UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., sent the following letter today (Dec. 21) to the 10 UC chancellors about the evolving situation with the omicron variant. Please see the full text below.
December 21, 2021
As you know, cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rapidly rise across the nation as the Omicron variant spreads. The emergence of this new and fast-moving variant, coupled with student travel to and from campus and the prevalence of gatherings over the holidays, will present our campuses with a unique set of public health challenges as we begin the New Year.
Based on consultation with University leadership and public health experts, I am asking each of you to design and implement a plan for a January return to campus that mitigates public health impacts, responds to the unique circumstances facing your campus, and maintains our teaching and research operations. This plan should incorporate a test, sequester, and retest model as described in the UC Health Coordinating Committee’s guidance for returning students.
This may require campuses to begin the term using remote instruction in order to allow students to complete an appropriate testing protocol as they return to campus. Given the differences in local conditions and campus operations across the University, the length of this remote instruction period may vary from campus to campus.
In line with public health best practices, your return plan should also emphasize the importance of preventive measures on campus, particularly during the initial return phase when students are still in the testing protocol. This should include vigilance around masking and a responsible approach to in-person gatherings. Large, congregant events, particularly indoors, should be avoided in the opening weeks of your winter quarter or spring semester.
The evidence is clear that receiving a booster is essential to protecting yourself and those around you from Omicron and other variants. Therefore, I am also asking each of you to communicate the critical importance of boosters to your campus community, especially at this stage of the pandemic. Eligible students who are returning home should be encouraged to get boosted before coming back to campus. Under existing UC policy, students, faculty, and staff are required to keep their vaccination status up to date. The policy mandates COVID-19 boosters for those who are eligible. Information on 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 season.
Michael V. Drake, M.D.
University of California