Vaccinations and Return to the Workplace
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I am delighted to say that signs are pointing to UC providing a fuller campus experience this Fall Semester. This is thanks, in large part, to the rising numbers of COVID-19 vaccinations across our nation and the great news from the state of Ohio that UC Health can now make a portion of its vaccine allotment available to our students, faculty and staff.
Vaccine distribution plans
In an initial sprint to get these vaccines to our community quickly, UC Health plans to begin administering an initial allotment of 12,000 one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to students at Fifth Third Arena beginning Saturday, April 10.
This will be followed by an initial allotment of 1,400 doses of vaccine for you — our faculty and staff — on Wednesday, April 14. To participate in this clinic dedicated to employees, you must set your appointment by using a dedicated phone line open ONLY to UC employees. To make your vaccine appointment, call 513-584-UCVX between 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, April 10. If all appointments do not fill, phonelines will reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 12.
Information on vaccine appointments and future updates on allotments as well helpful tips may be found on our COVID vaccine webpage, where there is also a vaccine FAQ.
We owe immense gratitude to Governor Mike DeWine, UC Health President and CEO Richard Lofgren, MD, and our colleagues at UC Health for making this possible. I also want to commend UC Health for the overall success of their vaccine distribution program throughout this crisis.
Return to workplace
Our plans for Fall Semester are being developed to provide students with supportive learning and social opportunities while also keeping the health and safety of our entire campus community foremost. Consistent with our practices during the past 13 months, our decisions are physician-led and based on science. We will continue to make any adjustments that prove necessary, should the pandemic necessitate a change.
Some details of our plans to return to the workplace are still in development, but I do want to share as many details as we can now in order to provide as much advance notice to you as possible. Before getting to the schedule we have in mind, I want to emphasize that we must all continue to practice the current safety and health protocols we have in place (see more details below under “Health, Safety and Other Logistics.”)
Our expectation is that university offices will be ready to support our students, with a majority of learning taking place in person. Deans and Vice Presidents will work with their units to bring employees back to campus in three phases as outlined below. Although these senior leaders will determine the appropriate grouping for each stage, each stage ideally will include employees from all units.
Phase 1: 33% return of faculty and staff on Tuesday, June 15.
Phase 2: 66% return of faculty and staff on Tuesday, July 6.
Phase 3: 100% return of faculty and staff on Thursday, July 15.
Health, safety and other logistics
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the university places the highest priority on the health and safety of all members of our campus community. We will continue to practice the following protocols.
- Before coming to campus each day, students and visitors must use the UC COVID Check app. Employees are encouraged to do so as well. All members of the campus community are asked to self report if diagnosed with COVID-19. Assistance and information are also available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All staff, faculty, students and visitors must adhere to social-distancing requirements and continue to wear facial coverings on campus, except while eating or alone in a private space. For more information on distancing and facial coverings, including exemptions to this requirement, please see our Campus Safety Measure protocols. Faculty and staff also must clean and sanitize their own workspaces throughout work hours to supplement the efforts of our facilities staff. Check the Facilities cleaning website for additional guidance.
- In preparation for the return to the workplace, supervisors and lab leaders may contact Planning + Design + Construction for assistance in reviewing and determining any built, space or physical modifications that could be needed to comply with building codes and CDC guidelines. Floor plans for campus locations and space dimensions can be found on the space management COVID webpage. The first point of contact for questions or consultation on space is Jamie Accurso, Director of Planning, at email@example.com.
- All faculty, staff and students must continue to abide by restrictions on travel detailed in our travel policy.
- Any staff and faculty who canceled on-campus parking due to remote working has an option to repurchase a permit for a waitlisted garage. The original deadline to repurchase a permit for a waitlisted garage was extended to May 31 and will now be extended to July 31. To complete the process, contact Parking Services (or call 513-556-2283). If a faculty or staff member does not purchase by the deadline, they will be put on the waiting list if they want to acquire a permit in the future. In addition, Parking Services expects to offer a new flexible option for parking beginning this summer with details to be forthcoming.
- All employees who meet the CDC’s definition of individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may ask to work remotely if it is possible. Please contact Human Resources to submit a request to work remotely if you believe you meet this exception.
Plans and goals
We are eager to see a return to the vibrancy that makes our campuses so energetic and are excited to have students fully return to campus life. Our experiences of the last year have shown us that our students, faculty and staff are willing to do what is needed to keep moving forward. Indicators look very encouraging. Our campus community has done an outstanding job so far, and I have confidence we will continue do what is needed to keep one another healthy and safe.
We will continue to closely monitor and assess the situation, learning more in the coming weeks.
I continue to be deeply grateful for your teamwork and your Next Lives Here thinking and doing. And I look forward to seeing you back on campus in the coming months.
Neville G. Pinto
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One of the most common and disturbing side effects of COVID-19 is the loss of the sense of smell. New research from UC found some common coping mechanisms that helped COVID patients deal with a lessened sense of smell, which severely impacts the sense of taste. The study was published in the International Forum of Allergies and Rhinology. The combination of the loss of smell and taste, which are also known as the chemosensory senses, due to COVID-19 has been particularly devastating, with research showing associated depression, anxiety and impaired quality of life. It is something Katie Phillips, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at the UC College of Medicine sees in many COVID patients who come into her clinic.