Checking in with Chancellor May: Anticipation

Aggie Public Health Ambassador wearing a mask, face shield and gloves wiping down a table and giving the thumbs up at COVID testing station.

To the UC Davis Community:

I’m thrilled that our plans are taking shape for a return to campus in the fall. There’s nothing quite like the start of a new academic year, when our campus community will be bustling with activity and excitement once again. I’m waiting with anticipation for that day to arrive.

 There’s a lot to report this week as we move closer to that goal.

As Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan and I noted in our Fall 2021 Campus Planning Update earlier this week, we expect to return to full in-person activities on our Davis and Sacramento campuses for fall quarter 2021. That includes in-person instruction with normal classroom occupancy, full capacity for on-campus housing and dining facilities, and a return to full research operations in September. We expect libraries, computer labs, student centers and other academic support spaces to operate at normal capacity. We also anticipate in-person events hosted by student groups and campus departments.

Of course, we will closely monitor public health guidance and be ready to adjust to changing circumstances. We’re also planning some flexibility for COVID-19-related health or ADA accommodations, as well as exploring options for some  alternative instruction in the event international students are impacted by travel restrictions.

We’ll have much more information to share in coming weeks. For now, find more details in the Fall 2021 Campus Planning Update.

Reimagining the workplace

We’re also making progress on plans to transition UC Davis staff back to campus between July and September. We recognize that many employees have been working at university facilities throughout the pandemic, providing critical services to keep our campus healthy. For those of you working remotely, we want to apply some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past year as we completely reimagine how the university operates. We know that working remotely can save money, open up space and enhance employee satisfaction.

Our chief human resources officer, Christine Lovely, who is the co-sponsor of the Workplace Reimagined Working Group, says the pandemic significantly changed how and where we work — and we’ve come too far to go back to the way things were. Very soon, the working group will release recommendations and guidelines for supervisors, managers and line staff that maximize the benefits of flexible work arrangements for staff, while still prioritizing the delivery of critical services.

As we begin the gradual transition from temporary flexible work arrangements to more permanent arrangements, we ask managers to try to provide 30 days’ notice of changes to current work arrangements. Starting July 1, we will begin testing new flexible work arrangements, where it makes sense for the university and the employee, based on the varied operational needs across campus. In these cases, managers will discuss options with employees, with a goal of formalizing any long-term flexible work arrangements by September 1. It’s not too late to provide feedback. Learn more and share your comments about Workplace Reimagined.

More information is available on the Campus Ready Workplace Reimagined webpage.

COVID-19 protocols

You may have heard earlier this week that the CDC released updated guidance that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear face coverings outdoors when alone or in a small group. Before you get too excited, remember that we follow county and state public health guidelines, and as yet we have not received a similar update. While we plan for fall opening, we must remain vigilant and continue our COVID-19 protocols. This includes the Daily Symptom Survey and weekly asymptomatic testing, as well as face coverings and frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing — for everyone, including those who have been vaccinated. See our Campus Ready website for further information.

Daily Symptom Survey

For those of you coming to campus, you may have noticed our Daily Symptom Survey was updated today. The main change is that we are now using Health-e-Messaging system records to automatically verify compliance with COVID-19 testing requirements. As a result, you won’t need to answer a question about your testing schedule. The testing requirements have not changed. If you have not been tested within seven days or do not have a same-day testing appointment, you will receive an email that your status is “overdue” and you will be able to access campus for COVID-19 testing only. In addition, because we’ve reached the end of flu season, the question regarding the UC flu vaccine mandate was temporarily removed. For most people, these changes will be seamless, but should you require assistance, send an email to CampusReady@ucdavis.edu.

Checking in elsewhere

  • Undergraduate research — More than 500 students are presenting at the annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Conference, on everything from agriculture and biological sciences to medical and clinical research. It runs through tomorrow.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion — Tuesday, we released a report that documents the university’s strategic investments in programs, people and processes to make the university a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. This is directly related to the third goal of our strategic plan, To Boldly Go.
  • UC Davis Library survey — The library is asking for just three minutes of your time to help inform the development of a new strategic plan. The survey deadline is May 10.

Excellence

I can’t say enough good things about our world-class faculty who keep UC Davis rising to the very top. Congratulations to the eight faculty members who received high honors this week.

Finally, I hope you saw the report about a breakthrough in rapid testing for COVID-19. It’s part of a partnership between UC Davis and Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., chairman and CEO of Allegiant Travel Co. This novel and highly accurate method for rapid testing could be a game-changer if deployed for rapid screening at airports, businesses, schools and other large venues. Read more and watch a video.

This is who we are. The innovation and expertise that’s at work all across UC Davis never ceases to amaze me. Keep up the good work and thanks for your ongoing dedication to making our campus — and the world — better.

Sincerely,

Gary S. May
Chancellor

Campus Ready graphic, cow on bicycle

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