In a town hall for faculty and staff, UCLA leaders outlined plans for a return to normal operations for faculty and staff — with some post-pandemic twists — in the fall.

During an hour-long virtual event, Chancellor Gene Block and others noted that the increasing number of people getting the vaccine, the continued low numbers of people with COVID-19 and a careful planning process have the university preparing for a robust return.

“I want to thank all of you for persevering during the enormous challenges that everyone has faced,” Block said. “I believe, and I’m sure you share my belief, that we’re in the home stretch now.”

Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck, co-chair of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force, said the campus is preparing to have about 80% of courses take place in person during the fall 2021 quarter, and for on-campus housing to be “as close to full occupancy as possible,” subject to guidelines set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Beck emphasized that the information provided during Wednesday’s Fall Planning and the Future of Working Town Hall is “not a final roadmap” for the return to campus, because conditions continue to change.

UCLA is embracing “flex work”

This includes recognizing:

  • some staffers may continue to work successfully from home part or all of the time, while others may want or need to be on campus most or all the time once in-person learning and teaching resume;
  • the need to respect the fact that work during the pandemic has been stressful and a return to pre-pandemic conditions may also be difficult;
  • the opportunity for some people to work on altered schedules;
  • the effort to de-densify work spaces on campus.

Lubbe Levin, associate vice chancellor for human resources, and Joseph Bristow, professor and former Academic Senate chair, said decisions on flexible schedules and other accommodations will be made at the unit level. Levin emphasized that the decisions need to be made in close consultation between managers and staff, bearing in mind that agreements on flex work must be reached equitably. Levin said that UCLA will issue formal flex work recommendations in the near future.

Participants in the event answered more than a dozen questions from audience members on topics ranging from parking permits and the future of vanpools to COVID-19 testing protocols and the safety and use of shared office areas.

Speakers included Renee Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events & Transportation; professor Michael Meranze, co-chair of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force; and Michelle Sityar, executive officer of UCLA Environment, Health and Safety.

The event was sponsored by the task force. A separate town hall for students on the topic of the return to campus is scheduled for April 26.