I am sure that many of you were still reeling from the news of the mass murder, motivated by a hateful racist ideology, in Buffalo, NY, when you heard that a shooter had killed several children at a grade school in Uvalde, TX. As I write, 19 children and two of their teachers are dead. Contemplating these back-to-back tragedies can be too much to bear.
As we near the end of the academic year, I want to thank you for your diligence in following the Institute’s COVID-19 protocols over the past 2+ years. It hasn’t been easy and at times, I’m sure it has felt restrictive, but it has kept our COVID cases low and allowed us to gradually loosen up some of the guidelines. We hope that we’ll be able to return to normal by the start of the fall semester.
It’s hard to believe that we are reaching the end of the academic year, with finals upon us soon. We are looking forward to celebrating our Spring 2022 graduates during the Commencement ceremony on May 21. The keynote speaker will be Fatema Z. Sumar, who served until recently as Vice President of Compact Operations at the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Leveraging her expertise in international development, foreign policy, diplomacy, and advocacy, Ms. Sumar has, in a variety of roles, led efforts to fight poverty by transforming global systems in reaching vulnerable populations. Meanwhile, Meng (Barbara) Zhang has been selected as the student speaker for the Class of 2022. She has been involved in numerous MIIS and volunteer activities and co-founded Translators for Elders.
This time of year marks an important season for many members of our community. Our Muslim friends are observing the Holy Month of Ramadan, Jewish community members begin their observance of Passover this evening, and Christians will celebrate Easter this weekend. We extend warm wishes to all members of our community as they celebrate this season. Student Council is hosting an Iftar event next Wednesday to celebrate and share together.
Welcome back to campus. I hope you all had a relaxing break and have returned refreshed. As you know, COVID-19 is slowly transitioning from pandemic to endemic as the trends globally and locally improve. We are glad to offer some additional flexibility in terms of COVID-related policies and will continue to monitor trends in Monterey County. For now, several changes were implemented on March 28 that I want to reiterate below.
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the start of sheltering in place due to the pandemic. Thankfully, COVID-19 trends in Monterey County are improving, and our campus COVID is evolving as a result. As we head into spring break, I want to update you on what’s changing – and what remains unchanged – in our COVID policies for the second half of the spring semester.
This month marks two years since the Institute, along with much of the world, began sheltering in place due to COVID-19. I so appreciate the patience and mutual support that everyone has shown as we have weathered COVID together. We will be looking for ways to return to some sense of normalcy between now and the end of the academic year.
As we honor and celebrate Black History Month 2022, on behalf of the global Middlebury Institute community, I want to reflect upon and reaffirm the myriad ways that Black lives matter: in history, and today; at home, and around the world. I want to express my solidarity with the Black members of our campus community, and my gratitude for the contributions they make here every day.
Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate! I hope the first week of the semester is going smoothly. After today, I will revert to sending out these updates on a bi-weekly basis. As always, you can view all return to campus policies and updates on our return to campus web page.