Chancellor May starts this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, with a shoutout to Aggie alumnus Charles M. Rice, of The Rockefeller University, co-recipient earlier this week of the Nobel Prize in medicine. Question-and-answer subjects include favorite holidays and three things the chancellor and LeShelle cannot live without.
To the UC Davis Community:
Our extensive research on the coronavirus, the world-class health care we are providing to those who are infected, and our global efforts to head off the next pandemic — these efforts are top of mind today when considering the critical nature of UC Davis’ mission. But we all know there is so much more we are doing to expand knowledge and address the world’s greatest challenges, and to teach the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
We believe in our mission and we like to think the public believes in us, too. So today we launched our second comprehensive campaign, “Expect Greater: From UC Davis, for the world.” Read the campaign announcement here. We’re asking people to support our institution and our continuing quest for answers and breakthroughs — and we invite everyone to learn more about our work during our Virtual Innovation Spectacular tomorrow, Saturday: 10.10.2020. RSVP and learn more here.
It’s important to note that most of our fundraising dollars provide support for specific programs and projects — including some of our coronavirus efforts — that do not have other funding sources. Our fundraising also provides scholarships that increase access to a college education and allow students to focus on their studies, rather than work, and take on less debt. Students also benefit from donor support for Aggie Launch career prep, and COVID-19 and wildfire emergency grants.
Since the pandemic began, we have not stopped teaching, learning and working. The Davis campus is operating differently but with the same determination. This quarter our gradual reopening continues, accompanied by numerous health and safety protocols. For example, students who chose to live in on-campus housing are being tested weekly for COVID-19, and we recently expanded the testing program to include students who live in fraternities and sororities off campus. We also are collecting and testing samples from campus sewage at the wastewater treatment plant, which can alert us to COVID-19 infections. We will use portable samplers to pinpoint the buildings where people might be infected, so we can administer tests.
Our new Testing and Response webpage, part of the Campus Ready site, provides quick links for information on COVID-19 screening, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, flu vaccinations and public health policies.
Even as we ramp up activities, we recognize that many members of our community are struggling with the effects of isolation and anxiety. We remain committed to supporting your mental health and well-being. We have prepared this resource flyer for students, and we encourage you to contact Student Health and Counseling Services for help. Employees: Please contact the Academic and Staff Assistance Program on the Davis and Sacramento campuses.
We have reopened some common facilities — including Shields Library, the Memorial Union and the Coffee House — with restrictions. But some facilities will take a bit longer, and we ask for your patience as we work to guard your health.
Last week, Yolo County’s infection status improved from purple to red in the state’s four-tier system. As a result, we have developed a plan for in-person operations for the Activities and Recreation Center and Craft Center, starting Nov. 1 for students only, expanding to faculty and staff on Dec. 1.
Please note: The red tier allows maximum occupancy of only 10 percent, along with adjusted operations. And this status is dynamic — it can shift in either direction in the coming weeks. Our staggered reopening will allow us to appropriately assess the COVID-19 trends in our county before expanding services and access to each additional group.
We know the ARC provides significant benefits for physical and mental health, and we are working to ramp up our operations in an intentional, thoughtful and prudent manner. I encourage you to take advantage of Campus Recreation’s free Aggies at Home series of live and recorded online workouts. In addition, Campus Rec's Living Well program recently launched outdoor group exercise classes (free for students, fee applies for faculty and staff) and outdoor small-group training (fee applies). More information is available here.
Flu vaccination update
Please don’t forget to get your flu shots. Per executive order from the Office of the President (as revised Sept. 29), “All students, faculty and staff living, learning or working on premises at any UC location must receive a flu vaccine, unless they receive an approved medical exemption or disability or religious accommodation.” You must report you have been vaccinated or submit an approved exemption or accommodation by Nov. 1.
The reasoning behind this requirement is twofold: We want you to have every advantage in warding off illness, and we hope to reduce the occurrence of flu during the pandemic, so as not put more of a burden on the health care system. While the mandate applies only to those who will be living, learning or working on premises, UC strongly encourages all members of the campus community — and their families — to get the flu vaccination.
Please note: Even though you may not be living, learning or working on premises at this time, consider the entire length of the flu season, which typically begins in October and can last into May. If you are thinking you might be living, learning or working on premises during this period, you should get a flu shot or certify you have received an exemption or accommodation by Nov. 1. Please see UCOP’s updated FAQs for employees and students.
On the Davis campus, Student Health and Counseling Services and Occupational Health Services are running a flu shot clinic for students living on campus, and any student, staff member or academic who is not able to get a flu shot through their health insurance. See our Campus Ready flu vaccination webpage for information on how to schedule an appointment. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through Oct. 30, in The Pavilion at the ARC.
Checking in elsewhere:
- Fall travel advisory — UC’s prohibition on all nonessential university international travel remains in place. Requests for international travel must be submitted no later than three weeks before the desired departure date, for consideration by the Travel Review Committee. The university recommends against domestic travel, especially by plane, until the COVID-19 outbreak has been mitigated.
- Staff Experience Survey (for Davis campus staff) — We’re going to give $1 to the Staff Emergency Fund for every survey that you return! Look for the survey link coming to your inbox on Monday, October 12, and you will have until October 31 to respond. The survey has 25 questions that you can complete in less than five minutes. Let me repeat what I said in my Oct. 7 email to staff: You support teaching and research that is changing the world, and your feedback can further improve UC Davis. Please let your voice be heard. We want to know what UC Davis can do to become an even better place to work!
- Staff Emergency Fund — I am heartened to learn of donations totaling nearly $14,000 so far, bringing us almost halfway to $30,000 — which is the minimum we need to have on hand before we start distributing grants to employees in need. By the way, the fund will add almost $8,000 if all Davis campus staff members respond to the Staff Experience Survey ($1 per survey)!
I said it when you arrived, students, and I’ll say it again now: Welcome! We are glad you are here. To welcome you back in style, we now have welcome kits available for free, while supplies last, at the Campus Store (you will need to show your student ID). Each kit includes a UC Davis-branded face covering, hand sanitizer gel, hand sanitizing wipes, thermometer and a touchless door opener tool. We hope these small items will be of help as we all work together to stay healthy this fall and into 2021.
Gary S. May