I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the end of a two-week lockdown of heightened restrictions that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had imposed after a major spike in COVID cases. At the end of this two-week period, Chancellor Robert J. Jones sent out a mass email to all 40,000+ students with eight wise words of guidance.

So, in eight words, here are the rules I’m going to ask you to follow for the next few weeks. I can say the words, but, as always, it is your actions that will make the difference.

But what were these eight words? That’s for you, dear solver, to figure out.

In all seriousness, I’m so thankful to be at a university that’s tackling COVID as comprehensively as UIUC is. We have mandatory twice-a-week testing, and we can’t enter campus buildings unless an app shows we’ve recently tested negative. Crazily enough, around 2% of all national COVID tests are being performed right here at UIUC. So even if being on a college campus these days doesn’t seem like the safest idea, it doesn’t get much safer than UIUC.

And with that, enjoy the puzzle!