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Looking Ahead to Winter 2021: COVID-19 Testing

Section 1

December 30, 2020

Dear UCI Students,

I’m hoping that the Winter Break has given you an opportunity to reflect, reset, and prepare for a promising new year. I am hopeful for what 2021 may bring with the distribution of the vaccine, but my hope is tempered by the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Orange County. Case counts remain extremely high and local hospitals such as our UCI Medical Center have constructed field hospitals in preparation for the surge that will likely come as a result of holiday gatherings. 

While we have fared relatively well on the main campus due to the combined efforts of our testing program, quarantine/isolation protocols, contacting tracing program, and your diligence in following campus protocols; we have determined that there is still room for improvement, especially with the amount and consistency of testing.

It is for this reason that we plan to increase our testing program and ramp up enforcement for students who reside on campus, take classes in-person, work on campus, or who are likely to come to campus for any reason. Students who fail to maintain their weekly testing may be restricted from accessing campus resources, removed from campus housing, and subject to disciplinary action including but not limited to, suspension, or dismissal.

For students who travelled away from campus and reside on or near campus, we also urge you to return after January 16. Delaying your return date allows us to manage any potential influx of cases on campus by ensuring we have sufficient infrastructure to support our students in quarantine/isolation. Please remember that returning campus residents should test as soon as possible and definitely within 48 hours of their arrival to campus.

Over the course of the Fall Quarter we have heard your concerns regarding our testing requirements and the new policies and rules that have been implemented to curb infections on campus. Some students have been critical and believe that these rules are an overreach or are too restrictive. At the same time, we also received messages of support from students and parents for doing everything within our capacity to manage this crisis. Our approach to this pandemic has been to continue to support our students but to also do so as safely as possible. This means that the rules and regulations such as regular testing are necessary to protect our students, staff, faculty, and their families.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I remain hopeful that we will turn the corner and before too long we will be able to put this pandemic behind us. But we know there are important steps that we need to take now so that we can get back to a more familiar sense of our campus community. In the remaining days of our Winter Break, please continue to stay safe and I hope that you take advantage of this time away from school.


Sincerely,

Willie L. Banks Jr., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
University of California, Irvine