Update for Staff Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update for Staff Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Update for Staff Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Effective as of Wednesday, March 17, 2020

Dear colleagues:

In an effort to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our UCI community as we navigate COVID-19 together, I would like to share with you detailed information and guidance to help inform your actions in response to the coronavirus and mitigate its potential impacts on your professional and personal lives.


We have been working closely with leaders across the enterprise in preparation for the transition to telecommuting for staff, retaining only limited on-site operations for critical functions. In most cases, telecommuting applies to campus and administrative staff, not clinical healthcare workers. Each leader has been working with their respective managers and supervisors to communicate the plan for their unit. The telecommuting initiative will stay in effect until at least April 5, 2020, and will be re-evaluated as needed.

During this period, staff working from home are expected to be fully available for meetings and responsive to requests during normal business hours. There are many useful tools and resources to help you stay connected, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype for Business, among others. Check with your supervisor to see what your unit is utilizing.

Additional resources can be found at: https://hr.uci.edu/disaster-relief/telecommuting-information.php


While many staff will be working from home, there are critical operations on the Irvine and Orange campuses that cannot be completed remotely. For those employees, particularly our healthcare colleagues, we thank you for being on the front lines and continuing to come to work during these unprecedented circumstances. Please be sure to safeguard your own health and that of others by taking common-sense personal precautions and practicing social distancing, both at work and away from the university.


Effective immediately, employees will be eligible to receive up to 128 hours of paid administrative leave in order to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These hours can only be used with prior approval from your supervisor and are designed to assist you if, for example, you or a family member becomes ill with COVID-19; you cannot come to work because of a COVID-19 related school or daycare closure; or you have been directed not to come into work for COVID-19 related reasons but you and your supervisor determine that it is not operationally feasible for you to work remotely.

To be clear, these hours are only for employees who are unable to work, either on campus or remotely, because of hardships related to COVID-19. Please be mindful that many staff are urgently needed at this time to run the critical operations of the university and that the use of these special administrative leave hours requires supervisor approval.


We understand that members of our staff may be worried about the virus and may be experiencing heightened feelings of fear and anxiety. If this is the case for you, here are some resources available to you to help with challenges surrounding this pandemic.

If you would like access to free, confidential counseling services for you or your family, contact ComPsych Guidance Resources®, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (844) 824-3273 or via the links below.

View the recorded Coping with Uncertainty about the Coronavirus Webinar presented by ComPsych Guidance Resources, which includes practical tips for coping with uncertainty and re-establishing control.

UCI Health offers tips on managing stress, taking care of your mental health, and tips for helping children cope with the COVID-19 crisis http://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety.

You can contact UCI Faculty/Staff Support Services for free/confidential virtual individual or group consultation via Zoom and for assistance with connecting to resources and referrals. You can reach Dr. Negar Shekarabi at 949-824-5208 or nshekara@uci.edu.

Additionally, we know that many of our staff are suddenly finding themselves in need of back-up child care. Bright Horizons Care Advantage is a web-based resource to help you find and select pre-screened care for children, adults — even pets. You select the caregiver that’s right for you. Access to this resource is one of the benefits of working for UCI, but you are responsible for paying for the care or services you select.

Finally, but very important, please protect your health with these tips to prevent illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and review this help from UC health plans. If you do feel sick or have been in contact with others who are ill, please notify your manager and make sure you are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on What to Do if You’re Sick.

Our first priority is your health and wellbeing. I urge you to take good care of yourselves and support one another. We will continue to review these programs as often as necessary and will communicate any changes with you. Thank you for your tireless dedication and resourcefulness. Working together, we will get through this difficult period.


Ramona Agrela
Associate Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Executive