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Friday, April 23, 2021

Inside this issue

Weekly COVID-19 Dashboard

UHS tests



UC Berkeley positive cases



Source: UC Berkeley Coronavirus Dashboard. Date range: April 16-22, 2021.

Alameda Co. adjusted cases per day per 100,000



Alameda County positivity rate



Source: Alameda County Public Health.

Message from leadership

We’re on the cusp of a paradigm shift in how we manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health measures such as physical distancing, capacity restrictions and testing were put in place as temporary measures until a vaccine could be developed. Now that vaccines are becoming widely available, being vaccinated will become the primary means of preventing infection by the coronavirus causing COVID-19.

With this shift, we can expect to see many of these temporary public health measures being lifted. We’ll be less concerned about the level of disinfection or ventilation of a classroom, conference room or office and more concerned with whether individuals have protected themselves by becoming vaccinated.

In order to operationalize our plans for the return to campus and full in-person operations in the fall, we expect to lift restrictions in accord with the easing of state guidelines. We expect to return to pre-pandemic use of space and ways of operating. Some public health measures will continue as a precaution but it’s simply not feasible to continue with all restrictions. After all, those restrictions are the reason why we’ve had to operate in a primarily remote modality the past 13 months. Once they are lifted, our model of operating can go back to what it was. 

Operational teams from across UC Berkeley are working hard to get the campus ready and look forward to your return!

— Sally McGarrahan and Seamus Wilmot, co-chairs of the Recovery Operations Committee

Recovery updates

Review proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The University of California has shared details of a proposed policy (PDF) on COVID-19 vaccination as it joins the California State University in supporting immunizations as part of an expected return of students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to in-person instruction across the state this fall.

Given the importance of vaccination, UC is engaging its community in a discussion of the details of the proposed policy now so that students, faculty, academic appointees and staff will have ample time to obtain the vaccine ahead of the fall term.

Under the proposed policy, the university would require students, faculty, academic appointees and staff who are accessing campus facilities at any UC location beginning this fall to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. UC already strongly encourages students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to voluntarily obtain a vaccination as soon as they are eligible and able to schedule an appointment. The requirement would go into effect once a vaccine has full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

More information can be found in the FAQs for students (PDF) and employees (PDF). Additional questions can be directed to UCOP.

Any campus community member who received the vaccine outside of University Health Services is encouraged to upload a record of their vaccination to eTang (PDF).

Update on return to on-site work

Beginning on June 16, 2021, consistent with current guidance from the state of California, we anticipate permitting employees who previously were working remotely to return to on-site work on a voluntary basis, subject to their supervisor and business unit’s approval.

Beginning on July 12, 2021, most employees will be expected to return to regular on-site work unless they have entered into a flexible work agreement or have obtained an approved accommodation for a disability that limits their ability to work on-site.

More information is available in the campus message sent to employees.

Update on ventilation expectations for fall

As more and more people get the vaccine, being vaccinated will increasingly serve as the primary means of preventing infection by the coronavirus causing COVID-19. While some restrictions such as face coverings will likely persist in order to protect people who cannot be vaccinated, most public health restrictions will need to be lifted in order for California to fully reopen its economy on June 15.

At UC Berkeley, the planned return to full in-person operations for the fall semester assumes that a high percentage of our campus population is vaccinated and that there are low case rates. If this is the situation, we will return to pre-pandemic use of all buildings, classrooms and other spaces regardless of ventilation status. Please note that Facilities Services has increased indoor ventilation to maximize outside air. This will continue as long as conditions allow and, where possible and appropriate, opening windows and doors to increase ventilation will still be encouraged.

If some restrictions are maintained, it’s possible that ventilation will be a criterion for use of space. In this case, the results of ongoing classroom ventilation assessments will be used to inform classroom scheduling. No other spaces on campus will be assessed. Given the number of spaces on campus and the cost and complexity of ventilation assessments, it’s not possible to provide specific information about most spaces.

Guidelines for events and activities updated

The events page on the campus coronavirus site has been updated with new guidance for planning events past June 15 and a clarification of the guidelines that remain in effect until then.

Video: Post-vaccine life, explained (Part 2)

Watch the following one-minute video to learn what to expect as more people get vaccinated.

Vaccination will take the place of other public health measures as the primary means of preventing infection.

Student Technology Equity Program updates 

Returning equipment: Hardware lent to students through the Student Technology Equity Program (STEP) program can be returned by appointment at Eshleman Hall or through the mail. Students must fill out this required form to make an appointment or get a mailing label. Students can keep their devices for up to 4 years, or when they graduate, whichever comes first.

Applications: Apply to STEP by April 30 to receive hardware in time for Summer Session B.  STEP provides loaner laptops, web cameras, noise-canceling headphones and other technology at no cost to students in need for up to four years. Devices are mailed directly to your home (U.S. only). Requests submitted after April 30 will not be considered for fulfillment until August 2021.  

Some Student Union programs ending

  • The Face Covering Distribution program ends for the summer as of May 15.

  • The Individual Workroom program ends for the summer as of May 15.

  • The Intermittent Outdoor Instructional Activity program (Lower Sproul tents) will end as of April 30 to make room for an outdoor study hall. This program may continue with the start of the summer semester. Visit the Event Services website for updates.

Outdoor study hall available for RRR and finals

Study space will be available in the Lower Sproul tents for RRR and Finals Week (May 3-12) on a first-come, first-served basis Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Face coverings, physical distancing, and campus testing/screening requirements are applicable. Visit the Event Services website for more details.

New registered student organizations events policy

Now through June 15, campus units and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) can complete a pre-approval form to apply to hold in-person gatherings at specific outdoor spaces on campus. The event must demonstrate a need for in-person participation (i.e., events will not be approved that could otherwise be held virtually). Campus requirements for face covering, physical distancing, and testing/screening will still be applicable. Note: RSOs are still prohibited from holding in-person events that are not pre-approved or those that take place off campus. Events that include non-affiliates to the university are still prohibited through June 15. Visit the Event Services website for more details.

Tip of the Week: Add a ‘faux commute’ to home

Building a routine that incorporates time alone and time to reflect can be an important part of creating a work-life balance. It might not seem like it, but during a normal working day, this time is already built into your schedule. Commutes and movement from place to place have been proven to help the mind transition from one activity to the next and helps put up barriers to promote a healthy work-life balance. 

So what can you do at home? Recreate an outdoor commute to your home office on your own terms, and make it enjoyable. This doesn’t mean finding traffic to sit in — for some this might mean a walk around the block, and for others a simple bike ride, really anything you enjoy! Doing so can also help you get outside and get exercise, something difficult to do while working indoors all day. By recreating a pleasant commute to help transition between working and relaxing, you might feel happier and healthier, and find it much easier to balance a remote lifestyle.

Tip of the Week offers advice from the Becoming Superhuman Lab for coping with the challenges of working and studying from home. Look for additional tips in future Response and Recovery newsletters.

Feedback and questions

Campus leadership welcomes your recovery-related ideas and suggestions.  

Coronavirus information

Visit the campus coronavirus site for COVID-19 resources and support.

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