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UPDATE: Spring Semester Return

Body: 
Re: UPDATE: Spring Semester Return
To: All campus
December 29, 2021
 
Members of the UC Merced community,
 
We are writing to update you on the latest plans for the spring semester return to campus operations scheduled for Monday, Jan. 3.
 
We are all too aware that this pandemic has been a great physical and psychological burden. But we are a community that is close to 100 percent vaccinated, with rigorous health and cleaning measures in place on campus and robust campus communications emphasizing the need to do our part for one other. We rely, as we have all along, on the strength, courage, and cooperative spirit that are the hallmarks of UC Merced. While there will continue to be bumps in the road, working together UC Merced will do everything possible to maintain its critical mission of research, teaching and public service.
 
 
To ensure we are operating with the same information, we offer these reminders and updates:
 
  • To be considered fully vaccinated under the University of California COVID vaccination policy , COVID-19 booster shots are required for faculty, staff and students as soon as they are eligible — generally, six months from the last vaccination. Everyone not yet eligible for boosters will be subject to testing on campus on a schedule to be shared next week. Testing hours next week are Monday, Jan. 3, 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, Jan. 5, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., all in the California Room; appointments are encouraged but not required.
 
  • Face coverings are still required indoors . We recommend surgical-style masks. You can pick them up from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at COB, Granite Pass, Fresno Center and Downtown Campus Center.
 
  • Classes will begin Jan. 18, with remote instruction through Jan. 22 to give incoming students more time to test for COVID. Instructors should post instructions in CatCourses for how students can access class materials (e.g., Zoom sessions, recorded lectures, activities, readings). Students should check CatCourses by Jan. 17 for details on participating in the first week of instruction. There is a possibility that remote instruction could be extended based on COVID-related circumstances outside the university’s control; we will notify campus by Jan. 20 if that becomes necessary.
 
  • Most staff return to work Jan. 3. Supervisors will be in touch about whether staff may work remotely through Jan. 18 to maintain our mission. Critical services such as (but not limited to) dining, facilities, public safety, student advising, and research support will be performed in-person. All staff are strongly encouraged to obtain a negative COVID test within 24 hours of return. Those who are ill or have tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home and report the result to the COVID Response Center.
 
  • Resident students will return to campus housing beginning Jan. 14; they should check their email for date and time. All students must arrive in full compliance with the University of California COVID vaccination policy (including having obtained a booster if eligible, uploaded to the student health portal) and obtain a negative COVID test within 24 hours of arrival.
 
  • Research will continue, with safety protocols already in place. Supervisors should be understanding and flexible about those whose personal health situations may restrict their participation.
 
  • Employees, including postdocs and graduate students, may access their offices and workplaces, consistent with campus safety protocols.
 
  • No events or gatherings (except for instructional settings) that include more than 50 attendees will be held. We anticipate this change lasting for the first few weeks of the semester; the actual duration will depend on the course of the pandemic.
 
  • Campus dining will be open for “grab and go” options, with limited seating at the Pavilion.
 
  • Campus recreation facilities will be open regular hours starting on the first day of in-person instruction, and open limited hours starting next week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
 
  • The Early Childhood Education Center will remain open on the same basis as during fall semester.
 
  • Shuttles will continue to operate on the same schedule as during fall semester.
 
  • Kolligian library will remain open, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Jan. 14 and then regular hours for spring semester. It will remain closed on Saturdays due to staffing limitations.
 
Faculty, staff, students and families will continue to receive more detailed information over coming days.
 
As you know, all plans are subject to change based on emerging information, and we should acknowledge that illnesses could significantly impact a wide breath of operations and services on campus. We will be studying carefully other campuses that are scheduled to return before our start of instruction to draw from their experiences. We will remain in continuous consultation with the University of California, state and local public health officials and our own faculty experts.
 
We are deeply aware that our work through the pandemic — educating the next generation of leaders, expanding the boundaries of knowledge and creativity, improving lives in the Central Valley and indeed the world — has been challenging, and in many ways will continue to be. We also know UC Merced’s history is one of singular persistence and achievement in the face of challenges. As a community, working with and for one another, we will continue to prevail.
 
Be well,
 
UC Merced Campus Leadership