UC Berkeley will proceed with Wednesday’s voluntary return to campus

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Vice Provost for the Faculty Ben Hermalin and Chief People and Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday: 

The campus will proceed with tomorrow’s voluntary return to campus that was described in last Friday’s campus message with important caveats that reflect inconsistencies between the California Department of Health (CDPH) and Cal/OSHA, the latter of which oversees workplaces. While Gov. Newsom and the CDPH are lifting many of the COVID-related restrictions today, such as physical distancing and mask-wearing for the public generally, the regulations that require employees to maintain a six-foot distance from each other and wear face coverings remain in place for all workplaces (including ours) under Cal/OSHA rules. It is possible that the governor will issue an executive order that would relieve workplaces of these restrictions, but for at least the next few days, we must comply. Many parts of our operations are and have been successfully observing these rules for several months.

For those planning to return to campus tomorrow, please observe these rules, regardless of your and others’ vaccination status:

  • Everyone is required to wear face coverings indoors unless you are alone in an office with the door closed,
  • Face coverings are required outdoors when you are within six feet of others,
  • Meetings between two people are permitted indoors, but face coverings must be worn and you must maintain a six-foot distance,
  • Eating indoors is only permitted if you are alone in an office; eating outdoors is permitted, but you must maintain a six-foot distance from others,
  • If you need a cloth face covering, you may pick one up free of charge at the campus Hazardous Materials Facility. For more information go to the Cloth Face Coverings Distribution Schedule
  • If you have staff members returning to on-site work, managers/supervisors are responsible for ensuring that these Cal/OSHA rules are observed. If managers/supervisors do not feel comfortable taking on this responsibility, they may instruct staff to continue to work remotely until the Cal/OSHA restrictions are revised.

Events and gatherings

Invitees to events for which they have no assigned duties are considered to be “off the clock” (with regard to pandemic regulations) and do not need to observe Cal/OSHA distancing and face-covering requirements. Those assigned to work at the event must observe Cal/OSHA rules (wear face coverings, maintain a six-foot distance from attendees and/or work behind a plexiglass barrier). Departments holding events may decide between these two options for their event and must post signs:

  1. If event guests are vaccinated they do not need to wear a mask, if they are not vaccinated then they must wear a mask, OR
  2. All event guests must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

Signage reflecting the Cal/OSHA COVID-related requirements related to event attendance may be downloaded and printed from the campus Coronavirus website.

Summer courses

The summer courses that have been granted approval to meet in person may proceed as planned. Everyone must wear face coverings until further notice.

Research return

As of June 16, researchers can drop the Phase 4 occupancy limit of 1 person per 125 square feet, but due to remaining Cal/OSHA guidelines, all individuals must continue 6-foot distancing indoors and out, and wear facial coverings as described above. Undergraduate volunteers are allowed, with supervision, and visiting scholars and other research collaborators are allowed, though sponsors will need to coordinate building access while buildings remain locked.

Labs/facilities are encouraged to delay visits by researchers from other institutions who are not close collaborators until after July 12 when buildings may be unlocked. In all cases, researchers may not compel staff to return to campus to support expanded activities until after July 12. International travel to certain countries continues to require campus pre-approval; please visit the campus COVID web page travel page for details.

Additional details about research access permissions starting June 16, including for off-campus researchers, are posted on the VCRO COVID19 website. For additional questions, check with your Building Oversight Committee or email researchrecovery [at] berkeley.edu.

We anticipate that the CDPH and Cal/OSHA will come to some resolution later this week and that we may lift some of these restrictions as early as next week. We will keep you informed via campus messages, the Response & Recovery newsletter, and the campus coronavirus website, so please stay tuned.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility.

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