In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May and LeShelle answer important questions (“What are you going to do about college students and parties?” and “What if someone tests positive when they are moving into the dorm?”), while also giving a shout-out to the campus Fire Department and addressing the dress code for Zoom meetings.
To the UC Davis Community:
Seems like only yesterday I was reminding everyone to be COVID-19-safe during the Memorial Day weekend ... and then the Fourth of July ... and now comes Labor Day weekend, and I have the same important message: Avoid gatherings (or limit them to just a couple of people), keep it outside, keep your distance and wear your masks!
Add to that the excessive heat warning this weekend, and wildfire season — and, well, you get the picture. Be safe, be smart.
I’m with you — we all need this three-day holiday weekend more than ever. This pandemic has been with us for almost six months now. We want a break. We need a break. But, please, temper your celebration. In regard to COVID-19 specifically, UC Davis Health says in its “Labor Day Playbook”: “We’re making progress ... don’t blow it.”
Our gradual return to the Davis campus continues, and, as you know, we have implemented many protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community and among our neighbors. Please pay attention to our Campus Ready website and take the “Return to Campus” eLearning course if you have not done so already (the training video is just 12 minutes long, and it’s now required of all employees).
We expect fewer students to be here in fall quarter when most instruction will be remote. We will have a limited number of in-person classes, some of which will be held outdoors, under tents, and all of which will adhere to strict public health guidelines. We will have some students in the residence halls (single-occupancy rooms) and on-campus apartments. Similarly, we will allow fewer people in libraries and other study spaces. And dining venues that are open will serve food for takeout only.
All of this is being done to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission so we can stay healthy and safe on campus. In turn, this will enable us to be good community members by reducing transmission in the Davis community and beyond.
All of us must ...
All of us have a responsibility to wear face coverings inside and outside where other people are likely to be around, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people, wash our hands frequently — and we should do these things whether we are on campus or out in the community, OUR community.
On campus, our responsibilities include taking the Daily Symptom Survey, and disinfecting our personal and shared spaces regularly. We should stay home if we are sick, and we must report if we test positive for COVID-19. We will do contact tracing and we will have housing available to quarantine students who have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, as well as isolating students who are sick with COVID-19.
Please make note of these interim policies:
- Interim Public Health Policy, Section 290-01, implementing physical and behavioral standards applicable to all campus affiliates and nonaffiliates to mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19.
- An update to the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline, to provide for disciplinary action for violation of the Interim Public Health Policy.
More information about these policies and how they will be enforced is available online, on the Public Health Policies and Requirements page of the Campus Ready website.
What’s next for students?
Student Affairs sent an email to all students yesterday with an overview of campus policies and requirements for fall quarter. The message included information about events and gatherings, social circles, the Daily Symptom Survey, testing and contact tracing, flu vaccination clinics and much more. You will find these updates in the Information for Students and Families section of the Campus Ready site.
Another reminder for students: Please update your local mailing address in SISWeb, so that if instructors are shipping course materials, the materials will get to you on time. Please complete your address update by Friday, Sept. 18.
Flu shots, COVID-19 testing
Yesterday we launched a Flu Vaccination Information webpage in regard to the University of California’s recent mandate for flu shots, applicable to all students, faculty and staff who live, learn and/or work at any UC location.
The pandemic makes vaccination for the upcoming flu season even more critical to protect our own health and the health of our community and to preserve health care resources for COVID-19 cases. The deadline for vaccination or submitting a medical exemption is November 1.
We are making progress toward launching our campus’s own COVID-19 screening system whereby we will take saliva samples and have our Genome Center analyze them quickly — followed by contact tracing if necessary. Our plan is to start with students who are moving in to campus residence halls, followed by a phased implementation for all students and other campus affiliates. In the meantime, if you are a student who has returned early and want to be tested, you will find Yolo County resources posted here. Or use the state Department of Public Health’s Finding a Testing Site webpage.
Census: Be sure you are counted
Census 2020 will close September 30 — be sure you are counted! Especially students, who are traditionally undercounted. Ironically, students are among those who have the most to gain from the census, because it impacts federal student loan and Pell Grant distribution, funding for higher education, affordable housing, infrastructure and more.
The census wants to know where you were living on April 1, 2020. Of course, by that time, many students had returned home, due to the pandemic. However, for census purposes, that does not matter: College students should claim the address where they live while they attend school. But, let’s say you were living with your parents on April 1, and they included you in their census response. You should still submit your own response; the census will check for duplications so that you are counted only once, at college.
If you lived in campus housing, UC Davis answered the census for you — accounting for all students who would have normally been living in the residence halls and other campus housing on April 1.
Early on, there were some concerns about residency status. Please know that there is no citizenship question on the census.
It’s never been easier to complete the census. You can respond online or by phone, 844-330-2020. Online options include languages other than English. Phone options include TDD and languages other than English.
In just 10 minutes, you can help ensure UC Davis, our community and our state will receive their fair shares of federal resources for the next 10 years, not only helping yourself but future Aggies, too.
Checking in elsewhere:
- Research funding — Great news this week from the Office of Research in its report on external research funding in 2019-20: $941.2 million, a new record high! We beat the old record by nearly $100 million. As I said in our news release: “This new record validates how UC Davis is sought more than ever to find solutions for the world’s most critical issues. During these historic times, our collaborative research community is eager to make breakthroughs in health, environmental sustainability, education and so much more.”
- Washington Monthly — I am also very proud to report our No. 2 ranking for social mobility among national public universities, as declared this week by Washington Monthly Magazine in its annual “College Guide and Rankings.” This is an excellent reflection of our efforts to make a quality education available to all, thereby providing more opportunities for better-paying jobs and higher quality of life.
Finally, I’d like to extend a big shout-out to Donelle Davis of Residential and Hospitality Services (in Student Housing and Dining Services), Nicole Snethen of HR’s Shared Services Organization and Mark Rutheiser of Real Estate Services for spearheading our emergency shelter program for UC Davis affiliates who either lost their homes to wildfire or had to evacuate. The Shared Services Organization staffed its phone lines 12 hours a day, including Saturday and Sunday, as we came to the aid of our Aggie family by providing housing for more than 40 people: faculty, staff and students and family members. We are also assisting people in their efforts to secure long-term housing.
Whatever it may be, COVID-19, wildfires, smoke — we are in this together. And we’ll get through it, together. Please enjoy your weekend and stay safe.
Gary S. May