In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, LeShelle May takes a turn in the driver’s seat of a (stationary) London double-decker while Chancellor May invites students to apply to be Unitrans drivers. The Mays also address some of the good things coming out of 2020. And, will they get the COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, indeed.
To the UC Davis Community:
The health and safety protocols we have had in place for months — in our careful, measured response to the pandemic — have been working well and have required minimal modifications to accommodate new county and state health mandates, including the regional stay-at-home order that took effect last night. The Davis campus remains open with reduced operations; the only employees on-site should be those whose duties absolutely require it. The UC Davis Medical Center remains open, as it has since the beginning of the pandemic, treating COVID-19 patients and others. Research activities are status quo, limited to the previously approved Phase 2x of the On-Campus Research Ramp-Up Plan.
Our guidance prohibiting gatherings anywhere at UC Davis remains in place. We had strongly discouraged gatherings off-campus — but now, under the regional stay-at-home order, our guidance aligns with the state’s: All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited. Our region, state and nation are in crisis — we must take all precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Help is on the way. Yesterday a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the FDA is expected to grant final approval within days — meaning front-line health care personnel, including ours, could start receiving vaccinations next week. The rest of us must be patient and as conscientious as ever, on and off campus, and wherever we may be for winter break, for our own sake and the sake of our families.
This pilot project — one in which we are a partner, along with six other UC campuses — has gone statewide, as of yesterday, offering a simple, anonymous and free alert system for possible exposure to COVID-19. The system relies on smartphones, and the more people who sign up, the more effective the system will be. Here’s how it works:
Activate “exposure notification” on your phone, or download the app, and your phone will use its Bluetooth technology to detect close contact with other phones enrolled in CA Notify. Then, if someone tests positive for COVID-19 and they voluntarily inform CA Notify, the system will send notifications to other users based on signals between phones going back two weeks. The notifications advise people to self-isolate and seek clinical resources — key actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The system does not track people’s locations and it does not share users’ identities.
Keep getting those tests
A reminder to students who are leaving Davis for the break: Please get tested at the ARC kiosk within seven days before your departure.
We also have guidance for all students for the first two weeks of winter quarter (weeks of Jan. 4 and 11):
- Get tested — At least once each week at the ARC kiosk.
- Self-quarantine — Even if you test negative for COVID-19, stay in your place of residence as much as possible for a minimum of 10 days after returning to Davis (if you have traveled).
Starting the week of Jan. 18, the weekly testing requirement will resume for students who are accessing campus facilities and for students in mandated testing groups.
Testing and quarantine requirements may differ for students living in campus housing, and residents should refer to communications from Student Housing and Dining Services for specific guidance.
With evolving state and county health orders, the campus may need to modify its testing and quarantine guidance for students prior to winter quarter — and we will continue to update you as necessary. We also suggest checking our Campus Ready COVID-19 Testing page for the latest information.
Testing during winter break
The ARC kiosk for asymptomatic testing will be closed Dec. 21 to Jan. 1 for the winter holidays and the campus’s soft closure, with the exception of a half day, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 26.
During the closure:
- The testing question will be removed from the Daily Symptom Survey.
- Employees and students may use the Healthy Davis Together testing kiosks at the Davis Senior Center (downtown Davis) or in the lobby of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Appointments for these kiosks must be arranged through the Healthy Davis Together website.
Before and after the winter break, the Healthy Davis Together kiosks are for Davis community members only.
The ARC kiosk will reopen Saturday, Jan. 2. Employees regularly accessing campus facilities will have until Thursday, Jan. 7, to resume weekly testing in order to comply with campus policy.
Student survey: Winter quarter plans
Just as we did prior to fall quarter, we are asking students to complete a very short important survey, asking: Where will you be residing for winter quarter? It is critical for us to have a good estimate of the campus population as we finalize our strategies, including the resources we will need, for our various initiatives aimed at protecting the campus community and beyond. Here is the survey link (we also sent it by email on Wednesday). Please respond by Monday (Dec. 14) — this should take no more than a minute of your time.
Course structure information for students
The Academic Senate recently asked all departments and programs to post expanded information on what access their undergraduate and graduate courses will offer (e.g., synchronous, asynchronous or both) during remote instruction. Such information for each course will include how lectures and discussions will be conducted, how exams will be administered, and additional logistical details. The goal of these postings is to provide course structure information to students in advance to help them make well informed registration and planning decisions.
The winter 2021 posting deadline is Jan. 11, but departments and programs have been asked to post information before winter break if possible. For future quarters, the deadline will be the start of Pass 1 registration. Departments and programs will determine where to post the information. Students should check for information on departmental and program home webpages and course webpages.
Checking in elsewhere:
- Fall commencement — We will celebrate our newest undergraduate degree recipients from 8 to 10 a.m. Dec. 18, one week from today. Just like last spring, because of the pandemic, we’ve had to move the celebration online. Of course it’s not the same as an in-person commencement, and we are saddened that we cannot provide that at this time. But we are committed to inviting you back for a ceremony when it’s safe to have one. In the interim, we will not let your achievement go unrecognized. So we are happy that more than 600 of you have registered for next week’s celebration. We will be sending additional information about your participation, and we hope you and your family and friends will have lasting memories of this joyous occasion. See our commencement FAQ.
- This is who we are, and we are green! — UC Davis is the No. 1 university in the United States and among the top 10 worldwide for the fourth year in a row in the University of Indonesia’s GreenMetric World University Ranking, which came out Wednesday. We are fifth in the world and the only U.S. institution in this year’s top 10. Congratulations to everyone involved: students, staff and faculty, whose “green” achievements can be measured in greenhouse gas emissions reduction, smart and green buildings, recycling and reduced use of paper and plastic, water conservation, education and research, and the number of student organizations dedicated to the environment and sustainability.
- Fall sports — The Big West Conference decided yesterday it would not reschedule its sports that are traditionally played in the fall and have been on pause due to the pandemic. At UC Davis, this applies to men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s indoor volleyball. All other UC Davis teams, including basketball, which has also been paused, remain hopeful to compete at some point in the winter or spring if public health circumstances permit. I feel tremendously bad for our student-athletes, but, as a member of the Big West board of directors, I concurred with the decision that affirms as our preeminent priority the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus community.
- Stuff the Bus — Unitrans and the Davis Food Co-op are calling on the community to contribute this Saturday (December 12) to this fourth annual event, this year seeking donations of food and a few other of life’s necessities (new shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bars of soap) for the ASUCD Pantry, to be distributed to students in need. Look for the vintage London double-decker in the Davis Food Co-op parking lot from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Click here to see a list of suggested items to donate or look for prepacked bags at the checkout stands. Please help our students if you can. Thank you.
Earlier this week, LeShelle and I posted our holiday video card, which this year includes our heartfelt gratitude to our students, staff and faculty, for all your efforts, your perseverance and your resilience during this most difficult of years. We are truly humbled by everything you have done for the sake of our great university, and for one another, while simultaneously dealing with your own pandemic-related crises at home. This has not been an easy time, and yet here we are, nine months in, still going, still teaching, still learning, still innovating, still preparing the next generation of engineers and agronomists, writers and artists, entrepreneurs and lawyers, chemists and doctors — indeed, our future leaders — as we remain ever optimistic for the future. We wish all of you the happiest of holidays and the healthiest of new years.
Gary S. May