The letter posted here, dated June 30, is an updated and revised version of the letter that was sent by email earlier the same day.
Last month, we provided you with an update on planning for fall 2021. As circumstances and public health guidelines continue to change, we are providing another update to help you prepare for fall. We plan to issue monthly updates throughout the summer.
As we have stated many times, COVID-19 vaccines are our best available tools to control the virus. Because vaccines are so important, the University of California has proposed a mandated vaccination policy. We expect that the policy will be adopted by July 15. Therefore, we encourage people to obtain a vaccine as soon as they are able to do so. People currently in California can go to My Turn to schedule a vaccine appointment. Participation in My Turn is available to everyone in California and is not dependent on residency or immigration status. Individuals in all U.S. states can go to vaccines.gov to make an appointment. International students who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines should visit this Global Affairs webpage, which has information about which vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization and options for getting vaccinated in the United States for individuals who are unable to do so in their home country.
As we get closer to the vaccination mandate becoming final, we ask that everyone take one or both of the following actions by July 15, depending on their vaccine status:
- All students and employees should declare their intention regarding COVID-19 vaccination. An invitation to complete a survey in the Health-e-Messaging portal has been emailed to all students and employees. You do not have to have the email; the survey is also available within the portal under “Surveys.” Details of how to complete the survey are on the Campus Ready website.
- If you are fully vaccinated, please verify your vaccine status in the Health-e-Messaging portal. You can do this by signing a consent form allowing the university to check your status against the California Immunization Registry database if you were vaccinated in California, or by entering your vaccination date information and uploading a copy of your vaccination card.
Students, academics and staff who are not fully vaccinated but have an approved medical exemption or religious exception should expect to undergo asymptomatic testing every four days throughout the fall and to wear a face covering whenever indoors. Our testing program will continue to be available on campus; however, because demand for testing will be lower, fewer appointment times will be available.
Instruction for fall will be in-person with normal classroom occupancy. Students, instructors and TAs should expect to participate largely or solely in in-person instruction. We will continue to require all attendees in instructional settings to wear face coverings, but instructors will not be required to do so since it may impede the ability of students to understand the instructor.
Medical or ADA accommodations
Students with personal health issues who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine or who have other medical reasons affecting their ability to be present on campus in the fall should contact the Student Disability Center to discuss possible accommodations. Visit this Student Disability Center webpage for information on the accommodation request process.
Instructors with disabilities or personal health issues that would potentially impact their return to campus in the fall should contact Disability Management Services.
Other COVID-related issues
The pandemic has affected people beyond their own personal health. We know that many people are dealing with situations related to COVID-19 that are impacting their children, parents or others in their care. We will be announcing mechanisms to review requests from students, instructors and staff in early July.
As we have stated previously, students should be aware that there will be very limited remote course offerings, so it may be appropriate to take a leave of absence for fall if circumstances related to COVID-19 impact a student’s ability to attend class in person. More information about the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP) is available on this University Registrar webpage. Because of COVID-19, PELP has been expanded for undergraduate students to allow for more than one quarter of leave.
We continue to be encouraged by the situation at embassies and consulates around the globe. Wait times for processing visas continue to decline in many countries, and the number of students who have had their visas issued or renewed has been steadily increasing. Given the late-September start date for our quarter programs, we anticipate that almost all students will be able to return to the U.S. and attend classes in person. That said, we will continue to monitor this situation closely and will be prepared to implement other options, such as limited remote instruction, if necessary.
We continue to expand our on-campus research activities. We are on track to return to full, on-site research operations before the start of fall quarter. Details of each phase can be found in the Guidelines for UC Davis Research Ramp-Up.
Currently, we continue to recommend against all nonessential travel, both domestic and international. Details for submitting a request for essential travel during the summer are on this Global Affairs webpage.
For fall, we anticipate that people will be able to resume official university travel. At a minimum, all travelers will be expected to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance before, during and upon return from travel. This is likely to include asymptomatic testing before returning to campus facilities. While we anticipate a resumption of university travel, we know that some employees may be uncomfortable returning to regular travel due to a range of considerations. Therefore, in most instances, supervisors will not be able to require employees to travel in fall.
Please remember to register your trip in advance of traveling. Failure to register your trip may result in travel expenses not being reimbursed. Information about how to register your trip is on this Global Affairs webpage.
Return to Campus Workplace
During July and August, the campus will gradually have employees return to in-person work while also exploring flexible work arrangements. Flexible work arrangements should be guided by a unit’s operational needs while also taking into consideration the lessons that we have learned during the pandemic.
Discussions about flexible work arrangements between managers and employees have already begun. Resources and tools to assist with identifying when such arrangements are appropriate are available on the Workplace Reimagined website. After September 1, we will ask supervisors and employees to document any long-term flexible arrangements.
Interim Public Health Policy 290-01 has been updated effective June 18. The policy guidelines for visitors (e.g., visiting scholars, prospective students, parents, public event attendees, etc.) are slightly different from those for students, academics and staff. During the summer, visitors are still expected to complete the Daily Symptom Survey prior to entry to most events. For fall, we expect that the survey will not be required and that visitors will be able to participate in most campus events. For large events in the fall, we may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or of having received the vaccine, but we will communicate those requirements on an event-by-event basis. The latest information about campus visitors is on the Campus Ready website.
As of June 16, on- and off-campus events, meetings and activities are now permissible if public health mitigation strategies are followed. Indoor capacity restrictions have returned to prepandemic limits. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors in crowded spaces. Specific guidance is available on the Event Guidance page on the Campus Ready website. We ask that you consult this webpage throughout your planning process to help ensure compliance with all current guidelines.
Health and safety precautions
Given the efficacy of vaccinations, academics, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated will be exempt from the routine COVID-19 asymptomatic testing requirement in the fall. In fact, this exemption is already in place for summer. Please refer to the Vaccines section above for information about documenting your vaccine status. Students, academics and staff who are not fully vaccinated and have medical exemptions or religious exceptions will be required to undergo asymptomatic COVID-19 testing every four days.
The Daily Symptom Survey must still be completed this summer if you are entering any campus building, but we expect that the survey will not be required for entrance into campus facilities in the fall. Wearing face coverings in class will be required for students and attendees, but not for instructors. Guidance and updates to face covering requirements will continue to be found on the Public Health Policies and Requirements page of the Campus Ready website.
Building ventilation and filtration
While heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems cannot prevent the spread of the coronavirus, they can help mitigate the risk of infection. It is important to remember that getting vaccinated and wearing a face covering are far more effective in preventing the spread of the virus, which is why we strongly advocate that everyone be vaccinated and why we are requiring that students wear face coverings in class.
With respect to our HVAC systems, we have been taking steps to ensure that they are in proper working order, and we have been making improvements to them whenever possible. For example, Facilities Management has been evaluating the capabilities of individual systems to increase the amount of outdoor air supplied to spaces and decrease the amount of recirculated air. They have also upgraded HVAC systems with higher rated air filters where feasible. Not all systems can accommodate higher rated filters, because some systems are not powerful enough to push air through these filters. Building-specific information is available on this Facilities Management webpage.
While we remain vigilant, we are encouraged by how some aspects of our lives are returning to something close to normal. As changes occur, the Campus Ready website remains your most up-to-date source of information.
The efforts of the Fall Planning Workgroup continue. If there are specific questions or issues that you would like us to consider, please enter them at the following portal: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/fall2021.
Lastly, thank you all for your partnership as we plan for fall. We are very excited about a fall quarter that has the entire Davis community together on campus once again.
All the best,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor