March 24, 2020
As we enter the spring quarter, we would like to take a moment to express our deep gratitude to each of you for stepping up to navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the course of just a few weeks, the rapid spread of the virus has turned a normal winter quarter upside down. To slow the rate of infection and to keep our community safe, we canceled in-person gatherings and moved all exams to remote or take-home format. During this stressful time, students and instructors kept up with their academic progress and completed final exams. Staff kept up with the many operational changes needed to keep the institution moving. And our amazing healthcare team has been caring for COVID-19 patients and preparing our hospitals for an influx of new patients. We commend you all for your remarkable flexibility and resilience. You have truly exemplified the Triton spirit.
In spite of all the extraordinary precautionary measures we have taken at UC San Diego, one of our students has tested positive for COVID-19. This reinforces our need to aggressively practice social distancing and to be more diligent in our unified goal to stop the spread of the virus.
All indications are that the next seven to 10 days WILL see a much faster spread of this virus than we have seen before. As a result, for your own safety and the safety of others, WE STRONGLY URGE YOU TO FOLLOW THE CDC’S GUIDELINES VERY CAREFULLY AND EXPLICITLY FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. The guidelines are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
Moving forward, below are campus updates that will help address some concerns we have identified.
GRADING POLICY AND COURSE DEADLINES
UC San Diego’s Academic Senate has approved one-time accommodations that afford students greater flexibility around choosing whether to take courses on a P/NP (pass/no pass)(undergraduate) or S/U (satisfactory/unsatisfactory)(graduate) basis during Spring 2020. Details are at https://aps.ucsd.edu/facdev/covid-19/faq.html#Spring-2020-Grading-Policies and key points are summarized below.
Students should consult with their department, college, and financial aid advisors about their individual circumstances before making decisions about their grading options or course schedules. Faculty should provide clear and consistent feedback to students at multiple points throughout the quarter so that students can make informed decisions.
Courses taken in Spring 2020 will be exempt from the 25% limit on the number of UC San Diego units that undergraduates may complete on a P/NP basis. The deadline for registering to take a course on a P/NP (or S/U) basis will be the end of week 10. The deadline for adding undergraduate or graduate courses will be the end of week three. Certain drop/withdrawal deadlines have been pushed later; others remain on their original schedules.
Academic departments and colleges may offer courses that were originally approved as “Letter Grade Only” on a P/NP (undergraduate) or S/U (graduate) basis during spring 2020.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION, COPYRIGHT, CONTINUITY PLANS, AND RESEARCH
Instructors who need to come to campus to record/podcast lectures or do other crucial tasks associated with remote instruction may come to campus for that specific purpose. Please have your campus ID.
Remote teaching need not be fully synchronous. Indeed, lectures delivered in real-time must also be made available in an asynchronous format via Canvas to ensure students who are ill or in another time zone can fully participate in the course. For options and resources, see https://keepteaching.ucsd.edu. Total student-instructor interaction time (including virtual office hours via Zoom, Canvas chat, etc.) should fulfill the expected total contact hours for the course; see: https://aps.ucsd.edu/facdev/covid-19/faq.html#Class-Meetings-and-Attendance
Guidance on copyright of instructional materials is available at https://go.ucsd.edu/398MYrG.
As discussed in the guidance for chairs, provosts, deans and instructors (at https://aps.ucsd.edu/facdev/covid-19/campusrequirements.html), each instructor should share with their unit leader the continuity plan to be followed if the instructor becomes ill. Tactics for making a course resilient include posting material on Canvas in advance and pre-identification of potential alternative instructors. See also: https://go.ucsd.edu/2vMx74p
Faculty should bear in mind that undergraduate and graduate students cannot be required to work in person on campus during the stay-at-home order; this specifically includes research and instructional duties.
AS THE NEXT TWO WEEKS ARE CRITICAL IN LIMITING NEW CORONAVIRUS EXPOSURE, RESEARCH SETTINGS WILL STRICTLY APPLY STAFF LIMITS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SANITATION REQUIREMENTS. Specifically, students are strongly discouraged from coming to their research sites; there should be no more than one person per site at any given time (e.g., use shifts when necessary), social distancing should be rigorously adhered to, and sanitation efforts (limiting unneeded touching of equipment, cleaning high touch spaces such as door knobs, light switches and key boards) should be fully implemented. No student (undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral scholar) should be required to come to the lab for their work, and flexibility should be afforded to the completion of the research projects. Challenges to this policy should be directed to deans and the Vice Chancellor for Research for final management.
A considerable number of undergraduate students who can take their spring quarter classes from home have already cancelled their housing contracts, which will allow University Housing in the coming weeks to take steps to socially distance students in their residential communities. For the spring quarter, students remaining in campus housing will be reassigned from triples and doubles to single bedrooms. These students will not be assessed an additional charge as University Housing moves forward with this change.
Students remaining in campus housing will receive more detailed information via email after spring break. The goal is to ensure that everyone is settled by early spring quarter. Any requests for reinstatement of the housing contract will need to meet the following exception criterion.
Students should consider living on campus during the spring quarter ONLY if they satisfy at least one of the following conditions: those who are without access to stable housing; who come from housing/food insecure households; who are unable to travel home; who are from areas highly impacted by COVID-19 or regions at risk for a COVID-19 outbreak; who are unable to relocate without high risk to their safety; and those who would be relocating to homes that lack infrastructure to accommodate virtual instruction.
Students who are remaining on campus for Spring Break are reminded of the importance of physical distancing to further ensure the health and well-being of our community.
Starting April 1, an unoccupied residential building has been designated for isolation housing. We are unable to share any additional information, including specific locations or room assignments, due to student privacy concerns.
The university will be in contact with students in isolation and will offer support during recovery. Students will receive all of their basic needs while in isolation, and Student Health Services will advise students to remain inside the housing unit.
Resources to support Spring Quarter 2020 Remote Instruction, Health and Well-Being and Community Resources will continue to be regularly added to the main website: https://coronavirus.ucsd.edu.
We encourage you to visit Handshake at https://ucsd.joinhandshake.com/login to review NEW open remote positions for student employees. You will find remote positions already posted as the campus seeks to hire student employees to provide faculty with additional IT instructional support for spring 2020. Student Affairs will be hosting a “Remote Employment for Students” webinar on March 26 from 3 to 4 p.m., PST. Join the webinar at https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/262683228 or call 213-338-8477 or 669-219-2599. The meeting ID is 262 683 228.
We are in the midst of unprecedented disruption to our society and our everyday lives. With that said, we are so proud and grateful to see the strong spirit of our Triton community emerge in the face of such historic change. Though our friends and colleagues may appear only on a screen, and though our memories of a lively campus—the bustle of Library Walk on a sunny afternoon or the view of the surf from North Torrey Pines—we are nevertheless keeping our sense of UC San Diego alive through many acts of empathy, compassion, generosity and connection.
We are certain that our lives will return to normal, and we promise to keep you informed as we learn more about how and when this will occur. For now, please be vigilant about protecting your health and the health of others. We are all Tritons. We are all in this together. Your continued compassion and empathy will make a tangible difference for everyone.
Thank you for all your efforts and your continued cooperation.