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COVID-19: Weekly Briefing from the Chancellor

March 16, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As you know, news about the global COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly, and here at UC Merced we are attempting to keep you informed not only about campus preparations and directives but also University of California policies and guidance from government agencies. Please continue to check our Emergency Management site for the latest information, as well as archives of campus communications.

A reminder: All campus functions remain operational. We rely on individual units to communicate any relevant changes in operations with their constituents. Managers and supervisors may offer flexible work arrangements for employees when possible while still maintaining continuity of business, yet we recognize that many of our operations require employees to be on campus. We are particularly grateful for those who will work as usual to keep our students healthy and safe.

Beginning with this message, I will share a weekly update with our campus community with reminders of what we have done at UC Merced in the preceding week and what we know is coming up in the week ahead. As always, if you have specific questions, you can ask through the button at the top of our home page; questions are monitored daily and answered as quickly as possible.

In the past week, we have sent messages to campus about:

Educational continuity: Faculty have been urged to offer remote learning tools for all courses.

Staff telecommuting: Campus offices must maintain operations, but supervisors in many units have flexibility in how to do so, in discussion with employees.

Events and meetings: Large events (over 100 people) are canceled. We are tracking all campus events with daily updates.

University travel: All nonessential travel is curtailed.

Research continuity: Plans to continue the university’s broad research agenda.

We have also communicated with the wider community in many other ways — you may find some of this information instructive or useful as well:

Campus leadership Q&A: This event was livestreamed on March 11 from the California Room.

ABC30 (Fresno TV) story on UC Merced preparations

Los Angeles Times story on UC campuses mobilizing

KVPR (Valley Public Radio) discussion panel on preparations.

Merced County Times story on Merced-area institutions’ plans

Video messages to parents, in English and Spanish.

Next week, we expect to issue updated instructions about remote course delivery, as well as guidance for students about spring break, and a reminder of our Principles of Community and their particular application to these times.

We will support students in their decisions about where it is best for them to reside during this public health emergency. We recognize that some students may want or need to remain on campus through spring break or return to campus after spring break. They will be allowed to do so and we will maintain all student support operations. 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 (e.g., spreading students out, delivering box meals, scheduling use of common facilities, etc.).  

Depending on the guidance and direction of public health officials regarding COVID-19 in the coming weeks, it is possible that the campus may generally resume in-person instruction at some point during the semester. If in-person instruction resumes, we will issue guidance well in advance of that resumption in the interests of both student concerns and educational continuity.

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. 

Sincerely,

 

Nathan Brostrom

Interim Chancellor