Protecting Each Other During Reopening

UAW 2865 Reopening & Safety Protocol

Updated January 25, 2022

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, many Academic Student Employees have raised concerns about health and safety with returning to the classroom. While many aspects of UC’s reopening plans remain unclear, what is certain is that you have the right to refuse unsafe working conditions

UC has adopted the following health & safety policies* across all campuses to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections:

  • Mandatory vaccination & boosters for all students & workers (with limited medical exemptions and accommodations based on disabilities or religious beliefs, as well as deferrals for those who are pregnant)
  • Regular testing for students and workers exempt from vaccine mandate
  • Daily symptom screening
  • Masks requirements for all students and staff
  • Physical distancing consistent with county & OSHA guidelines
  • Remote instruction for students and ASEs seeking reasonable accommodations for medically verified health risk factors and/or disabilities.

* Policies vary by campus, but UC has implemented these minimum safety policies across the state. UCLA, for example, is requiring weekly COVID testing for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. For campus specific policies, go here

ASEs have strong contractual and legal protections to a safe & healthy work environment, guarantees for instructional support, paid medical leave, and the right to reasonable work accommodations. If the university fails to meet these obligations, reach out to your supervisor and your union steward and notify your union using this form.

  • Safe & Healthy workplace
    • Article 13 of our contract requires UC to maintain a safe working environment for all ASEs.
    • Department of Labor regulations give workers who are asked to work without adequate safety measures and who have a good faith belief they face abnormally dangerous conditions based on the circumstance the right to refuse work or to take action to ensure their safety, e.g., to move a class online or outside if necessary. Learn more about exercising your right to a safe and healthy work environment here and here.
  • Accommodations
    • The American Disability Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace, and it requires the university to assist employees with disabilities to remain at work. Learn more about federal and state laws governing reasonable accommodations in the workplace here.
    • Article 23 of our contract guarantees ASEs reasonable accommodations for medical reasons through an interactive process where ASEs have a say. Such accommodations include remote instruction assignments for immunocrompromised ASEs.
  • Paid Medical Leave
    • Article 17 guarantees ASEs two days of short-term paid medical leave and up to four weeks of paid medical leave for a long-term illness. An additional two weeks of unpaid leave will be granted to ASEs with a serious health condition.
    • ASEs may request an additional two weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to deal with COVID, quarantining, or caring for a loved one. For details and procedures for requesting EPSL, see here.
  • Personal Protection Equipment & Instructional Support
    • Article 33 requires the university to provide ASEs with the instructional support to perform their work responsibilities, including Personal Protection Equipment (e.g. surgical masks and/or N95, KN-95, or KF-94 masks).
  • Childcare Reimbursements 
    • Article 4 guarantees ASEs up to $1100 per quarter or $1650 per semester in reimbursements for childcare expenses, including care provided by family members in the same household.

It is important to stay in close communication with your campus union stewards to monitor the safety situation and to work with members in responding to developments as necessary for the safety of students and ASEs. You have a right to refuse unsafe working conditions. If you are faced with a situation that presents a danger to your health and safety while working, notify your supervisor and remove yourself from the unsafe situation. This may include moving class outside, online, or adjourning class until the situation is corrected. In addition, document the safety violation and notify your union using this form: COVID Safety Violation Reporting Form

Ensuring a safe campus reopening this fall for all workers and students will require all of us to look out for each other. Take the following steps to protect your students, your coworkers, and yourself:

  • Know your rights: Review the health & safety rights with your coworkers to ensure everyone knows their rights.
  • Understand your campus health & safety policies: Understanding your campus policies is essential to protecting yourself, your coworkers, and your students. You can find specific information about your campus’ policies here.
  • Notify your supervisor about workplace safety concerns: If you encounter a situation that puts you or anyone else in danger, notify your supervisor and your union steward immediately. In addition, use this form to record any safety violation.
  • Make a plan with your coworkers: Communication is critical to protecting yourself and others. Talk to your coworkers and make a plan to ensure everyone’s safety. Use this template to make a plan in your department.

  • Sign up to CA Notify to be alerted if you are exposed to COVID
  • Have your supervisor’s contact information readily available
  • Stay home if you feel sick or show any COVID symptoms
  • Wear a mask
  • Check that your classroom is adequately ventilated
  • Take roll at the beginning of class to facilitate contact tracing in case of an outbreak
  • Ask if everyone has done the online daily symptom screening
  • Make sure everyone is properly wearing a mask
  • Bring extra masks (provided free of cost by UC) for anyone who might need one
  • Have a plan to pivot online or outdoors in case of an emergency

If your classroom does not meet the proper safety measures, use this form to document the issue and notify your union: COVID Safety Violation Reporting Form

Academic Student Employees have the legal and contractual right to refuse unsafe work if:

  • the ASE knows or believes that doing the work creates a “real and apparent” health or safety hazard for themselves or their coworkers; AND
  •  the employee knows or believes that it is against the law according to the Labor Code or a Cal/OSHA order, standard, or regulation.

