January 4, 2022
Dear Faculty and Staff,
We hope you have enjoyed a safe and restful winter break. As we prepare to return to campus for the 2022 Spring Semester, the recent increase in local, state, and national COVID-19 cases, due to the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant, gives us pause and heightens concern for the continued health and safety of our university community.
The winter season break and holidays allowed us to gather with family and friends throughout the region, the country and abroad. Now the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, both locally and across the country, alerts us to how our activities and interactions with others these past two weeks could potentially impact the health and safety of our university. Previously, due to the high compliance with our vaccination and masking requirements, we experienced greater protection and lower transmissibility of the COVID-19 virus.
Brief Transition to Safer Learning
With that in mind, and following consultation with faculty, staff, student leadership and Public Health experts who have been monitoring this situation daily, the university will transition to operations online beginning Wednesday, January 5, 2022, and pivot back to full in-person activities on Monday, January 24, 2022. To minimize the disruption that the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and subsequent quarantining and classroom absences would have on our operations, classes, along with academic support services, will be conducted online for the first two weeks of the academic semester. The goal of this in-person delay is for us to assess the impact of Omicron on our populations; let the spike in transmissions run its course; implement additional measures for screening testing and vaccination; and assess the feasibility of providing faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to receive booster shots. We want to ensure that, when we come back, we come back to a safer, healthier, and fully vibrant face-to-face experience.
Exceptions for in-person activities that were permitted during our previous full-scale transition to online learning (e.g., clinical, lab, studio and performance activities) will continue to be allowed, as long as best practices for social distancing, heightened health measures and limited gatherings indoors are followed as outlined on the uc.edu/publichealth website.
Campus Living and Activities
Students can return to campus residence halls as scheduled on a voluntary basis but, for the time being, must participate in required COVID-19 screening testing, regardless of vaccination status. Details regarding screening testing will be available in the coming days and posted on the uc.edu/publichealth website.
Student-life and other campus activities such as planned in-person gatherings, including welcome back events and face-to-face onboarding, should be either canceled, minimized per best practices about gatherings mentioned above (e.g., max. congregation numbers) or moved to a remote format.
Campus buildings will continue to be open to accommodate specific needs, though our operations will be governed by health and safety guidelines (e.g., low density, safe distancing, full masking) that protect our faculty, staff and students as previously discussed.
Research activities by our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and researchers will also continue according to these modalities.
Benefits of Booster Dose
We must continue to be proactive in our defenses. According to the CDC, two doses of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine along with a booster dose are 75 percent effective against Omicron infection, while two doses alone provide only 35 percent protection against infection with the Omicron variant. Following updated CDC guidance, booster shots also influence quarantine requirements after COVID-19 exposure. If you have not done so already, we strongly encourage you to get a COVID-19 booster shot; it is free, simple, and safe. Please continue to visit the uc.edu/publichealth website for information and resources.
Thank you for your patience as we make this swift transition to help protect the health and safety of our university community.