Chancellor-Provost Update on Winter Quarter
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students on the Davis Campus:
We write for two reasons: first, to thank you for all that you’ve done to keep our campus healthy this past fall; and second, to provide an update about our plans for Davis campus affiliates during winter quarter.
Due to your hard work and your inspiring dedication, UC Davis remained open throughout fall quarter while maintaining an extremely low COVID-19 infection rate. We were able to engage in research, teaching, and service activities—the three pillars of the University of California—in person. Thankfully, we held commencement ceremonies for 2021 and returning 2020 graduates. Even as the COVID-19 Delta variant caused surges of infection elsewhere, our case rate stayed remarkably low. Whether on-campus or off-campus, Davis could boast, without exaggeration, of being one of the healthiest places in the nation during this pandemic.
We are proud to say, despite the new threat from the Omicron variant, that this remains the case. We understand that recent media coverage has caused a great deal of anxiety. That said, emerging data suggest that people who are fully vaccinated and boosted are very unlikely to become seriously ill, even if they do contract COVID-19 caused by any of the currently recognized variants. Although it is too soon to say definitively, it now seems possible that the spread of the Omicron variant may signal that the virus is attenuating, meaning that it is becoming more transmissible and less deadly. Regardless, we continue to monitor the situation closely and will change our safety protocols accordingly. In the meantime, due to your collective action, Davis will likely remain one of the healthiest places in the United States.
Nevertheless, we continue to believe that our primary focus must be the health and wellbeing of our campus. Given that, we are adjusting our plans for winter quarter in several ways. We will open winter quarter remotely from January 3 through January 7, allowing enough time for members of our community to secure a negative COVID-19 test before attending classes or coming to work in person on January 10. Essential workers who continued to work in person during the 2020-2021 academic year should still do so. For those people who leave the Davis area over winter break, it is critical that you return before January 3 so that you can get tested soon after your arrival. Testing our entire community within just one week will put a strain on our operations, so please do not wait until January 6 or 7 to schedule your test. We need to work together to get this done quickly in order to keep our campus healthy.
Beyond that, although we had planned to discontinue the testing mandate for vaccinated people in mid-January, we are now going to maintain our fall-quarter requirement: testing every two weeks for those people who are fully vaccinated and testing every four days for those people who are not vaccinated. Over the next few days, we will update the Campus Ready websitewith our upcoming testing schedule and with responses to other FAQs. We will also send information directly to students regarding housing and dining.
Finally, we will enforce a systemwide mandate for a booster vaccine for all faculty, staff, and students who do not have a vaccine exemption currently in place. No later than January 31, every member of the campus community must upload through the Health-e-Messaging portal proof that they have obtained a vaccination booster. If you have not already received a booster, we strongly encourage you to do so over winter break. If the timing of your original vaccination leaves you ineligible for a booster by January 31, you must submit confirmation that you have received a booster within fourteen days of becoming eligible. Please note that these requirements for winter quarter do not apply to those people working for UC Davis Health, as they must comply with healthcare worker mandates.
For details on any of the above, please continue to consult the Campus Ready Website, which includes, as ever, a portal where you can send us questions and suggestions.
We want to close by thanking you again. We are very grateful to you all. We wish you a joyous and safe holiday break. We know that you join us in hoping for a healthy and happy new year.
All the best,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor