Fall 2021 Campus Planning Update from Provost: May Update
Last month, we provided you with preliminary guidelines for fall 2021. To continue to assist you with fall planning, we are providing an update given changing circumstances and public health guidelines, as well as continued progress by the Fall Planning Work Group.
As we have stated previously, COVID-19 vaccines are our best defense against the virus. Given the importance of vaccination, the University of California has proposed a mandated vaccination policy so that everyone will have ample time to obtain the vaccine ahead of the fall term.
Under the proposed policy, beginning this fall, the University would require all students, faculty, and staff who at any time access campus facilities at any UC location to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This vaccination requirement would go into effect once a vaccine has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
UC already strongly encourages students, faculty, and staff to obtain a vaccination as soon as they are able to schedule an appointment. People currently in California can go to My Turnto book a vaccine appointment, and individuals in all U.S. states can go to vaccines.gov. For those who are unable to receive a vaccine prior to arriving on campus, our student health center may be able to help find a local resource for vaccination.
Students planning to access any UC campus for the fall will need to update their immunization documentation on file to indicate vaccination or an approved exception or medical exemption prior to coming on campus. If you have already been vaccinated, please provide your vaccination date information and upload a copy of your vaccination card in the “Medical Clearances” section of the Health-e-Messaging portal. Faculty and staff are encouraged to do the same as soon as possible.
Students, faculty, and staff without a documented and confirmed COVID-19 vaccine will likely be required to undergo asymptomatic COVID-19 testing two times per week throughout the fall. Our asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program will continue to be available on campus, but fewer appointment times may be available in the fall due to lower demand.
As stated in last month’s update, we are planning for instruction to be in-person with normal classroom occupancy. Students, faculty, and TAs should expect to participate largely or solely in in-person instruction. We will most likely continue to require all attendees to wear a face covering, but instructors will not be required to do so.
When registration began for continuing students, we were still in the process of assigning all courses to a classroom. This work continues, and we apologize that there may be some resulting schedule changes for those students who have already registered. These changes will be communicated to students and instructors as they occur. We also want to remind students that they have the opportunity to modify their schedules during Open Registration, which is available through June 4thfor continuing students. We ask that all students (including international students) register for classes based on the information that is available in the system at the time they register.
Medical or ADA Accommodations
As stated in the previous update, students with personal health issues who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine or who have other medical reasons affecting their ability to be present on campus in the fall are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Center to discuss possible accommodations. Please check out the Student Disability Center for information on the accommodation request process.
Instructors with disabilities or personal health issues that would potentially impact their return to campus in the fall may contact Disability Management Services.
Other COVID-related issues
We know that the pandemic has impacted people beyond their own personal health. To address this, we are developing a mechanism to review requests from students and instructors who are dealing with situations related to COVID-19 that are affecting their children, parents, or others in their care. We will communicate to students and instructors as soon as we have more details.
Students should be aware that there will be very limited remote course offerings, so it may be appropriate to take a leave of absence for fall if circumstances related to COVID-19 impact a student’s ability to attend class in person. More information about the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP) is available on the University Registrar webpage.
We are encouraged by the recent determination by the U.S. Department of State to allow students with valid visas to enter the United States without contacting an embassy or consulate prior to traveling. We are also hopeful that embassies and consulates will continue to reopen and that wait times for obtaining a student visa will continue to improve. However, we are aware that there is still a possibility that some international students will not be able to obtain a visa in time to arrive for the start of fall instruction in September. To address this issue, we will do our best to have some alternative instruction options in place for international students who are unable to obtain a visa in time to come to campus for the start of fall quarter.
We advise all international undergraduate students to register for courses as soon as they are able to do so based on the information in the system at the time they register. Currently, it is better for undergraduates to register for courses under the assumption that they will be able to attend in person. If in-person attendance proves impossible, we will provide additional information on the Global Affairs website in August, and we will communicate any alternative instruction options.
International graduate students should discuss plans and possibilities with their program or Graduate Studies regarding enrollment for fall quarter.
We will continue to expand our research activities during the summer, and we are on track to return to full, on-site research operations before the start of fall quarter. Details of each phase can be found in the Guidelines for UC Davis Research Ramp-up.
We continue to recommend against all non-essential travel, both domestic and international. What qualifies as essential travel and the process for submitting travel requests can be found on the Global Affairs webpage. We do not have a timeline for when this guidance will become less restrictive, but we will communicate changes as soon as those decisions are made.
Return to Campus Workplace
Between now and July 1, staff members will continue their current work arrangements. Between July 1 and September 1, the campus will gradually have employees return to in-person work while exploring flexible work arrangements. Flexible work arrangements will be guided by the operational needs of campus units and reflective of the lessons that we have learned during the pandemic.
Managers should begin discussions with employees about long-term flexible work arrangements (including flexible work hours and long-term full or partial remote work). Flexible work arrangements, where appropriate for the unit’s needs, should be used equitably. Resources and tools to assist with identifying when such arrangements are appropriate are available at the Workplace Reimagined website. After September 1, we will ask supervisors and employees to document any long-term flexible arrangements.
We anticipate that by late June, visitors to campus (e.g., visiting scholars, prospective students, parents, public event attendees, etc.) will be able to participate in most campus events. We may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or of having received the vaccine for large public or campus events, but that will be communicated on an event-by-event basis. Visitors will not be required to complete the Daily Symptom Survey except for certain event-specific circumstances or for certain building access. The exact date of this change will coincide with a complete revision of Interim Public Health Policy 290-01. Visitors will still be required to follow physical distancing and face-covering requirements for all events.
Health and Safety Precautions
We have received many questions about what to expect for fall related to face coverings, weekly asymptomatic testing, symptom screening, and other health and safety issues. Considering that the overall situation continues to improve, and that we expect the overwhelming majority of our community members to be vaccinated by September, we anticipate that vaccinated individuals will not be required to take a weekly COVID-19 asymptomatic test in the fall. However, it is likely that students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated will be required to undergo asymptomatic COVID-19 testing two times per week.
We expect that the Daily Symptom Survey will not be required for entrance into campus facilities beginning in the fall. Instead, compliance with vaccine policy and testing for all unvaccinated individuals will be managed through data collected in Health-e-Messaging. Wearing a face covering in class or when in a campus building will likely still be required, but we expect that face coverings will not be required when outside.
We will continue to keep you updated on planning guidelines for fall, through multiple communication modalities, including the Campus Ready website. If there are specific questions or issues that you would like the Fall Planning Work Group to consider, please enter them at the following portal: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/fall2021.
Thank you all for your continued support and dedication to ensuring that UC Davis meets our mission of excellence in teaching, research, and public service. We are eagerly anticipating a successful and productive fall quarter.
All the best,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor