Winter Quarter Update: Dec. 30
Dear UC Davis Community,
As we reflect on the end of 2021 and look forward to 2022, we wanted to take a moment to reiterate our winter quarter plans and provide you with a few updates.
We know there is concern in our community about the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, largely due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Here on our campus and through Healthy Davis Together, we also are seeing an increase in the number of positive cases due to the Omicron variant, but thankfully our overall number of positive COVID-19 cases is still quite low compared to most of the rest of California.
Moreover, emerging data suggest that people who are fully vaccinated and boosted are very unlikely to become seriously ill if they contract COVID-19 caused by any of the currently recognized variants. While the Omicron variant is more easily transmitted, it appears that it is likely to be less virulent than earlier variants, that is, significantly less likely to cause serious illness, hospitalization or death. Given that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and appears to cause milder disease in vaccinated and boosted people, we are entering a new phase of adapting our campus approach and activities to living with COVID-19 at an endemic level. This shift in approach means that we will continue to monitor both infection rates and severity of disease outcomes, just as we do with influenza, while we continue to do our important work at UCD of education, research, and service.
Please take time to read this letter as we’ve attempted to address common questions and concerns that you have shared with us regarding COVID-19 and winter quarter.
We announced on December 21 that we will begin winter quarter with a week of remote instruction and working from home (except for employees with essential duties) from January 3-7. We are doing this for two reasons. First, we are setting aside a week for a critical round of COVID-19 testing — critical because we will require a negative result before allowing people back in the classroom or workplace on January 10. Second, by identifying cases early in the quarter, we can slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep campus operations running as smoothly as possible.
To accomplish these aims, we are requiring that all students, faculty, and staff at the Davis campus get tested between now and January 7. If you are currently in the Davis area, we strongly suggest that you get tested NOW to avoid the rush next week. If you are outside of the Davis area, please return before January 3 and make an appointment to get tested as soon as possible upon your return. Please do not wait to return to Davis after January 3 since it will reduce our chances of getting everyone tested and minimizing the rate of infection.
Please see testing locations and hours on the Campus Ready website. Note that all UC Davis and Healthy Davis Together sites will be closed Friday and Saturday for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but you will have two options for testing on Sunday:
- Activities and Recreation Center, or ARC (asymptomatic testing) — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Make appointments in the Health-e-Messaging portal You can park for free in Lot 25 while getting your test.
- Healthy Davis Together at Research Park, 1632 Da Vinci Court, Davis (asymptomatic and symptomatic testing) — 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday (closed 11:15 a.m. to noon)
Further, we will carry over from fall quarter our requirements for regular testing: every 14 days if you are fully vaccinated (still, we encourage you to get tested more frequently) and every four days if you are unvaccinated with an approved exception.
Be reassured that we are monitoring our campus testing results, including our genotyping results, along with those from Davis and the rest of Yolo County. We are in regular contact with the county’s public health officer to ensure compliance with changing guidelines and to keep our community as healthy as possible.
At this time, we are confident that our high vaccination rates, our testing program and the other procedures we have in place will allow us to keep the campus open while slowing the spread of COVID-19 infections. We also know that our community will continue to do its part to keep everyone healthy. While it is unlikely that we will need to change these plans due to the Omicron variant, we will make changes to our winter quarter plans if we believe it is necessary.
We urge everyone to continue practicing healthy behaviors that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Continue to follow our testing protocols, get the required booster vaccination as soon as you are eligible, and wear face masks whenever you are indoors. Given how transmissible the Omicron variant is, we note that N95 and KN95 masks with proper fit are more effective in protecting against COVID-19 and particularly the Omicron variant.
As we stated in our December 21 letter, all students, faculty and staff must get their COVID-19 booster — third dose if you previously received the Pfizer-BioNTech series or the Moderna series, second dose if you previously received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — and upload their updated vaccination information into the Health-e-Messaging portal no later than January 31. You are eligible for your booster six months after completing your primary vaccination series. Please do not delay. If you are not eligible for a booster by January 31, you will have 14 days from your date of eligibility to get your booster and upload your vaccination information; we recognize this applies to many of you who received your vaccinations in September.
Need a booster? Go to the state’s My Turn website to make an appointment at any number of clinics in the area.
Contact tracing and test results
Consistent with this past year, if an unvaccinated person tests positive, they will be contacted by the contact tracing team to help identify close contacts and provide isolation instructions.
IMPORTANT: Please review your test results in Health-e-Messaging as soon as you receive notification by email that your results are in. New for winter quarter: If a fully vaccinated person tests positive, they will only receive isolation instructions via email, with information on how to identify and inform their close contacts.
Keeping you informed
We will remain vigilant as the new year unfolds. We will continue to follow county and state public health guidelines. The next “Checking In With Chancellor May” e-mail will include the latest COVID-19 updates — look for it on Friday, January 14.
In the meantime, let’s stay compassionate, patient and understanding as the new year begins. We will get through this, together.
We wish you all a Happy New Year. Go Ags!
Gary S. May
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor