Delaying in-person instruction until Jan. 31

To: UCSC Community

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

We resumed our campus COVID-19 testing program Sunday and after running more than 3,000 tests, our campus positivity rate is at 5 percent, which is the highest it has been since we began testing, though it also remains well below the state and county rates. 

 We remain committed to supporting the well-being of our campus community. After consultation with academic and administrative leaders on our campus, at other UC campuses, and with our health center staff, we have made the difficult decision to extend alternate and remote modes of instruction for two additional weeks.

We also recommend faculty and staff hold meetings and events remotely during this time. We plan to resume in-person instruction Jan. 31, the day our booster deadline goes into effect. That date is also currently predicted to be beyond the peak of this latest wave of COVID infections. 

If possible, students who live on campus and have not yet returned should not return to campus this weekend. We will provide additional information next week about a phased return for residential students. 

We made this difficult decision to delay in-person instruction with the well-being of our campus and broader community in mind, so that we are in a better position to successfully resume and maintain in-person instruction this quarter, and to ensure the continued operation of our campus. When we first announced remote instruction for the start of winter quarter, we expected to see an increase in positive cases, but the rate at which this variant is spreading requires us to update our plans.

Our plan to repopulate the campus continues to be based on pre-arrival testing, post-arrival testing, and strengthening our community’s resistance to the virus by requiring vaccine booster shots. These mitigations—along with appropriate indoor masking with N95, KN95, KN94, or a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask—will be key to a successful quarter. The campus mask mandate remains in effect, and California has extended its mask mandate to at least Feb. 15. Because this variant is highly contagious, we strongly urge you to upgrade your masks as recommended by the California Department of Public Health. We urge you to shift from cloth masks to higher quality ones that do a better job of reducing transmission. 

We encourage all eligible faculty, staff, and students to get their COVID booster shot as soon as possible, recognizing that the shots can take up to two weeks to provide maximum protection.

In addition to carefully managing our campus isolation space, we recognize that, like our Student Health Center, the health care system in our greater county community is yet again facing a tremendous burden as infections increase rapidly and hospitalizations rise as well.

For some in our community, this extension of remote instruction will be a relief, and for others, a disappointment. We understand both perspectives, and look forward to a time when our world is not so constrained by COVID-19. 

We deeply appreciate everyone’s patience and flexibility as we collectively address the unexpected challenges caused by the pandemic. We are especially grateful to the many staff members whose diligent work is supporting our students and the campus. The well-being of our campus community remains a top priority as we continue to monitor COVID-19 developments, and we will continue to share information as it becomes available to keep everyone informed and updated on our plans.

Cindy and Lori