UCI Forward

UCI Forward is our commitment to the well-being of our community as we ramp up campus operations. Working together, each of us doing our part, we can move UCI Forward.

Campus Dialogues Series

Campus Dialogues Series

graphic for campus dialogues series

Campus Dialogues: 2021 Fall Return to Campus Series is a virtual dialogue with campus experts and leaders sharing resources, tools and campus preparations to the Anteater community for the return to in-person teaching, learning and working. Topics ranging from air ventilation, hybrid conference rooms, in-person instruction, campus protocols, work/life balance and more will be covered in the series, and culminates with a Chancellor’s fall welcome.

Chancellor's Fall Welcome

Webinar Summary

The campus COVID-19 vaccination levels were shared, as of the time of the Town Hall:

  • 92% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated

  • 5% of employees have authorized exemptions or accommodations 

  • 97% of employees are compliant with the UC COVID-19 vaccine policy

  • 95% of students in housing are vaccinated

  • About 90% of all students are fully vaccinated

Bryant Garth, interim dean of the School of Law shared how they have been in person for three weeks with very positive feedback. Students are enthusiastic and faculty are seeing increased student engagement. There have been a few COVID-19 cases but the campus infrastructure in place is handling those exceptionally.

Town Hall regular David Souleles, director of UCI’s COVID-19 Response Team shared the layered approach to keeping the campus as safe as possible citing vaccine as the key to allowing us to reopen in person. Several hundred beds are set aside for students who may need to quarantine or isolate. But – and this is new – if you are called because you are a close contact, but you are fully vaccinated and not showing symptoms, then you will not need to isolate under current guidance.

Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer Ramona Agrela reminded viewers of the wellness resources available for employees, which can all be found at https://www.hr.uci.edu/wellness/.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Willie Banks shared some upcoming events and activities for students beginning with new student convocation on Sept. 20. The events are listed on the web page https://campusgroups.uci.edu/events. There are also resources for second year Anteaters at https://students.uci.edu/secondyear/.

Athletic Director Paula Smith gave an update on intercollegiate athletics reporting that we have 18 Division 1 programs, all of which will have a traditional schedule of competitions this year. Those schedules are available at https://ucirvinesports.com/calendar and for watching a competition virtually, go to https://ucirvinesports.com/coverage.

Julia Lupton, a professor in the School of Humanities, shared on arts and culture initiatives and the Illuminations program, which is free of charge and accessible to everyone. More information and a list of events are located at https://illuminations.uci.edu.

Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs Ria Carlson provided an overview of UCI’s information hub for all things COVID and the return to campus. The UCI Forward website can be accessed directly from UCI’s home page or at https://uci.edu/coronavirus/ and is updated daily. Once in the site, viewers can locate information by audience or by subject.

Viewers were reminded of what to do if there is a COVID-19 case: contact UCI’s COVID Response center at 949-824-9918 or covid19@uci.edu. Do not cancel class, close an office, figure out the close contacts – there is an infrastructure for all that as well as for cleaning the exposed area, and the COVID Response Center is the best place to start.

Transitioning Back to In-Person Instruction

Webinar Summary

  • UCI’s objective is to create a safe and flexible environment for instruction while closely following public health guidelines. Contact your department or the Division of Teaching Excellence & Innovation for more information about flexible teaching arrangements.

  • Reports from UC Berkeley, UC Merced and UCI Law indicate that students are enthusiastic for in-person instruction.

  • Current daily cases in Orange County are down 40 percent from August high with the delta variant. Contingency planning is in place in the instance that COVID-19 cases dramatically increase.

  • Daily symptom checks will still be required of all students, staff and faculty regardless of vaccination status, and those not fully vaccinated will need weekly testing if they are returning to campus. Some testing of asymptomatic vaccinated people will also take place.

  • There are no capacity limits for in-class courses. Instructors and students are expected to be masked during indoor classes, and face coverings will be provided in classrooms. You can also go to the UCI Environmental Health & Safety website to order more. The Disability Services Center has transparent masks that are appropriate for lip reading and meet the standards for health requirements.

  • Recording instructions will be on all lecterns. Microphones for instructors can also be provided.

  • If a student refuses to wear a mask, first ask them to leave the classroom. Should the student further refuse, and it’s problematic, as a last resort, you may dismiss the class. The student will be subject to disciplinary measures.

  • The Teach Anywhere site provides more information about in-person instruction guidelines, policies, logistics and student tech support, including how to handle classroom situations.

  • If you suspect a COVID-19 positive case in your class, contact UCI’s contract tracing team at 949-824-9918.

Managing Campus Public Health & Individual Care

Webinar Summary

  • The COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective against serious illness and hospitalization. Yet we must remain cautious, as waning immunity could reduce vaccine efficacy. Hence, the possible need for booster shots.

  • The delta variant is more than twice as contagious as previous variants. So we should think of this current phase of the pandemic as a transitional period: We can’t go back to normal yet. Vaccination and vigilance are the keys. We cannot reach herd immunity until children are vaccinated.

