(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
8/7/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Graduate Students and Post-Docs,
Happy Friday! This is beginning to be a weekly email rather than the daily messages we began with. I take that as a sign that we are settling in a bit for the long haul. That kind of settling in requires a different strategy. Many of us were just running on straight adrenaline for a while, bouncing from one crisis to the next, just trying to stay afloat. With the reality in front of us that any real sense of “normal” will likely not arrive until 2021, I hope you are all taking care of yourselves, your friends and family, and your communities. Nothing about this is good or what we wanted, but I continue to be proud of the UCI community--including all of you--for rolling with what the world delivers us and doing the best we can.
Campus has now been minimally open for research for several weeks. While we expect relaxing and tightening of restrictions to happen periodically over the next several months. While people are making their way to campus, whether to offices, labs, and libraries, or to housing, it is imperative that the entire community come together to monitor for any signs of spread. When in doubt, contact the COVID Response Team number at 949.824.9918 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you may have been exposed but do not have symptoms, have questions or concerns about COVID-19, or want to provide feedback on COVID-19 response campus-wide, please contact them. However, note they can’t provide medical advice.
If you have symptoms, you should contact Student Health and any personal provider you might have immediately.
PSAC Announces a Review of Policing in Our UC Irvine Community
Hopefully, you all saw the announcement on Wednesday from PSAC about their renewed mission, access, and authority. They are undertaking three very important jobs this year:
- Evaluation of the UCI Police Department
- Developing a Framework for Review of Police Encounters and Civilian Complaints
- Constructive Engagement and Building Access
I have not been in the conversations that led to this announcement but have been tracking these developments. I am incredibly optimistic about their undertakings and particularly grateful for the engagement of graduate students in raising concerns and awareness here. Special thanks to Reginald Gardner, the AGS student representative to this committee. Although he is bound by a lot of confidentiality concerns, I recommend you reach out to him and other AGS officers to make sure your concerns are addressed.
Addressing Racism and Public Safety on Campus More Broadly
Hopefully, you also saw the follow up messages from both the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion that were sent out yesterday. A lot of important information was released in those two messages, but here are a couple of things worth calling out:
- The Chancellor encourages you to contribute your ideas through email at Feedback-UCI-Policing@uci.edu or voicemail (anonymously if desired) at 949-824-5055.
- OIE is piloting a new suite of courses this summer and fall on Anti-Blackness in the United States: Black Protest Tradition, Structures and Mechanisms of De-Valuing Black People, and Allyship: Taking Action Against the Oppression of Marginalized Communities. For more information and to enroll, please visitinclusion.uci.edu/inclusive-excellence-certificate-program/modules.
Student Housing FAQ
The student housing office has posted an extensive FAQ to help students understand what has been recommended, current policies, and so on regarding both undergraduate and graduate housing. You can find this FAQ here: https://housing.uci.edu/covid19-2020-21.html
Flu Vaccine Requirement
Janet Napolitano today issued an executive order that all members of the UC community must receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020. Some details from that announcement are copied below:
The requirement is designed to protect members of the UC community and the public at large. The executive order requires the vaccination for all faculty and staff who are working at a UC location. The university already has a clear policy on immunizations for students, and this action adds influenza to existing vaccination requirements for them, and extends the requirement to faculty and staff beyond those which presently exist for all UC health care workers. A process will be put in place for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled through the interactive process consistent with existing location policies and procedures.
All UC medical plans which cover faculty, staff, and students include coverage for flu vaccinations at no cost to those covered by the plan. In addition, for those without group health care coverage, all ACA-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no copay.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source for information on this year’s flu vaccinations and when it would be available.
More information about the implementation of UC’s requirement, and when the flu vaccination for 2020-21 is available, will be shared in the coming weeks.
Academic Salary Scales
Many of you have expressed concerns about what is going to happen to raises you were promised. Hopefully, you saw the message that went out earlier this week regarding the academic salary scales for 20-21.
In accordance with the contractual agreement between the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and the University of California, pursuant to the terms of Article 29, Wages, of the contract, the 2020-21 ASE salary scales have been adjusted by a general range adjustment increase of 3% with an effective date of October 1, 2020 for monthly paid employees and the first pay period commencing after October 1, 2020 for bi-weekly paid employees.
In accordance with the 2020-21 academic salary program for student policy-covered academic appointees, the GSR and GSAR scales have been adjusted by a general range adjustment increase of 3% with an effective date of October 1, 2020 for monthly paid employees and the first pay period commencing after October 1, 2020 for bi-weekly paid employees.
5M competition to increase COVID-19 testing capabilities
As part of our collaborative response to the pandemic, UCI is a partner in the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance, a vast network of the world’s clinicians, researchers, data scientists and experts who come together for collaboration, data sharing, and innovation. With support from its founding member, Anthem and sponsor Illumina, a new project has been launched - XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing (XRCT), a $5 million, 6-month competition that aims to increase COVID-19 testing capabilities. Potential competitors, whether a team or an individual looking for a team, should visit xprize.org/covidtesting to register, access all the resources available and read the competition guidelines. Registration ends August 31, 2020.
Virtual Office Hours
This has been a tough week for a lot of students and post-docs. I had more than a dozen junior researchers, from students to assistant professors, book appointments with me or come to office hours describing anxiety, depression, and burnout. I want to remind you all four things:
- You should absolutely come to office hours. Either I or a senior member of my staff will be here for you EVERY DAY, during the week. And if you need us on the weekend, just reach out. We’ll find a way.
- If you are worried about privacy during office hours, just drop me a private message in the chat or let me know verbally that you want to speak privately. We will bounce out to a “breakout room.” These sessions are never recorded, and I take only paper notes on what you tell me.
- You should also remember that you can and should reach out to Phong Luong in Graduate Division [email@example.com] and the Counseling Center: https://counseling.uci.edu/
- Most importantly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. My anxiety is through the roof right now, and I talk to a therapist monthly. You can do this. Reach out. We are here for you.
Upcoming Dean’s Virtual Office Hours: https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
- Monday August 10: 11AM-11:30AM
- Tuesday August 11: 9AM-9:30AM
- Wednesday August 12: 1PM-1:30PM
- Thursday August 13: 9AM-9:30AM
- Friday August 14: 9AM-9:30AM
- Monday August 17: 11AM-11:30AM
- Tuesday August 18: 9AM-9:30AM
- Wednesday August 19: 1PM-1:30PM
- Thursday August 20: 9AM-9:30AM
- Friday August 21: 4PM-4:30PM
I mentioned at the top of this message that this is turning into a weekly message. I have heard from many of you over the last several months that my emails, which tend to come in the early evenings, are a good reminder to pause your work for the day. Well, here is hoping that you can use this email as a signal to pause your work for the week at some point. You may have kids at home, an elder to care for, an internship or job outside UCI, and so maybe evenings and weekends is when you get your UCI related work done. So, I won’t tell you strictly to stop work on the weekends. What I will tell you is that you need to stop work some time. Burnout is real. The stress of this time of the pandemic is not to be underestimated, and I am really seeing it recently in the Graduate Division Staff, in my faculty peers, in the staff in your schools, and yes, in you, the wonderful grad students and post-docs who make up the core of my daily concerns.
Hollywood legend Cicely Tyson once said “Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.” I know I am learning a lot about myself and a lot about other people right now! Try to relax into yourself. You may not feel like it right now, but you are doing it. Some of you are even thriving despite the circumstances, and for those who aren’t, don’t worry, just coping is a major success right now.
So keep going. One foot in front of the other. The staff at Grad Division, your advisors, and the whole of UCI are right there with you.
Sending you best wishes for a weekend filled with justice, peace, and wellbeing.
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division