- Author: Brian Oatman
Mask update – don't throw those masks away just yet…
As reported in many media outlets, the CDPH‘s statewide mask order will expire on February 15, 2022. Some counties have also had local Public Health Orders that require all people to wear a mask indoors. Many counties – including several counties in the Bay Area and Sacramento area – have stated that their local mask orders will end after Feb. 15, but some – such as Los Angeles and Santa Clara – will keep their mask requirements in effect for the time being. This means that some employees at some UC ANR locations may stop wearing masks indoors but others will need to continue wearing masks at work or indoor public settings, until their respective local health orders are revised or expire.
To find out if your County has a specific mask order or other public health guidance that is different from the state, review your local public health COVID website or do a web search for “(County Name) mask order”.
With the lifting of statewide mask orders, the state and UC ANR will return to previous mask guidance, which requires masks for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses. Additionally, masks are required for all persons, regardless of vaccination status in the following indoor settings:
- On public transit and in transportation hubs
- Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, youth settings (such as 4-H), etc.
- Healthcare settings
- Other congregate living settings, such as long-term care facilities, emergency shelters, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities
Another factor to consider in mask requirements are UC's policies requiring all employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and Influenza. Employees who have requested or received an exemption from these policies, or employees who are not yet compliant with the policies are required to wear a mask while working indoors at their worksite and/or when conducting in-person work activities in the community. Employees who are not fully vaccinated should also wear a mask when working outdoors if six feet of distance from others cannot be maintained. Of course, employees may choose to continue wearing a mask – even if it is not required – to protect themselves or family members from potential exposure to the virus.
We will update the UC ANR Mask Protocol to reflect these changes, effective 2/16.
All ANR personnel should now be working in accordance with their Flexible Work Agreements
As discussed in previous Updates, now is the time to implement long-term flexible work plans for employees. Over the past month, in response to the high rate of COVID cases in our communities and the potential for transmission in the workplace, there was a need to provide flexibility in returning everyone to the office. Since it appears that the “Omicron wave” has crested, this is the time to implement a “new normal” schedule of in-person work, and it is expected that all employees will now be working in accordance with their signed Flexible Work Agreements (FWA).
Other COVID safety protocols continue
The changes to statewide mask requirements in most indoor settings is reflective of the rapid decline in COVID-19 case rates, test positivity, and hospitalizations statewide. These conditions should allow most UC ANR locations and programming to return to in-person operations, while continuing to adhere to safety protocols for: symptom screening; reporting COVID cases; isolation and quarantine when necessary; facility assessment and controls; hygiene, cleaning and disinfection; travel; communication, and training. Please review UC ANR's Reopening Guidelines and your location's COVID Prevention Plan for more information and continue to stay aware of COVID-19 conditions and local public health guidance in your area.
Director, Risk & Safety Services