August 12, 2020 by
Richard L. Page
Dear Larner Community:
As our academic year began this week, it has been deeply satisfying to be on campus and able to greet our new members of the Class of 2024 as they begin their journey toward becoming physicians, and to see many other colleagues who have been just faces on Zoom calls for so many months.
Of course, all my personal interactions this week have been at an appropriate distance, and in each of them all parties have been masked. It's unfortunate that face covering has become politicized in some areas. We at this University, a place that is guided by science, know how important masks are to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.
This week, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), our national organization, has underscored the importance and effectiveness of mask wearing in its new publication, "The Way Forward on COVID-19: Consensus Guidance on Face Coverings" (see attached PDF). As the AAMC notes in their report, the high level of asymptomatic carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus means that everyone -- even those who feel healthy -- must cover their nose and mouth in public as a critical part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The AAMC guidance also emphasizes the importance of face coverings outdoors, in situations where one cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others.
I urge you to read this short publication, and to keep in mind the University's guidelines on face covering, which can be found here on the Fall 2020 Return to Campus website, and which apply to anyone using UVM facilities.
Even though we are greeting each other behind masks, I've been happy to realize that our smiles -- and there have been many of them this week -- are still very perceptible. It's something in the eyes. So let's keep smiling, and keep doing everything we can to protect one another.