August 3, 2021
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
For more than 16 months, our campus has navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted to the ever-changing landscape. After seeing a decline in cases for three months, we are now witnessing a rise in cases among members of our campus community, and more generally, a rise in cases across Santa Barbara County and the country, driven by the far more contagious Delta variant.
Given the sudden uptick in cases, and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in our community, effective immediately, we are now requiring all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear masks in shared indoor spaces. The mandate is based on extensive analyses and discussion by our campus medical experts and COVID-19 Response Working Group. We also note that other UC campuses are instituting similar masking requirements.
Our campus mandate comes in the wake of last week’s revised recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, which includes Santa Barbara County. The California Department of Public Health is also recommending universal masking indoors statewide. And the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) made a similar recommendation on July 19 for everyone to wear masks indoors in public places as a precaution against increased circulation of COVID-19.
Our campus continues to implement plans for a return to campus for the fall quarter. The systemwide UCOP Fall Planning Group is also meeting regularly to develop further science-based guidelines that will be incorporated into our protocols for the fall. We will continue to monitor current conditions in our community and incorporate public health guidance to inform and revise our campus planning and safety protocols, and we will provide regular updates between now and the beginning of the fall quarter.
With the July 15 announcement of the UC systemwide policy on COVID-19 vaccinations, all non-exempt members of our campus are required to be vaccinated for the fall. As SBCPHD states, “Fully vaccinated people are well-protected from serious infections and illness due to known COVID-19 variants including Delta variants, and vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe COVID-19 infection, and the harm it can do to our region. Vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available to everyone 12 and older.”
For questions related to the masking requirement or our campus’s overall response to the pandemic, our COVID-19 Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (805) 893-3113. Questions also can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about UC Santa Barbara’s COVID-19 response can also be found at https://www.ucsb.edu/COVID-19-information, which includes a comprehensive Resource Index.
Thank you for your continued flexibility, cooperation, and patience as we work together to help protect our students, faculty, staff, friends, neighbors, and ourselves. With each hurdle of this pandemic, our campus family grows stronger.
Henry T. Yang