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UCOP return to on-site operations date extended to January 2022

EVP/COO Rachael Nava sent the following messages to UCOP staff on Aug. 18 & Aug. 20, 2021.

August 18 message

Dear UCOP colleagues,

I am writing to let you know about a change in our plans for returning on-site.

When I wrote to you in March, COVID-related cases were declining steadily and it was looking like we could return to working on-site this fall. However, in light of the unfortunate surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S. due to the Delta variant, and evolving guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities, we have decided to revise our plans.

After much discussion with President Drake and UCOP leadership, for the safety and well-being of everyone, we have decided to extend the start date of our phased return to on-site work to January 2022.

Essential staff currently working on-site will continue to do so. Other departments also doing essential work, such as RASC and UCPath, will proceed with their plans to return select staff critical to optimal operations. In addition, the UCDC program will be open to students for the fall and their staff will also be on-site, and our state and federal governmental relations offices may need some staff in the office in order to meet governmental and legislative schedules.

While this shift to January 2022 for the broad UCOP community may provide relief for some, it may be less welcome news for others who are eager to come back on-site, at least some of the time. This was a difficult decision with many factors to consider. The well-being of employees is our priority.

President Drake has asked us to re-evaluate the new return plan in mid-November to determine if the January timeframe should be revisited. We will communicate any changes at that time.

Although we have pushed back our timing to January, interested staff can request to voluntarily return to on-site work starting in September while following all COVID-19 protocols, including masking, physical distancing and restrictions on large gatherings. Temporary space assignments will be made available for these requests and must be approved in advance and coordinated with the appropriate staff, as follows:

It is important to note that the extension to January does not change the need to comply with the systemwide COVID-19 Vaccine Policy by September 1. UCOP will continue to implement tracking per this week’s message from Nancy Pluzdrak. Please see the UCOP Vaccine Policy Implementation webpage for more information.

Lastly, the Future of Work team is continuing its work and readjusting the milestones and deadlines to the new return timeline. The next step will be to determine position eligibility for specific work arrangements, followed by discussions with employees, which will occur over the next several weeks. Additional updates on this will be forthcoming.

As always, please continue to take care of yourself and stay safe. If you have questions, please feel free to talk with your manager or email

August 20 update

In response to the message above, we received some questions about why UCOP is able to extend its return to on-site work to January while campuses are preparing to reopen this fall. It’s a logical question.

The answer is that UCOP is a very different organizational environment, with different staffing needs than a campus, and what makes sense for UCOP may not work for a campus, and vice versa.

UCOP is an administrative office that, unlike a campus, does not serve students and patients or have laboratories, and can effectively do much of its work remotely for the time being. In addition, our Oakland and Sacramento offices are undergoing renovation and many staff are occupying, or would need to occupy, temporary space until the renovations are completed later this fall. So it doesn’t make sense to return the majority of UCOP staff to temporary workspaces for the next several months, when most staff can continue to effectively perform their jobs remotely.

For UCOP, we need essential staff on-site for certain functions, and we believe it is fully safe for them (as well as staff who want to voluntarily return) to be there, following the appropriate safety protocols. Campuses are different and may need a variety of personnel on-site.

Although UCOP and campuses have different staffing needs, one thing we all share is an absolute commitment to the health and well-being of every member of the UC community, regardless of location.

I hope this additional information is helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to send them to

Rachael Nava
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

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