I am writing today following this afternoon’s message from University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce in which she confirmed that spring quarter instruction will be conducted remotely.

As the UW implements this change in operations, we are faced with the reality that will be apart for longer than we initially expected. The decision to distance ourselves is a profound sacrifice that we make on behalf of the health, safety, and wellbeing of our school community, our friends, families, and loved ones, and the global community of which each one of us is a part. There has never been a public health crisis with the unique profile and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the context of an increasingly interconnected world.

I am thinking of all of you and sending my best wishes for your health and well-being. It is natural to experience feelings of loss when our reality diverges from the future that we once imagined, particularly as our usual routines of teaching, learning, and working are disrupted without time to process or plan.  And always, our hearts are with those who are suffering and with those who are delivering critical healthcare services on the front lines.

The situation has brought many firsts. As the crisis unfolded, the University of Washington was the first U.S. university to move to online teaching, the Evans School held its first ever faculty and staff meetings via Zoom, the Executive MPA students shared their first weekend with remote access to instruction, and staff continued working hard to both support us in this digital transition and to ensure we did not lose traction in our daily effort to deliver on our mission.

Now we know that these firsts were building the strong foundation of our new reality. Thank you – to all of you – for your patience and partnership during these disorienting circumstances. This is a time when a steadfast commitment to public values and service are paramount - as our country, and all the countries of the world, must unite against the crisis. While engaging remotely we will never lose touch, nor forget all that connects us locally and globally.