If you find yourself in a workplace situation in which you fear being directly exposed to confirmed COVID-19 infected individual(s) or to bodily fluid without proper safety protections, take the following steps to refuse unsafe work:

  1. Remove yourself and your students from the unsafe situation
  2. Notify your supervisor and save a record of your communication
  3. If the hazard is not immediately corrected, move class outdoors, online, or adjourn class until it is corrected
  4. Notify your union steward and/or report the health & safety violation to your union using this form.
  5. Prepare to follow up with your supervisor
    1. Try to have a witness that can corroborate your account
    2. If you feel you need it, ask a union representative to be present
  6. Explain to your supervisor that you think the working conditions present a hazard to you
    1. Ask that it be fixed, and request a timeline for it to be addressed.
    2. Follow up your discussion with a written confirmation letter or note to document what was said.
  7. If the hazard is not fixed in a reasonable amount of time or by the timeline you have requested, tell your supervisor that you are using your legal right to refuse hazardous or unsafe working conditions.
  8. Explain to your supervisor (and put in writing) that you are only taking this step because you know or believe:
    1. Continuing to working conditions will be a health or safety hazard for you or your coworkers; AND
    2. The hazard violates the law in the Labor Code or a state health and safety standard or guidance; AND
    3. You are willing to do other work that is not hazardous, until the hazard is fixed; AND
    4. You are willing to return to the physical classroom once the hazard is fixed.

Learn more about your right to refuse unsafe work here.

Is there a vaccine mandate at UC?

UC has instituted a mandatory vaccination policy for all students & workers with limited medical exemptions and accommodations based on disabilities or religious beliefs, as well as deferrals for those who are pregnant. The mandatory vaccination policy includes a booster requirement. Check your campus’ deadline for COVID booster compliance here.

Are there social distancing requirements in place for this fall?

UC campuses are required to implement physical distance consistent with county guidelines. You can check your county’s current physical distancing guidelines here.

Will there be a daily symptom monitoring system? 

All campuses are requiring students and workers to take a symptom monitoring survey daily in order to be on campus.

Is regular COVID testing required? 

COVID testing requirements vary by campus. At UCLA, for example, all students, faculty and staff are required to undergo weekly COVID testing, while at Berkeley testing is only required at the start of courses. Weekly testing for COVID is required for all unvaccinated individuals on all campuses. You can learn more about your campus policy here.

Is there a masking mandate on my campus?

All campuses are requiring everyone to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated people may remove face coverings indoors when they are alone in an enclosed space. Unvaccinated people must wear face coverings indoors at all times.

Removing a face covering for eating indoors is only permitted in dining facilities or designated break rooms. Unvaccinated employees must maintain 6 feet of physical distance when eating in a workplace setting.

The California Department of Public Health recommends all individuals wear surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g. N-95, KN-95, or KF-94).

How do I secure Personal Protective Equipment to teach in person? 

Information on how to request Personal Protective Equipment can be found on your campus’ COVID safety policies webpage. If you are unable to find the relevant information, you should request it from your department. It is recommended that you request N95 or KN95 masks*. If the university or department fails to provide you with PPE, reach out to your department steward or fill out this form. You should also ask for extra masks should one of your students require a mask.

 *The California Department of Public Health recommends all individuals wear surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g. N-95, KN-95, or KF-94). Studies have shown that KN95 masks are effective at reducing the spread of respiratory particles by up to 90%. See Asadi, S., Cappa, C.D., Barreda, S. et al. Efficacy of masks and face coverings in controlling outward aerosol particle emission from expiratory activities. Sci Rep 10, 15665 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72798-7

Who is supposed to enforce the mask mandate?

Enforcement of mask mandates is the responsibility of the university, not individual ASEs. If you encounter a violation of the masking policy, simply remove yourself, and your students, from that environment. Under no circumstances should you call the police.

What do I do if someone in my classroom is not wearing a mask?

If a student arrives to class without a mask, or removes it during class, the first step is to ask if they need a mask. If they refuse to put on a mask, you should notify your supervisor and remove yourself from the situation immediately by either moving the class outdoors, online, or adjourning until the dangerous situation is corrected. Under no circumstances should you call the police.

Once you have taken steps to protect yourself and your students, reach out to your supervisor about the issue and make plans to reschedule the class if necessary. In addition, make sure to report the problem to your union using this form.

What should I do if someone shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19? 

If someone shows any of these signs [hyperlink to covid-19 symptoms], ask the student if they are feeling well and if they need to go home. If the student insists on remaining in the classroom and you continue to have concerns for your safety and that of your students, you should notify your supervisor and remove yourself from the situation immediately by either moving the class outdoors, online, or adjourning until the dangerous situation is corrected. Under no circumstances should you call the police.

Once you have taken steps to protect yourself and your students, reach out to your supervisor about the issue and make plans to reschedule the class if necessary. In addition, make sure to report the problem to your union using this form.