Cal State And UC Mandate Boosters While Some Campuses Will See A Return To Online Learning
California’s public university systems are adapting as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, including a return to earlier modes of instruction and the establishment of new vaccine requirements.
University of California
Models produced by researchers at UC San Diego signaled that the variant would surge through California at the start of January. In late December, UC San Diego’s chancellor shared the data with the other campuses. Soon after, UC President Michael Drake issued a letter to campus leaders, warning about possible spread due to holiday travel and family gatherings. He also called on them to create a plan for a return to campus that “mitigates public health impacts.”
To date, eight of the system’s nine undergraduate campuses have announced that they will shift classes back to online instruction for at least one week. The delay is meant to allow time for testing and, if needed, isolation following winter break. The only one not making the switch is UC Berkeley, where officials say they are "monitoring the situation."
The UC system’s COVID-19 vaccination policy requires students and staff to stay current on their vaccination status, including booster shots, said UC spokesperson Ryan King in an email. Exemptions are available on medical and religious grounds.
Dr. Peter Katona, at UCLA, helps guide some of UC's COVID-19 policies.
“Now that we have winter break and students coming back the first week of January, we expect to see a larger rise,” he said. “How large? We don't know, but we expect a large rise. We don't know when it'll peak or when it'll come down, but we are preparing for it.”
California State University
The CSU also announced that faculty, staff and students who are accessing campus have until February 28, or six months after they received their final dose, to fulfill its booster shot requirement. However, individual campuses may establish an earlier date for compliance.
“In August 2021 we faced a similarly scary and rapid change in COVID-19’s trajectory, and we did what we had to do to enable our students to get back into our classrooms safely,” CSU President Lynn Mahoney said in a letter to the university community. “We did it then, we will do it again.”
In light of the omicron variant's rapid spread, some CSU campuses have also opted to start spring semester with remote instruction.
Cal State Long Beach will begin their spring semester on Jan. 20 primarily through remote instruction and resume face-to-face learning on Feb. 7.
On Jan. 4, Cal State Los Angeles President William Covino issued a message to the campus, notifying students and employees that the first three weeks of the semester will be held online. Other campuses are likely to follow.
"By allowing the peak of the surge to pass before beginning in-person instruction," Covino wrote, "we hope to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our University community and the other hardships it causes."
This article was originally published on Dec. 22, 2021.