March 10, 2020
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I am writing to update you on a number of immediate actions our campus is taking to help protect the health and well-being of our campus community.
Following the discussions with our COVID-19 Response Working Group and recommendations from public health experts, we are asking community members to assist us in taking proactive steps to mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 here on campus, in IV, and in the broader Santa Barbara community. We know that many of these recommendations will be challenging to implement, but it is important that we take the necessary steps now to respond to the rapidly evolving situation, despite the fact that no cases have been reported on campus or in Santa Barbara County.
Our campus will be transitioning to remote instruction for the remainder of Winter Quarter and the start of the Spring Quarter through at least the end of April. Given our campus’s transition to remote instruction and the possibility of additional travel disruptions and restrictions, we are recommending that all undergraduate students traveling for spring break be prepared for the possibility of remaining away from campus through the month of April. We understand that graduate students have different academic commitments and recommend that they consult with their advisors and departments.
The campus will remain open and operational, including Housing and Dining, which will continue normal operations.
Based on advice from the leading health experts, the following actions are necessary to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
• Effective March 11, 2020, for the remainder of Winter Quarter, we strongly recommend that instructors make alternative arrangements for in-person classes and for final exams. In addition to alternative assignments, such as remote exams, instructors may make use of Proctor U for online exams. Instructors will be communicating directly with their students with more specific details.
• To the extent possible, instructors and departments should make plans to shift Spring Quarter classes from in-person formats to remote formats, using alternative modalities, at least through the month of April.
• Students who remain on campus through the break and during the month of April will also be receiving instruction remotely, and must also be prepared for limited on-campus activities and services. More detailed guidance and information about services for students will follow in subsequent communications.
• Additional guidelines and information will be sent to instructors to assist with this transition.
Our COVID-19 Response Working Group will continue to consult and evaluate the evolving situation in the coming days and weeks in order to make additional recommendations related to instruction for the Spring Quarter. We know that this transition is not going to be easy and we will all need to be flexible.
We are recommending against all non-essential business travel, international and domestic, for UC Santa Barbara employees through the end of April. This guidance is in addition to current UC systemwide restrictions already in place to CDC Level 3 (widespread community transmission) and Level 2 (sustained community transmission) countries.
With spring break approaching, we also encourage our faculty, staff, and students to carefully consider the risks associated with travel, both international and domestic. All personal international travel is strongly discouraged and we urge extreme caution and judgement for your personal domestic travel.
While no UC systemwide restrictions on large events or mass gatherings have been implemented at this time, the COVID-19 Response Working Group recommends that campus groups strongly consider postponing, canceling, or rescheduling crowded on-campus events.
The Athletics Department will be moving to “fan-less” events.
The CDC provides guidance on mass gatherings and large events.
Working Remotely and Staff Leave Policy
We urge managers to use maximum flexibility in working with members of our staff in order to address challenges caused by COVID-19.
The Office of the President has enacted temporary emergency leave policies in anticipation of potential scenarios. The Working Group recommends that managers work with employees to explore opportunities to work remotely when job duties permit. Highlights of the policy are below and the full guidelines can be found online.
• Managers may designate certain employees to work from home. If employees are designated to work from home, it will be considered paid work status.
• Employees unable to work due to their own or a family member’s COVID-19 illness should use available leave balances (e.g. sick leave, PTO-sick, or other accrued leave), and if there are no available leave balances, the University will provide up to 14 days paid administrative leave to cover the absence.
• Employees unable to come to work due to a COVID-l9 day care or school closure that requires them to be home with their child may work remotely if operationally feasible; if remote work is not operationally feasible, employees may use available leave balances including sick leave.
I would once again like to take this opportunity to express the great appreciation we all feel to be members of this dedicated community.
Our most valuable resource at UC Santa Barbara is our people — our staff, our faculty, our students, and our alumni. I want to express my sincere thanks to all as we work together to protect and support our community and meet the challenges related to COVID-19.
Henry T. Yang