Planning for fall, UC vaccination policy coming, changes to national mask guidance

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

UC Santa Cruz students, faculty and staff know what this university does best. We advance research that benefits both the person and the planet. At our core, we’re problem solvers who seek to change the world for the better. Well, it feels good when others take notice too! UC Santa Cruz this week was named the No. 3 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world. I couldn’t be more proud of our students and the difference they make! Go Slugs!

The highlights

  • Fall class schedule will be available May 10, as preparation continues for expanded in-person instruction.
  • Proposed policy would make COVID vaccines mandatory for students, staff and faculty at all University of California campuses this fall. Public comment is open now.
  • The Spring SAB Chancellor’s Forum is May 6. Submitting a question is easy!
  • CDC issues new guidance on mask wearing.

New campus resources open

With each passing week, different campus resources are returning to in-person operations.

  • Access to some athletics and recreation facilities, including the pool and tennis courts, available previously to only current students via reservation or drop-in is now being offered to university employees with active Slug Recreation memberships. For a full list of what is available and when, visit the Slug Recreation website.

Academic planning for fall

Planning for the fall quarter remains in full swing, as we look to balance the desires of so many to return to campus to both learn and work and the need to keep our campus community healthy amid a continuing pandemic. Our plans are unchanged: We’re looking at predominantly in-person instruction with the caveat that, if COVID conditions suddenly worsen, we will need to pivot. Importantly, there will be pathways to support progress toward degrees for students who need to continue learning remotely.

As I noted previously, the fall class schedule, including the mode of instruction, remains on track to be released by May 10 so students can plan coursework. The housing application processes for both summer and the 2021-22 academic year will also be opened soon. We aim to welcome as many students into university housing as public health circumstances allow. More information is available online.

Changes to national guidance on mask wearing

Federal health officials announced earlier this week that individuals can now go without masks outdoors when exercising (walking, running, biking or — here in Santa Cruz — surfing). This new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is for people two weeks past their final COVID-19 vaccination shot and for those who have yet to be innoculated. Additional guidance was offered for other scenarios. It feels great to be moving in this direction, but note that the campus protocols have yet to change. We are currently reviewing the CDC guidelines and will soon detail any planned changes.

UC vaccination policy

As you saw in a message from Lori and me last week, the University of California Office of the President is proposing a policy that would make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all faculty, staff, academic appointees, and students accessing facilities at any UC campus beginning in fall quarter 2021. The policy is not finalized — feel free to provide feedback by emailing comments to UCOP purposefully announced its plan before final review by various constituencies to provide more time for students and employees to obtain the vaccine ahead of the fall term and to allow time for feedback.

Regular COVID testing

The growing number of people vaccinated and the changing mask guidance from the CDC means we’re on the right side of the curve when it comes to COVID. We have changed our asymptomatic testing program to reflect the improving conditions, dropping the testing requirement for students living, working or taking classes on campus from two tests per week to only one, but it is still in place and still mandatory for these students — even if you have been vaccinated! The new protocol is laid out in detail in a message to students. Thank you all for doing your part to keep our community safe.

Protect your information

I know that the news of the systemwide Acceleron data breach has left many on our campus concerned and distraught. Our campus Information technology team has posted some helpful information for those in our community who have been notified that their information has been found on the dark web since the breach. The Office of the President has also posted a frequently asked questions and answers page on its website. Please take the steps suggested to protect your data and identity. They are not especially onerous, and can offer some peace of mind.

SAB Forum coming May 6

This year’s Spring Chancellor’s Forum will take place next Thursday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to noon. Questions submitted in advance of the forum have a greater likelihood of being answered, so feel free to submit one now. If you just want to watch the forum live, there is a handy link on the Staff Advisory Board website. A recording of the event will be posted to the site after the event.

Tackling stress

It would be near impossible to think up a more perfect storm of life stresses, with social and political unrest squarely in the middle of a global pandemic — unless, of course, you’re also in college, away from home for the first time, getting ready for your end-of-quarter exams. The good news is that help is available and no one in our campus community needs to face issues alone. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many wellness and support programs offered through our colleges, resource centers, and Slug Support program. Employees have help available through our Employee Assistance Program and through our campus employee wellness programs.

Take a bow

Special thanks to our University Relations team, who organized last week’s virtual alumni celebration, and folks throughout our campus community who pitched in to pull off 71 events with 3,500 participants. I’m exceptionally proud of all the successes we’ve seen collectively over the past year — this alumni celebration being just the latest example. As part of Alumni Week, we put together a special edition of our popular UCSC Minute. Take a look, and know that with every positive development in our collective fight against COVID, we are a step closer to a new academic year with more in-person, on-campus engagement.

No matter where you are …

On campus or off, in California or halfway across the globe, you are still Banana Slugs, which means you can still access campus resources, engage with other Slugs, and stay connected to the UCSC community. Here are some ways to connect:

  • All Slugs are invited to participate in the next installment of the Unlonely Slugs project, a collaboration with the Foundation for Art and Healing. The events are a relaxed and engaging hour of creativity and conversation that aim to help participants stay socially connected and healthy through the arts. The next event, on May 14, will include a screening of the films “I Forgot my Phone” and “Drawings for my Grandchildren.” Log on and meet up with your fellow Slugs.
  • Campus elections are early next month. Undergraduates and graduate students are asked to cast their ballots for leaders of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and Student Union Assembly (SUA). An amendment to the SUA Constitution is also on the electronic ballot. The polls are open May 3-10. Make your voice heard! More details can be found on the Dean of Students election website. An SUA candidates debate is set for 6 p.m. April 30. Registration is required.

Maybe it’s the summer-like weather or the good news we’ve seen on the COVID front in the U.S., but this quarter feels supercharged. Spring quarter is somehow already halfway over. My years in higher education remind me that now is the time to support one another as we push through to the finish line! Onward, Slugs!