Chancellor Howard Gillman announced on May 11 that UCI will begin to share the initial plans for reengaging campus operations, while also providing a roadmap for how fall quarter courses will be held.
According to Gillman’s announcement, on-campus operations will begin at a gradual pace with certain aspects being implemented before others. The Strategic Advisory Group, led by Interim Provost Hal Stern, is currently mapping out details related to research, health, technology, incoming and prospective students, undergraduate and graduate instruction, and the workforce.
“Not all of us will return to the campus at the same time or soon,” Gillman’s announcement said. “Some mission-critical areas that involve discrete locations and smaller numbers of people, such as some lab research, will likely resume first while many others may continue to work remotely for an extended period.”
Classes will start on schedule for fall quarter 2020. Whether these classes will be offered remotely or as a complement to in-person instruction has not yet been determined.
“We are doing everything possible to prepare classrooms for in-person instruction,” Gillman said. “But it’s too early to determine which courses will be ready for traditional on-site learning.”
According to Gillman, it is more likely that graduate classes will be offered in-person due to the nature of graduate instruction and apartment-style on-campus graduate housing.
“Most importantly,” Gillman said. “All students enrolled in the fall will be able to begin or continue their courses of study.”
Regarding student housing, according to Gillman, rooms with three or four residents will most likely not be possible, but doubles may be acceptable.
Plans for housing and larger social gatherings will be released mid-June.
Additionally, Vice Chancellor for Research Pramod Khargonekar outlined a four-stage plan for the reimplementation of research operations.
The first operation to be implemented will be critical research activities, according to the UCI Office of Research announcement. These projects include research that can not be ramped down or halted as outlined in the agreement for funding or sponsored award, research where ramping down or halting would cause irreparable harm to the project, all research and clinical trials related to the treatment of SARS CoV-2 or impeding the spread of the COVID-19, and all experiments using UCI’s nuclear reactor.
“UCI’s research will mirror the state of California roadmap,” Khargonekar said. “The increase in research activities will occur gradually, over an extended period of time and in a carefully measured fashion.”
Khargonekar outlined four guiding principles that would determine the process of reimplementing research operations:
- UCI will follow all applicable federal, state, and county public health directives and University of California guidance, especially physical and social distancing requirements.
- Research beyond Phase 1 will increase gradually but may swiftly revert to a previous phase, consistent on public health guidelines.
- All faculty members and independent researchers will create written plans for their research programs to increase on-site activities.
- No researcher, especially students, or research staff should be compelled to work on campus.
According to Khargonekar, early-career researchers will be given reimplementation priority, as well as flexible accommodations for access to research facilities, to supplement disproportionate impacts related to the shutting of research operations.
“The UCI research community has done an outstanding job and made many sacrifices in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khargonekar said. “I look forward to the next steps as we continue to deal with this unprecedented public health emergency in a responsible and proactive manner.”
Additional updates and news in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and UCI’s response can be found here.
Ian Michael Anzlowar is a Staff Writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org