April 16, 2021
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
We are writing to follow up on our previous message regarding our plans for in-person instruction for fall 2021. The increasing availability of vaccines, significant decrease in California’s infection rate, and Governor Gavin Newsom’s aspirational announcement that the State is expected to “fully re-open” in June, have all boosted our plans to bring our students back to campus and return to in-person instruction this coming fall.
Ongoing Planning Efforts
We are excited about the promise of a bustling campus this fall. Our incoming class is one of the most competitive and diverse in our history. Our students, staff, researchers, and faculty have demonstrated resilience and resolve through a very difficult time since March of last year, and have worked to make our community thrive despite the challenges of this pandemic. Bringing everyone back to our beautiful campus by the sea is the goal we have all been striving for and working toward. We believe our goal is within reach, thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of all of us.
Vaccination will also be key to resuming our normal activities. The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to all California residents age 16 and older. Many campuses across the country are instituting vaccine mandates for their students, and the UC Office of the President is considering such a requirement for all UC campuses, with extra care. Many in our community already have been vaccinated, and we strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the earliest opportunity to get vaccinated.
Our goals are highly optimistic, and we recognize that much planning still remains to be done and many uncertainties must be addressed. We must also remain flexible and supportive if we hope to address the needs of everyone in our community — professors and instructors, students, staff, and researchers. We are grateful for the input on fall instruction that we received from our Academic Senate survey and Town Hall meeting, and our faculty, staff, and administrative colleagues will continue to work together as we prepare for the long-awaited return of our vibrant campus life.
Some of our plans will be contingent on public health guidelines, and our faculty, staff, and medical experts will continue to review all guidelines throughout the spring and summer and make adjustments to our existing protocols as necessary. This may mean that while we plan to resume as much in-person instruction as possible, some of our largest lecture courses will need to be offered with a remote component. We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to campus in the fall if conditions allow; at the same time, our faculty and staff colleagues are working on various instructional options should we need to provide remote instruction.
We also have heard from some of our students, especially international students, about the potential need to receive some remote access to instruction in the fall. Our departmental administrators, faculty, and staff are working to develop creative options for specific courses if needed. For our freshman international students who face visa delays, we have a plan to be able to offer sufficient courses with a remote option for them to make appropriate progress toward their major and general education requirements. More detailed information will be communicated to students directly.
In addition to resuming in-person instruction, we are currently planning to open our student housing at the full or near-full capacity allowed. We are creating a priority system that will offer campus-based housing to first-year students, though placement is not guaranteed. We will also prioritize the housing needs of our second-year students, first-year transfers, and students with demonstrated need. Our graduate student and family student housing will continue to operate at regular capacity, as it has throughout the year. Specific information will be forthcoming from our housing office in the next few months.
Office Working Arrangements
Consistent with any applicable public health guidance, UC policies, and campus building ventilation and spacing review protocols, we are planning for the gradual return of our staff to their on-site offices beginning this summer, with the goal of a fuller return for fall. Discussions are underway nationally, at the UC Office of the President, and on our campus about the future of flexible work arrangements after the pandemic. We have established a working group of staff, faculty, and administrative colleagues, chaired by Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Garry Mac Pherson and College of Letters & Science Executive Dean Pierre Wiltzius, to review policies and consider the logistics and potential for flexible work arrangements in the future.
We are deeply grateful for our University community’s shared commitment to our mission and perseverance throughout these difficult and challenging times. There is a great deal of work to be done and details to be figured out, while we continue to build on a strong foundation. Though we must be prepared for the possibility that we will have to adjust course, the imagination, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of our community make us optimistic for the coming fall.
Henry T. Yang