December 21, 2021
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
We hope you are enjoying a pleasant and well-deserved winter break as you celebrate the holidays.
We are writing to give you an update regarding our campus plans for instruction for the beginning of Winter quarter. In consultation with other campuses, the Office of the President, our Academic Senate, campus health officials, students, and others in our campus community, and at the recommendation of the COVID-19 Working Group, UC Santa Barbara has decided to begin Winter quarter on January 3 with two weeks of remote instruction. In-person instruction will resume on January 18, subject to reassessment of the situation early in Winter quarter.
The decision to delay in-person teaching is related to the logistics of supporting students and instructors amid the uncertainties of the Omicron variant. Our assessment of the safety of UC Santa Barbara classrooms, instructional spaces, and workplaces has not changed. The uncertainty around Omicron poses a number of challenges for the start of in-person classes, including students and instructors who either test positive over winter break and cannot travel back to campus on time, or who test positive upon arrival and need to isolate.
The two-week period of remote instruction allows students and instructors to navigate any COVID-related health issues or delays without the worry of missing classes, and also to get their booster doses if they have not already done so. Our goal is to minimize disruptions to students’ coursework and also to provide as much predictability as possible for both students and instructors based on what we have seen in recent days.
We are encouraging students to stay wherever they can best do their work during the period of remote instruction, and then testing before leaving home and upon arriving on campus. Students who delay their return to campus are encouraged to return at least four days prior to the start of in-person instruction to be tested on campus.
University housing and dining halls, and other campus facilities, will be open to those who choose to return to campus. University operations other than instruction will continue as normal following the holiday with the same staffing policies that we have been following for the past several months.
We remind everyone of the importance of preventive measures on campus, particularly during the initial return phase when students are still in the testing protocol. Masking is especially important.
Winter quarter will begin Monday, January 3, as scheduled, and we plan for in-person instruction to resume Tuesday, January 18, following the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County and will keep our community updated.
To mitigate the possible spread on campus, all members of the campus community who have not already done so and do not have a previously approved exemption are required by UC policy to obtain a COVID-19 booster when eligible, as well as a flu shot.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health recommend booster shots for individuals who received a J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine more than 2 months ago, and for those who received a Pfizer or a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine more than 6 months ago.
COVID-19 booster shots are widely available free of charge from some local health care providers and at local pharmacies, with appointments available through pharmacy websites or the MyTurn site.
- Everyone, no matter their vaccination status, should use home COVID-19 tests if they have any concerns before traveling. Additionally, unvaccinated international travelers are required to quarantine for 7 days on return.
- All members of the campus community, regardless of whether symptoms are present or not, are encouraged to test for COVID-19 the day before returning to campus in January.
Home tests such as BinaxNOW, QuickVue, and others are appropriate for this purpose. If your test result is positive, do not come to campus until 10 days have passed. Unvaccinated individuals who have approved exemptions should upload their home test results before returning to campus, and also must obtain a campus COVID-19 PCR test on January 3 or 4. Appointments can be made via the Student Health Patient Portal.
Campus testing will remain available at no charge to campus community members (students, staff, and faculty), and anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or who might have been exposed to COVID-19 should make an appointment as soon as possible. The UCSB COVID-19 Early Detection and Monitoring Program will continue throughout the winter quarter, and we want to thank everyone for their cooperation with this important campus mitigation effort.
Questions can be directed via email to email@example.com until the COVID-19 Call Center reopens on January 3; email will be monitored over the holiday break for urgent needs and to assist students remaining in campus housing. Non-urgent questions will be answered in January.
Our COVID-19 response team and campus medical experts will follow up with more detailed information for our campus community, students, faculty, and staff, and the Instructional Support Team will provide additional information for instructors to assist them during this transitional period of remote instruction.
I want to take this moment to express my deep and sincere gratitude to every member of our community. While we may be growing weary of the extra precautions necessary during a pandemic, we know we must remain diligent, flexible, and understanding amid this fluid situation. Our goal is to ensure a successful Winter quarter and a return to classroom instruction as quickly as possible after this transitional period. We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of public health authorities in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in our community.
We are grateful for the perseverance, hard work, determination, and commitment of our entire campus family. Our community has always been known for our resilience, and also for the way we support each other, especially when the need is greatest. My wife, Dilling, and I are proud and honored to be members of this special UC Santa Barbara community. We wish you happy holidays, and we look forward to the new year ahead with you.
Henry T. Yang