Circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to improve in the Davis community and are expected to improve in Sacramento. Even as more people are vaccinated and rates of infection go down, we must remain vigilant with asymptomatic testing, symptom screening, mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing, and our other Campus Ready activities. Because of these efforts and changes in public health guidance, we expect to return to full in-person activities on our Davis and Sacramento campuses for fall quarter 2021. Of course, we will continue monitoring local and regional conditions, as well as public health guidance, and will have contingency plans in place if necessary to adjust to changing circumstances. In the meantime, and to assist you with planning for fall quarter, we have developed the following preliminary guidelines for fall 2021:
Based on public health guidance and the UC Office of the President, 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.
Registration for continuing students begins in May. To make sure that we have adequate space for all offerings, we will place all classes (e.g., lectures, discussion, studio, performance) in a classroom. Laboratory instruction will occur in teaching laboratories at full capacity.
We recognize that some courses may need to modify their instruction modes to support students impacted by travel and visa restrictions and to accommodate specific faculty needs. We are working with the Academic Senate to establish a process for reviewing and approving such modifications, with the goal of providing more detailed process information in May. Our goal is to allow academic departments to submit such adjustments starting on July 1, 2021 — an inflection point that is late enough to ensure we have data-supported insights into public health conditions, yet early enough to afford flexibility for adjusting academic plans.
We are closely monitoring the situations at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad and continuing to advocate through various channels on behalf of our international community. We know that an inability to acquire a visa and other travel restrictions may prevent some students from being on campus in the fall, so we will do our best to have some alternative instruction options in place. In some cases, students may need to adjust their academic plans in consultation with their academic advisor. We also ask that departments and faculty help ensure that international students are not disproportionately impacted by situations beyond their control. As of now, we expect that all international students should be able to arrive in person for winter quarter, and thus anticipate that winter courses will be delivered in the same manner as they were before the pandemic. We will continue to monitor the ability for international students to arrive by winter quarter, and will consider the extent to which additional remote course offerings may be necessary in winter.
Students or instructors needing health or ADA accommodations
Students with disabilities who wish to request an academic adjustment related to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Center early to discuss accommodations. Please check out the Student Disability Center for information on the accommodation request process.
We are finalizing new application and review processes for faculty and staff who need health or ADA accommodations related to COVID-19 and will notify the campus next month when forms are available for submission. When ready, this information will be posted on the Disability Management Services website.
Reimagining the post-pandemic workplace for staff
Staff who are working remotely will hear more in an upcoming communication about plans for the summer and fall. In March 2020, the university pivoted to remote work as a mandate for many staff and it has proven to be a viable and efficient way to deliver some of our services. It also has the potential to save money, free up space and enhance employee satisfaction. We are currently reviewing the lessons we have learned this past year and will soon release recommendations and guidelines for supervisors, managers and line staff that maximize the benefits of flexible work arrangements for staff without sacrificing delivery of critical services. Learn more about the Workplace Reimagined Workgroup here.
Continued research ramp-up
The research enterprise has continued to expand its operations as circumstances have improved. We expect that we will be able to continue the expansion of activities during the summer and plan to reach Phase 4 by the fall, which is a return to full research operations in September. Details of each phase can be found in the Guidelines for UC Davis Research Ramp-up.
Student housing and dining
Since we are planning for instruction to be in person, we encourage all students to secure housing in the Davis or Sacramento area for the 2021-22 academic year as soon as possible, if you have not already done so.
We expect that on-campus housing and dining facilities will operate at their full design capacities. We also plan to continue to have COVID-19 quarantine and isolation facilities available on campus for fall quarter. More information is available at: https://housing.ucdavis.edu/.
The 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, the university would require students, faculty, academic appointees and staff who are accessing campus facilities at any UC location beginning this fall 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. UC already strongly encourages students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to voluntarily obtain a vaccination as soon as they are able to schedule an appointment.
Students planning to access UC campuses 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. For those who are unable to receive a vaccine prior to campus arrival, student health centers may be able to help find a local resource for vaccination but special protections may be required. Faculty, academic appointees and staff will be advised on the process for providing vaccination information after the policy is finalized.
Campus facilities and events
We expect to have academic support spaces (i.e., libraries, computer labs, student centers, etc.) open for fall and operating at normal capacity, in line with our plan for instruction.
We also expect a return to hosting in-person events and allowing student groups and campus departments to use campus facilities. We will provide more guidance on reserving campus spaces for internal and external events in the coming months. For current guidelines on events and gatherings, please refer to guidance on Campus Ready here.
We hope that this has answered many of your questions, but we also recognize that we have not provided as many details as you may desire. Please know that we are continuing to refine each aspect of our campus activities for this fall, and we will continue to keep you apprised 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 commitment to ensuring that UC Davis meets our mission and vision of providing an excellent education to our students, innovative research opportunities for our faculty, and a welcoming environment for all to thrive.
All the best,
Gary S. May
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor