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Fall Instruction Update

July 8, 2020
Re: Fall Instruction Update
To: Faculty
July 8, 2020
 
Dear Colleagues,
 
As long as Merced County had a low incidence of coronavirus disease, we felt UC Merced could serve as a sanctuary for those of our students who wished to be here. We know that our high-touch cocurricular environment has been a reason we have been very effective in transforming the lives of our students. Further, it was the overwhelming preference of our campus community that we return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.
 
Thus, we had been planning to repopulate the campus and have as much in-person instruction as possible, considering our priority of mitigating risk, and open our residence halls to as many students as we could reasonably accommodate.
 
In the last two weeks, however, the situation in our nation, state and county has deteriorated radically. No longer is it true that Merced County is significantly less affected than other regions of California from which we draw a substantial number of our students.
 
Therefore, it is no longer in the best interest of our students or our community to bring significant numbers of people onto campus this fall semester. We are now adapting plans for the fall so that we further reduce the amount of in-person instruction. We still plan to house those students for whom our residence halls are the best or only place to live while pursuing their education, and we are building robust virtual student support systems dubbed Dens; we will share a fuller explanation of this program in the coming days.
 
These new plans may require us to shift some of our staffing to ensure that virtual contact is rich and as seamless as possible.
 
We continue to plan for full research activity on campus that requires on campus presence in laboratory facilities, with protocols for cleaning, safe building and lab occupant densities, and traffic flow. Again, these changes may require us to shift staffing to the research enterprise.
 
Finally, our models show significant community transmission of the coronavirus in Merced, and we will be planning staffing needs to accommodate some percentage who may be ill at any given time. We are working on models to predict workforce needs in this more complicated set of circumstances and will be communicating our plans as they unfold—always with the caveat that this is a dynamic situation to which we continue to adapt.
 
I know that these ever-changing plans create tremendous challenges. We will be providing robust support to you to as you shift ever more instruction to remote modalities. And I thank you profoundly for your hard work, patience and resilience. We are in circumstances out of living memory in higher education. Fortunately, we have unprecedented knowledge and technological alternatives. We will continue to provide a high-quality education to all of our students, to continue our groundbreaking research and to provide as many research opportunities as possible for our students.
 
I will answer any questions you may have during the virtual townhall meeting scheduled for noon this Thursday, July 9. Information on how to join is below.
 
Best,
Gregg
 
Faculty Town Hall
12 - 1:30 p.m. | Thursday, July 9
 
Join Zoom Meeting:
 
Meeting ID: 209 228 6312
Password: 817585
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