Planning Framework

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View the full UC Riverside planning framework

Background

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

Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and current nationwide vaccine rollout, the President stated, “the University understands the importance of communicating its plans as early as possible, as it stays flexible and nimble, to ensure students and their families have the latest information for decisions on enrollment, housing and other aspects of university life.” The university’s principles and working group structure will guide the campus in planning and implementing our fall reopening.

Guiding Principles

At the start of the pandemic, little was known about the nature of the COVID-19 virus, and the campus developed the following guiding principles to oversee continuity of campus operations during a period of significant uncertainty and rising infection rates:

1.    Prioritize the safety of all members of our campus community. 
2.    Extend access to education to the greatest extent possible. 
3.    Create flexibility at both the individual and institutional levels.

Since then, there has been increased availability of personal-protective equipment (PPE), widespread testing capacity, and importantly, the development of multiple vaccines that have proven effective and are becoming steadily available across California and in Riverside County.   

On the campus, COVID-19 infection rates have been relatively steady with a less than 0.5% positivity rate since March 2020 (see campus dashboard). The campus positivity rate, which has been significantly lower than Riverside county rates, has primarily been due to our strong COVID-19 testing and health and safety protocols. In terms of vaccinations, every Californian ages 12 and up is now eligible for vaccination.  UCR Health and Riverside County has provided vaccinations to many UCR employees and students through various sites, on campus and in the community.

Moreover, there is an expectation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines may receive full FDA authorization, which would provide a basis for ensuring UCR students are able to receive the vaccine before living on-campus or taking in-person classes in the fall.

With these developments in mind and the UC President’s announcement to resume in-person classes in fall 2021, UCR has updated its guiding principles as follows (note: emphasis added where changes have been made):

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 the operational needs of each unit.

While considerable uncertainty remains about the COVID-19 pandemic, including the development and spread of variants, UCR’s primary focus continues to be the health and safety of the entire campus community.  While in-person operations may ramp-up, the campus will continue to incorporate the use of asymptomatic testing, face coverings, hygiene, social distancing measures, as well as continue to limit large gatherings (including large in-person classes) and travel.  Moreover, the campus must be ready to return to more remote operations, as new information becomes available and if conditions warrant.

Working Group Structure

As the campus begins planning toward more in-person fall instruction and operations, we have also revised our working group structure to emphasize key areas of focus. Each working group will include representation from Academic Senate, Staff Assembly, ASUCR and GSA leadership, and 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 working groups:

Each of the five working groups is headed by a Vice Chancellor. Project managers and communications leads for each working group meet weekly to coordinate logistics and implementation. The groups will have the opportunity to share progress with the broader campus community through weekly Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meetings and weekly updates to employees and students.