Orientation group walking on path near Eye on Mrak

Checking In With Chancellor May: Back to School in a Big Way

Updated 10 a.m. September 18: As stated correctly below, we require everyone to wear face coverings indoors, vaccinated or not. However, there was some confusion over one of the exceptions to the rule, and I apologize for that.

The exception applies to people whose cubicles have walls that are higher than your head while seated. If that applies to you, you may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking. Then your mask must go back on.

You are also allowed to remove your face covering when you are eating or drinking in a designated area (look for signs). And, if you are fully vaccinated, you may remove your mask when you are alone in an enclosed office. Please see our Public Health Policies and Requirements page on Campus Ready.


To the UC Davis Community:

We are ready.

That’s the message from Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan’s September 10 Fall Update, Dateline’s detailed quick reference guide and the continually updated Campus Ready website. 

Our students who live on campus moved in this week, and I enjoyed talking with many of you and your parents about how we are able to resume in-person instruction with confidence. Your enthusiasm and appreciation for getting here are heartening.

Due to our vaccine and mask mandates for all faculty, staff and students, free and easy, saliva-based COVID-19 testing, our infection surveillance strategies, and our important partnership with Healthy Davis Together, we have recorded an incredibly low positivity rate on campus. At the time of this writing, our COVID-19 Dashboard shows that during the seven-day period, Sept. 5-11, we conducted 4,664 asymptomatic COVID-19 tests, out of which only 0.26% were positive. The testing volume is much higher this week and our positivity rate remains very low.

As of this morning, our fully vaccinated rates stood at 96.6% for students and 92.9% for employees. Accounting for approved and pending medical and religious exceptions, and deferrals for pregnancy, our campus is 99% compliant with our vaccination policy and we will achieve 100%.

My confidence in our preparation does not mean that I am immune to the concerns many of you have shared. It’s with that in mind that I want to encourage patience and understanding among us all as we adjust to being back on campus. Renewed social interaction with people we have not seen in person for 18 months, new approaches to parking and getting reacquainted with campus life is all daunting. 

But know that as we reunite to do the important work of the University of California’s longtime mission — “to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge” — we are ready.

Testing and more

This week marks the one-year anniversary of when we started our asymptomatic testing program for COVID-19. Our partnership with the city of Davis through Healthy Davis Together has helped minimize the spread of the disease in our community and continues to be a key part of how we will continue to do so. This work would not have been possible without the ingenuity and hard work of our Genome Center.

Brand-new this week is a revision to the campus’s COVID-19 testing policy, which has been fine-tuned to be more flexible to accommodate remote schedules. Fully vaccinated students and employees who visit campus less than once per week (because of flexible work agreements or remote class schedules) must undergo testing prior to accessing university facilities, either on the same day of their visit or up to 14 days prior to their visit.

Fully vaccinated students and employees: If your normal schedule brings you to campus at least once per week, you must get tested at least once every 14 days. This takes effect Monday, September 20, but this does not mean everyone should rush to the testing center the first day or two. Remember, you have a 14-day window; the first window closes Oct. 4. And a request of everyone going to the testing center at the ARC: Please be patient and please be respectful of our hard-working staff (and also note that we are recruiting additional staff at this time).

Another testing update involves Healthy Davis Together, which is opening a new site in south Davis and advising UC Davis students and employees that if they come for testing as walk-ins, and identify themselves as students or employees, their test results will be automatically uploaded into Health-e-Messaging. This starts Monday, September 20, at the Veterans Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St.,  and the new location at 1632 Da Vinci Court in Research Park.

HDT at Research Park will be open seven days a week for people with and without symptoms. See the Campus Ready Testing webpage for the latest information on this and other HDT sites, and the Sacramento campus testing site, which is also open to Davis campus students and employees.

And in case you missed it, face covering guidelines have been updated. We require everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear face coverings indoors. One exception applies to people whose cubicles have walls that are higher than your head while seated. If that applies to you, you may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking. Then your mask must go back on.

You are also allowed to remove your face covering when you are eating or drinking in a designated area (look for signs). And, if you are fully vaccinated, you may remove your mask when you are alone in an enclosed office. Please see our Public Health Policies and Requirements page on Campus Ready.

In addition, we are installing air purifiers in some of the classrooms on campus where the data supports it. You can review specific information about building ventilation provided by Facilities Management. I want to thank the facilities staff for their incredible efforts over this past year to improve our ventilation systems on campus.

The resources listed at the beginning of this letter are overflowing with information, so I encourage you to refer to them. Additionally, to help answer some of your questions about returning to campus, we will be hosting an Instagram Live with Ryan Manriquez, ASUCD president; Cindy Schorzman, medical director of Student Health and Counseling Services; and Leslie Kemp, director of the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center. Join the conversation at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 21.

Fall means football

Saturday is the first Aggie home game of the season. LeShelle and I will be at UC Davis Health Stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff as our 2-0 team takes on Dixie State. While there, we’ll get to watch the “Running of the Second-Years.” Normally, we’d be watching Gunrock lead the “Running of the First-Years,” but last year’s incoming class did not get their chance. So this year we’re starting with the second-years and we will give the first-years their opportunity at the next game, Oct. 2.

We also want you to be aware of our COVID-19 protocols for football: attendance limited to fewer than 10,000, and face coverings are required for unvaccinated people and encouraged for everyone else (and everyone must wear them in the restrooms).

Checking in elsewhere

  • Something I’m excited about each year is the Leadership Job Shadow Program, where both undergraduate and graduate students can apply to shadow a campus leader, including me, for a day. A broad team of my colleagues in leadership are participating. Students are invited to submit applications Monday through Friday, September 20-24.
  • If you’ve been on campus already, you have likely noticed there are many construction projects under way. Fencing is up, pathways are rerouted and detour signs abound. With so many new folks joining UC Davis, remember to be careful and allow plenty of time for travel in and around campus.
  • In the spirit of Emergency Preparedness Month, I wanted to share a free resource from Earthquake Warning California. This publicly available, statewide earthquake warning system uses ground motion sensors to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them, allowing them to take protective action.
  • A heads-up to everyone receiving this monthly chancellor’s update: Everyone will still receive it in October, but from that point on, you will be a voluntary subscriber (we will opt you in; and, of course, if you do not want to continue to receive it, you can opt out).

The start of this academic year is among the most anticipated I can remember. After so much disruption from a global pandemic, I am thrilled to see that the efforts we have collectively put forth to bring everyone safely back to campus have succeeded. I’m incredibly grateful to you all.

Go Ags!

Sincerely,

Gary S. May
Chancellor

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