To the entire Georgia Tech community — welcome back. I am excited to see our campus full of energy once again despite the difficult circumstances we are going through. It hasn’t been easy to get ready for this reopening, and I am immensely grateful for all the work of our faculty and staff in preparation for this fall semester. The coming weeks are not going to be any easier, yet I’m confident in the ability of our community to complete a successful and productive semester.
Our staff and faculty have spent every waking minute planning our learning and research activities in the safest way possible during a very uncertain and fluid time. Because of ongoing health risks, returning to campus does not mean a return to the normalcy of our previous environment. We have adjusted the semester schedule while maintaining the number of instructional days. Many classes will be offered in hybrid and remote formats. Classrooms and labs have new configurations to create safe distancing for in-person interactions. We’ve enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures; set new rules for campus, housing, and dining services; and are undergoing continuous risk assessments and analyses.
We have established a large-scale testing system as well as contact tracing and quarantine protocols. In addition to clinical testing at Stamps Health Services for individuals showing symptoms, our surveillance testing procedures will allow us to identify asymptomatic carriers early on so we can take preventive measures and minimize transmission risks. This testing facility uses a quick, easy and painless saliva-based procedure. And it is free of charge. I encourage all of you to get tested weekly, for your own sake and the sake of all around you. Just go to mytest.gatech.edu and follow the easy instructions.
Last weekend, as new students and their families were moving into dorms, I realized that, as hard as this is, it’s worth it. I saw the excitement of our students and their families. I was inspired by the incredibly talented and committed class we have recruited. And I was energized by the conversations we had, knowing we are trying our very best to deliver to them a transformative learning experience. While everything during move-in involved a process to ensure safety, I didn’t hear a single person complain about assigned check-in times or wearing a mask or physical distancing or anything else for that matter. On the contrary, several students told me that they are ready to do whatever it takes to help ensure they can study on campus this semester. That’s the spirit, and that’s what it’s going to take to ensure the health of our community. Little everyday decisions, looking out for each other.
We have started a communications campaign, “Jackets Protect Jackets,” to remind us of everything we can do to protect ourselves and others.
We have numerous resources for you online on the Tech Moving Forward site. It includes guidelines for safely returning to campus, student and faculty handbooks, and specific information for various groups. It also includes a link to Tech’s Helping Stories website. I know you will be inspired as I have been by the many ways the entire Tech community has come together to respond to Covid-19 and to help others around the state, the nation, and the world.
I am committed to do whatever is in my power to help our campus community navigate this pandemic successfully. And I know our entire leadership team, our faculty, and our staff will do everything within their power as well. I also know our students will do their part. It will take all of us working together — wearing masks, practicing personal hygiene, practicing physical distancing, and not gathering in large groups, especially indoors.
The power of our community can help us face this challenge. Jackets Protect Jackets.
To our students, we have worked together to provide the support you need to succeed. I want you to know that we are here for you. You have chosen to study at one of the world’s best research universities, one that will be a part of your life forever. We’re glad you’re here.