In this week’s Thursday Thoughts (above), Chancellor May answers a number of questions about campus operations and talks about how decisions are made in consultation with many constituencies.
To the UC Davis Community:
Thank you all for pivoting on short notice and for your flexibility and cooperation during these trying times. I know these past weeks involved extraordinary work, especially by faculty, all the people behind our testing operations and everyone working in patient care. This is a true team effort.
We continue to make decisions based on the science and public health guidelines we’ve been following from the beginning. On matters related to remote instruction, we turn to the Academic Senate. As chancellor, I don’t have unilateral authority over instruction. This is part of the University of California shared governance, which is essential to our teaching, research and public service mission.
In any decision we make, we weigh all of the data, consult with experts and other campus leaders, and review all relevant information before making decisions that impact the 70,000 people in our community.
The omicron variant, while more transmissible, appears to be less severe. As a result, we have not had to return to a complete lockdown. Our campus is open and we are permitting some in-person instruction. Find all the details about what’s happening on campus, including in-person activities and events, Unitrans operations, Shields Library and ARC hours of operation, and more in this Dateline article.
Public health guidance — and our guidance to you — can change quickly, and it can be a challenge to ensure everyone is accurately informed. I understand there has been some confusion about changes for the first four weeks of winter quarter. We’re listening and we’ve been working hard to answer your questions and update you on important decisions. You can find answers to the most common questions here. Also, please refer to the Winter Quarter Guidance Update and Classroom Instruction FAQ.
Stabilizing our community
We are requiring everyone to have a negative COVID-19 test before accessing campus facilities for the first time this quarter. We have increased the testing frequency for fully vaccinated students who live in residence halls to every seven days. For others who are fully vaccinated, it’s every 14 days. For those who are unvaccinated with approved exceptions, it’s every four days. The ARC testing kiosk is open seven days a week (including January 17, a holiday), and you can also get tested at Healthy Davis Together, which is adjusting its testing schedules to provide weekend hours at all sites. All employees also are welcome at the Sacramento campus testing site.
Our focus is on stabilizing our campus community so we can resume full in-person instruction and operations on January 31 as planned. Here’s what we ask of you:
- Stay in the Davis area so we can reduce the risk of introducing new COVID-19 cases.
- Check your test results promptly. If you test positive, report your COVID-19 diagnosis via the Health-e-Messaging platform.
- Know what to do if you test positive or are a close contact of someone who tests positive. Learn about isolation and quarantine procedures.
- Get your booster shot if eligible. Vaccines are our best tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See “Vaccine booster clinics” below.
- Wear a mask as required indoors — A face covering is generally required indoors (and outdoors in a car or crowded space if you are unvaccinated). Earlier this month, Yolo County and the state Department of Public Health recommended that people upgrade from cloth face coverings to either surgical masks or certain disposable respirators for increased effectiveness. We agree. In line with this new guidance, UC Davis is working to provide one KN95, N95 or KF94 respirator-style mask for all students and employees who want them. Find out how you can get one.
Vaccine booster clinics
We have worked with Yolo County to organize a two-day booster vaccine clinic on campus, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Tuesday and Wednesday, January 18 and 19. Make appointments through the state’s My Turn system, following the guidance we’ve posted here. This clinic is open to all, but we are hoping to get as many students in as possible. Toward this end, we ask employees to go to their health care providers — including UC Davis Health — for booster shots.
Under a UC systemwide mandate, booster shots are required for all students, staff and faculty by January 31 — or, if you are not eligible by that date, within 14 days after your date of eligibility, which is generally two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or five months after receiving your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. (Approved vaccine exceptions also apply to the booster.) If you previously allowed UC Davis to fetch your vaccination information from the state’s database, check to make sure your booster has been recorded in Health-e-Messaging. Otherwise, upload the information yourself. Find more information here.
Please note that you are expected to get a booster shot even if you’ve recovered from COVID-19. The CDC recommends waiting until you meet all requirements to end your isolation before getting a booster.
Students had the option to make adjustments to their schedules any time up until today, January 14, for courses with 10-day drop deadlines. The deadline for 20-day drops is January 31. Today, January 14, is also the deadline to file a Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP).
Yesterday (January 13), the Academic Senate extended the undergraduate Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) and the graduate Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) deadlines to the last day of winter quarter instruction, March 11. Through that date, undergraduate students may opt for P/NP grading or revert back to letter grading in Schedule Builder (students should review this FAQ before opting for P/NP grading), and graduate students may submit a Grading Option Change Petition to Graduate Studies. And, as in fall quarter, in-class final exams may also be administered remotely, if the instructor so chooses and follows the Academic Senate guidelines.
We’re here to help. The Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center can assist students who are experiencing ongoing financial challenges as a result of our remote instruction. The center can also assist with food security and housing. Fill out a basic needs assistance request, or call 530-752-9254 during business hours, Monday through Friday.
We’re also here to support students who are immunocompromised or otherwise concerned about how the omicron surge and remote instruction will affect them. Please contact our Student Disability Center if you need further accommodations or if you are uncertain if your medical situation qualifies you for disability assistance. Getting this process started early is important to getting you the support you need. Contact the center by submitting a request online; calling 530-752-3184 during business hours, Monday through Friday; or sending an email.
Most sustainable university
In case you missed it, the year 2021 ended on a high note for UC Davis. GreenMetric World University Rankings placed us as the No. 1 university in North America for sustainability for a sixth year in a row and fifth in the world for the second consecutive year.
On behalf of UC Davis Health, I encourage you to donate blood, if you can, to help stem a critical local shortage. Earlier this week, the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis for the first time ever. Nearly 6,000 patients receive blood transfusions through UC Davis Transfusion Services each year. Learn more about ways to donate blood during the pandemic.
I’ve said this many times, but it’s worth repeating: There’s no place I’d rather be during a global pandemic than UC Davis. Our extraordinary rate of compliance with vaccine mandates, asymptomatic testing, masking and other healthy protocols are all signs of a community that truly cares. I’m so proud to be weathering this storm with you. Stay strong, Aggies!
Gary S. May