Jun 23, 2020

Returning to Campus: What’s next

On June 8, about a third of our research colleagues reengaged on-campus operations after nearly three months of remote work. So far, the transition back to campus has been smooth, with few problems and complaints. Many thanks to those who ventured back in this first phase, as well as those who prepared the campus for their return.  And, a standing ovation to those workers who were not able to work remotely and remained on campus during the last three months. Your dedication is appreciated.

Many of you have asked about the return-to-campus schedule. We are continuing to return to campus in phases, giving us a chance to assess as we go and build on lessons learned. We expect that the phases will activate every five or six weeks, with the next phase returning in July. Deans and unit heads are working with Human Resources, the Campus Recovery Implementation Team (CRIT), and campus leadership to determine the phased return timeline.

As always, your health and well-being are our primary concern. If you are able to do your job effectively without returning to campus, we urge you to talk with your supervisor about continuing to work remotely.

Deans and unit heads will determine which groups are needed to work in person. For those who are approved to return, we are instituting new protocols designed to protect yourself and others. We expect all on-campus workers to abide by the guidelines and directives described below.

Required TrainingRequired training

All 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. This training is required by Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health. Even if you will continue to work remotely we recommend you complete this training. Completing the training is only one step of the process to return to on-site work. The video is available through the UC Learning Center and can be searched by title using the Find a Course function.

face coveringsFace coverings

In compliance with the California Department of Public Health, all individuals on UCI-controlled property are required to wear face coverings to reduce possible exposure and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the UCI community.  Please read UCI’s Executive Directive for details, including permitted exceptions. Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is offering face coverings to campus employees. Click here to learn more on face coverings.

daily symptom checkDaily symptom check app

As we carefully and systematically bring employees back to campus, it is important that employees designated to work on-site take precautions to keep themselves and others well. State and county guidelines indicate that employees should assess themselves each morning prior to coming into an office where others will be present. To assist employees in their daily assessment, the UCI Working Well™ Daily Symptom Check application has been developed as part of the new Working Well™ program. There will be more information coming out when the UCI Working Well™ program tool kit is released this month.

sanitation and janitorialSanitation and janitorial

As UCI conducts the phased-in return to campus, the COVID-19 Logistical Support Team is coordinating the inventory and supply process for sanitation items needed by various departments to meet local requirements. Visit this link for information on how cleaning, sanitation and janitorial supplies will be centrally purchased and distributed.


We recognize that visitors, contractors, vendors and other non-UCI personnel may need to come to campus. Non-UCI-affiliated individuals coming to campus for essential work must abide by these visitor guidelines.

risk assessmentRisk assessment

As part of the State of California Resilience Roadmap, all returning businesses are required to complete a site-specific risk assessment and protection and monitoring control plan. Unit leader are responsible for completing the risk assessment for their respective units.

physical space assessmentPhysical space assessment

The Campus Logistical Support Team has released the Physical Space Assessment References Guide and Physical Space Assessment Checklist to provide guidance for conducting a physical distancing space assessment related to returning to work. Unit leaders are responsible for completing this checklist before teams come back to work in person.

What to expect

As we ramp up campus operations, the items below will be rolled out over time to various campus buildings with the phased-in approach, and may not appear in every building all at once.

elevator capacityElevator capacity

Elevators will have signage noting capacity maximums of one, two, three or four people at a time. There will be capacity signs at campus elevator banks and coordinating floor graphics, so riders know where to stand. Priority should be given to those with disabilities. People who can use stairs are encouraged to do so when possible to alleviate lines at elevators.

one-way stair wellsOne-way stairwells

In general, stairwells will allow two-way travel – unless there is a high-traffic problem. For crowded stairways, optional signs have been created for building managers to create one-way stairwells. In an emergency evacuation, all stairs may be used to exit.

physical distancingPhysical distancing in workspaces and signage

Physical distancing guidelines (also referred to as social distancing) to stay at least 6 feet from other people remain in place on campus. Physical distance signs, decals and floor graphics will be installed in stages around campus in lobbies and high-traffic areas. Building and department managers can print additional signs as needed from the EH&S website.

working wellUCI’s Working Well™ program

Look for information coming out soon from Human Resources on UCI’s Working Well™ program, which provides employees with the tools they need to work well, and as a result, be well. More than just a set of materials designed to help you and your colleagues prevent the spread of illnesses, the new Working Well™ program is a philosophy, a movement, a state of mind, and an important part of our culture.
Additionally, town halls are available to units who would like to have an HR representative address their group and go over the Working Well™ program. Please contact Lauren Saunders at saunderl@uci.edu to schedule a town hall for your group.

Digital toolkit

This section below contains tools, signage and other assets that may be used to communicate and encourage best practices.

Video Links:

hand washing video
physical distancing video
stop the spread video

Anteater Insider podcastA new podcast series: The Anteater Insider

To assist you with digesting the information necessary as we emerge from the stay at home order under the coronavirus pandemic, strategic communications launched a podcast series targeted toward the UCI community. The Anteater Insider Podcast began June 8 with 15-minute episodes featuring various campus leaders who elaborate on things like research, technology and new workplace behaviors. Check the UCI News website to listen to podcasts that have posted and check the daily Latest Updates COVID-19 email to learn when the newest one is available.

We know this is a lot of information to take in. And you likely have many questions. Please see the Resources for questions and support section at the end of this message.  As the only world-class research university in our region, we are still accomplishing our noble mission of teaching, research and public service. This is all due to you, our dedicated team of campus employees and faculty who turned on a dime as stay-at-home orders were issued and we went to a remote environment. Your agility, perseverance and professionalism set the pace for our students and defined leadership for our community. Please know that all your hard work under challenging conditions is appreciated.

With appreciation,

Hal S. Stern, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics
Chair, COVID-19 Strategic Advisory Group

Resources for questions and support

UCI is dedicated to helping its community learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the COVID-19 disease it causes, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle during this pandemic.  You can find information at these links: