Friday message... under "stay at home" orders!

Bill Maurer
Friday Mar 20 17:21:26 PDT 2020
Dear all,

We made it through a week, under incredibly challenging and often
confusing and changing circumstances. Hats off to one and all. We have
successfully transitioned all School operations to "remote:" staff are
working normal hours, and are available via Zoom, phone, and email. We're
holding regular staff meetings via Zoom and already have a number of
other events and discussions scheduled for the next several weeks. Some
things feel a little bit normal, and not all driven by crisis: Today, for
instance, I approved a faculty recruitment search report, some stuff in
KFS (without creating additional errors or headaches for Shelly's team),
a grant proposal or two. Also: someone in our School got tenure today;
and a happy couple have a brand new baby!

That said, we're entering a new normal--at least for a time. The most
immediate question many people have is what impact the Governor's
statewide stay-at-home order will mean for campus facilities. You will
have received a message this morning from the central administration
indicating that we will receive additional information on those
activities deemed "critical" which will be allowed to continue on
site. The official State of California guidance on the Governor's order
specifically mentions that on-site activities related to providing remote
instruction is deemed essential.

I asked for, and received, an explicit clarification from the interim
Provost regarding the use of labs and offices (faculty, staff, and
graduate student offices). Per the Governor's order, coming on campus
to record lectures or access materials required for remote teaching is
allowed as an essential activity. Coming to campus to work in offices
or labs is not permitted. The only exceptions are for people working on
research deemed "critical." The Vice Chancellor for Research has just
issued a directive on this matter, via email, and the definition of
what constitutes critical research is posted on the Office of Research
website. I am afraid most of what we do in the social sciences will not be
considered "critical" under this definition. There will be a process for
requesting an exception to the Office of Research's directive. Associate
Dean McBride will circulate a survey for you to complete and submit
sometime next week if you would like to be considered for such an
exception, and requests will be reviewed by myself, Associate Dean
McBride and the Executive Committee. But please adjust to the reality
that every effort is being made to reduce the likelihood of transmission
of the virus, and that we need to adapt. Exemptions for research that
could be conducted via computer at home are not likely to be approved.

This weekend, our buildings will be on their normal "weekend" locking
schedule. If you need to access anything in your office over the weekend
and do not have a key to the building please contact Becky Avila at (949)
824-4368 or Gregory Gallardo at (949) 824-7717 to arrange a time to be let
in to the building. We understand the constraints working from home places
on all of us, but during this unprecedented global health emergency,
our actions matter, and help us protect the well-being of us all.

This weekend we're supposed to get two sunny days in a row. In-between
grading and planning for the next quarter, and catching up on whatever
research fell by the wayside this week, we should all disconnect for
a bit and get outside to reconnect with the outdoors--of course in a
socially responsible, socially distant way!

Take good care,