June 23 update: Under the latest state guidelines, most vaccinated employees and students may work indoors without face coverings, physical distancing is no longer required, and all worksites can operate at 100% capacity. Learn more in this announcement.
The California economy will reopen June 15 with the state lifting many restrictions on restaurants, stores, and other businesses. But at UC Riverside, like many state colleges and universities, the process will be a gradual one with no immediate changes expected.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the reopening of the state due to decreasing coronavirus cases and increased vaccinations, both important factors that will determine how UCR will reopen.
The University of California will issue a policy on July 15th, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of students, faculty, and employees as part of the expected fall return.
Here are some key questions on what to expect:
What will change on campus starting June 15?
The campus is planning for a fall return to mostly in-person instruction and work, with the transition beginning in summer.
Research has ramped up to 50% maximum occupancy in campus labs and will continue to increase leading up to the fall quarter if conditions continue to improve in the community.
Under approved worksite specific plans, a limited number of employees are currently working on campus. Remote work will remain the default mode of operation unless otherwise authorized or until further notice.
Employees should continue to fill out the Daily Wellness Survey if they plan on being on campus.
What is open on campus?
Access to campus buildings and other facilities remains limited for now and should be arranged in advance.
Campus gathering and student support venues, including libraries, Student Recreation Center, Highlander Union Building, bookstore, dining spaces, and residence halls, are expected to open in the fall.
How do state guidelines apply to UCR?
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, is continuing to require stricter rules for workplaces such as UCR. Those requirements include masks or face coverings, social distancing, and regular testing.
In recent weeks, the Cal/OSHA board has discussed lifting requirements for masking if every person in a room is fully vaccinated but no final decision has been made. The board will next meet June 17 and new Cal/OSHA guidelines would not take effect until June 28.
The state strongly recommends vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff, and regular testing protocols for those who are not vaccinated.
The Research Ramp-Up working group is monitoring the potential changes and will be making new recommendations by the end of this month.
Update: See the announcement for more information.
Are masks still required?
Masks and face coverings for unvaccinated individuals are no longer required except for staff in health care settings and programs with children under 12 years of age, per Cal/OSHA requirements. Unvaccinated employees and students must continue to wear masks indoors, unless alone in a room or a vehicle, and must remain at least six feet from others when eating or drinking indoors.
Epidemiologist Brandon Brown, an associate professor in UCR’s Department of Social Medicine, Population, and Public Health, recommends continued mask wearing out of an abundance of caution when indoors with people outside their household.
“Masks may no longer be necessary when vaccinated people are outside as long as they are able to keep a physical distance between themselves and others outside of their household,” he said. “I am vaccinated, but I am still going to continue wearing my mask inside in public spaces and outside when I cannot keep a physical distance with others.”
What are UCR’s positivity and vaccination rates?
Students in residence halls and employees working on campus are being tested regularly for the coronavirus.
Since January, the number of positive cases had dramatically dropped. No positive cases have been reported on campus since May 23.
UCR Health has provided vaccinations at a campus clinic since January with almost 5,000 dosages administered so far.
Check Environmental Health & Safety’s COVID-19 dashboard for the latest figures.
How is UCR encouraging vaccinations?
Thousands of UCR employees and students have already been vaccinated, some at UCR Health clinics held on campus and others at county clinics and through their private healthcare providers. Student Health Services offers COVID-19 vaccine clinics for UCR students every Friday from 1–3:30 p.m. at the Student Health Clinic adjacent to Lot 15.
Employees are encouraged to confidentially report that they have been fully vaccinated through the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking Form.
Students are encouraged to upload their vaccination records by Aug. 1 and can find more information on how to do so from Student Health Services, including a video tutorial.
A dashboard of the university's employee and student vaccination rates is available online.
Where to find more resources on fall reopening plans?
Five fall planning working groups have been meeting regularly since March to discuss the issues involved in a full campus reopening. The Campus Return website features the latest announcements, video updates, and other information on the discussions and decisions made so far.
Video briefings from all five working groups can be found on the UCR YouTube page.