a 70% decline in cases since last week. We also have started gathering data on hospitalizations and recovery rates in order to better understand trends and enhance support to our students, and those data are encouraging as well. Use of isolation and quarantine housing among students is also on the decline.

COVID-19 remains a serious public health issue for our community, and we must never lose sight of that fact. We must remain vigilant and focused on the public health practices we all now know to be effective: wear your masks, maintain your distance from others, wash your hands repeatedly, and stay away from social venues where appropriate distancing is impossible to maintain. If we relax from these daily responsibilities, any gains we have made in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 will most certainly be undone.

Candidly, although we have made it through the first month of the fall, much uncertainty still lies ahead. We understand that many of you are anxious, stressed, and tired. We also know that in addition to managing your UGA responsibilities, you have personal lives and family lives that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. We appreciate how difficult this moment is for each of us and for our University as a whole. That’s why we must continue to support each other, to take care of one another, to be kind and compassionate colleagues, friends, and community members. If we work together, we will get through this crisis, and our University will be stronger for it.

From all of us, thank you for your commitment to moving UGA forward. We recognize your dedication and greatly appreciate it. Let us continue to do everything possible, day in and day out, to flatten the curve and achieve sustained success in the weeks to come.