Making decisions about fall

February 23, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
February 23, 2021

In January 2021, UC President Drake announced that the University of California is “planning for a return to primarily in-person instruction systemwide starting in fall 2021.” In order to pivot toward the resumption of in-person classes, research and creative activities, and campus operations, UC Riverside has been reviewing our guiding principles and working group structure, along with appropriate health and safety measures. This message summarizes the university’s principles and working group structure for planning and implementing our plans for campus operations in the fall.

Guiding Principles
At the start of the pandemic, we developed a set of guiding principles to oversee continuity of campus operations during a period of significant uncertainty and rising infection rates. Now, as vaccination availability increases and infection rates decline, UCR has updated the principles that will guide our decisions as follows:  

1.    Prioritize the safety of all members of our campus community. 
2.    Extend in-person education to the greatest extent possible. 
3.    Create flexibility at both the individual and institutional levels based on operational needs at the unit level.

UCR’s primary focus continues to be the health and safety of the entire campus community. While in-person operations will likely ramp-up, the campus will continue to incorporate the use of face coverings and social distancing measures. We also expect to limit large gatherings (including large in-person classes) and travel. Moreover, great uncertainty about COVID-19 and its variants remain. The campus must be ready to return to more remote operations, if conditions warrant.

Working Group Structure
As the campus plans for more in-person fall instruction and operations, we have also revised our working group structure to emphasize key areas of focus, with each working group having a direct reporting line to the Provost or a Vice Chancellor. Each working group will include representation from faculty through Academic Senate, staff through Staff Assembly, and undergraduate and graduate students through Associated Students of UCR (ASUCR) and Graduate Student Association (GSA) leadership; as well as representatives from relevant organizational units. Additionally, we plan to allocate some resources to each of the workgroups, in order to ensure timely implementation and communications, as well as coordination across groups.

The following outlines the new working groups, the scope of each, and leadership: 

Instructional Continuity led by Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Smith and Associate Provost Ken Baerenklau
Scope: Manage the return to in-person instructional activities and continuing needs for online instruction.

Research Ramp-Up led by Vice Chancellor Rodolfo Torres
Scope: Manage the return to full research capacity using a phased approach, relying on public health guidelines, science-based criteria, and faculty consultation.

Operational Continuity led by Vice Chancellor Gerry Bomotti and Sheila Hedayati, Executive Director of Environmental Health & Safety
Scope: Manage the safe return to in-person campus operations, including the full range of employee workplaces and on-campus housing operations, and the development and implementation of relevant HR policies and procedures.

COVID Management led by Vice Chancellor and Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine Deborah Deas
Scope: In accordance with CDC, state, and county public health guidelines, manage health and safety needs for the return of students and employees to in-person instruction and operations, including management of COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution, and student health.

Student Services led by Vice Chancellor Brian Haynes
Scope: Support transition for new and returning students for Fall 2021, with a focus on support services and co-curricular experiences.  

Over the coming weeks and months, we will provide updates on the progress of these working groups and the process of decision making about the fall 2021. We look forward to providing more information as it becomes available.