To the UC Davis Community:
As thousands more students begin to arrive for the start of fall quarter in just over two weeks, I would like to emphasize the many COVID-19 precautions we have implemented and the detailed preparatory work we have done to support a healthy environment for the UC Davis community.
We will begin with at least once-a-week testing of our students who are living on campus, and eventually expand to test all UC Davis affiliates. We will have a very limited number of in-person classes and will follow public health guidelines for all campus activities. We have our Daily Symptom Survey, easily accessible on our smartphones, a clear reminder to every one of us to self-monitor our health, every day (and it’s required before accessing campus facilities). Signs are up everywhere, on entry doors, on walls and on floors, reminding people to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when other people are present, to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people, to follow "one-way" walking patterns and to practice good hand hygiene. We are training our team of Aggie Public Health Ambassadors to take up their posts around campus. Food service is to-go only.
Under our Campus Ready Plan, students are prohibited from holding in-person social gatherings, meetings and events, regardless of the location. This includes clubs, registered student organizations, recruitment events and parties.
To be honest, though, we expect to see an increase in COVID-19 cases simply because we are testing to identify cases, and the Davis-area population is growing like it does every fall. Earlier this week we shared the results of our recent survey in which we asked students where they planned to live this quarter. Approximately half of our undergraduates and 70 percent of our graduate students said they were planning to reside in Davis or surrounding communities, including on-campus housing. We figured those percentages represent a range of 23,000 to 25,000 students.
As of the time of the survey, around the end of August, about 11,000 students said they were already living in Davis or nearby, meaning 12,000 to 14,000 were still coming.
‘Wellness’ calls and check-ins
And we will be here for them — no matter where they live in the Davis area, on campus or off campus. For students who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been exposed, we will provide housing and services, should they have to be quarantined or isolated. We are prepared to take care of our on-campus residents and we are prepared to take care of our off-campus residents, if they would be better served on campus. We have set aside almost 400 beds for this purpose. Students will receive “wellness” calls and check-ins from staff in two units: Student Health and Counseling Services, and Student Housing and Dining Services. The campus dining team will prepare and deliver meals (students will order off menus).
Off-campus housing partners are also prepared to provide quarantine and isolation space and are modeling their response plans to coordinate with our process.
We have already provided quarantine and isolation support for students over the summer. We have learned from those experiences; now we are scaling the level of support we will need to accommodate our increased student population. And we have contingency plans on top of that.
We are hoping for the best, but, if need be, we are prepared to provide the best response. That’s what Aggies do. We’re in this together!
Welcome to The Green
Moove-In begins next week, starting at The Green at West Village, a brand-new apartment complex that is part of our commitment to the city to provide more on-campus housing. Counting The Green, we are adding 9,050 bed spaces in the most ambitious housing project in UC Davis history.
Built in just over a year and a half, The Green’s Phase 1 comprises apartments for 1,000 students. A year from now, The Green will triple in size, with apartments for 3,300 students total. The next phase also includes a 10,000-square-foot community building with a fitness center, multipurpose room and student support services.
The Green’s first residents, around 600 in number, will arrive Tuesday through Thursday (Sept. 15-17), greeted by campus administrators. Moove-In to the residence halls will take place the week after (density will be reduced in the residence halls to one student per room).
Besides lugging boxes, residents of campus housing will go through our pilot screening process for COVID-19. We have set up a kiosk in The Pavilion parking garage where we will take saliva samples under the supervision of medical staff from Student Health and Counseling Services. These samples will go to the Genome Center for results in 24 to 48 hours. (During the pilot, we will use nasal swab tests as a backup, for analysis off campus.) Student residents should expect to be tested on at least a weekly basis through fall quarter.
While screening will begin with students living on campus, we intend to make COVID-19 screening available to all who are using campus facilities. Once the saliva screening process has been fully validated during the pilot phase, we plan to open more kiosks for phased implementation of screening of all UC Davis students, academics and staff members.
Healthy Davis Together
As a university town, UC Davis and the city of Davis recognize the need for a unified public health effort beyond “campus boundaries,” so that our communities can thrive together. To facilitate this outreach, university and city leadership have been working together and are launching a new initiative: Healthy Davis Together. The goal of this joint project is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and facilitate a coordinated and gradual return to regular city activities and reintegration of UC Davis students back into the Davis community. We will share more information soon.
Of faculty interest
Earlier this week the Center for Educational Effectiveness posted “Insights From Spring 2020 Remote Instruction: Results From Surveys on Remote Learning and Teaching,” a preliminary document, based on surveys administered at the end of UC Davis’ first all-remote quarter. Responses came in from more than 2,000 students, 418 instructors of record and 264 teaching assistants.
The survey looks at what worked well (and what didn’t), barriers to participation and what helped students feel connected — all useful information as instructors prepare for another quarter of largely remote instruction.
The Center for Educational Effectiveness also announced its Student Learning Outcomes Symposium will be held over three sessions, 8:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 22-24. National assessment leaders and UC Davis faculty and staff will consider challenging questions and build capacity to enact our commitment to equitable student outcomes. The program and registration links for individual sessions are available online.
Child care options
We know many of you, while still working remotely, are balancing your job duties with child care and teaching. Our WorkLife unit has been busy gathering resources to help you, and has set up two webinars over the next two weeks to provide an overview of child care options for employees on the Davis and Sacramento campuses. The content of the webinars will be the same; they are on different days at different times for your scheduling convenience: 9-10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, or 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22. Look for the registration links here.
The program will include a review of COVID-specific resources, a discussion of how to find, choose and access your options; and a question-and-answer session. Specific topics will include WorkLife’s Family Care website, resources for school-age children during the pandemic and Bright Horizons programming available to most UC employees.
Last week we encouraged everyone (especially students) to respond Census 2020 — and we still want you to do that. The deadline is Sept. 30.
This week we are encouraging all eligible voters to participate in the Nov. 3 general election. Our new Aggies Vote website provides a registration link (if your address has changed, you must reregister — and you can use this same link). We’ve also compiled “Voter Resources for UC Davis Students,” although everyone will find useful information there, like the location of Voting Assistance Centers (including our very own ARC Ballroom) and ballot drop-off locations in Davis, and a link to confirm your registration status anywhere in the state. If you’d like to help spread the word, we have created a marketing toolkit with email signatures and other digital tools for sharing on social media.
Checking in elsewhere:
- Fire and smoke — The wildfires persist, the smoke persists. Let’s pray for the safety of all firefighters, including our own who were assigned yesterday to the North Complex Fire that spans Plumas, Butte and Yuba counties. Our hearts go out to all the people there — lives have been lost, property destroyed. On campus, we are following our wildfire smoke protocols for outdoor workers. We advise everyone to monitor the air quality, which was in the unhealthy range at noon.
- Virtual Innovation Spectacular — Something to look forward to, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 — or, as we like to say, 10.10.20. All are invited to see “what happens when pure imagination meets the brilliance of UC Davis.” RSVPs are being taken now at ucdavis.edu/countdown (or call 530-754-2661). We’re describing the Virtual Innovation Spectacular as “a surprising event showcasing the many ways we are building a future that will be greater than ever imagined.” I’ll be there, and I hope to “see” you, too.
To our health
In a lot of ways, the run-up to the new term seems like any other year — lots of things to do and just a couple of weeks to do it. Of course, we all know this quarter will be anything but normal. But please know we are doing everything we can to preserve as much normalcy as possible, and, above all, to keep everyone healthy, on campus and in our community.
Gary S. May