Although it feels like spring quarter finals ended last week, with the beginning of August comes the midpoint of our summer. We are now halfway to the start of fall quarter. Most of my summer has been spent deep in planning for the upcoming year. Thanks to the efforts of countless faculty, staff, and students across campus, we now have a robust set of frameworks, policies and guidelines that you can find on campusreturn.ucr.edu. I encourage you to take some time to familiarize yourself with these as they apply to all members of the UCR community.
While these frameworks help to resolve some uncertainty about the future, much is still unknown. At the beginning of summer, COVID-19 infections were still declining after the first peak in spring, leading to optimism about conditions for fall quarter instruction. We have now had a second peak and, while I remain optimistic about our ability to flatten the curve, current data suggests that this will be an ongoing challenge.
The Governor’s Office has issued new guidance for K-12 schools but not yet for higher education and we are unsure when this guidance may arrive. School districts in Riverside County will start the academic year entirely online, renewing childcare challenges for our colleagues and students with school-aged children. Our two sibling campuses on the semester calendar, Berkeley and Merced, are starting fall quarter entirely remote as well, while the quarter campuses continue to watch the health data and await new guidance. So far, we have received proposals for 70 courses to be taught in-person with remote options in the fall.
Here’s what will happen next as we get closer to the start of fall quarter:
- By August 15 we expect to have finalized room assignments for in-person courses and will notify the instructors, department chairs and deans.
- In late August, we will provide written guidelines for fall quarter in-person instruction and host a webinar with instructors.
- Around September 1, and pending guidance from the Governor’s Office and Riverside County Public Health, we will announce whether or not the campus will progress to phase 3 for instruction. If we do, approved in-person courses may conduct face-to-face meetings. If we remain in phase 2, all of the approved courses except field courses must revert to remote-only instruction. We will announce our fall plans to the entire campus community including new and continuing students. Shortly thereafter, and in collaboration with fall quarter instructors, students will receive detailed information about the instructional status of each of their courses.
- During September, with plans for fall quarter finalized, we will continue to provide guidance and support for both instructors and students, with help from XCITE.
I’m proud of how the campus has come together – mostly remotely – to address the challenges we face. I appreciate the collaborative and collegial spirit among the many members of our planning committees, and I’m grateful for everyone’s adaptability to ever-changing circumstances.