COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Planning Update

To: UC Santa Cruz Faculty and Staff

From: Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services

The following serves as an update on the planning approach for the resumption of in-person operations at the residential campus, Westside Research Park, Coastal Science Campus, and the Scotts Valley Center. Recovery activities at the Silicon Valley Campus and MBEST will follow on a parallel process, though under orders of Santa Clara County and Monterey County respectively. This work is being facilitated through the Recovery and Resiliency Task Force structure. 

To support the public health of our community, the in-person return of our workforce and our students to onsite operations at all UC Santa Cruz locations will be conducted in a phased manner. The guiding emphasis of decisions will be on public health and reducing COVID-19 spread, while supporting our academic mission. In addition to the planning outlined below, work groups are also focused on several other areas of in-person resumption planning, including student support services, employee resiliency and morale, and remote working best practices and guidelines. 

Though Santa Cruz County has been approved to move to Stage 2 of the California Resilience Roadmap to Recovery, county orders currently allow us to operate only those activities that facilitate remote learning or performing essential functions. Higher education is listed by the state as one of the sectors still not allowed to fully operate in-person. The majority of operations continue to be remote. Essential functions allowed to take place on-site must continue to be undertaken in compliance with existing orders from the state and county. We are closely monitoring and assessing these orders as they are updated.

There are five general phases to campus COVID-19 operating status. They align with the stages of the California Resilience Roadmap. The specifics and timing of the campus phases are subject to change as adjustments are made at the county and state level. As Santa Cruz County now moves into Stage 2 of the state roadmap, UCSC is moving into Phase 3 of our campus plan for resuming in-person operations. At this point, all activities that can be carried out remotely will continue to do so. 

Increases in county or regional COVID-19 positive cases may require regional Public Health Departments (County of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara County, etc.) to issue new orders that may result in the campus adjusting plans and reverting to prior phases.

Instruction, research, co-curricular and housing planning

The Academic Recovery and Resiliency Task Force continues its work in developing the proposals for research, instruction, co-curricular activities, student housing and dining services. As proposals and recommendations come from this group, the Operations and Employee Recovery and Resiliency Task Force works to operationalize them in a way to advance public health and comply with the many Federal, State, County, and UC directives and guidelines framing campus in-person resumption efforts. 

As communicated on June 1 by CPEVC Kletzer, the approach to fall 2020 class scheduling is proceeding along this path: 

  • With the possible exception of upper division lab, studio, field study or project capstone courses, any class that course sponsors have indicated can be converted to remote instruction will be scheduled with a location of “Remote Instruction.”  

  • Courses with class sizes of 40 and higher, regardless of indicated instructional methods, will not be offered in-person. This initial maximum class size of 40 may be reduced as we continue our planning efforts.

  • Secondary sections, secondary laboratories, and secondary studios will not be offered in-person.

  • The college core courses will not be offered in-person.

The campus has already begun a phased return of research programs.

At this point, campus housing is developing a plan to provide some housing (likely limited to singles and doubles where appropriate and consistent with health and safety guidelines) for fall 2020. Housing priority decisions are still under development. Quarantine and isolation space is also being integrated into housing plans. 

Decisions about resuming in-person activities

Our institutional in-person resumption plans must take into account current governmental orders and guidance, including CDC Guidance for Higher Education Institutions, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Santa Cruz County Public Health, Santa Clara Public Health, Monterey County Public Health DepartmentOSHA GuidanceAmerican College Health Association Guidance, and EEOC Guidance. In addition, in-person resumption planning must comply with the UC Board of Regents Consensus Standards for Operation of Campus. Guidance and compliance standards are emerging daily and planning needs to be understood in the context that these requirements may change at any moment.  In addition to campus subject matter experts, two external Public Health Advisors from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health will review and opine on various aspects of in-person resumption planning.

