COVID-19 Updated Campus Guidance
June 14, 2021
As we reach the end of an academic year like no other in UCI’s history, I want to thank you for your commitment to excellence and resiliency. Your dedication, along with our tenacious Anteater spirit, allowed us to cope with the challenges of the pandemic and continue our critical mission of teaching, research and community service. Congratulations to all of you for the good work during an extraordinary year.
Now, we see light at the end of the tunnel. It looks like the state will soon ease COVID regulations and retire the colored tier system found in the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy when it moves “Beyond the Blueprint.” We expect the transition to a full opening will begin Tuesday, June 15, and continue through the end of July; however, regulations among government agencies are evolving and we don’t have complete clarity at this time.
Today, we’ll share what we know so you can plan for next steps. We are actively evaluating and adjusting guidance as new information is shared by federal, state and local governing agencies, so we expect some flexibility will be a key part of our planning. We will update you as quickly as possible if plans change.
Anticipating new Cal/OSHA standards
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) regulates workplace safety. The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 emergency temporary standards currently in effect require employees to physically distance and wear face coverings, regardless of vaccine status. Cal/OSHA staff has prepared an update to the emergency temporary standards to align with the newly released California Department of Public Health facial coverings guidance, which takes vaccine status into account. The updated standards are expected to be heard and voted upon at the June 17 Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting. If these new revisions are approved by the Standards Board, they would go into effect around June 28.
The effect of the timing of this Cal/OSHA vote is that their current standards - which require all employees to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance regardless of vaccine status - remain in effect until at least June 28. This date is after the June 15 date when the state will exit the California Blueprint.
What this means for UCI
Because the two effective dates from Cal/OSHA (June 28) and the state (June 15) do not align, UCI will default to a standard where all persons on campus must wear a face covering and practice 6 feet physical distancing, in accordance with UCI Executive Directives, regardless of their vaccination status, until new Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards are in effect.
There are reports in the media today that the Governor will sign an executive order on Thursday after the Cal/OSHA Standards Board votes, to allow for the Cal/OSHA rules to align with the state guidelines beginning that day.
UCI will release updated guidance to the campus community based on actions taken by Cal/OSHA or the Governor. Campus guidance will conform with updated Cal/OSHA standards and, to the extent possible, CDPH facial coverings guidance. If the new emergency temporary standards are revised and approved as anticipated, there will no longer be a requirement to maintain 6 feet physical distancing, and fully vaccinated employees and students will not be required to wear a face covering. Employees and students who are not vaccinated must continue to wear a face covering when on campus. Visitors to campus should adhere to CDPH guidance on face coverings according to their vaccination status.
Employees may still wear masks if they choose to do so and should refrain from working on-site if they have symptoms. UCI will continue to monitor community and campus COVID-19 prevalence rates and will adjust campus guidelines as needed to protect the campus community.
UC policy on vaccinations
As previously announced, the University of California (UC) issued a proposed COVID-19 Vaccination Policy on April 22, which would require all UC employees and students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to physically be present at any UC location beginning this fall. The public comment period has closed, and a final policy requiring all UC faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is expected to be issued by July 15. Under the policy, vaccinations must be completed two weeks before faculty, staff, students and others expect to be on campus or at a location for the fall term. Details about narrow exceptions will be made available when the final policy is issued, but those who are not vaccinated must, at a minimum, wear masks and be tested at least weekly for the virus. We will communicate the details of the final policy when it is published.
Upload your proof of vaccination
Thank you to the many who have already received your vaccine or taken steps toward becoming fully vaccinated. We continue to ask all members of our community who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to upload proof of vaccination. The steps for employees to upload verification are available in the campus communication from Monday, June 7. Students who have already received a COVID-19 vaccine can upload their vaccination record by visiting the UCI Student Health Center portal. If you have any questions or need help uploading your vaccine documents, please contact UCI Contract Tracing & Vaccine Navigation Services at 949-824-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to commend UCI’s Contact Tracing & Vaccine Navigation Services team for its important work in reaching more than 22,000 students to help with vaccine appointment coordination. Information on how to find a vaccine can be found on the UCI Forward site.
Over the summer, we will slowly re-engage some campus operations. Beginning July 6, campus buildings will be unlocked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to support approved faculty and staff returning to campus. HVAC systems have been maintained in all buildings, and will be fully functional as the campus community returns. Signs with QR codes around campus will allow individuals to view the most up-to-date requirements for being on campus.
I encourage leaders to visit the Future of Work website for the latest information and tools and resources to help prepare for the resumption of operations. New information is being added frequently. The latest additions are the change management resources.
Additionally, parking fees will return over the summer to support the campus’s efforts to return to full operational capacity. Beginning July 1, discounted monthly general parking permit rates for faculty, staff and students will be implemented. You can find more information about parking in this message sent on June 7.
Start of a transition period
As we transition back to campus, the health, well-being and success of our community remains our top priority. We are committed to fostering a healthy and supportive environment that encourages students, faculty and staff to do their best work, while offering flexibility in compliance with public health guidance and protocols.
Many of us will be returning to a changed workplace, whether in the way we do work, the people with whom we work, or even our attitude about working. Changes in the workplace can leave us feeling vulnerable and anxious. To help you manage these challenges, a variety of webinars are available to assist as you transition to a new normal. Each webinar is designed to support you through ongoing times of change, address signs and symptoms of distress, and provide skills to support one another in the workplace. All webinars are recorded so you can view them at your convenience.
As we navigate the next several weeks of changing guidance, we will communicate what we know when we know it. We ask for your patience during this transition as our campus manages through overlapping policies.
I look forward to engaging with many of you as we begin the process of returning to full campus operations. Please continue to take care of yourself and stay safe.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor's Professor, Department of Statistics