COVID-19 campus case rates and vaccination planning

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services

As we move further into the new year and winter quarter, our COVID-19 response and recovery work continues in earnest. This message includes some key updates about our current case rate and operating status, our asymptomatic testing program, and our vaccine rollout. For more information on our COVID-19 response, please visit our recovery website.

Current status

In December, we outlined the new stay-at-home order framework implemented by the state. We unfortunately remain in the most restrictive status because intensive-care units across our region have extremely limited capacity.

Since our return from winter break and the holidays, we have also seen an uptick in our campus positive-case reports. Our COVID-19 dashboard provides the latest campus information. Since Jan. 1, we have seen 102 positive cases through our asymptomatic-testing program. The jump in case numbers underscores the importance of following the key Slug Strong actions:

  • Complete your daily symptom check, if you are coming to a campus site

  • Wear a face covering 

  • Abide by physical distancing guidelines

  • Avoid large gatherings 

  • Do not come to campus if you are feeling ill

  • Regularly wash your hands 

Given the increase in campus cases, as well as COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations rates in Santa Cruz County and throughout the state, we have postponed the move-in scheduled to take place this weekend and have shifted to a rolling move-in process that is contingent on many factors. Students have been contacted directly by the housing office with more specific information. We have asked students not to relocate into the Santa Cruz community until their planned on-campus housing is available. We continue to provide housing for about 900 students who moved into campus housing at the start of the academic year. 

We recognize the disappointment and disruption students are facing, and we are working to support students, wherever they are living. As conditions improve and we are able to welcome additional students in campus housing that maintains the health and well-being of our campus community, we will do so. We are actively monitoring the public health of our campus, community, and state.

Asymptomatic testing

Another key component of our campus COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategies is our asymptomatic testing program. Students living on campus or accessing university  sites are required to be tested twice a week. Students living off-campus and not accessing university sites can voluntarily be tested up to twice a week. Employees are eligible to get tested up to once a week. More information is available on our testing site. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to be tested regularly. 

Vaccination planning 

COVID-19 vaccination planning and rollout is also underway. The state has issued a multi-phase vaccine rollout plan. The situation is evolving rapidly, and some of the elements of the phases could change quickly. 

At this point, the UC system is in Phase 1A of vaccine rollout, which is focused on health-care workers. Work is underway to develop the process for vaccine distribution for Phase 1B. As the overarching goal is to get vaccines rolled out across the state and system as quickly as possible, it is likely that individuals will have the ability to get the vaccine through their health-care providers as rollout continues. If an alternative route to vaccination becomes available to you, we encourage you to take advantage of that opportunity. For more information on campus COVID-19 vaccine planning, you can visit the Student Health Center vaccine webpage.

In addition to vaccine rollout, discussions are underway at the system-level to identify what COVID-19 vaccine policies will be needed. At this point, the only UC COVID-19 vaccine policy that has been issued by the UC system pertains to individuals working in health-care settings. As additional policies and requirements roll out, we will communicate with the campus.

We are in a very challenging stage of the pandemic with high case counts across our state. However, with vaccine rollout broadening there is reason for hope moving forward. Each of us has a role to play in reducing and slowing the spread of COVID-19 through our personal actions. Thank you for all of the efforts you are undertaking to promote the health and wellness of your fellow Slugs.