Decisions as to which units and cohorts return in-person and the timing of such return will be dependent upon many aspects of analyses.  These decisions will be managed as outlined below at the principal officer level. No programs or staff are allowed to resume in-person operations without approval. As restrictions on various activities are lifted via State and County Orders, and taking into account the specific directives accompanying such allowance, a process of review takes place with relevant Principal Officers and the Operations Recovery and Resiliency Work Group, chaired by Associate Vice Chancellor for Risk and Safety Services Scott. We will develop our phased plan with emphasis on those operations and educational programs that require in-person, onsite operations as a first priority over those operations, employees and services that may continue to operate remotely.  

The campus will need to ensure that any function that returns to an in-person, onsite modality meets the five elements that the state has laid out for opening of services. The state roadmap dictates that before resuming in-person onsite operations, organizations must:

  • Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan

  • 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

  • Implement individual control measures and screenings

  • Implement disinfecting protocols

  • Implement physical distancing guidelines

Below are some of the key elements of the campus review and engagement process that are intended to address these five areas, as well as the other requirements laid out by the agencies outlined above. These elements have been piloted as essential operations have been functioning on-campus and as additional in-person research operations have resumed on campus.  The tools used will continue to adapt over time as additional in-person operations resume.  Units should not develop their own protocols in any of the following areas, due to compliance, legal, and privacy considerations. 

Worksite Plans: For every function that resumes in-person operations, a Worksite Plan will need to be completed. The initial pilot of this tool was used doing building assessments for the in-person resumption of key research activities.  This process has been designed to assist management with ensuring that their facilities have integrated both standardized and unique physical mitigations to reduce public health exposure and ensure compliance with all related regulatory requirements, including Cal OSHA. A detailed review of facility systems is also included (air handling, water system flush, etc.)

Employee Training: As a part of in-person, on-site resumption efforts, the University as employer is required to deliver COVID-19 specific training for employees.  This includes student employees. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has coordinated this training. The initial training pilot is in the process of being moved to the campus Learning Management System. This shift is expected to be complete mid-June. Development of educational programming for students who are not employees is underway. As employees and students return to on-site locations, they will be required to abide by community standards for health, wellbeing and reducing COVID-19 spread.

Asymptomatic Testing and Contact Tracing: The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has released guidelines for campuses on asymptomatic testing and contact tracing.  These recommendations will frame the campus testing and contact tracing plan. On June 1st, the campus launched a pilot voluntary asymptomatic testing program for a specific cohort of employees. The cohort was chosen due to their front line contact with others on campus and in the community and complies with the tiering priority outlined by the California Department of Public Health. This pilot involves a cohort of approximately 160 individuals. Once initial review of the pilot is complete, other cohort groups will be assessed for integration as our ability to expand testing grows. This is currently a voluntary program.

Currently, the campus has a well-defined program to direct any symptomatic individuals who require testing. This process is overseen by the Student Health Center. Our testing and response procedures for symptomatic students and employees, and the subsequent requirements for communication with the county, have been in place for over three months. Required campus notification protocols are also well established in situations where such notification is necessary.  

Symptom Monitoring: As a part of in-person, on-site resumption efforts, the University as employer is required to have a process for conducting daily COVID-19 symptom checks of employees who are working on site. Currently, all those accessing campus should continue to abide by prior guidance posted online and check their symptoms daily and stay home and seek medical care if they are feeling sick. A new COVID-19 symptom check application that has been adopted at peer UC campuses is being implemented at UCSC. More information on this application will be sent to the campus in the days to come.

Campus In-person Resumption Plan

The first version of the campus in-person resumption plan will be issued mid June. As campus operational decisions are made and as state, county and UC directives and guidelines change, subsequent versions of the plan will be released. This plan has been developed using guidance from the agencies noted above, coordination with other UC campuses, as well as local and systemwide subject matter experts. It includes information on the basic processes outlined above as well as additional details on in-person resumption planning. 

In addition, a new campus COVID-19 recovery site is being built and will launch shortly.