UCSD Announces Shift to Online Learning for First Two Weeks of Winter Quarter

On Dec. 21, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla announced in a campus operations update that instruction will be remote-only from Jan. 3 to Jan. 17, 2022, in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 cases that may coincide with the planned start of Winter Quarter. In-person instruction is scheduled to return on Tuesday. Jan.18 during Week 3, but is subject to change depending on COVID-19 infection rates.   

The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has swept through the United States. According to the New York Times, the number of new daily cases in New York was up to 55,000 as of Dec. 27. 

A similar rise occurred in California, as new cases rose to a high of 20,000 on Dec. 26, a 5,000 person increase since Dec. 24. The average number of daily new cases rose to 1,400 in San Diego reported on Dec. 24,  while on Dec. 14 the average case was only half that number, reaching a total of 700.

 According to the Return to Learn webpage, faculty and teaching assistants may teach remotely from home or from campus during the online instruction period. Research will continue in person, but undergraduate and graduate students will not be required to report to campus research sites in person during the online instruction period. 

During this time campus will be incrementally populated using a more comprehensive testing regime. Additional steps have been implemented to increase safety as students return to campus. 

As a measure of caution against the new variant, UCSD is mandating that all students test on the first and the fifth day of check-in. Individuals who are not vaccinated and individuals who are vaccinated but have not received a vaccine booster will be required to test for SARS-CoV-2 two times per week, between three and five days apart.

Housing Dining and Hospitality (HDH) Executive Director Hemlata Jhaveri and Student Health and Well-Being Interim Executive Director Dr. Angela Scioscia sent a student residential update on Dec. 29, in which they strongly recommend testing within 48 hours of arrival on campus and outlined procedures for the return of students to on-campus housing. 

Students are recommended to report their planned date of arrival via Housing Portal, so that Student Health Services can better deal with the repopulation process. UCSD has offered incentives encouraging residential students to put off their arrival to campus.  Students who arrive between Jan. 8–14 will receive a $325 credit, while those who arrive between Jan. 15–22 will receive a $650 credit. Credits will be applied to resident housing accounts by the end of Winter Quarter.

24 hours prior to their arrival, residential students who return to campus after Jan. 7 are required to self-administer rapid antigen tests.. Students who traveled over the break within the United States can complete this form before Jan. 9 to request that a rapid test be mailed to them. 

Students should take a picture of their negative results before moving into campus. If the test result is positive, students must complete their isolation before they are allowed to return to campus. These students would need to reach out  to Student Health Services either through email ([email protected]) or sending messages through MyStudentChart), so that they can receive enough medical guidance and additional support from college.

All residential students are also required  to complete a PCR test upon arrival. According to the email, returning residents would first need to check in at the PCR test vending machine located in their residential community. Triton Health Ambassadors (THAs), who will be present from 8 am to 5 pm, will make sure if resident students have arrived and completed the PCR test. They will also provide KN95 masks that  resident students should wear until students receive their PCR test results.

These cautionary measures in campus operations and housing are subject to change if needed. If students have any questions regarding the test or process, they are encouraged to email UCSD Triton Health Ambassadors at [email protected] or visit the Return to Learn website.

Photo taken by August de Richelieu for Pexels

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