When our workplace was upended in March, many of you made the transition to remote operations like champions – smoothly and effectively, without a noticeable hiccup in productivity or quality.
As the Chancellor mentioned in his May 11 message, we are working on a phased approach for reengaging on-site operations. The roll-out of these phases begins soon with some research functions returning on June 8, 2020, pending consultation with the Orange County Health Care Agency, as announced by Vice Chancellor Khargonekar last week.
We know that researchers and their teams are anxious to come back to their labs, and we expect other operations to follow in a careful cadence. As always, the health and well-being of our people will be the primary factor in deciding how and when individual on-campus operations will reengage. Your health and the well-being of our community are our highest priorities.
Our campus has responded incredibly well to preserve the health of our community and the region. As we slowly begin to resume in-person operations, it will be critical that we each continue to take steps to ensure the health of ourselves, colleagues, friends, and loved-ones. In the face of a contagious virus, it will take a community effort for us all to stay healthy. I believe we can do this together, for each other and the community.
Based on return-to-work guidelines from the State of California and Orange County, we are required to train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19; apply individual control measures and screenings; implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols; and provide physical distancing instructions. Recent consensus standards adopted by the University of California Office of the President endorse these requirements. How we intend to address the requirements is described below.
Training for employees: All on-site employees are required to view a training video entitled “Returning to Campus,” which explains what COVID-19 is, how it is transmitted, the steps we’re taking to reduce potential exposures, and what you can do to protect yourself and others. The video will be available through the UC Learning Center and can be searched by title using the Find a Course function.
Measures to control the spread: The best ways to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus are through frequent hand washing, use of face coverings, physical distancing, self-screening for symptoms, viral testing for those with symptoms, and contact tracing of individuals testing positive. As we return to campus:
We will expect individuals to screen themselves for symptoms each day before coming to campus. Human Resources is providing easy-to-use software for your desktop or mobile device, along with a dedicated phone number, to facilitate this wellness check. As individuals return to campus, they will receive a health check-in email or a mobile app notification. This process is already working well at our medical center, and we ask that you use the screening software before reporting to your workplace.
We are enhancing custodial services with the hiring of additional workers and more frequent cleaning schedules.
Supplies including hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, paper towels, disposable gloves, and washable face masks will be provided centrally to returning groups.
Signs and other reminders encouraging physical distancing will be common.
We will wear face coverings while in campus buildings and in outdoor campus spaces where it is not possible to ensure physical distancing, in accordance with orders from the Orange County Health Agency. Facial coverings are not required for those unable to wear them for health or other reasons, as set forth in the Orange County orders. Remember that we wear masks to protect each other.
The measures above may be updated as we learn more about the virus, or as state or county guidance changes.
In the weeks and months to come, we will slowly start to bring back other members of our community. Based on current information, we expect that more than half of our workforce will return to campus in time for the fall quarter, with others continuing to successfully work remotely. Individual supervisors, with support from Human Resources and in consultation with their appropriate Deans or Vice Chancellors, will determine the work locations of their team members. Those who believe they cannot return to an in-person work environment should reach out to their supervisors to discuss alternative arrangements.
We recognize that the transition to remote work has not been easy. Many of you have had to juggle teaching and childcare duties in addition to your professional work. Others have donated blood, run errands for neighbors and colleagues in need, and supported our frontline employees in a myriad of ways. You have performed brilliantly. Your commitment to UCI and your job has not gone unnoticed. Thank you again for your dedication, resilience and hard work.
Hal S. Stern, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics