Planning for Winter Quarter

From: Herbie Lee Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Jody Greene Special Advisor to the CP/EVC for Educational Equity and Academic Success Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

Earlier today, the University of California Office of the President shared more information about tentative agreements with the UAW regarding contracts for Academic Student Employees and Graduate Student Researchers. The tentative agreements provide minimum salary scales for academic student employees, including teaching assistants and graduate student researchers, as well as multiyear pay increases, paid dependent access to university health care, enhanced child care expense reimbursement, and enhanced paid family leave. Members will vote on the proposals this week. If approved, the contracts will be effective through May 31, 2025.

As we wrap up fall quarter and look to winter quarter, we want to acknowledge the uncertainty of this moment caused by the spreading of respiratory diseases and the as-yet uncertain end to the UAW labor strikes involving ASEs and GSRS. We write to share some initial information, guidance, and resources to support our instructors, knowing that many of you are already concerned about how to plan your courses in advance of the start of winter quarter instruction on January 9.

We will share important updates as they become available, including through the time of campus closure, if there is anything significant to report. We encourage you to check email periodically through the winter break.

We should all be planning for a number of scenarios we might face in January. While we are hopeful that UAW members will ratify the tentative agreement, instructors should plan for the possibility that the strike may continue into the start of winter quarter. Additionally, instructors should also anticipate that some students (or they themselves or family and household members) may be ill when instruction starts, which may affect in-person class meetings. In particular, instructors should consider whether they are open to temporarily offering blended modalities for students who are ill, or whether they want to find other ways to support students to keep learning while they are sick.

We encourage you to begin thinking through your instructional plans and communicating in advance with students to share your plans. Students in courses scheduled to be in person may seek confirmation of the first class session’s modality. We will be encouraging students to look for messages from instructors about their winter quarter courses. We encourage you to build flexibility into your courses, and to include language in your syllabi reminding students that the syllabus and assignments may be subject to change in response to situations as they arise, as well as how you will be communicating with students throughout the quarter. Syllabus plans related to student illness should be developed without requesting medical documentation of illness. Instructors should not ask students to provide medical documentation of illness or proof of a positive test result (see the Academic Senate’s document on this point).

The Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning has resources that may be helpful in planning for Winter on both the Labor Actions webpage and the Keep Teaching website. In addition to these resources, instructional support professional staff will be available during the winter break and can be reached at or Slack.

The campus has no plans to delay the start of in-person classes. Instructors have the authority to make emergency temporary instructional adjustments, including the use of the remote modality, as needed to best support learning. Instructors are advised to inform their department chair, program director, or college provost about emergency temporary instructional adjustments.

With COVID-19, RSV, and the flu spreading in our community, we want you to support your personal health and the health of your family and household. If you have flu-like symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, do not return to campus until your symptoms subside or your isolation period is over. If you are too sick to teach in any modality, please work with your department chair or college provost and instructional support professional staff to come up with alternative plans for your courses.

We want to close by thanking you for all your hard work this quarter and this entire year. We continue to face new challenges, and we know these challenges take a toll on faculty as well as on students and staff. We hope you will find time over the holidays to rest and enjoy time with family and friends.