UC Riverside will return to distance learning for two weeks in January, tightening COVID-19 testing requirements in response to rising infections and concerns about holiday gatherings that could further spread the virus.
UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox announced this in a letter to the campus community, saying the move was in response to “the advent of the Omicron variant” and the need to “take preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission on campus ”.
“On-campus classes at UC Riverside are held remotely for the first two weeks of the winter quarter, with the exception of field courses and off-campus internships, which may continue to meet face to face,” Wilcox wrote. “The quarter begins with distance learning on January 3rd, and we expect to return to our planned winter quarterly teaching modes by the week of January 17th.”
On campus, COVID tests will also be required for returning students and staff “regardless of vaccination status”.
“All students are required to take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus or immediately upon arrival, then five days after arriving on campus and sequestering and retesting,” said Wilcox. “If you test positive before returning to campus, do not come to campus until you have completed your domestic isolation period and your symptoms have improved.”
The campus will also ban personal indoor events during these two weeks.
The President of the University of California, Dr. Michael Drake, sent a letter to all 10 chancellors in the UC system on Tuesday saying that booster vaccinations against COVID vaccines would also be required.
“Under the existing UC policy, students, faculty and staff are required to keep their vaccination status up to date,” Drake wrote. “The policy mandates COVID-19 boosters for those who are eligible.”
Drake urged all chancellors to develop a plan for returning to campus in January “that will mitigate the public health impact, respond to the unique circumstances of your campus and keep our teaching and research going.”
“This may require the campus to begin the semester with distance learning so that students can take an appropriate test protocol when they return to campus,” Drake wrote. “Given the differences in local conditions and campus operations within the university, the length of this distance learning time may vary from campus to campus.”
He also wrote that campuses should not hold large gatherings.
“In line with public health best practices, your return plan should also highlight the importance of preventive action on campus, especially during the initial return phase when students are still in the testing phase
Protocol, ”he wrote. “This should include vigilance about masking and responsible handling of face-to-face gatherings. Large, communal events, especially indoors, should be avoided in the opening weeks of your winter quarter or spring semester. “