Planning for Academic Year 2020–2021

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

Dear Campus Community,

I write to update you about our plans to welcome students back to the campus for fall, as county and state public health guidelines permit. Through all of our planning efforts, our goals are to strengthen our community connections, prioritize public health and wellbeing, promote equitable access to education, and commit to high quality instruction and student support. 

We have engaged in extensive planning and preparations for the multi-stage expansion of on-site activities. These plans include instruction; student housing and dining; as well as student programs and services. Provisions for symptom checks, temperature checking and virus testing are being developed in alignment with guidance from public health officials.

Fall Instruction

When fall quarter instruction begins October 1, UC Santa Cruz will offer most courses remotely or online and provide in-person instruction for a small number of courses that cannot be delivered remotely, as is the case for some laboratory, studio and field study courses. Each course will have the mode of instruction listed within the schedule of courses, available here.

Whether in-person or remote, we are committed to the values of fostering community, ensuring accessibility, and facilitating deep learning across and beyond the academic curriculum.  Instructors, supported by specialists in teaching and learning, will be working throughout the summer to redesign courses for remote or fully online delivery. Our in-person instruction and learning spaces will be modified as necessary to ensure that we comply with physical distancing and other public health measures. We continue to draw on the expertise of our students to support remote instruction. This spring quarter’s “Zoom Corps” of student workers lending technical expertise in online classrooms will continue through Summer and Fall. They will be joined by a new “Accessibility Corps” of student workers helping make sure all course materials are accessible to all of our students. We encourage you to visit our Keep Learning page that provides further information about self-care, connection, remote learning strategies, advising and many other resources. 

Planning with Flexibility in Mind

With fall instruction scheduled to start later than at some universities, the campus will have additional time to monitor the pandemic and make preparations for fall. As the pandemic and public health guidance evolve, UC Santa Cruz will evolve too, working in close collaboration with public health officials and experts throughout the UC system.

We must remain flexible and keep campus health and access for all as our guiding priorities. Current plans for in-person classes in fall may need to be adjusted or cancelled to comply with changing external guidelines or our own UC Santa Cruz health and safety evaluations. For example, due to public health concerns around holiday travel, instructors may be asked to complete their in-person sessions prior to the Thanksgiving break, following which all instruction and final exams would be remote. And should it become necessary, the campus is prepared to return to the current state of reduced on-site operations at any time.

The university will develop accommodations to support students who, due to personal circumstances or elevated health risks associated with COVID-19, are unable to return to campus for the fall quarter. Academic advisors will work with those whose majors require the courses being offered only in-person, so that students can continue to make progress toward their degrees.

Housing and Dining

The residential housing and dining experience will be modified to accommodate current public health guidance. Rooms will be configured as singles and doubles only, significantly reducing our overall housing capacity. Given limitations in housing capacity, placement in university housing accommodations will be prioritized for various continuing student populations and new transfer students, who may have a need to be physically present for courses or labs taught on campus. Additional students will be accommodated, space permitting. More information will be forthcoming from Housing in the coming days. 

Students who are taking all courses remotely and who have a safe place to live and learn should strongly consider refraining from seeking an on-campus residence. We ask that all first-year students consider postponing their move onto campus until we are able to accommodate a higher density in housing. The college core course as well as most lower division coursework will be offered remotely, thereby enabling all first-year students to begin their studies at home. We are working to establish a vibrant remote first-year experience, thereby connecting first-year students with college communities and classmates before physically coming to campus. You are all an important part of our community and it is vital that we connect with you as our incoming Banana Slug cohort - Class of 2024

Focus on the Student Experience

Even though we may be physically apart, Slugs are all in this together and students have a number of support and engagement services available to ensure their success. Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Basic Needs support, Learning Support Services, and CARE are open and providing services remotely.  A full list of services and operating hours can be found on the COVID-19 webpage and the Division of Student Success website.

Planning for a Healthy Campus 

As we plan for fall 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year, reducing the spread of COVID-19 remains a top priority, and we are continuously evaluating how we can best achieve this goal. In collaboration with the campus Molecular Diagnostic Lab, the Cowell Student Health Center has been testing students who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The campus will continue to test symptomatic students this fall. 

The campus has also instituted protocols to reduce COVID-19 spread on campus, including:

  • Asking all students, employees, and guests/visitors to wear face coverings

  • Minimizing the density of people on-site at all UCSC owned or leased properties

  • Implementing building control measures, such as physical distancing in all campus classrooms and learning spaces

  • Increasing sanitization 

  • Requiring training for all employees before they return to on-site work and requiring training for students before they return to campus for fall quarter

  • Continuing remote work arrangements for many employees

  • Requiring worksite plans before employees return to on-site work

  • Requiring daily, self-administered symptom checks for all employees and student employees who are coming into a UCSC owned or leased property

Supporting our Community

Whether in-person or remote, the equity and justice issues that have animated the past several weeks of protest in our country and throughout our campus continue to evolve. During uncertain times, fear can lead us to communicate and behave in biased and exclusionary ways, creating further fear and pain. However, our Banana Slug community has shown time and time again our remarkable capacity to actively engage in community building to keep each other healthy and to ensure that each person on our campus has the opportunity to succeed. Now more than ever, we must actively engage in the work of community building in pursuit of our individual and collective goals. 

Thank you for your flexibility and adaptability as we work together to continue our mission of teaching, learning, research and public service.