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Campuses prepare for Omicron impacts following winter break

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Universities and colleges are formulating plans for the impact of the Omicron COVID variant after the winter break.

The University of California released a statement about plans to monitor the rise in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spreads.

UCLA President Michael V. Drake sent the following guidance to advisors this morning:

“Dear advisors, as you know, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly across the country with the spread of the Omicron variant. The emergence of this new and fast-moving alternative, along with student travel to and from campus and the spread of gatherings during the holidays, will present our campuses with a unique combination of public health challenges as the new year begins.Based on consultation with university leadership and public health experts, I ask each of you to design and implement a plan for the January return to campus that mitigates public health impacts, responds to the unique circumstances facing your campus, and maintains our teaching and research processes This plan shall include a Test, Isolation, and Retest form as described in the UCHC Guidelines for Returning Students This may require the campus to begin the term using distance education to allow students to complete an appropriate testing protocol upon their return to c emboss.Due to differences in local conditions and campus operations across the university, the length of this distance teaching period may vary from campus to campus.In line with best practice For public health, your repatriation plan should also emphasize the importance of precautionary measures on campus, particularly during the initial return phase when students are still on the testing protocol. This should include vigilance about concealment and a responsible approach to in-person gatherings. Large events and worshippers, especially indoors, should be avoided in the opening weeks of the winter quarter or spring. The evidence is clear that having a booster is essential to protect yourself and those around you from Omicron and other variants. Therefore, I also ask each of you to communicate the critical importance of reinforcers to your campus community, especially at this point in the pandemic. Eligible students who return home should be encouraged to receive a payment before returning to campus. Under current UCSD policy, students, faculty, and staff are required to constantly update their vaccination status. The policy provides for COVID-19 reinforcements for those who qualify. Information about booster eligibility is available from the Centers for Disease Control here. Thank you for your continued leadership during these challenging times, and for your advice, counsel, and input as we plan for 2022. Brenda and I wish you and your families a happy holiday.

Sincerely, Michael F Drake, MD

President of the University of California

UCSB students may find more information at https://www.dia.ucsb.edu/public-affairs-commareness

A statement from Cal Poly said the campus is continuing to plan for in-person instruction at this time, but they are staying in touch with health officials and experts and adapting to the nature of the pandemic as appropriate.

Hancock College will continue its hybrid plan and issued the following statement:

“At this time, Hancock plans to continue to offer remote, online, in-person, and blended classes for the winter and spring semesters. The college will continue strict COVID-19 vaccine and testing protocols to ensure health safety while monitoring any new developments and following the guidance of county, state, and federal health agencies.”

Santa Barbara City College has just concluded its finals and will be closed for the holiday before Christmas.

Behavioral and social change communication plans to be in-person, but the department remains in contact with public health officials and other health experts to make adjustments if necessary.

Many students are going home for the holidays, but we will have a reaction to the COVID-related plans in the news tonight.

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