Guidance for the beginning of winter quarter

To: UCSC Community

From: Lori Kletzer Campus Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

Winter storm warnings continue to be in effect in our area into next week. High winds and heavy rains are expected over the weekend and Monday. Below you will find important information and resources on the start of instruction, including information about possible health and weather impacts.

Travel safety

As you make your plans to return to campus, put safety first. Stay indoors whenever possible. If you need to travel, check the National Weather Service website for information on the latest weather conditions. If you are driving, use extreme caution when on the roadways. Motorists should not cross standing water when the depth cannot be ascertained. Be on the lookout for stalled vehicles, downed trees and areas prone to flooding. Plan additional time for travel to all destinations in and around Santa Cruz County and in the greater Bay Area.

The following websites provide up-to-date information on road conditions and closures:

Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center Status Page

California Highway Patrol Traffic

Caltrans State Road Information State Routes

County Road Closures

Navigating campus

The storms have caused periodic power outages on campus and there may be more, and a lot of debris has fallen onto walkways and paths. Take caution as you make your way across campus and pay attention to your surroundings while walking as clean up continues after the storm.

Possible work disruptions

For employees who are impacted and unable to work, either due to evacuation, road closures or power loss, please inform your manager or department chair as soon as possible and let them know what support you need and the best way to reach you.

We ask that managers and supervisors, many of whom may be impacted themselves, show as much flexibility as possible in accommodating employee needs. Work priorities should be examined in light of this emergency situation.

Students and employees needing assistance

Slug Support is available to provide students with immediate food, housing, and other essential needs. Students in need of immediate help should call the program’s crisis line at 831-459-7003. Information is also available on the Slug Support webpage. For non-emergency needs, please email or call 831-459-4446 and leave a message.

Employees who have been evacuated and are in need of emergency evacuation

housing assistance can find information on the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery & Resilience webpage.

Vaccinations and boosters

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the best defense to limit severe illness and death. If you test positive for COVID-19 and wish to receive antiviral treatment, contact your doctor or a test-to-treat site immediately. Treatments work best when started right after symptoms begin.

For off-campus, low- to no-cost vaccine options in your area, go to UC SHIP members can use their Optum pharmacy benefits at these locations.

COVID-19 winter break testing guidance
We strongly encourage all community members to take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test before returning to campus, especially if you:

Develop symptoms
Have known contact with a positive COVID case
Travel to an area where infection rates are high
Attend a high risk event

If you test positive for COVID, please delay your return to campus and follow these COVID-19 Positive Test Result Instructions. Instructors should not ask students to provide such documentation (see the Academic Senate’s document on this point). Please remember: students are not obligated to provide instructors with documentation from a medical provider or proof of a positive test for a health-related absence.

If you test negative for COVID and you still have COVID-19 symptoms, complete another rapid antigen test 48 hours after the first negative test, for a total of at least two tests. The CDC advises that multiple negative tests increases the confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you get a negative result on the second test and you are concerned that you could have COVID-19, you may test again 24-48 hours after the second test, consider getting a PCR test, or call your healthcare provider.

Even if your COVID tests are negative, do not return to campus if you have flu-like symptoms to help prevent the spread of flu and RSV in our community. If you are not able to attend class, notify your instructor as soon as possible.

Availability of rapid tests

Every U.S. household can order four free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests via

Recommended mask protocol while indoors

There is no vaccine for RSV, and individuals vaccinated for flu or COVID-19 may still in rare cases spread the disease, so wearing a mask can significantly slow the spread, especially for vulnerable populations, including the immunocompromised and those too young to be vaccinated. The university continues to provide free masks to the campus community at select locations.

Start of instruction

Due to health- and weather-related conditions, there may be increased numbers of absences (including for instructors) in the early days of  the quarter. Instructors should inform students before the first scheduled class meeting about how they will be communicating with the class about any possible shifts in modality in response to these weather and health conditions (including if the class is unable to meet in person for the first scheduled meeting). Students should check email (or other communication platforms) regularly for updates on class modality and other course-related information. Students should also inform instructors as soon as possible if unable to attend class due to health or weather conditions (especially for classes that are full or have limited enrollment).

Resources for instructors:

The Keep Teaching website has updated information for the start of Winter quarter, including new FAQs.
CITL/OE has created a document to help instructors plan for quick transitions among modalities.
Printable signs recommending masking in your office (or classroom, if no signage is visible) are available on the Keep Teaching website.
Sample language is available for what to say in your syllabus or in your first class meeting about masking.
CITL/OE are offering daily drop-in office hours this week and next and as always you can schedule a consultation by writing to

Please put your safety first. I look forward to seeing you around campus soon.