today's message - decoding yesterday's messages!

Bill Maurer
Tuesday May 12 15:36:45 PDT 2020
    Dear social sciences faculty, staff, lecturers and grad students,

    Yesterday, we received three messages from the central administration
    about a staged plan for reopening the physical campus: one from the
    Chancellor, one from the Vice Chancellor for Research, and one from the
    Associate Chancellor for Human Resources. That's a lot of messages! And
    I know much of it was murky. Let me try to shed some light here.
    In spite of the talk of "return" or "reopening," it is clear that across
    all of our operations--administration, research, and teaching--the
    process will be staged, may have to be curtailed or scaled back quickly
    as conditions merit, and will take several months. And a reminder that
    summer will function much as spring quarter, with the possible exception
    of some limited research-related reopening.
    The number one takeaway from the Chancellor's message is that UC Irvine
    will prioritize everyone's health above all else. This means, among
    other things, that no one will be compelled to return to their on-campus
    workplaces, including lecture halls or seminar rooms. There will be no
    retaliation or discrimination based on people's individual judgment of
    their own risk. That said, of course, we'll still be expected to carry
    out our duties to the best of our abilities.
    The second big takeaway from the Chancellor's message--and in the the
    Vice Chancellor's message, too--is that UC Irvine will comply with all
    public health directives coming from the city, county and state. We
    won't go rogue! This means that we'll also follow the Governor's "staged
    roadmap." If you've never perused it, set it aside for your nighttime
    reading. More below.
    Finally, in case there is any remaining doubt, the Chancellor's message
    made clear that in all but the most exceptional cases, undergraduate
    instruction will take place remotely, as it has been doing this
    quarter. What about graduate classes? Good question. The plan now is
    for some return to in-class instruction for graduate classes but only if
    social distancing can be accommodated--i.e., a seminar spread out into
    a large lecture hall, or perhaps seminars held under open-air canopies
    outside. The campus is looking at projected need based on grad class
    numbers and enrollment sizes. But, again, no one will be compelled
    to learn or teach in an environment they deem unsafe, or if they deem
    themselves to be at risk. This means everyone is going to have to be
    ready to be flexible.
    On the staff side, the names of Ramona Agrela's working groups sort
    of say it all: "New Workplace Mindset," "Physical Distancing," "Staff
    Health Protection," "Change Management and Communications." Social
    Sciences is devising its own survey to help assess staff views on
    workplace accommodations such as people coming in different shifts
    or on rotating days; what can continue to be conducted remotely, to
    reduce overall population density in our buildings; and so on, in order
    then to assess what kinds of protective equipment, reorganization or
    distribution of physical workplaces, and cleaning schedules we might
    require. It bears repeating that the campus still very much wants to
    minimize the on-campus population to only what is necessary to support
    the instructional and research missions.  We will likely need to continue
    to employ a telecommuting model for many of our staff functions.
    Finally, for research: the Vice Chancellor helpfully provides a map
    aligning the campus' perspective on research activities with the
    Governor's stages. It is here. Please take a look. There is also a
    checklist to help researchers determine whether or not their work might
    fall under Stage 2. Researchers will have to a) present a plan and b)
    certify that they and their lab staff have all taken various trainings
    related to safety, etc. Associate Dean McBride will help coordinate as
    we provide guidance to you on research activities.
    You'll note that the priorities for research are first, whether the
    research is crucial to the completion of a PhD degree or a postdoctoral
    position, or involves deadline-driven or seasonal data collection
    activities. For most of our research activities in the labs in social
    sciences, a lot of the preparation being done for staff workplaces will
    apply here, as well. For now, we ask those faculty conducting research in
    labs to take a look at the checklist and think about whether your own work
    might be accommodated given adequate PPE, enhanced cleaning, and other
    measures outlined in the checklist. For everyone else, please continue
    to assume current and future research will proceed with social distancing.
    You'll see that Stage 3 and 4 guidance remains pretty open-ended. That's
    because the Vice Chancellor is putting prudence ahead of precipitous
    decision-making. That's something I very much appreciate.
    I hope that this breakdown of yesterday's messages helps address some
    of the questions we are all, understandably, wondering about. I'll
    continue to keep everyone updated as the School develops its own plans,
    in accordance with the campus' guidelines, on the "end of the beginning"
    and the beginning of what comes next.
    As ever,