crystal ball for Thursday

Bill Maurer
Thursday May 28 16:57:21 PDT 2020

  Dear social sciences lecturers, staff, grad students and faculty,

  Some more information on our gradual research reopening, as well as
  predictions for fall, based on today's deans' meeting with the interim
  Provost. This is a long one!


  The state of California has 4 requirements for the state's "Stage 2"
  that have to be met before reopening anything. I'll copy them below
  and list how UC Irvine is planning to handle these as of today. Things
  might change! If there's an uptick in cases in OC before June 8, and
  the county issues alternative guidance, or the campus reevaluates the
  risk associated with reopening for these limited research activities,
  all bets are off. BUT: Here's where it stands now. I think it's useful
  for everyone to know because it also gives us some insight into what we
  can expect as other activities are allowed on campus over the coming
  months. Remember: this is just for the campus' "Phase 2" which is the
  state's "Stage 2." The campus' Phase 2 is only relevant for research
  activities posing low risk of transmission to eventually, over time
  (weeks/months) get to 30% occupancy. The italics are the from the
  state's guidance:

  Before reopening, all facilities must:

  Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific
  protection plan--this will come in the form of those two forms I mentioned
  yesterday; Associate Dean McBride will be setting up a Google form
  for submission of risk assessments and protection plans for research
  activities at low risk of transmitting the coronavirus. Similar risk
  assessments and site-specific protection plans will be required as the
  campus opens up for other activities--not now, but in the future, after
  Stage 2/Phase 2.

  Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to
  screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them--Guess
  what the UCs will do? You guessed it. Those UC Learning Center online
  trainings we all know and love. There will be a staged rollout, starting
  with specific parts of campus to be determined. Our first step will
  be those employees--faculty, staff, students--involved in the research
  activities starting up this summer during Phase 2.

  Implement disinfecting protocols--As of right now, it looks like cleaning
  supplies and equipment will be purchased and distributed centrally,
  by Environmental Health & Safety. Based on data I saw today, there is
  at least a 6-8 week delay for getting sufficient quantities of some
  items. So, these will be sent to schools/labs in a staged fashion, too.

  Implement physical distancing guidelines--We will have signage. Bet
  you $10 there'll be a Peter the Anteater on it. OK, no, I won't bet;
  there's too many people on this email list and I know I'll lose.

  Implement individual control measures and screenings--Now, THIS is the
  fun one. Other UCs are going to be requiring the use of a self-report
  symptom-checker app, and display-on-request of whatever "all clear"
  symbol it displays to whatever university agent or official asks. THAT
  sounds TERRIBLE. You'll be pleased to know that UC Irvine IS NOT GOING TO
  REQUIRE THIS! Instead, UC Irvine will roll out the app, but will work to
  "enforce through culture." In other words, there's going to be a lot of
  messaging to set the expectation that if you're going to come to your
  research space (remember, we're still just talking about research in the
  campus' Phase 2) you will be expected but not required to do your own
  little self-screening and use the app. The data in the app (supposedly)
  will not be shared with anyone, either. I think we'll get our own data
  security people on that just to be sure.

  [Sidenote: Outside an anthropology seminar, I have never heard the word
  "culture" uttered so many times in a 50-minute period than during that
  meeting today. But, this is how our campus wants to accomplish this goal:
  through culture, not surveillance. This is my favorite article ever on
  social control. But I digress.]

  There will be a strong push to create a culture of self-screening, staying
  at home if you feel sick, and wearing masks everywhere (except your own
  individual office, when it is a matter of just you and your computer).

  So, stay tuned. We'll keep you posted as things progress. Again, this
  is only about reopening for Phase 2 – which begins this summer for
  certain research activities -- but I bet the same or similar protocols
  (plus more, maybe) will apply for Phases 3 and 4.

  Meanwhile, FALL: I was surprised to learn that the campus is expecting
  that a lot of our students will indeed return to campus in the Fall,
  even with most classes being conducted online. They expect a "strong
  freshmen and transfer student presence" and will work with housing to
  meet the first-year/transfer student housing guarantee, spacing the
  students out (no quads or triple-occupancy dorm rooms, and probably no
  doubles, either).

  Now, while classes will be almost entirely online, we are going to be
  encouraged to come up with supplemental outdoor activities, get-togethers,
  small format socially-distant optional discussion sections, etc. The
  Library is also coming up with a variety of ways to facilitate these
  kinds of gatherings, too. Might as well put on your thinking caps now
  and brainstorm about where and how we might provide these opportunities
  for our students (grad students, too!). I could imagine things being
  organized at the department level and the School level, and for clusters
  of classes, and through the Social Sciences Academic Resource Center,
  and... Well, let's start thinking.

  Sorry for the long message but I felt it important to share these updates
  so those faculty who WILL be seeking approval to reopen research spaces
  for Phase 2 know what's coming, and so that everyone else has a sense
  of what we're all eventually going to be going through as we continue
  to navigate this ongoing pandemic.

  AND: Rufus.