On March 10, Campus Communications sent a mass email to the UCR campus community announcing that instructors should plan to teach spring quarter courses fully online through April 3, 2020, and prepare to continue online instruction through the remainder of the quarter, as needed. Instructors are also being asked to communicate with students how final exams, if any, will be offered in place of in-person exams. These measures are being taken to prevent further spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. The email was addressed from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Thomas M. Smith.
The announcement states that suspending in-person instructions until April 3, 2020 is a precautionary measure that is being announced early to provide instructors with as much time as possible to prepare. The UCR Academic Senate further wished to emphasize in the announcement that faculty will retain ownership and control of their online instructional materials.
Students living on-campus may elect to return home through April 3, 2020, according to the email. The email stated that with final exams and early spring quarter instruction moving online, students may choose to return to their permanent place of residence or decide to remain in on-campus housing, where appropriate social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures will be in place. “We ask all students to make the choice that is best for their own personal situations, while considering whether they have adequate access to the internet, computers, and textbooks to continue their studies effectively in an online environment,” the email stated.
The spring quarter measures are meant to be temporary, and will be reviewed and updated regularly. The email stated that the provost’s office will continue working with the Academic Senate to provide additional guidance regarding online instruction and resources, as well as considerations for laboratory and performance based instruction.
In regards to campus operations, although in-person instruction will be suspended through April 3, 2020, the campus will not be closed. Campus buildings will remain open and most campus operations will continue, stated the email.
Guidelines have been adopted for gatherings on campus and university-hosted events. Large gatherings of 150 people or more will be cancelled, postponed or moved to an online platform. Gatherings of 150 people or less will also be cancelled, postponed or moved to an online platform. The email states that if these options are not feasible, in-person gatherings for less than 150 people require approval from the Interim Provost Thomas M. Smith, in order to proceed and must include proactive measures for social distancing and hygiene. Non-essential campus visits of 15 people or more will face cancellation or postponement which includes campus tours. All other visits of 15 people or less should be conducted online or via teleconference. All UCR-hosted athletic events are scheduled to continue, however, fans will not be allowed to attend.
The email concluded noting that implementing these changes with such limited notice will have broad impacts and will be “challenging and disruptive for many of you, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.”
The email went on to state that, “We are grateful to the staff throughout our campus for their tremendous efforts, especially our front-line staff who serve in health care, custodial, and food service roles. Your work is critically important at this time and we greatly value you and your contributions.”
On March 9, a petition was created by former 2017-2018 ASUCR President and community member Aram Ayra on change.org urging UCR administration to cancel all in-person instruction through spring break and move to online instruction. At time of writing, the petition has 6,871 signatures.
Further information about these campus operations can be found at https://insideucr.ucr.edu/announcements/2020/03/10/academic-continuity-and-campus-operations-related-covid-19.
The Highlander will be providing further updates about the situation.