  • UCI is mandating vaccination for all students, faculty and staff. Masking is required on campus for indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

  • Daily symptom checks will still be required of all students, staff and faculty regardless of vaccination status, and those not fully vaccinated will need weekly asymptomatic testing if they are returning to campus. If you feel you are COVID-19 positive, report the case by calling the COVID Response Center at 949-824-9918.

  • Most of the UCI community has uploaded their vaccination information: 88.6% of students, 91.5% of employees, and 95.4% of students living on-campus are fully vaccinated. It’s not too late to get the vaccine and upload your vaccination information. Students can upload here. Employees can upload here.

  • UCI’s Student Health Center provides telehealth services for students who may feel they are COVID-19 positive to limit infection spread. Drive-through testing and self-sample collection services are also available to students.

  • Go to the UCI Human Resources Wellness site for more information about wellness resources, including Bright Horizons offers family support and back-up care services (co-pay fees are waived until Oct. 31), the Employee Assistance Program and medical coverage for mental health services and substance abuse treatment.

Navigating the New Hybrid Work Environment

Questions addressed:

What is UCI doing for my safety against COVID?

There are multiple protective measures that, layered together, make the campus as safe as possible for in-person research and instruction: vaccination, face coverings, hand hygiene, daily symptom checks, symptomatic and asymptomatic testing (including new drop-in asymptomatic testing), contact tracing and isolation, and quarantine support.

What is UCI’s plan for handling isolated COVID exposures?

UCI’s contact tracing team will conduct case investigations, ID close contacts and call them. It will also provide isolation instructions, if needed, and make sure employees have what they need in concert with Occupational and Environmental Health. There is a system on the student side too.

Managers do NOT have to determine who needs to isolate or quarantine, nor do they need to determine to shut down an office. There is an infrastructure to handle such decisions.

Does leadership really support a hybrid work model or is this only temporary?

Now that we are resuming normal operations, remote work may not always make sense, depending on each unit’s operational and business needs. However, there is support for continuing remote work when it makes sense. It is not just UCI – the world has changed. Hybrid reduces office density, which is a public health layer of protection.

Will there be additional spaces on campus to eat outdoors?

Yes, UCI is working on recommendations for additional outside tents for employees to take breaks and eat lunch.

Can employees move away and still work remotely?

International relocation is not permissible due to labor laws and tax laws. To relocate to another part of California, employees must check with their supervisor to see if it can be accommodated.

What reasons would justify us going back to 100% remote or 100% onsite environment?

Campus leadership is constantly monitoring a series of metrics, and using this data as a guide to see if or what additional measures are needed. It’s not all or nothing. There are strategies that can be employed progressively to create the desired safety. UCI also monitors state and local public health orders.

Return to Campus: Facilities & Environmental Health

Webinar Summary

  • EH&S is available to evaluate work spaces and provide face coverings and cleaning supplies. Send an email to safety@uci.edu.

  • All employees are reminded that they must complete the return to campus training, whether they’re working on site or remotely.

  • Campus buildings have been in operation throughout the remote environment and were maintained.

  • Core buildings opened in July and are open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Auxiliary buildings have their own schedules.

  • There are hand sanitizing stations in lobbies and at elevators; restrooms are outfitted with hands-free faucets and towel dispensers.

  • Disinfection of campus buildings takes place nightly. Entrance door handles and elevator buttons are disinfected during the day as well. 

  • The webinar included a thorough presentation on the advanced air filtration and ventilation systems for various campus buildings.

UCI Health Affairs Town Hall on COVID-19 Updates

Webinar Summary

  • Cases across America and California continue to increase.

  • COVID-19 vaccines remain 93-97% protective against severe disease from all variants. This includes hospitalization and death.

  • How do we stop variants? Vaccinate.

  • Full FDA approval is expected for Pfizer and Moderna at the end of this month.

  • The Pfizer vaccine could receive emergency use authorization for children 5-11 years old by the FDA this winter, and for 2-5 year olds a few months after that. For children 6 months to 2 years old, the expected timeframe is early 2022.

  • Boosters (a 3-dose series) are expected to receive approval this fall for Pfizer and Moderna.

  • UCI Health has updated their FAQs. Answers are in both English and Spanish.

  • All UC employees and students are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (or apply for an exemption, exception or deferral). At UCI, the deadline for compliance is Sept. 6.

  • Non-compliance with the UC Vaccine Policy will result in escalating discipline.

  • Everyone – students and employees – is reminded that the daily symptom check is still required.

  • Students, staff and faculty not fully vaccinated need to participate in weekly asymptomatic testing and masking.

  • Drop-in asymptomatic testing for all students, staff, and faculty will be available on campus by the fall quarter.

  • The Future of Work website has information and resources for faculty and staff returning to work on campus either full time or in a hybrid model.