Checking In With Chancellor May: Slow and Steady

In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May and LeShelle answer a question about their world travels and another about their hidden talents (tennis anyone?). And, when a viewer comments: “I’m tired of this pandemic!” — the Mays respond in unison: “We are too!”

To the UC Davis Community:

Well done, Aggies ... students, staff, faculty and visitors who have been wearing their face coverings and practicing physical distancing, among other protocols to help keep our campus community healthy during the pandemic. I also want to thank our Aggie Public Health Ambassadors for the good work they are doing around the Davis campus, encouraging people to follow health and safety guidelines.

All of this contributes to our slow and steady reopening, subject to public health guidance. Starting Monday (Oct. 19), we will allow indoor dining in the Segundo and Tercero dining commons (access will be limited to students with residential meal plans, and only 100 students can be inside at any time). On Nov. 1, we will reopen the Activities and Recreation Center (for students only). Everything we do is with our community’s health and safety as our top priorities and everything is subject to change, depending on the pandemic.

Today we launched our COVID-19 Dashboard, where you will see the results of our asymptomatic testing program, which, at the time, is limited to students who live in campus housing and sorority and fraternity houses off campus. We plan to include other students, as well as staff and faculty, as soon as we complete the validation process for our saliva-testing system.

In the meantime, besides taking saliva samples, our testing program also includes nasal swabs — and our official results are based on those swabs. Once our saliva-testing protocol is validated, we will use those results and stop using nasal-swab testing.

Our dashboard provides a weekly snapshot as well as a bar graph showing daily statistics going back to the program’s start Sept. 14: a total of ­9,142 tests and six positive cases (for a positivity rate of 0.066 percent). The dashboard also gives an occupancy percentage for the nearly 400 beds we have set aside in campus housing for isolation and quarantine: 1 percent. Look for dashboard updates every Monday.

Fall commencement

While our COVID-19 numbers are encouraging, we regretfully announce today that we have canceled our in-person fall commencement. Under public health guidelines, it is just too large an event to be held safely. We had been looking forward to this commencement, not only for our fall graduates, but for others who wished to return after missing their in-person commencements last spring.

As we said in the spring, we believe graduation ought to be celebrated in a big way as a fitting conclusion to all your hard work to earn your degrees. We remember our own ceremonies, and we wish the same for all of you. We will restart in-person commencements as soon as public health conditions allow. For now, we will continue with online festivities. Stay tuned to for more information.

Reporting your flu shots

As you know, there is a universitywide order this year that says “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.” We have until Nov. 1 to report our vaccination, exemption or accommodation. Our aim with this mandate is to help ward off the flu, of course, while at the same time preserving health care capacity for COVID-19 cases. Please note: UC Davis Health has its own flu vaccination requirement and reporting system.

Here is how to report your compliance on the Davis campus:

  • Employees — Use the campus’s Daily Symptom Survey, which has been updated as of today with flu vaccine questions. You should use the survey to report your flu shot before Nov. 1 even if you would not otherwise be required to answer the survey at this time; that is, you are not planning to be campus before Nov. 1. By answering now, you will be in compliance if you have need to be on campus at any time during the flu season, which generally lasts into May. Note: After answering the flu vaccine questions, you must complete the rest of the survey or your vaccination report will not be recorded.
  • Students must report their vaccination or approved exemption or accommodation through their Student Health and Counseling Services Health-e-Messaging Portal (the same way students provide evidence of their other required vaccinations). Students also will encounter the flu vaccine questions on the Daily Symptom Survey and will need to answer them there as well.

Once you have self-reported in the Daily Symptom Survey, your information will be stored in the survey system, so you won’t need to answer the questions again. Refer to this webpage, Flu Vaccinations: Self-Reporting and Exemptions, for more information.

Need to get the vaccination 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.

Employee surveys on both campuses

Emails with survey links went out last Monday (Oct. 12) to eligible staff on both campuses. We value your feedback.

  • Davis — The Staff Experience Survey, the first of its kind on the Davis campus, is for represented and policy-covered staff. The survey excludes academic, temporary (TES) and student employees, and retirees. The survey comprises 25 questions that should take you less than five minutes, and you have until Oct. 31 to respond. For every survey that comes back, Human Resources is donating $1 to the Staff Emergency Fund — $2,205 as of 5 p.m. Thursday, based on a 29 percent response rate. See how your school, college or division is doing — and please participate.
  • UC Davis Health — The Employee Engagement Pulse Survey is for all clinical and nonclinical staff (except those who started work after Aug. 12). The “pulse” survey is a shortened version of the full engagement survey that usually goes out in spring; due to COVID-19, this year’s survey was postponed and tightened to focus on several critical areas: safety, resilience, diversity and inclusion, and crisis management. It should take only about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The survey is open until Nov. 2.

The upcoming election

Monday (Oct. 19) is the last day to register online in California, and, really, registering online is the best way to go. Yes, you can register on Election Day (Nov. 3), but, remember, if advance turnout around the rest of the country is any indication, polls in California will be busy — so why not register in advance? Check out our Aggies Vote webpage for registration links and other information. You can also check your registration status (and, remember, if you have moved, you must reregister).

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has posted an election information page with a comforting extra: “For many of us this election is provoking deep anxiety about the coming weeks and the potential consequences of the election, so we have also included a number of wellness resources to help care for yourself and your community.”

Halloween and Día de los Muertos

We join with state and county public health officials in urging: If you are celebrating either of these holidays (and this includes trick-or-treating), do so with members of your own households only. The more you interact with people from different households, as well as the closer you interact and the longer you interact — the more you increase the risk the spread of the coronavirus.

I recommend reading this news release from UC Davis Health and watching this video in which Dean Blumberg, chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, expresses real concerns about trick-or-treating and offers stay-at-home alternatives.

We’ve got tips for Aggie students, too, and a sweet offer: Halloween grants to support events and activities that are in compliance with campus guidance — that is, celebrations within your own households. Student Affairs has prepared a list of activity ideas — costumes, decorations, pumpkin carving, or maybe turn your place into a haunted house. Get your grant applications in by Oct. 26.

The point is, whatever you decide to do, please do it safely. Please help our community maintain all the progress we have made. That will be our best treat this Halloween.

"Campus ready" email signature (with web address and cow on bicycle)

Gary S. May

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