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COVID-19: Spring Break Guidance for Students

March 17, 2020
Dear Students,
 
Today we have informed faculty that all instructional activity until the end of the semester is to be offered remotely and to transition all our courses to some form of available instruction. We are doing this in response to guidance from public health authorities to implement social distancing in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Protecting the health and safety of members of the campus community remains our priority.
 
As was shared in earlier communication, we are committed to ensuring students have every opportunity to fulfill their academic commitments and continue to progress toward their degrees and their careers. We are working on solutions to offer alternative modes of instruction to all students in non-lecture courses and settings; that will be complete by the start of spring break. Students should reach out to their faculty members if they have questions about how courses will be delivered.
 
Any students who went home over the weekend to the California counties that have imposed travel restrictions, and are now under a shelter-in-place order, are exempt from attendance requirements for in-person classes this week. This includes lab, studio and small classes.
 
We have also developed a resource page for you, as students, on tips and pointers to best engage in this learning environment.
 
Information for Students Who Stay on Campus
 
My earlier email confirmed that our residence halls and a dining facility will stay open, including during spring break. We recognize that some students may want or need to remain on campus through spring break or return to campus after spring break, and we are increasing sanitization efforts in common areas and strengthening our broadband to support online learning to help ensure a safe and healthy environment for students living on campus.
 
It is possible we will close one or more of the residence halls and relocate students into fewer locations, as well as adjust our operations to improve social distancing both in the residence halls and the dining facilities. Please rest assured, we will support you in your decision about where it is best for you to reside during this public health emergency.
 
Information for Students Who Move Out
 
If you live on campus in one of our residence halls, you will receive relief from your campus housing and dining fees if you decide to move out. The campus will approve all requests for relief from further payment obligations of campus housing contracts for students who decide to move out of campus housing for the remainder of this academic year. The campus will provide these students with a prorated refund of any campus housing fees that have already been paid, based upon the effective move-out date.
 
Students who want to move out must complete a written request. The campus will process two move-out dates, March 20 and March 30, depending on when you formally check out of your residence hall. The amount of the actual cash refund that a student receives after being released from the campus housing payment obligations may be dependent upon the degree to which the student’s housing costs are covered by financial aid or remaining balances on an account.
 
Here is the portal for reporting your intention: https://ucmerced.starrezhousing.com/StarRezPortalx/
 
 
Information for Student Employees
 
We understand that some student workers may need their student-employee wages to cover their basic needs, yet would prefer to leave campus and the local area. New guidance regarding all staff employees was issued today by the UC Office of the President, and UC Merced Human Resources will soon be distributing guidance for our campus, including student employees.
 
Help Us ‘Flatten the Curve’
 
Currently there are no reported positive cases of COVID-19 in Merced County, nor any related to members of our campus community. Through the work of our dedicated Emergency Operations team, and Student Health Services staff, and in close concert with local public health colleagues, we are monitoring the situation closely and will keep you updated.
 
Please take care of yourselves, do your part to “ flatten the curve ,” and slow the spread of COVID-19 , respect those around you in accordance with our Principles of Community , stay up to date on COVID-19-related developments on campus , and be well.
 
Charles Nies
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs