UC San Diego Ends the “Return to Learn” Program


Image by Allen Chen for The UCSD Guardian

Kaitlin Lee, News Editor

After a three-year run, UC San Diego called for an end to its COVID-19 response initiative, the “Return to Learn” program. In an email from the Office of the Chancellor, the University detailed that as of May 11, remnants of the program’s operations will be redirected to the new Environment, Health, and Safety department’s COVID-19 webpage, alongside up-to-date information on COVID-19. This decision was based on the federal government’s end to the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11. 

The end of the program brings changes to programs that began during the pandemic. These include: 

  • Daily Symptom Screener for students/employees coming to campus is no longer required, unless in the case that they are not feeling well, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have tested positive. 
  • Symptomatic testing will no longer be required for students or employees, but is still highly recommended. 
  • Masking in non-healthcare settings is optional, and patient and visitor masking in healthcare settings is also optional, except for infection prevention precautions. Medical workers in UCSD clinical settings must mask during face-to-face direct patient care and when an individual requests masking. Visitors may also be required to wear a mask if the patient they’re visiting requires it. 
  • Additionally, the COVID-19 emergency banner will be removed from school websites and the Return to Learn newsletter will cease its run. 

UCSD encourages people to wear a mask, test, and screen regularly, especially if they are symptomatic. 

Beyond this, there are still policies and operations in place to help combat a rise in COVID-19 again. These include:

  • The UCSD Vaccination policy
  • UCSD wastewater testing for new COVID-19 variants
  • The UCSD COVID-19 daily dashboard
  • The Required Notification of Potential Exposure Building Locations
  • Availability of Rapid Antigen Tests and masks in campus vending machines

EHS will now be leading initiatives against what UCSD calls “the new normal” in addressing COVID-related issues, based on outlines regulated by Cal/OSHA and what UCSD has learned about COVID from the last three years. 

This includes supporting our students who test positive for the virus, and working with Housing, Dining and Hospitality and Student Affairs in managing the needs of immunocompromised students who may need an accommodation,” stated Laura Margoni from the EHS campus communication team. “The team will work together to manage each need on a case-by-case basis. EHS will also support information gleaned from the COVID-19 dashboard to notify supervisors and employees in worksites affected by a positive case.” 

However, for on-campus students who are immunocompromised or students who test positive for COVID-19 and are roommates of immunocompromised students, campus isolation housing will still be readily available. If new COVID-19 policies are reintroduced again in response to an uptick in cases, students will be informed through the campus newsletter, UC San Diego Today, and other appropriate channels. 

The “Return to Learn” program began in May 2020, following the federal government’s announcement of the COVID-19 health emergency on Jan. 31, 2020. The program aimed to broadly test students, faculty, and staff on campus on a daily basis for COVID-19. It intended to position UCSD to resume in-person activities come September 2020, but continued until May 2023. 

For more information, reach out to [email protected].