UC Santa Cruz preparation for coronavirus

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

Over the past few weeks, we have all learned of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID–19) to locations around the globe, various cities in the US, and in neighboring counties. Santa Cruz County learned of its first confirmed case of COVID–19 on Saturday, March 7; this person is not affiliated with the UCSC campus. We expect that the number of confirmed cases will continue to climb with more widespread testing. Understandably, this possibility leads to elevated worry, concern, and anxiety, especially for those who have family in impacted regions or who are in higher-risk populations.

I want to acknowledge the uncertainty, concern and worry that this virus and its consequences have created for so many in our community. Though there are no confirmed cases of the virus here on our campus, the first confirmed case could very well happen on campus at any time. We want to be as prepared as possible so we can move quickly should we need to.

Campus Status

The campus continues to remain open and operational. We are fortunate that no confirmed cases of COVID–19 have been reported at UCSC, but we continue to watch the global and regional situation carefully as we assess the local impact. After careful review of our local situation and following consultation with health professionals, we have assessed that the risk of transmission associated with classroom instruction remains low for our campus. We will continue to monitor and assess the risk, but at the present time, there is no reason for us to suspend normal instructional activity.

To ensure that we are prepared, I am calling on all members of our community to take steps now to prepare for the possibility that we will need to shift to working, teaching, and learning remotely and virtually in the near future.

You may have seen the memo to instructors advising that they begin planning ways to offer course content and lectures outside of the classroom and predominantly online. To this point, the appropriate Academic Senate committees (Committee on Educational Policy, Committee on Courses of Instruction, and Graduate Council) agree that instructors may switch to Zoom-only with approval of the department chair (or equivalent head of the course sponsoring agency). Where practical, supervisors and managers may allow employees to work remotely. These are measures we can scale up quickly and broadly across campus.

We are aware that a small number of other universities, with different local circumstances, have suspended normal in-person classroom meetings. Rest assured: we are prepared to do the same should our local situation change. We are consulting on a daily basis with the local health officials and UC Office of the President. While we are not ending in-person classroom meetings at this time, we do understand the value of increased “social distancing” as a way of preventing the transmission of the virus. If the facts justify additional restrictive steps, we will be prepared to act quickly to adjust our practices to better protect the health of our community, including suspending in-person classroom meetings.

Should UCSC need to move to a hybrid or completely virtual instruction model, on-campus housing will remain open. Plans for managing confirmed cases within on-campus residents have been developed and will be implemented in consultation with local public health officials should it become necessary. Dining services will also continue to serve students with meal plans.

This situation is fluid, and it could change very quickly in the Santa Cruz area, requiring that we change course at a moment’s notice. We encourage you to stay up to date with the latest information on our COVID–19 webpage or the Office of the President’s COVID–19 webpage.

Travel Considerations

The University of California revised its instructions on travel on March 5th and further restrictions are anticipated as additional cases of COVID–19 are confirmed. Please consider the potential for additional countries to be added to the restricted travel list which could result in difficulties getting back into the US. Travelers should be prepared or arrange for off-campus accommodations to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return from a restricted jurisdiction or if you are exposed to an individual suspected positive for COVID–19. Consult our COVID–19 webpage for the most up-to-date information on travel advice.

Your Health and Wellness

Finally and most importantly, it is crucial for all members of the UC Santa Cruz community to heed the recommendations for preventative care which have the greatest likelihood of protecting us as individuals, as well as the larger community, by diminishing the chances of transmission of the virus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or, as an alternative, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.

In addition, it is recommended that people practice healthy habits: get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. If you have not received your annual flu shot, please schedule one with your provider to help protect yourself against the flu.

Thank you for doing your part to protect our community. Please continue to look out for each other and to show kindness and support to all members of our campus community. Students, please share this message with your family and any other concerned parties.