Provost's Winter 2022 Campus Planning Update: November
Dear members of the UC Davis community,
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I want to begin this campus update by acknowledging how far we have come in recent months in bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic—and by giving thanks for that.
All of us, I know, are thankful that we have been able to return to our campus—to our classrooms, laboratories, research spaces, offices, and residence halls. Resuming our in-person activities and operations enables those of you who are students to more fully benefit from a UC Davis education and our university to most effectively accomplish our mission of excellence in education, research and public service.
We are thankful also to be working again alongside fellow students and colleagues, many of whom have returned to campus despite feelings of anxiety or concern. We are fortunate to have the opportunity every day to contribute to an institution whose guiding purpose is to benefit individuals, society and our planet. We are doubly fortunate to do so as part of such a warm and supportive community.
How We Have Succeeded
Our ability to return to working and learning together was no accident. It was possible because of the concerted efforts of all of us. We are thankful for the researchers, technicians, physicians and employees in our Genome Center, testing sites and health centers. Their efforts have led to completing more than one million COVID-19 asymptomatic tests. We are thankful for our facilities staff, many of whom have been on site since the beginning of the pandemic. And we are thankful for all of our students, academics and staff who have done their part to help make the campus as safe as possible by getting vaccinated, wearing a face covering and staying home when feeling ill.
The success of the COVID-19 vaccines and the community vaccination rates have been tremendous. The vaccination rate is 98% for the Davis campus and 90% for the Sacramento campus. In addition to that, positive cases remain low. In the last 30 days, we conducted more than 90,000 tests at the Davis campus and had a positivity rate of only 0.06%. Because of these positive signs, we are planning to change some of our Campus Ready COVID-19 mitigation measures in January. We do not make these changes lightly. Our highest priority remains the health of individuals and the public. We will continue to rely on science, public health professionals and the most up to date information about the COVID-19 virus. If at any time it becomes necessary to reinstate some mitigation measures or to pivot to remote instruction to keep our community healthy, then that is what we will do.
Information for UC Davis Health
All UC Davis Health employees were required to get their flu vaccination or file a declination by November 19. If you still need to get your flu shot, you can make an appointment with Employee Health Services. For information on their hours of operation during the holidays, refer to the Employee Health Services public webpage or the EHS page of the Insider.
Updates to event and meeting guidelines are available in the Insider’s Coronavirus Resource Center. As a reminder, public health guidelines still require wearing a face covering indoors, unless actively eating or drinking, or in an office alone.
Unvaccinated employees will continue to be required to participate in COVID-19 testing twice weekly.
The University of California systemwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate remains in effect. New students and new employees must comply with the mandate by providing proof of being vaccinated or securing an approved exception. More information about documenting your vaccine status or seeking an exception is available on the Campus Ready website.
At this time, the systemwide mandate does not include a requirement for a COVID-19 booster shot. However, if it has been more than six months since you became fully vaccinated, then please consider making an appointment to receive a booster. As a student, you can make an appointment with the vaccine clinic on campus, at a local pharmacy or via the My Turn website. For everyone else, you can receive a booster through your care provider, a local pharmacy or via the My Turn website. More information about scheduling an appointment for a booster is available on Campus Ready.
Speaking of vaccines, please do not forget about the flu vaccine. The continued COVID-19 pandemic makes vaccination for the flu even more critical to help protect the health and safety of our community. As of October, the University of California requires all students, academics and staff to be vaccinated against influenza or officially opt out. More information about the requirement and instructions on how to document your flu vaccine status or declination are available on the Campus Ready web page.
For this quarter, the Academic Senate recently approved a flexibility for fall 2021 final exams. Under certain conditions, instructors may allow students to take traditional in-class final exams remotely. Complete information is on the Academic Senate’s COVID-19 webpage.
Instruction for winter quarter and spring semester (School of Law and School of Veterinary Medicine) will be in person with normal classroom occupancy. All attendees (including instructors) will continue to be required to wear a face covering in instructional settings per public health guidelines.
Similar to fall, there will be a small number of courses offered remotely or as hybrid courses, but students, instructors and academic student employees should expect to participate largely or solely in person. If public health guidelines change due to COVID-19, then we may temporarily move to remote instruction.
Medical or ADA Accommodations
Individuals who are new to UC Davis and have personal health issues that prevent them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should seek a medical exception to the vaccine mandate as soon as possible. Details about how to secure a medical exception are on the Campus Ready website.
Students who have other medical reasons affecting their ability to be present on campus in winter should contact the Student Disability Center to discuss possible accommodations. Visit the Student Disability Center webpage for information on the accommodation request process.
Instructors with disabilities or personal health issues that would potentially impact their return to campus should contact Disability Management Services (DMS). Teaching assistants, readers, graduate student researchers and postdoctoral scholars may also contact DMS if they are experiencing a personal medical situation that would affect their ability to perform their responsibilities as an employee.
Other COVID-related Issues
Many members of the UC Davis community are dealing with situations related to COVID-19 that go beyond their own personal health, which may include caring for children or parents. The options available to instructors and students to help deal with these issues are the same as fall quarter and noted below.
Instructors (including graduate students working as Associates in__) seeking an exception from in-person instruction must submit the Request for Emergency Remote Winter 2022 Instruction form by December 3. Teaching assistants and readers seeking an exception should contact Graduate Studies.
Students may choose to take a leave of absence during winter quarter or spring semester if circumstances related to COVID-19 impact their ability to attend class in person. Information about the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP) is available on the University Registrar webpage. As a reminder, recent changes to the policy for undergraduate students allow for up to three quarters of leave as part of PELP.
Health and Safety Precautions
To reiterate, the systemwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate remains in effect. New students and newly hired employees must comply with the mandate. Please refer to the Vaccines section above for information about documenting your status.
Starting January 17, fully vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged (though no longer required) to continue the current cadence of asymptomatic testing - once every 14 days. You will note that this change takes effect about two weeks after the first day of instruction. This is because it is important for all members of our community to undergo asymptomatic testing as soon as possible after returning to campus. This is especially true for people who will be traveling during the break or who may be hosting family and friends from outside of the immediate area. To help ensure that you stay current with testing, please refer to our testing and compliance guidance for Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks on Campus Ready. We will post winter break guidance in the coming weeks.
The requirement for individuals who have an approved vaccine exception will not change. Anyone coming to campus who is not fully vaccinated is still required to undergo asymptomatic COVID-19 testing every four days.
Currently, a face covering is required for everyone when indoors, regardless of vaccine status. We expect that this will continue through winter, including for all class attendees (students, instructors and teaching assistants). Consumption of food indoors is limited to designated dining areas and facilities. Removal of a face covering to consume food in other public indoor locations is prohibited (classrooms, hallways, conference rooms, lobbies, etc.). Guidance and updates to face covering requirements are on the Public Health Policies & Requirements page of the Campus Ready website.
In winter, we will continue to use the Daily Symptom Survey for some campus buildings, and instructors and supervisors may continue to request to see the results of the survey. For students, we have updated the process to provide a more expedited way to rule out COVID-19 if they are symptomatic and receive a non-approved (Red) result.
Symptomatic students should self-schedule a test via Health-e-Messaging as soon as possible to determine if the source of their symptoms is COVID-19. Student Health and Counseling Services has a new process to support students that allows for streamlined symptomatic testing, which is not the same as the asymptomatic saliva test. Students who receive a negative COVID-19 test result and either no longer have symptoms or have not developed any new symptoms will receive an approved result when they complete the Daily Symptom Survey. Because of this streamlined COVID rule-out process, instructors should allow any student who has an approved result to enter the classroom or instructional laboratory.
For individuals with an approved exception to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, failure to stay current with required testing will result in losing access to campus and university facilities.
Return to Campus Workplace
As we learned during the early stages of the pandemic, many employees can successfully perform their job functions without being on campus or working traditional business hours. Over the last few months, employees and supervisors evaluated where remote work makes sense, identifying opportunities for greater flexibility for the employee while maintaining the delivery of services that the university requires. The result of these evaluations is that more than 2,000 staff members have now entered into formalized long-term flexible work agreements. Over the coming months, supervisors should assess whether or not these modified working arrangements are effective. Resources about flexible work arrangements at the Davis campus are available at the Workplace Reimagined website, and information for the Sacramento campus is available at the UCD Health Digital Workplace Program.
The ramp-up of our research operations has been a success. We have returned to full, on-site research operations while maintaining adherence to public health guidelines. Details of our process are available in the Guidelines for UC Davis Research Ramp-up.
We continue to recommend against all non-essential, university-sponsored travel (domestic and international). If travel is necessary, all travelers should continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance before, during, and upon return from travel. Complete details of the travel policy are on the Global Affairs webpage.
If you are traveling on university business, you are required to register your trip in advance of traveling. For international travel, travelers must seek approval from their unit head (dean, vice chancellor, vice provost) or their designee. If travel is required to a country rated a level 3 or 4 for risk of COVID-19 transmission, then the Travel Review Committee must provide approval. Circumstances in the United States and around the world remain fluid, so we encourage you to check the Global Affairs webpage in advance of any trip for the most up to date information.
All visitors to campus should continue to follow the same set of personal protection practices required for students, academics and staff. This means that visitors must complete the visitor version of the Daily Symptom Survey prior to entering any facilities on campus. They also must wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccine status, and unvaccinated people must wear a face covering outdoors in crowded spaces.
For large events in winter, we may continue to require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of being fully vaccinated, and completion of the Visitor Daily Symptom Survey. We will communicate those requirements on an event-by-event basis. The latest information about campus visitors is on the Campus Ready webpage.
The Event Guidance page on the Campus Ready website is the best source of information about hosting an event. Please consult this webpage during your planning process and leading up to your event to ensure compliance with all current guidelines.
As stated previously in this update, wearing a face covering will be required for everyone when indoors, regardless of vaccine status.
In closing, I want to express my deep gratitude to each of you. Whether you are a student, professor or researcher, staff member, or campus leader, your commitment to excellence, to UC Davis, and to one another makes our university a very special place. We began fall quarter facing many challenges and uncertainties, but, through our many efforts, we demonstrated what our community can accomplish together.
I wish you all a healthy, restful and joyful Thanksgiving!
All the best,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor