(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
12/17/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Graduate Students and Postdocs,
You did it. By the time you hear from me next, 2020 will officially be in the past. I know that will be a welcome sight to all of us. You persevered through one of the toughest and most strenuous years in our country’s history, all while continuing your scholarly work and getting through finals. I not only want to say congratulations, but a heartfelt thank you. Thank you for sharing your input throughout the year. Thank you for bearing with us throughout the year, through twists and turns. Most of all, thank you for providing hope to the future of this world.
The holidays will certainly be different this year, but I truly hope all of you get some time to rest, reflect, and give yourself some much deserved self care. This message is a long one, but there is a lot of important content. So, please do take a read through it. You are also getting it Thursday because tomorrow is the last day campus is open before the winter closure. We want to make sure if you need to do things or have questions, you get what you need before that happens.
Regional Stay at Home Order
You may by now know that we are at 0% capacity in Southern California ICUs. I am sorry to be a bit dark, but that is incredibly serious and incredibly important. We all need to stay home if at all possible. Some details:
- Dashboard for latest cases at UCI: https://uci.edu/coronavirus/dashboard/index.php
- All in-person courses are moved to remote for at least the first two weeks in January, and we expect longer, as the public health authorities estimate it will take longer than the month of January to come out of Stay-At-Home orders
- We are still committed to the Graduate/Family Zot Bubble Program. However, the state's regional stay at home order does not allow for such gatherings. In the meantime, Graduate housing is actively updating its policies to incorporate the Zot Bubble program.
- The Regional Stay Home Order instructs Californians to stay at home as much as possible and to stop mixing between households that can lead to COVID-19 spread. It allows access to critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health. The Regional Stay Home Order will help stop the surge and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity.
- Under the order, the following sectors are allowed to remain open with safety precautions:
- Critical infrastructure (when remote option is not possible)
- Non-urgent medical and dental care
- Child care and pre-K
- The following sectors will have additional modifications in addition to 100% masking and physical distancing:
- Outdoor recreational facilities
- Retail: limited capacity
- Hotels and lodging
- Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
- Places of worship and political expression: No live audiences
- The following sectors are closed (except to the extent that their operations fall within critical infrastructure):
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Personal care services
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums
- Movie theaters (except drive-in)
- Wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries (with exception for production, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale for off-site consumption)
- Family entertainment centers
- Cardrooms and satellite wagering
- Limited services
- Live audience sports
- Amusement parks
If you are traveling away from campus during this break or have already done so, you are strongly encouraged to delay your return to campus as long as possible given this context.
REMINDER: Campus Closure for the Break
Hopefully by now you have seen that campus will close at the end of day TOMORROW December 18 and not reopen until January 4. However, we have gotten a lot of questions about what “close” really means.
- Limited housing and dining will still be open to accommodate those who live and dine on campus. Click here for holiday hours: https://uci.campusdish.com/LocationsAndMenus
- Academic instructional staff, including many of you, are still working together to ensure grades will be submitted on time. Thank you!
- Subsets of groups, such as Grad Division, the Registrar, and so on will also be operating at reduced capacity to ensure your degrees are conferred and other year-end tasks are handled.
I will be off and on available by email during this time. However, Associate Dean for Student Success, Jaymi Smith, and I plan to host two office hours during the break on days that may be particularly lonely or challenging for students:
- December 25, 2020 11AM - https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
- December 31, 2020 4PM - https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
If no one is there, we will hang for half an hour and leave, but if people come, we are committed to staying on as long as you need us.
Modification to Childcare Reimbursement Program
The University is extending the temporary exception to the Childcare Reimbursement Program for ASEs, GSRs, and students on full fellowships through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year by adhering to the minimum requirements of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as to who qualifies as a “childcare provider” for purposes of reimbursement. See https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p503.pdf.
For the remainder of academic year 2020-2021, eligible students will be permitted to seek reimbursement for childcare provided by a friend or relative living in the same household as long as they are not:
- A person for whom the eligible student (or the student’s spouse if filing jointly) can claim as a dependent;
- The eligible student’s child who was under age 19 at the end of the year, even if the child isn't the eligible student’s dependent;
- A person who was the eligible student’s spouse any time during the year; or
- The parent of the eligible student’s qualifying person if the eligible student’s qualifying person is the eligible student’s child and under age 13
As required by the IRS regulations, for purposes of reimbursement, all childcare providers who are individuals must have a valid taxpayer identification number or social security number. If the care provider is an organization, the organization must have a valid employer identification number.
This exception will continue for January 2021 – June 2021 expenses, provided the eligible student has the requisite qualifying appointment:
- ASE or GSR for at least 25% during the Winter and/or Spring quarters or and has a qualifying dependent.
- An eligible fellow is a registered graduate student with a university-administered fellowship who has qualified dependent(s). To be eligible for the program, the university-administered fellowship must cover the full amount of California resident fees and tuition, and provide a minimum stipend of $6,000 for the quarter to be reimbursed. During the summer, the fellowship must provide a minimum stipend of $6,000.
International Student and Post-Doc Hiring
We recently received approval from UCOP to extend hiring of international students and postdocs through Spring quarter
- Whether you have been prevented from entering the country or you have left the country.
- Your departments have been informed, so please work directly with them.
- Although we expect very few courses at the undergrad level to be in-person in Spring, some will be, so please check with your department before making plans.
- If you are hired as a GSR or post-doc, please also check with your PI/manager before making plans.
Want to Share your Research?
If you have research that you want to share with the public, sometimes writing an opinion piece for the local paper is the way to go.
- The word count is generally 700 to 800 words.
- You pitch it to ONE opinion editor at a time. If that editor passes, then you can pitch to another media outlet. (You never blast it out to multiple media outlets like a press release, these editors want exclusivity.)
- If you are writing about something currently happening in the national dialogue, make sure you have a unique take on it, and one that is backed up with data/research. The idea is to share a new way to think about something, or to bring a new element to the discussion. You are trying to inform the reader.
- Here is a good instructional from The New York Times on the dos and don’ts of opinion writing that I often share: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/opinion/tips-for-aspiring-op-ed-writers.html
UCI’s Strategic Communications office is available to help. Please feel free to reach out to Sheri Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at some of the OPEDS a couple of our students have already produced.
- Vanessa Delgado - Latinx siblings step up to help younger brothers and sisters with school - they will need help
- Vanessa Delgado - The Challenges of Learning From Home for Children of Immigrants
- Angeline Dukes - How to better support Black trainees in the biomedical sciences
Library Materials Pickup Services Before Winter Recess
The last day for pickup services of library materials before the Winter Administrative Recess will be tomorrow (Friday, December 18th).
- Pickup services will resume Wednesday, January 6th. Please be advised that it may take longer than usual for your request to be processed as we work on paging the requests submitted over the break.
- Curbside and Front Entrance Pickup of library materials are available by appointment. Materials from Langson Library, Science Library, OC&SEAA, and selected MRC items can be requested however ALL pickups will happen at Langson Library. The library buildings remain closed to the public; pickup services by appointment occur outdoors.
- Special Collections and Archives will also be closed along with all our services during campus closure. Access to online library collections will continue to be available remotely during the winter recess using VPN.
Click here for more information on Libraries’ services during COVID-19.
Questions or comments? Please email Alison Regan at email@example.com.
The GPSRC Set to Host New Set of Interactive Workshops For Winter Quarter
We’re set to embark on another remote quarter when we return, but be sure to visit CampusGroups and sign up for the great workshops and programs we’ll be offering next quarter. https://campusgroups.uci.edu/login_only?redirect=https%3a%2f%2fcampusgroups.uci.edu%2fgroups
Apply For Grad Slam over the Winter Break!
What is Grad Slam?
- Grad Slam is a systemwide competition
- Showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate scholars.
- Increases graduate students' communication skills and their capacity to effectively present their work with poise and confidence.
- This year's edition of Grad Slam will be virtual, from the semifinals all the way through UC Systemwide Finals.
- Advanced communication skills training
- Competitive CV/resume line.
- Cash prizes up to $5,000!
- The systemwide winner earns the coveted title of 2021 Grad Slam Champion and the coveted "Slammy".
The event is open to ALL graduate students!
Application Deadline: January 13, 2021 at 11:59PM - APPLY HERE
Acceptances are made on a rolling basis. Maximize your preparation time by submitting early!
Questions? Contact the Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website for more details!
Asymptomatic Testing for Grad Students and Post-Docs
Starting December 7, asymptomatic testing was expanded to a broader range of students and staff, including a variety of essential workers. I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting this kind of testing and advocating for yourselves as well as our staff on campus, so thank you for your patience. I hope this will be good news for you.
- Students who are living off campus but coming to campus for instructional purposes should begin asymptomatic testing.
- Even though nearly all in-person instructional activities have now been moved to online, students who were enrolled should still begin asymptomatic testing. Please do so through the Student Health Portal.
- Both students and post-docs coming to campus for research should also begin asymptomatic testing.
- Grad students, you can sign up for an appointment through the Student Health Portal.
- Post-Docs, please add your information to this secure form so that you can get into the system https://tinyurl.com/y6yttzx5.
- If you already did so, you should have a confirmation email noting that you have been added to the system.
- You can then begin signing up for appointments: Please visit the testing website https://uci.edu/coronavirus/testing-response/testing.php and refer to the “Staff and Faculty” directions to schedule your weekly test.
If you have left campus but maintain a lease on campus, you should tell your department manager, often referred to as an MSO, and you should file an absence form: http://cglink.me/s39479 This form lets us know that you are not here and so are not required to be tested.
Staff will not be tested during the campus closure. Students will still be tested.
Winter and Spring 21 Hybrid
As a reminder, Winter and Spring will likely look much like fall, which means limited research and instruction on campus.
- We are committed as a university to allowing you to attend class remote even if the course winds up being offered in person during these quarters.
- We expect grad classes to be back in person in Fall 21.
- You may break your lease in UCI owned grad and family housing until Dec 31 with no penalty, including Palo Verde, Verano Place, and Campus Village.
- This does not apply to leases in ACC housing, which is a public-private partnership and not owned by UCI.
Save the Date: First Graduate Division Town Hall of 2021
Date: January 8, 2021 | 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Job Market Success and Survival During COVID-19
Description: Dean Hayes and other UCI leaders will be discussing career options and how to navigate a challenging market across career pathways.
- Gillian Hayes, Vice Provost & Dean of Graduate Education
- Goran Matijasevic, Chancellor, Alumni and Constituent Relations, Chief Executive Roundtable
- Jaymi Smith, Associate Dean of Graduate Education
- Lauren Lyon, Career Engagement Specialist for Grad Students, Division of Career Pathways
- Beth Van Es, Professor, School of Education
- Matthew Hansen, Director, New Ventures, UCI Beall Applied Innovation
We will hold two special spaces for anyone who needs us in days when we think you might. You can also just come and hang out and have fun:
- December 25, 2020 11AM - https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
- December 31, 2020 4PM - https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
Regular Graduate Division Office Hours will resume once Winter quarter begins on January 4th, 2021.
As I write the final Dean’s Message of 2020, I’m reflecting on what truly was a roller coaster of a year. Whatever else happened this year, if you are alive and reading this message, you are a survivor, you are resilient, and you can do whatever else you set your mind to.
When I was running a startup, I started a practice of reading a small section of philosophy--usually from the ancients--each morning and evening. I have tried and failed to meditate regularly in my life. I could never still my mind that way, but the pace of startup life was making me feel much too scattered. This was a compromise, a way to have a moment of quiet and think about something that was still active in a way. I have carried that tradition on, and I think it saved me in 2020. A portion of today’s reading really struck me as something I wanted to share with all of you:
“Won’t you be walking in your predecessors’ footsteps? I surely will use the older path, but if I find a shorter and smoother way, I will blaze a trail there. The ones who pioneered those paths aren’t our masters, but our guides. Truth stands open to everyone, it hasn’t been monopolized.” - Seneca, Moral Letters, 33.11
Whether you are a researcher studying animal models of brain development, an engineer inventing a new way to harvest energy, a lawyer who will one day be a judge, a manager who will one day be CEO, or an entrepreneur launching your next big idea, you are all blazing your own trails. The faculty, staff, administration, and your peers are all here to work with you as you do this, to be guides, supporters, and all kinds of other things too. But really you are doing this. Truth stands open to you. Invention, innovation, and inspiration are all yours. As ridiculous as this year has been in so many ways, your continued quest for knowledge, for truth, for your own path, have carried me through. So, thank you.
And now for something a little more light-hearted, let's talk New Year’s Resolutions. First, I don’t believe in them. They, apparently get abandoned by approximately January 19 (https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/a-study-of-800-million-activities-predicts-most-new-years-resolutions-will-be-abandoned-on-january-19-how-you-cancreate-new-habits-that-actually-stick.html), so what’s the point? I do, however, believe in setting goals for the next year.
This year, my goal is NOT spilling coffee all over my laptop. I did it twice in 2020. Though to be fair, the first time I only lost a 9 key, and you can go a surprisingly long time without a functioning 9 key. So you can see why I might have taken the risk again with open cups. Well, no more!. This latest spill was a full-on destruction requiring me to burn a day buying and configuring a new laptop. I also lost a lot of email and a few files in the process.
Luckily I can confidently say that I’m not alone in this venture, as many of you shared your liquid spilling disaster stories with me! Thank you for making me feel less clumsy and dumb. Also, thank you for the many travel mug recommendations. I did a little retail therapy. My project over the break is to choose the one I like best. Here are the competitors.
[Alt text: six travel mugs in a row, including zojirushi, contigo, and thermos in an array of colors and sizes]
So remember, as you take that first sip of your favorite beverage after your New Year’s toast, try and get the liquid in your mouth!
Have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.
On behalf of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division