Excited for in-person instruction to resume January 31

To: UCSC Community

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

We are happy to report that we are set to resume primarily in-person instruction starting Monday, Jan. 31. We are closely following campus and county COVID-19 data, as we have for nearly two years, and the latest wave of infections appears to be declining, as health officials had forecast. Both campus case and test-positivity rates are now in decline, and for that we are extremely grateful.

We are also pleased to see strong compliance with the COVID-19 testing protocols we have in place and with the UC system’s vaccine-booster requirements announced last month. We have run nearly 15,300 tests since the start of the quarter, and nearly 97 percent of our students and roughly 96 percent of our employees are now vaccinated. Our COVID booster rates are also strong, with more than 61 percent of our students who are eligible for boosters having received one, and about 75 percent of employees. Both figures are above county (59 percent), state (37 percent) and national (36 percent) rates, though we want to push our percentages even higher since research shows that a booster helps to both reduce the frequency and severity of COVID infection, especially with the Omicron variant. Our Student Health Center is running a booster clinic open to everyone in our campus community Jan. 26-28 to help students and employees eligible for a booster shoot meet the Jan. 31 compliance deadline. Sign up for an appointment now! Drop-ins are also allowed at the clinic until 4 p.m. today, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, and 8:30-11 a.m. Friday. We offer our gratitude to all Banana Slugs who are doing their part to support the well-being of our campus community.

We know that new cases will continue to occur as we transition to the endemic stage of COVID. Some in our community continue to recover from illness or may need to isolate or quarantine in the coming weeks and months because of infection or exposure. Many of you face extra caregiving responsibilities due to COVID. We aim to be flexible in all of these instances. We understand that these are challenging, unpredictable times, and we remain committed to supporting all in our campus community.

Returning to campus

The majority of our courses will switch to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 31, while some classes may continue to be offered remotely. Academic leaders are finalizing the course schedule and instructors may seek to continue to teach remotely due to COVID-related circumstances that make in-person instruction infeasible. Instructors will be in touch with their students before classes resume to inform them if their plans for the quarter have changed.

Staff who have been working remotely and plan to return to in-person work should be in contact with managers about their plans. Departments are encouraged to continue offering flexible working options, as appropriate for their operational needs.

Our Slug Strong campaign remains the foundation of our plan to repopulate campus and return to mostly in-person instruction. Our plan includes pre- and post-arrival testing, completing the Daily COVID-19 Symptom Check survey if you are coming to a campus location, and strengthening our community’s resistance to the virus by requiring vaccine booster shots. (Remember that it’s vital you get boosted when eligible and upload proof of vaccination by Jan. 31.) These mitigations, along with appropriate indoor masking with N95, KN95, KN94, or a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask, will be key moving forward. High-quality masks are available free of charge across campus.

Exactly what is expected of students and employees in terms of testing, vaccinations and boosters is laid out in the UC Santa Cruz Winter Quarter Return Protocol. It breaks down requirements for all in our campus community based on vaccination status. Please take a moment to review the document so there are no surprises come Jan. 31. Messages sent to students and employees over the past week also provide up-to-date COVID-19 mitigation information including where on campus you can be tested and where you can find booster shots. While the information in both letters is accurate, be aware that our protocols are subject to change based on case rates over the next several weeks.

The emergence of various strains of COVID and the rapidly changing scientific information associated with the virus mean that we need to respond rapidly to adapt our plans and operations. We know that this reality has been challenging, and your continued flexibility, fortitude and resilience are deeply appreciated. Thank you so much for your commitment to our community and your support for one another.