Dear Colleagues:

Welcome back! I hope you had a relaxing and restorative break and are ready for a new semester. Unfortunately, we are resuming classes under some particularly challenging conditions this week, the result of a combination of the omicron wave, the Montgomery County Public Schools’ pivot to virtual instruction, the closure of most local childcare providers, and the frigid, snowy weather.

The CLAHS Leadership Team and I will do everything we can to keep you informed in this dynamic environment. We encourage you to keep monitoring the VT Ready site as well as the weekly guidance from the Provost’s office.

I know most of you are overwhelmed by the convergence of factors that perpetuate the uncertainties of the last two years. But each of you has particular circumstances and thus a one-size-fits-all response is not optimal. Accordingly, I ask you to work on a case-by-case basis with your school directors, department heads/chairs, directors of graduate programs, and immediate supervisors in addressing the challenges you might be experiencing.

Provost Clarke has asked the deans to include the possibility of a temporary pivot to online instruction during the extenuating circumstances we are experiencing this week. Faculty who wish to proceed with face-to-face instruction may do so. We will carefully monitor this situation and make adjustments as conditions improve, and we shall see whether it will be necessary to extend flexibility on teaching beyond this week.

Staff who may need to telework this week should check with their immediate supervisors.

Graduate students, I share this guidance from Dean Surprenant:

For GTAs: If an emergency arises due to illness of an instructor or illness/isolation of a majority of class members, the department head or unit administrator, in consultation with the dean, may approve a short-term, temporary conversion to virtual learning. Please contact the instructor of your class to learn their plans and to work out arrangements that best meet with both of your circumstances.

For GRAs and GAs: Please communicate with your faculty or administrative supervisor to determine what your working arrangements will be during the first few weeks of the semester.

In all cases, please check back frequently to negotiate changing circumstances—clear communication about expectations and accommodations will be critical.

I am so very grateful for your dedication, persistence, and patience. It is an extraordinary privilege to lead the CLAHS community, and I hope you will continue to bring issues of concern to my attention. Keep your loved ones close, stay safe, and let’s keep taking care of each other.

Be well,

Laura Belmonte
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences