Update on winter quarter

To: UCSC Community

From: Cynthia Larive Chancellor; Lori Kletzer Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

With the rapid rise nationwide in the number of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant and the likelihood that holiday gatherings will only further increase infections, UC campuses are implementing additional mitigations. UC Santa Cruz is planning to begin the first two weeks of winter quarter (Jan. 3-14) with alternative and remote modes of instruction instead of scheduled in-person instructional meetings. We also recommend faculty and staff hold meetings and events remotely during the first two weeks of the quarter. Other campus operations will continue as scheduled. Students are encouraged to return to campus on schedule.

We do not take this step lightly, and do so after consultation with academic and administrative leaders and campus health-center staff. Supporting the health and well-being of our campus community remains a high priority, and we want to make sure that our extensive testing strategy, which was extremely effective as we started fall quarter 2021, lays a solid foundation for our winter quarter.

This shift in instructional delivery will give us two weeks to identify COVID-19 cases and take appropriate measures to mitigate further spread through our campus community. We will be sharing more information with instructors about how they might plan for the first two weeks of instruction, given that a universal shift to Zoom may not be possible with students in residence. Instructors will receive an email containing guidance on how to approach preparing for instruction later today. Keep Teaching is also being updated.

We plan that all classes scheduled to be in-person in winter quarter will resume fully in-person instruction on Jan.18. We will closely monitor the public health environment and the guidance and information provided by local public health authorities and adjust our plans as appropriate.

There are two important steps we all should take prior to returning for winter quarter: getting a booster shot (if eligible) and getting tested prior to returning to campus.

Get a booster shot

Everything we have learned so far about the Omicron variant underscores the importance of being fully vaccinated and getting a booster. Under existing UC policy , students, faculty, and staff are required to keep their vaccination status up to date. The policy strongly encourages COVID-19 boosters for those who are eligible.

You are eligible for a booster if it’s been at least two months since receiving the J&J COVID-19 vaccine or six months since your second Moderna or Pfizer dose. Booster shots and COVID-19 vaccines are available broadly through retail pharmacies. Information on booster eligibility is available from the Centers for Disease Control here.

The Santa Cruz County Health website provides information about scheduling a vaccine or a booster. California’s MyTurn website is another great resource, and additional resources may be available for community members currently in other states and countries.

Test prior to returning

As described in the UC Health Coordinating Committee’s guidance for returning students, the campus will follow a test, sequester, and retest model as we return from winter break. We expect that all students will get tested or take a self-administered COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus for winter quarter, and we encourage employees to do the same. Do not return to campus if you test positive, and only return to campus once you have tested negative.

In addition to a pre-arrival test, students must get tested on campus at their first opportunity to do so. Regardless of vaccination status, students will have deadlines for testing and more information about scheduling a campus test will be sent out soon.

We are also making it easier for campus COVID-19 testing when you return by enhancing services from Fulgent Genetics. Fulgent will be taking over testing at both campus locations, the Merrill Cultural Center and Express Store, in January 2022 and asymptomatic testing appointments will no longer be available through Health e-Messenger. You will receive a registration email from Fulgent for COVID-19 testing. To avoid long lines, please visit the student COVID-19 webpage or the employee COVID-19 webpage to get a link to the Fulgent scheduler.

Students who are still in the area can pick up an at-home COVID testing kit on campus before supplies run out. The kits are being provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and may be picked up at the Bay Tree Bookstore before it closes for Winter Break at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22. Please note that we can only provide one kit per individual, and it is intended for use right before you return to campus.

Employees in the area may pick up a COVID testing kit until 3 p.m. Dec. 22 at the Scotts Valley Center or Silicon Valley reception desks (Scotts Valley is closed between 12-1 p.m. for lunch) or the Bay Tree Bookstore. Please note that we can only provide one kit per employee, and it is intended for use right before you return to campus. We cannot offer test kits to employees who are currently working 100 percent remote.

If you are a student or employee and did not obtain a test kit before departing campus, please obtain a self-test kit at your local drug store or pharmacy or have a test administered for you. If you cannot obtain a self-test kit, please complete this online form no later than **noon Friday, Dec. 24,**and a test kit will be mailed to you.

To our instructional and academic staff, we appreciate your flexibility in making this adjustment for the start of winter quarter. Information will be forthcoming very soon to support your preparation for this change. We hope that knowing about this change now will make planning and class management easier than it might otherwise be.

The health and well-being of our campus community remains a top priority as we continue to monitor COVID-19 related developments and remain prepared to act quickly and appropriately in response.

Our community has consistently overcome the challenges created by this pandemic, and by continuing to work together, we will be able to maintain a healthy environment for in-person teaching, learning, and campus operations.