Given concerns for the recent environmental challenges we continue to face in California, we want to reiterate our dedication to providing a safe, healthy and flexible work environment. The rate of COVID-19 cases has been increasing statewide, with nearly every county currently experiencing a high rate of transmission and a significant increase of persons hospitalized statewide*. Additionally, wildfires and associated air pollution from smoke have required evacuations, curtailment of outdoor activities, and caused poor air quality at some offices.
These health, safety, and emergency challenges are coming at a time when many members of the ANR community have begun to increase our in-person interactions, outreach and programming. In light of the current environmental challenges we continue to face, we wanted to let you all know that slowing down planned in-person activities it is both appropriate and encouraged.
We are not shutting down and are not planning to return to remote-only operations. However, we are recognizing the varying operational needs of our research, programming, and administrative functions and want each supervisor and unit director to be flexible in working with the staff and academic personnel in their units to find the right mix of in-person and/or remote work. Our County partners and clientele should continue to feel confident that UC ANR is open for business, but as we have done for the past year and a half, much of that work may be occurring remotely.
- Health, safety and environmental issues in your communities may vary so please continue to keep abreast of local heath orders and conditions.
- Ensure that your work location has an up to date COVID-19 prevention plan, based on UC ANR's Reopening Guidelines.
- Maintain awareness of local emergency conditions, including wildfire and smoke, that could make a workplace uncomfortable or unsafe.
- Buildings will not be closed but when concerns around COVID-19 and wildfire/smoke hazards are present, allow employees to work remotely as appropriate based on their responsibilities.
- Supervisors should be working with their staff to implement Flexible Work Agreements for those who are working at home part of the time. Flexible Work Agreements are due by September 30, 2021.
- Please consider that limiting building capacity or staggering work hours may support the health and safety of those individuals who may not be able to work remotely.
- Discourage meeting in person when feasible – especially in enclosed areas.
- Ensure all safety measures are followed when in-person activities are required. See the COVID Safety Standards Summary for more.
- Consider that the latest COVID-19 research indicates that transmission of illness is more closely related to the combination of time, proximity to an infected person, and air circulation than to physical distancing.
We continue to learn and adapt to changing work conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other environmental conditions. Providing flexibility and encouraging engagement for our teams can be a complicated balance. In order to keep the balance, we ask that employees and supervisors discuss what activities require in-person engagement and what can be done remotely. When activities can successfully be done remotely, that may be the safest course of action depending on your local health issues.
*Significant increase of cases is based on >100 cases per 100,000 population, according to the CDC Data Tracker. Since mid-June, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have increased sevenfold, with over 8,500 persons hospitalized statewide.